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FG42 for Crete

sillygoose

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The German RZ parachute harness, with one single riser and two straps attached to the body, making the paratrooper land on his hands and knees in a forward roll, did not allow heavier equipment such as rifles and machine guns to be safely carried during jumps. At Crete, long-range rifle and machine gun fire from dug-in Commonwealth defenders inflicted heavy casualties on the outgunned German paratroopers in the early stages of battle as they attempted to retrieve their support weapons from containers scattered all over the battlefield.[11] These combat experiences demonstrated the need for a rifle that could be carried by the paratrooper during a drop.
What if this problem was anticipated pre-war and the Luftwaffe had the FG-42 available en masse for Crete? ITTL the FG-42 would enter production pre-war, be issued in limited numbers in 1940, but be the primary service arm for the paratroops on Crete.

The lack of fire arms easily available was pretty huge on Crete and the cause of major casualties:
At 08:00 on 20 May 1941, German paratroopers, jumping out of dozens of Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, landed near Maleme Airfield and the town of Chania. The 21st, 22nd and 23rd New Zealand battalions held Maleme Airfield and the vicinity. The Germans suffered many casualties in the first hours of the invasion: a company of III Battalion, 1st Assault Regiment lost 112 killed out of 126 men, and 400 of 600 men in III Battalion were killed on the first day.[45] Most of the parachutists were engaged by New Zealanders defending the airfield and by Greek forces near Chania. Many gliders following the paratroops were hit by mortar fire seconds after landing, and the New Zealand and Greek defenders almost annihilated the glider troops who landed safely.[45]
How might things have played out differently if the paras could fight back with a battle rifle equivalent from the moment they hit the ground?

Contrary to common perception the first day's drop actually saw few aircraft downed by AAA fire, so it wasn't an issue of being shot down before they reached the ground:
As night fell, none of the German objectives had been secured. Of 493 German transport aircraft used during the airdrop, seven were lost to anti-aircraft fire.
Assuming the invasion goes better and losses are much more manageable do you think there would have been more airborne operations and where?
 

Buba

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The problem here is the harness. Have the FJ's jump with a rifle on 3 metre rope and problem solved.
Also no need to invent the FG42 - give BAR clones - of which Germany captured tens of thousands and could produce more - to the paras.

I do not think that there would had been more airborne operations.
 

sillygoose

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The problem here is the harness. Have the FJ's jump with a rifle on 3 metre rope and problem solved.
Also no need to invent the FG42 - give BAR clones - of which Germany captured tens of thousands and could produce more - to the paras.

I do not think that there would had been more airborne operations.
IIRC the FG-42 was designed to work with the existing parachute system.
The BAR was MUCH heavier and less controllable than the FG-42.
IOTL there were some smaller drops, like at Rome and in the Aegean in 1943.
 

Buba

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Wouldn't heavier mean more controllable?
The BAR can be significantly lightened - to c.6kg? (still hefty, I know) - by getting rid of the wannabe LMG accessories such as bipod etc.

I still think that having rifles etc. suspended on a strand of jungle creeper rope - which would land a second or two before the paratrooper - would be waaaaay simpler than designing a new weapon ...
 

sillygoose

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Wouldn't heavier mean more controllable?
Given the high efficiency muzzle brake used as well as a recoil dampening device internally, actually no in this case:

Honestly despite the expense and complexity (and caliber) it was hands down the best battle rifle ever made. If it were ever made in 7.92 CETME it would have been an utter world beater.

The BAR can be significantly lightened - to c.6kg? (still hefty, I know) - by getting rid of the wannabe LMG accessories such as bipod etc.
Sure, but it is still too heavy and long. The Polish cavalry model in 8mm Mauser was still ~9kg after being lightened.

I still think that having rifles etc. suspended on a strand of jungle creeper rope - which would land a second or two before the paratrooper - would be waaaaay simpler than designing a new weapon ...
Given the German model of parachutes (actually an Italian design) that wouldn't work as the paratrooper would land hard on his rifle in that case. The advantage of such a parachute that forced the Axis paras to land face down was that it opened very rapidly and could allow for 300m (or even less) drop, which would limit scattering...provided air defenses weren't an issue. Given that when they were adopted paratroops were still a novelty that only Germany and the Soviets had surprise was thought to be an element that would let them be used despite the vulnerability.

Allied models had the paras land legs down (which resulted in lots of leg and back injuries) could do what you suggest, but then they could also land with the rifle/BAR strapped to their back.
 

Buba

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Oh, OK - I really should not have commented due to my ignorance of the subject.
:)
BTW - there was no Polish "cavalry model" - the licensed clone (rkm wz. 28) came in a single flavour. I don't think any effort had been made to lighten it.
 

sillygoose

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Oh, OK - I really should not have commented due to my ignorance of the subject.
:)
BTW - there was no Polish "cavalry model" - the licensed clone (rkm wz. 28) came in a single flavour. I don't think any effort had been made to lighten it.
I appreciate your comment, no worries.
Ah, I thought it was a modified model.
 
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