|When the predecessor to the Maschinenpistole 40 or the MP40, the MP38, was first produced in 1938, the design was revolutionary because of the way the weapon was manufactured. The weapon itself is quite orthodox. Unlike the Luger, the MG34 and the all other German small arms before it, the MP38 was designed for mass production, like the Model T Ford. Parts were primarily stamped instead of machined, finishing was modest and the stock woodless. The goal: Mass arming of Germany's storm-troopers with a capable and inexpensive yet reliable submachine gun. |
For the most part, the MP38 met this design goal except for one nasty problem. When jarred, the gun often did start firing by itself. This run-away submachine gun caused numerous friendly casualties. The next generation, the MP40, fixed this dangerous defect. Mass production of the MP40 was taken to even a higher level with the use of even more simple and inexpensive stamped parts and additional streamlining of its production.
The result: the Maschinenpistole 40 was churned out in large numbers. Just over one million were made of all versions in the course of the war. The gun had relatively low recoil even fired fully automatic. This is due to its slower rate of fire and its 9MM bullet. Nevertheless, it gave the Maschinenpistole 40 a respectable accuracy compared to the American Thompson. The resulting sound provided a nickname, the "Burp gun." The MP40 is often incorrectly called the Schmeisser, after weapons designer Hugo Schmeisser. The weapon was coveted by the Germans and the Allies. Because of its light weight, the MP40 was highly esteemed and favored by the German Fallshirmjägers paratroopers and panzer grenadiers.