First of all apologies for not having commented on some of your blogs as of late. Blogger seems to have a glitch as there are a few blogs I simply can't comment on, no matter what I try. WhenI try to send my comment it simply vanishes. Not sure if it's maybe goofiness on my part, so I'll keep tryin'.
Following on from my last post I've continued to work on some Early War stuff. While going through all the options the new CoC Blitzkrieg 1940 supplement offers I came to realize I'm short a few squads of German infantry. At least if I'm to build a full 1st Wave platoon, or maybe even a Schützen Platoon. Strangely enough I do have enough Tommies for now...which of course doesn't mean I won't add to them as well. Another thing I'm eyeing as of lately are those tasty Dutch by May '40 miniatures... you see I'm quite into early war again.
The German infantry man was, and sometimes still is, commonly known as Landser. While there's some debate as to where this term actually stems from personally I tend to support the view that it's a reference to the Landsknechte (sometimes also Lanzknechte as a reference to their main weapon, the pike which is more or less the equivalent of a lance or Lanze) of 15th and 16th century Europe.
As a result of the lessons learned in WW1 infantry tactics of all nations changed enormously and as a consequence much emphasis was placed on fire and movement tactics. For the German Wehrmacht this was facilitated by the MG 34, which was the first real German light machine gun. Introduced in 1934 it was distributed from 1936 on and was probably the best machine gun in service at that time.
When the war in the west started in earnest in 1940 a regular Schützenzug (regular infantry squad) had just one of these formidable weapons at its disposal. Initially it was served by a gunner and three loaders forming the fire base of the Zug. The gunner and two of the loaders had a pistol in addition to the machine gun, while the third loader had a rifle. The squads leader usually stayed with the machine gun to direct its fire, while his assistant (also a NCO) went with the other part of the squad, the manoeuvre element. This consisted of seven regular rifle men.
The above organization was deemed to cumbersome and in 1941 the machine gun team, still under direction of the NCO, was reduced to just three man with the second loader being issued a rifle. The rest of the platoon was reduced to just six men. There's some debate if this structure was actually implemented in all units in time for the invasion of France, but generally I'd assume this to be the case for most if not all the frontline units. However, when the war progressed and manpower shortages started to become a serious problem the third loader was dropped from the roster and became a regular rifleman.
The Squads NCO's were supposed to be armed with MP40's or its predecessor the MP38, by May 1940 and I tend to believe this to be true for at least the lower numbered (thus of higher quality) waves of Infantry Divisions. The MP40 was and still is frequently referred to as a 'Schmeisser', after Hugo Schmeisser a German designer of firearms, but actually Mr. Schmeisser had relatively little to do with the development of this particular weapon.
Rugged and reliable it was a weapon well liked by those who used it. It had two minor drawbacks, both of which related to the magazine. It's mechanism could lead to jams when dirty or not held the right way. When held at the magazine, which is a popular pose for it to be held in most Hollywood movies (and sadly many a miniature sculpt) by any German, you definitley found the way to make the weapon jam in no time.
The other drawback cited frequently was the magazine feeding from below, unlike with the Sten for example, this made it hard to use the weapon on flat ground when prone. On the other hand exactly this feature makes it easier to use in built up areas with lots of debris to take cover behind and corners to sneak around.
So, when handled properly the Maschinenpistole 40 was a remarkable weapon and used by many a nation till well after the war. The Norvegian army in fact only withdrew its last MP 40's as late as the early 90's.
So, that's for it today. I hope you have a nice Sunday and till next time!