What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Discussions on the small arms used by the Axis forces.
charles.sumpter
Member
Posts: 38
Joined: 19 Mar 2015 06:54
Location: California, USA

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by charles.sumpter » 26 Sep 2019 23:35

I read some years ago, and even had a TO/E for a German Fallschirmjäger company organization, showing 3 Stg-44 squads, and a weapons squad of 2-3 lmgs. I cannot remember how many of the platoons in a company were organized thusly. For the last several years I have searched in vain for this reading. I am aware the Stg-44 was supplied to the 3. and 5. FjDivs in the BOB, and that the 3. FjD had a greater allocation of Stg-44 to make up for lack of troops. I am very curious about the allocation and organization at squad level and up of these units in BOB - any help?
thank you
Charles

User avatar
kfbr392
Member
Posts: 495
Joined: 24 Jun 2004 16:05
Location: Germany

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by kfbr392 » 16 Oct 2021 07:32

stg 44 wrote:
27 Nov 2017 00:24
That's the thing, the German army found that they could generate more firepower with a smaller squad just equipped with StGs and leaving MGs in a weapons squad at the platoon level. They found the MG34/42 too heavy for offensive operation and the ammo expensive and wasteful at the squad level, generally limiting squad level engagement to ranges better served by assault rifles.
This is correct, as are all the other points made by poster stg 44 in this thread.
Here is part of a January 1944 memo by General Hermann Balck, found in NARA T78 R620 F304:

"The [MG 34/ MG 42] LMG with its accessories is too heavy. The infantry is thrown about to such an extent in todays tank war that it has to drop its MG gear in short order due to physical exhaustion. [Troop] trials with the new machine carbine (MP 43) must aim for the elimination of the LMG [from the rifle companies].”


Balck then proposes the following structure for rifle companies and motorized rifle companies:
[Company HQ]
2 Assault platoons, each with [Platoon HQ and] 3 squads; each squad about 1 [NCO]/ 7 [enlisted men]
Armament [of the 7 enlisted men in each squad]: 5 machine carbine riflemen, 2 men with pistols, several Faustpatrone and hand grenades
1 Heavy platoon: [Platoon HQ], 2 HMG, 2 heavy mortars, 3 Ofenrohr



A complete translation of this document can be found on this page: viewtopic.php?p=2153264#p2153264
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

ThatZenoGuy
Member
Posts: 277
Joined: 20 Jan 2019 10:14
Location: Australia

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 19 Oct 2021 17:14

I mean some more Soviets die, some more Allies die, but the war ends up with the Axis losing none the less.

I think it's easy to underestimate the STG as much as it's easy to overestimate however.

A weapon with 30 rounds of man-killing 8mm rounds able to fire semi-auto with less recoil gives you so much more flexibility over the 98's. In addition it gives the Germans some much needed automatic fire in close quarters, where the Soviets were known to be excellent fighters due to their large number of SMG's and body armor.

SN42 might be able to stop 9mm, but it isn't stopping 8mm Kurz

User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3371
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by stg 44 » 20 Oct 2021 21:53

kfbr392 wrote:
16 Oct 2021 07:32
stg 44 wrote:
27 Nov 2017 00:24
That's the thing, the German army found that they could generate more firepower with a smaller squad just equipped with StGs and leaving MGs in a weapons squad at the platoon level. They found the MG34/42 too heavy for offensive operation and the ammo expensive and wasteful at the squad level, generally limiting squad level engagement to ranges better served by assault rifles.
This is correct, as are all the other points made by poster stg 44 in this thread.
Here is part of a January 1944 memo by General Hermann Balck, found in NARA T78 R620 F304:

"The [MG 34/ MG 42] LMG with its accessories is too heavy. The infantry is thrown about to such an extent in todays tank war that it has to drop its MG gear in short order due to physical exhaustion. [Troop] trials with the new machine carbine (MP 43) must aim for the elimination of the LMG [from the rifle companies].”


Balck then proposes the following structure for rifle companies and motorized rifle companies:
[Company HQ]
2 Assault platoons, each with [Platoon HQ and] 3 squads; each squad about 1 [NCO]/ 7 [enlisted men]
Armament [of the 7 enlisted men in each squad]: 5 machine carbine riflemen, 2 men with pistols, several Faustpatrone and hand grenades
1 Heavy platoon: [Platoon HQ], 2 HMG, 2 heavy mortars, 3 Ofenrohr



A complete translation of this document can be found on this page: viewtopic.php?p=2153264#p2153264
Thanks for the document!
Have you seen these books?
https://www.amazon.com/Sturmgewehr-Fire ... pt=AIR_GUN

https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/christo ... pageSize=4

User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3371
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by stg 44 » 20 Oct 2021 22:02

ThatZenoGuy wrote:
19 Oct 2021 17:14
I mean some more Soviets die, some more Allies die, but the war ends up with the Axis losing none the less.

I think it's easy to underestimate the STG as much as it's easy to overestimate however.

A weapon with 30 rounds of man-killing 8mm rounds able to fire semi-auto with less recoil gives you so much more flexibility over the 98's. In addition it gives the Germans some much needed automatic fire in close quarters, where the Soviets were known to be excellent fighters due to their large number of SMG's and body armor.

SN42 might be able to stop 9mm, but it isn't stopping 8mm Kurz
It is hard to say if it is being overestimated given the material and man-hour savings it represented both for the rifle and ammo as well as the increased combat capabilities. If you can get a copy of the first of the books I linked in the post above they have combat trials of the rifle where they equipped a reduced size company (85 men) with the STG-44 and found that it was twice as effective in action as a full sized rifle company with traditional weapons. It isn't simply an issue of the effectiveness of the rifle in terms of the ammo, magazine, or other technical features however, it is also a major advantage in action due to the relative light weight combined with the technical virtues, the rapid 'pointability' of the gun due to shorter length making it much easier to maneuver in combat (cited in combat reports as a very desirable feature), and ease of use/training since it was an easy to operate weapon as well as due to having all the same weapon there needed to be no cross training on other weapons or complicated technical education on use of things like rifle grenades or MGs. It gave the smaller squad ultimately flexibility and ease of command, something also noted in reports since the squad leader could simply focus on being a 'model fighter' for the rest of the squad to follow and emulate.

Not only that, but firepower kept pace with the riflemen instead of lagging behind with an MG. Also there was no need for the rest of the squad to be weighed down by carrying extra MG belts and since firepower wasn't concentrated in a single (or two) MG which could become the focus of enemy fire and without which the squad could otherwise not function given traditional armaments they could maintain effectiveness even with half the squad becoming casualties.

There were combat studies done in the 1960s with the M16 that also found smaller squads equipped nearly only with the assault rifle (1 M79 was found to be better) performed the best all around in all the combat scenarios a rifle squad would encounter for all the same reasons the Germans found the STG worked so well. IIRC it was called the SWAWS study, the 1st one. Unfortunately it appears that command didn't like the result so they had it redone to show the results they wanted, which was to revert to the M14 and M60 combo.

So assuming the weapon is adopted in early 1943 and mass produced by the end of the year with sufficient ammo for demand then you could see a doubling of the effectiveness of the average German rifle companies even as they got less proficient in general due to casualties and lower quality manpower. Plus they'd used less ammo to achieve their missions due to no MG at squad level. They found in combat trials that companies either used less or nearly the same amount of ammo with the STG rather than the feared increase in ammo consumption. Since the 7.92x33 is a lot cheaper to make than the 7.92x57 that actually represented a substantial savings in material and weight.

Anyway the point is that if you double the effectiveness of the average rifle company through the STG and revised company organization you are getting to the point where the Soviet replacement system could not cope with further losses, since as it was between January 1945 and May 1945 the Red Army front line strength dropped by 1.5 million men, demonstrating that in 1945 Soviet replacements were all used up. If you add an extra 1-2 million casualties in 1944 to the Red Army they're short men already by the start of 1945 and further losses are going to make it even worse that year. German/Axis losses (more STGs means extras for the Hungarians and others) similarly would be lower due to greater effectiveness and increased Soviet casualties (with that many more Soviet casualties perhaps several hundred thousand less Axis losses?). Add those two factors together and the war situation could actually be quite different by 1945.

That's not even getting into what could potentially happen in the West/Italy in 1944, especially given the poor average quality of infantry divisions at that point.

ThatZenoGuy
Member
Posts: 277
Joined: 20 Jan 2019 10:14
Location: Australia

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 21 Oct 2021 03:12

stg 44 wrote:
20 Oct 2021 22:02
It is hard to say if it is being overestimated given the material and man-hour savings it represented both for the rifle and ammo as well as the increased combat capabilities.
By WW2, Small Arms don't really win you the war. The Germans could've had the most modern weapons available today, and still lost. STG's don't shoot down strategic bombers, or take out tanks, etc.

So in that regard I think personally it's overrated, although from an individual standpoint the STG represented a whole new ballgame of personal firearms.

User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3371
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by stg 44 » 21 Oct 2021 10:11

ThatZenoGuy wrote:
21 Oct 2021 03:12
By WW2, Small Arms don't really win you the war. The Germans could've had the most modern weapons available today, and still lost. STG's don't shoot down strategic bombers, or take out tanks, etc.
By itself no, of course not, but as an upgrade in the wider system of weapons that was already functioning it represented a paradigm shift in infantry combat that if implemented on a wide scale could have been enough of a change to shift the course of the war on a macro scale. Given that World Wars have proven to be strategic wars of attrition anything that increases infantry combat losses of the enemy on a large scale will have an impact. Micro effects add up.
Remember too that historically the STG-44 was really never implemented on more than a limited basis, so had an extremely limited effect. Of the >400,000 produced something like only 250,000 were issued out of millions of firearms needed and of those ammo shortages caused by the late adoption of the cartridge (it used a novel gunpowder that only entered mass production late in 1944) meant even what was issued couldn't be really used to full effect anyway. Early adoption means many more rifles are produced and much more ammo, since the earlier it is ordered into production the more time they have to get mass production online of the components.

If mass produced starting in 1942 it could well have had a pretty serious impact on the Eastern Front, largely where the war was won or lost and where infantry small arms had a larger impact given the sheer number of infantry involved.
ThatZenoGuy wrote:
21 Oct 2021 03:12
So in that regard I think personally it's overrated, although from an individual standpoint the STG represented a whole new ballgame of personal firearms.
Not simply individually, it represented a major shift in firepower of entire units. Not even factoring in organizational changes combat testing showed it doubled infantry company effectiveness despite being half strength. That is a game changer for infantry combat, something confirmed by the US independently in Vietnam, the first war in which the US fielded one, which caused them to study it extensively to determine if it could replace the M14. I have info about that if you're interested.

ThatZenoGuy
Member
Posts: 277
Joined: 20 Jan 2019 10:14
Location: Australia

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 21 Oct 2021 12:47

stg 44 wrote:
21 Oct 2021 10:11
[
Remember too that historically the STG-44 was really never implemented on more than a limited basis, so had an extremely limited effect. Of the >400,000 produced something like only 250,000 were issued out of millions of firearms needed and of those ammo shortages caused by the late adoption of the cartridge (it used a novel gunpowder that only entered mass production late in 1944) meant even what was issued couldn't be really used to full effect anyway. Early adoption means many more rifles are produced and much more ammo, since the earlier it is ordered into production the more time they have to get mass production online of the components.

If mass produced starting in 1942 it could well have had a pretty serious impact on the Eastern Front, largely where the war was won or lost and where infantry small arms had a larger impact given the sheer number of infantry involved.
I'm curious about some of this, I don't actually know too much about the specific powders used in German small arms during WW2, any info on this?

I know that late-war cartridges (Kurtz especially?) was steel cased, which isn't exactly as nice as brass but it still works.

Kurtz is nearly half as long as 8mm Mauser, so does it use about half/two thirds the powder, and therefore means you can pump out a sizable amount more ammunition for a given number of powder outputs?

User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3371
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by stg 44 » 21 Oct 2021 15:48

ThatZenoGuy wrote:
21 Oct 2021 12:47
I'm curious about some of this, I don't actually know too much about the specific powders used in German small arms during WW2, any info on this?
The standard powder was a flake nitrocellulose type while the Kurz used a more energetic tubular powder of a different chemical composition and burn rate.

Using these two sites we can get the info we need:
https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2018/09/2 ... t-rifle-2/
Powder is listed as Nz. R.P. with dimensions listed in a picture of the cartridge.
https://panzerworld.com/german-propellant-nomenclature
Nz Nitrozellulose-Pulver Nitrocellulose, also known as gun cotton, stabilized with diphenylamine, and with sodium oxalate and potassium sulphate to reduce flash.

R P Röhrenpulver Hollow tubes
Length×external diameter/internal diameter
Length-tolerance, external diameter/internal diameter
No mention of how much powder though, IIRC it was 1.25-1.4 grams worth.
ThatZenoGuy wrote:
21 Oct 2021 12:47
I know that late-war cartridges (Kurtz especially?) was steel cased, which isn't exactly as nice as brass but it still works.
Since the Kurz was based on the standard 57mm 7.92 case especially is a rather strange comment about it. Steel cases can actually be somewhat lighter because it is stronger than brass. It just isn't as flexible and 'hugs' the chamber wall the same way to provide the best gas seal.
ThatZenoGuy wrote:
21 Oct 2021 12:47
Kurtz is nearly half as long as 8mm Mauser, so does it use about half/two thirds the powder, and therefore means you can pump out a sizable amount more ammunition for a given number of powder outputs?
Even less IIRC given how much of the case the bullet takes up. I'm somewhat curious to know whether a flat base 7.92mm bullet that took up less than half the case length as the Kurz bullet would have allowed the standard flake powder of the full sized 7.92 cartridge to work in the Kurz.

User avatar
kfbr392
Member
Posts: 495
Joined: 24 Jun 2004 16:05
Location: Germany

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by kfbr392 » 21 Oct 2021 19:32

The German wikipedia has this weight data:

8x33:
bullet 8,1g
powder 1,57g
total cartridge 16,70g

8x57 s.S. cartridge
bullet 12,8g
powder 2,85 g
total cartridge 26,2g

So a 8x33 round only consumes ca 55% of the propellant of the 8x57 round, which is thus wasteful at combat ranges <600m as the 8x33 will still pierce a steel helmet at that distance.

User avatar
kfbr392
Member
Posts: 495
Joined: 24 Jun 2004 16:05
Location: Germany

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by kfbr392 » 22 Oct 2021 13:56

stg 44 wrote:
20 Oct 2021 21:53

Have you seen these books?
https://www.amazon.com/Sturmgewehr-Fire ... pt=AIR_GUN
Bought it and love it.
I commented on it in this thread recently: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=231671
I know the original German wartime document "Der Sturmzug der Grenadier-Kompanie", yes.
It can be read here: viewtopic.php?p=2331465#p2331465

User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3371
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by stg 44 » 22 Oct 2021 15:11

kfbr392 wrote:
22 Oct 2021 13:56
stg 44 wrote:
20 Oct 2021 21:53

Have you seen these books?
https://www.amazon.com/Sturmgewehr-Fire ... pt=AIR_GUN
Bought it and love it.
I commented on it in this thread recently: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=231671
I know the original German wartime document "Der Sturmzug der Grenadier-Kompanie", yes.
It can be read here: viewtopic.php?p=2331465#p2331465
Sounds like you got the book for an excellent price. Thanks for the link to the original document too.

Aside from the above let's get into numbers in terms of what impact it could have had. Let's start from the point made in the Sturmgewehr book that in combat tests equipping even a half strength company with STGs doubled their combat effectiveness. Since the company is the major tactical unit in which bullets are being fired at the enemy it would be safe to assume that when referring to casualties caused by bullets the company is the most important sized unit to look at, as often the battalion simply pushed HMGs down to companies rather than using them as a concentrated unit much of the time.

So if companies are twice as effective (conservative estimate as that was a half strength company without the new organization of fighting and further enhanced effectiveness) casualties by bullets should double from the period where the STG is the primary infantry small arm in infantry companies. From what I could find in WW2 in Europe the average percentage of casualties caused by small arms bullets (i.e. not mortars or explosives) was about 24%. Let's round that down to 20% to discount for battalion MGs not at company level and to get a nice round number.

Soviet official casualties for WW2 were roughly 30,000,000 (probably higher because the reporting system repeatedly broke down in 1941-42 and there is some evidence the Soviets hid the extent of losses in 1943-45 in official reports, but we won't worry about that). About 55% of those were suffered from 1943-45, or 16.5 million. So 20% of that would be 3.3 million casualties caused by small arms in this period.

As the earliest the STG as we know it could have been mass produced was starting in late 1942 and it would take time to get them phased into production, but at this point due to the lower levels of bombing it should be able to be largely done within 12 months had Hitler demanded it. That means 1943 sees a gradual increase in numbers of rifles issued until by 1944 it is the primary infantry rifle. So while Soviet casualties to small arms wouldn't be doubled in 1943 it would rise increasingly over the year until in 1944 it could start to double. For the sake of argument let's take 2 million small arms casualties as our baseline for doubling infantry losses. 2 million is the actual historical number of Soviet casualties suffered due to small arms in the period where we could see a doubling of casualties due to small arms, so at most we are looking at 2 million additional Soviet casualties due to the mass introduction of the STG from 1943-45. However in the interest of being as conservative as possible in estimation, let's discount that further to account for variables not considered, so let's say 1.5 million.

That of course doesn't consider things like vicious and virtuous circles that would be caused by that many more casualties for both sides.
Still even as being as conservative as possible (since there are too many variables) an early introduction of the STG starting in late 1942 could see at least 1.5 million additional Soviet casualties by May 1945. Since the largely majority of those would have been inflicted in 1943-44 by January 1945 we're probably seeing the Soviets short 1.25 million men above their historical casualty rates. That basically means they're out of replacements before the final push of the war, assuming no changes in the course of the war to that point, so any casualties taken from January 1945 on would effectively be irreplaceable for the Soviets once they had committed the STAVKA reserve of some 500,000 men. Historically the Soviets took about 3 million casualties in 1945, which would be even higher in this scenario with the STG being the main firearm of the German and Hungarian infantry by this point. Historically field strength dropped by 1.5 million men between January-May 1945, so without further replacements the field army of 6.5 million men by January 1945 is going to be reduced to 3.5 million men as of May 1945 even if all does as it did historically, which is a silly assumption of there is a 45% reduction in field army strength in 4 months.

For one thing that likely means no Soviet participate in Manchuria in August, which has pretty major implications, and perhaps the war goes on quite a bit longer if the Soviets aren't able to maintain their advance in 1945 due to lack of replacements, which in turn increases their losses as the pace of advance slows down. Again that's assuming nothing changes in the course of the war until 1945.

So yeah it would seem that the introduction of a much more effective small arm and improved organization/method of fighting could have a strategic impact due to lots of micro-improvements in the tactical conduct of the war given resulting casualty ratios.

User avatar
kfbr392
Member
Posts: 495
Joined: 24 Jun 2004 16:05
Location: Germany

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by kfbr392 » 22 Oct 2021 16:22

I have quarterly Soviet casualty figures for you.
From Glantz, "When Titans Clashed"

KIA+MIA in 1943-1945 were 4Mio
Plus 12.8Mio wounded.
So you are correct about Soviet casualties.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
kfbr392
Member
Posts: 495
Joined: 24 Jun 2004 16:05
Location: Germany

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by kfbr392 » 22 Oct 2021 17:21

Hitler only approved MP 43 mass production in Oct 1943.
That is 11 months after the MKb 42 went into limited production, and 15 months after MKb 42 trials at Kummersdorf proving grounds.
It took until June 1944 until monthly production exceeded 10k for the first time

So a 15 month head start could have been possible, with dramatic results - provided the ammo had been there.
Last edited by kfbr392 on 22 Oct 2021 17:23, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3371
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Re: What if Hitler sped up development and production of the STG-44 assault rife?

Post by stg 44 » 22 Oct 2021 17:22

kfbr392 wrote:
22 Oct 2021 16:22
I have quarterly Soviet casualty figures for you.
From Glantz, "When Titans Clashed"

KIA+MIA in 1943-1945 were 4Mio
Plus 12.8Mio wounded.
So you are correct about Soviet casualties.
Thanks for the linked pages. That is where I sourced my info from too.
kfbr392 wrote:
22 Oct 2021 17:21
Hitler only approved MP 43 mass production in Oct 1943, up to a rate of 30000/month.
That is 11 months after the MKb 42 went into limited production, and 15 months after MKb 42 trials at Kummersdorf proving grounds.
It took until June 1944 until monthly production exceeded 10k.

So a 15 month head start could have been possible, with dramatic results provided the ammo had been there.
The ammo should have been there with a mass production order in late 1942, since bombing only seriously impacted the chemical industry in 1944. If the production path had been well grooved by 1944 instead of just getting started then the impact of the bombing on the new gun powder production would have been no worse than it was on the standard gun powder used in the full sized 7.92 cartridge.

Return to “Small Arms”