The Maschinengewehr 42 or better known by the allies as the ‘Buzzsaw’ , was a general purpose machine gun designed by Nazi Germany during world war 2.

With the 7.92x57mm Mauser cartridges, and over a rounds a minute between 900 and 1500, the MG42 was one of the most deadly infantry weapons designed by the Nazi’s with shooting capabilities over 2000 meters when used in combination with a MG42 lafette.

Entering production in 1942 , over 400.000 MG42’s were build in a time periode of 3 years.

The MG42 was designed to be a low-cost and easy to build machine gun, with only 75 man hours and a raw materials costs from around 61lb(27,5kg) as opposed tot he 108lb(49kg) and 150 hours fort he mg34.
One MG42 did cost around 250 Reichsmarks, or 1000 euro’s current equivalent.

If we make a easy calculation, 400.000 MG42s. x 250 Reichsmarks = 100.000.000 Reichsmarks spended in 3 years production, or, 400.000.000 Euro’s.



Development and production


Pre war, the Nazi Germany Whermacht were looking for a general purpose machinegun which could fire round around the 1600 rounds per minute, this eventually led to the ‘Einheitsmaschinengewehr’(Universal machine gun) , the MG34.
The MG34 was a allround machinegun with standard 7.92x57mm mauser cartridges and designed for light and medium infantry, aircrafts and in combination with the ‘Panzerlauf’, used in German tanks.

The MG34 had is drawbacks, such as sensitivity to dirt and mud and really expensive production(see above).

The German Army Weapons agency realized the mg34 was a good Machinegun, but with drawbacks and expensive to produce and started to looking for ways to simplify the Machine gun concept which results in the MG42.


Pre war, a contest was held between a few companies with the requirement of a higher rounds per minute, less complicated , more reliable and better suited for the mass production in combination with modern technology like Sheet metal stamping.


Three companies were asked in 1937 to design the new allround machinegun.

  • Metall und lackierwarenfabriek Johannes Großfuß AG of Döbeln
  • Rheinmetall-Borsig AG of Sömmerda
  • Stübgen AG of Erfurt

    Sömmerda’s Rheimetall was Germany’s prime machine gun designing since 1918, doing most of the prohibited machinegun development by lieu of its Swiss filial.
    They had a filial in Swiss duet he fact Germany was not allowed to produce machineguns after World war 1.


    End 1937, Stübgen AG Erfurt entre was cancelled, and the weapon agency ordered some prototypes made by Rheinmetall-Borsig AG and Johannes Großfuß.

    In 1938, a few prototypes were ready resulting in the MG39(simular to earlier mg34)

    Further trials resulted in accepting the Großfuß MG 39 prototype gun for final production development. A limited run of about 1,500 of further improved MG 39/41 pre mass-production guns, was completed in 1941 and tested in combat trials.


    (MG39 Rh      picture source :Forgotten weapons)


    The MG42 was still in development and officially accapted in 1942 and the main contracts going to:
    – Großfuß
    – Mauser- Werke
    – Gustloff-Werke

    They produced , combined 17,915 units in 1942, 116,725 units in 1943, 211,806 units in 1944 and 61,877 units in 1945.



    Marker markings

    (Old collection BYF41)

    PJ, 1303 C BNZ

    PJ= 1944
    Serial = 1303C
    BNZ = Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG, Steyr,

    No mg42 marking present.


    (Old collection BYF41)

    MG42, M.U, 6750C, dfb
    M.U= 1944
    Serial = 6750C
    dfb = Gustloff-Werke, Waffenwerk Suhl

    (Unknown collection)

    Mg42 with marking 123. Never seen before, but the rest with the weapon is marked with waffenamt’s all over.

    (old collection BYF41)

    MG42 , J.T , 1181A, AR
    J.T.= 1943
    Serial= 1181A , so really early 1943.
    AR = Mauser-Werke AG, Werk Borsigwalde, Berlin-Borsigwalde Eichborndamm

    (old collection BYF41)

    MG42, NC 4852L CRA

    NC= 1944-1945
    Serial=4852L, above 1211 is 1945
    CRA= MAGET – Maschinenbau & Geratebrau GmbH, Berlin

    Interesting fact , the MG was camouflaged with green and yellow paint.



    (old collection BYF41)

    D.F 9116 D AR

    DF= 1944
    Serial= 9116 D, mid 1944
    AR= Mauser-Werke AG, Werk Borsigwalde, Berling-Borsigwald


    Really nice ‘clear coat/phosphate‘ MG42 in metal finish.

    (unknown collection)

    MG42 PJ 411 

    PJ= 1944
    Serial =411
    Maker= Unknown

    Possible really late war last ditch mg42, with electrostencilled markings.
    Some say it was Soviet done, some say it is a post war reworked mg53.
    Soviet reworked could be, the Soviets added electrostencilled to captured weapons.
    But why would they add a serial, building date and manufacture?
    Besides, this weapon was marked with WaA’s.
    As well, really early 1942 mg42’s were electrostencilled as well.

    (unknown collection)

    MG42 1943 6537c CRA

    Date = 1943
    Serial 6537C
    Cra= Maget – Maschinenbau & Geratebrau GmbH, Berlin

    (unknown collection)

    MG42 NC 1828K Cra

    NC= 1944-1945
    Serial 1828K
    Cra= Maget – Maschinenbau & Geratebrau GmbH, Berlin

    (Old collection BYF41)

    MG42 1943 6147 Dfb

    Date = 1943
    Serial = 6147 (without suffix letter, really earl one)
    Dfb = Gustloff-Werke, Waffenwerk Suhl

    (old collection BYF41)

    MG42 NC 4047J Cra

    NC= 1944-1945
    Serial= 4047J
    Cra= Maget – Maschinenbau & Geratebrau GmbH, Berlin

    (Old collection BYF41)

    S.M= 1945

    Late war mg42, Rea WaA

    Byf41 NieuwsMaschinengewehr 42 Markings