The Let's Play Archive

Call of Duty

by Coolguye and TheLastRoboKy

Part 2: St. Mere Eglise (day) and Car Chase

Episode 2: St. Mere Eglise(day) and Car Chase Youtube, Polsy
Obviously since this one is a day mission it doesn't need the caveat in the OP quite as much.

Weapons of the German Army, part 2


Whoo, this baby. This was one of the first multi-purpose battle rifles to ever see combat! Alternately a semi-automatic rifle or a light machine gun (pictured with the machine gun struts here, and it has the optional scope in-game), this was designed to drop with paratroopers and be an agile, do-anything weapon for agile, do-anything soldiers.

Interestingly, it was actually the Luftwaffe (the German Air Force) that initially solicited for the FG-42's production. Initially, they only requested a selective-fire rifle for the soldiers, but Air High Command eventually expanded the request to replace the bolt-action rifle, the SMG, and the light machine gun. This was so ambitious that the German army actually balked at it and tried to prevent the request from going up for contract for a while, claiming it was too unrealistic to ever actually be completed. It eventually went to market, though, and got a healthy response from a lot of different German armories. A prototype developed by Rheinmetall-Borsig (which I actually had never heard of before doing research on the FG-42's history) was the one that was eventually accepted after a few different prototypes were created.

The FG-42 was rather innovative in how it controlled recoil even while being very light. It uses a straight-line recoil configuration, that ejects gases from firing along the axis of the bore. Along with the side-mounted magazine that didn't unbalance the gun heightwise, the weapon's center of gravity is pretty much perfectly in the middle of it, meaning it doesn't kick up nearly as much as you'd expect when fired. The side box magazine was also really modular, and it was planned that machine gunner paratroopers would be able to carry 100-round magazines to fire in machine gun mode. I say planned, because even the 20 round magazines got really goddamned heavy, and just as often as not they were actually 10 round magazines. And that still unbalanced the weapon too much to that side when you were trying to fire it as a rifle, unless you were prone. These problems, combined with the fact that you needed some pretty sophisticated materials and machinery in its construction, meant that only about 2000 FG-42s ever actually saw combat in the war. This was an extremely rare weapon, and the game actually does model that reasonably well. We won't see too many more of these, and even when we do see more of these, there's no guarantee there'll be enough ammo for it to make it worth picking up. In game, however, it's hands down the best goddamn thing since sliced bread.

Literally "machine pistol 40" from German, this is the main SMG of the German army through the bulk of World War 2. It's a direct descendant of the MP-36, which both looked and fired very similarly. Erfurter Maschinenfabrik, a very large German armory with direct ties to the Nazi party, held the main contract for the development and deployment of the MP-40 and its predecessors. Considering how unassailable their position was, it's interesting that the MP-40 was as good a weapon as it was.

The main action of the MP-40 is not terribly unusual. As a matter of fact, the main action is pretty similar to the Thompson SMG - both of them have an open bolt design (which means that in the ready position, the bolt is back instead of forward) and both of them are blowback operated (mostly - the Thompson has a lot of variants and some of them aren't blowback operated). The major differences arise in the forward area. The MP-40 does not bother with any sort of thermal insulation along the barrel, so there are extra design considerations, including a strut on the front of the weapon for support when firing from a halftrack, to prevent the user from ever getting too close to the barrel. The magazine also rests inside a thick 'half strut' that allows the magazine to serve as the front grip for the weapon. Compared to most of its contemporaries, which lack any sort of front grip, the MP-40 is much easier to control for this reason.

However, the magazine was also its primary problem. Unlike the Thompson, which stored its bullets in two rows and fed from them alternately, the MP-40 held its bullets in two rows, but fed from only one. The top of the magazine is supposed to funnel up bullets alternately into the one true loading row, but as you can imagine this is pretty prone to getting jammed, and once it's jammed it can be a right pain in the ass to clear it because half the time the bullet will stay lodged in the feeding mechanism. Also, using a magazine as a hand grip isn't really the greatest idea in high stress situations. Cranking on the magazine also aggravates the chance of a jam, which is going to turn your high stress situation into an I'm FUCKED situation pretty quickly. That said, the reliability of the MP-40 was never its major problem, it was always its availability. It was primarily made of high quality machined steel, so it was a complete pain in the ass to make one. CoD very seriously overrepresents how many MP-40s were available to the Germans - on the Eastern Front, Germans would very happily scavenged dropped Soviet SMGs purely because there were never enough MP-40s to go around.

In game, the MP-40 is a reliable, proper SMG that I will never turn up my nose at. Its primary benefit is that it's more accurate than most of its counterparts at range, but the issue is that you should never be using an SMG for that. Its reload time is also quite long. It's a great gun, but it loses out to the constant readiness of the Thompson and the absolute monster that is the PPSh. Really, being 3rd out of 4 here is less a vote against the MP-40 and more a vote for the rough competition it has.