General-purpose machine gun
||This article is incomplete. This is because does not cover general development, date of use, non-military use etc. (July 2011)|
||This article needs to be updated. (March 2017)|
||This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (March 2017)|
A general-purpose machine gun (GPMG) is an air-cooled, belt-fed weapon with a quick change barrel that can be used in a variety of roles, from bipod- or tripod-mounted infantry support, to deployment as a helicopter door gun, or a vehicle-mounted support weapon. Modern GPMGs fire full-power rifle cartridges such as the 7.62×51mm NATO, 7.62×54mmR, 7.5×54mm French, 7.5×55mm Swiss, 7.92×57mm Mauser, etc.
"With the MG 34, the German Wehrmacht introduced an entirely new concept in automatic firepower - the Einheitsmaschinengewehr general-purpose machine gun (GPMG). In itself the MG 34 was an excellent weapon: an air-cooled, recoil-operated machine gun that could run through belts of 7.92×57mm Mauser ammunition at a rate of 850 rounds per minute, delivering killing firepower at ranges of more than 1,000 meters. Yet simply by changing its mount, sights and feed mechanism, the operator could radically transform its function. On its standard bipod it was a light machine gun, ideal for infantry assaults; on a tripod it could serve as a sustained-fire medium machine gun; aircraft or vehicular mounts turned it into an air defence weapon; and it also served as the coaxial machine gun on numerous tanks.
During World War II, the MG 34 was superseded (although it remained in combat use) by a new GPMG - the MG 42. The MG 42 was more efficient to manufacture and more robust, and had a blistering 1,200 to 1,500 rounds per minute rate of fire. Nicknamed 'Hitler's buzzsaw' by Allied troops, it was arguably the finest all-round GPMG ever produced, and alongside the MG 34 it inflicted heavy casualties on Allied soldiers on all European and North African fronts. Such were its qualities of firepower and usability that it became the foundation of an entire series of postwar machine guns, including the MG 1 and MG 3 - the latter is still in production and service to this day."
The MG 34 and MG 42 influenced many post-World War II general purpose machine guns, many of which are still in use today. It lent design elements to the Belgian FN MAG and the American M60, while spawning the Zastava M53, Swiss M51, and Austrian MG 74.
- German MG 3, a direct descendant of the MG 42, is still in service with the German Army and others.
- German Heckler & Koch MG5, the new standard machine gun of the German Army
- Belgian FN MAG, which copied the MG42's feed-system and trigger-mechanism. It is the most widely used GPMG among western armies.
- American M60, which is based on the FG 42 and uses the MG42's feed-system and stamp-steel construction.
- American M240 machine gun, itself an FN MAG variant. It replaced the M60 in U.S. service.
- French AA-52, which more or less copies the MG42 feed-system. It has been largely phased out in favour of the FN MAG and FN Minimi.
- Czechoslovakian Uk vz. 59 is based on the Vz. 52 and Vz.52/57, and originating with ZB vz. 26 and Bren gun designs.
- Russian PK/PKM family of multi-purpose machine-guns, widely exported.
- Russian AEK-999 is an improved version of the PK/PKM.
- Russian Pecheneg machine gun is a variant of the PK/PKM with a fixed barrel and cooling jacket.
- Yugoslav Zastava M84 is a direct copy of the Russian PK machine-gun.
- Polish the UKM-2000 is based on the Russian PK machine-gun.
- People's Republic of China, the Type 80 machine gun is based on the Russian PK machine-gun.
- People's Republic of China, the Type 67 and later improved models.
- German Heckler & Koch HK21, is based on the Heckler & Koch G3 rifle and widely exported.
- Belgian Mk 48 machine gun, is a GPMG based on the FN Minimi light machinegun and M249 squad automatic weapon.
- South African Vektor SS-77, is based on the Russian PK/PKM.
- Swiss MG 51, a direct descendant of the MG42.
- SIG MG 710-3
- SIG MG 50
- MG 42
- Vektor SS-77
-  Archived January 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- Jane's Guns Recognition Guide. Ian Hogg & Terry Gander. HarperCollins Publishers. 2005. page 375
- Military Small Arms of the 20th Century. 7th Edition. Ian V. Hogg & John S. Weeks. Krause Publications. 2000. page 326
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- MG 34 and MG 42 Machine Guns. by Chris McNab. Published by Random House Publishing Group. Oct 23, 2012. Quote taken from leaf.
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- Military Small Arms Of The 20th Century. Ian Hogg & John Weeks. Krause Publications. 2000. p379
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- Modern Firearms - AAT Mod.52