Fact List Military

12 Little Known WW2 German Weapons

Here is a list of 12 Little Known WW2 German Weapons

01. StG 44 Assault Rifle

01. StG 44 Assault Rifle

The StG 44 (abbreviation of Sturmgewehr 44, “assault rifle 44”) is a German selective-fire rifle developed during World War II that was the first of its kind to see major deployment and is considered to be the first modern assault rifle. It is also known under the designations MP 43 and MP 44 (Maschinenpistole 43, Maschinenpistole 44 respectively). The StG 44 was the first successful weapon of its class, and the concept had a major impact on modern infantry small arms development. By all accounts, the StG 44 fulfilled its role admirably, particularly on the Eastern Front, offering a greatly increased volume of fire compared to standard infantry rifles and greater range than submachine guns. However, it came too late to have a significant effect on the outcome of the war

Development of the rifle halted when Hitler suspended all new rifle programs due to administrative infighting within the Third Reich. To keep the MKb 42(H) development program alive, the Waffenamt (Armament Office) re-designated the weapon as the Maschinenpistole 43 (MP 43) and, making a few improvements, billed the weapon as an upgrade to existing submachine guns.

Adolf Hitler eventually discovered the designation deception and halted the program again. In March 1943, he permitted it to recommence for evaluation purposes only. Running for six months until September 1943, the evaluation produced positive results, and Hitler allowed the MP 43 program to continue in order to make mass production possible. The first MP 43s were distributed to the Waffen-SS; in October 1943, some were issued to the 93rd Infantry Division on the Eastern Front. Production and distribution continued to different units. In April 1944, Hitler took some interest in the weapon tests and ordered the weapon (with some minor updates) to be re-designated as the MP 44. In July 1944, at a meeting of the various army heads about the Eastern Front, when Hitler asked what they needed, a general exclaimed, “More of these new rifles!”. The exclamation caused some confusion (Hitler’s response is reputed to have been “What new rifle?”), but once Hitler saw the MP 44 being demonstrated, he was impressed and gave it the title Sturmgewehr. Seeing the possibility of a propaganda gain, the rifle was again renamed as the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44), to highlight the new class of weapon it represented. The designation translates to “Storm (Assault) rifle, model 1944”, thereby introducing the term “assault rifle”.

02. V-3 cannon

02. V-3 cannon

The V-3 (Vergeltungswaffe 3) was a German World War II supergun working on the multi-charge principle whereby secondary propellant charges are fired to add velocity to a projectile.

The weapon was planned to be used to bombard London from two large bunkers in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France, but they were rendered unusable by Allied bombing raids before completion. Two similar guns were used to bombard Luxembourg from December 1944 to February 1945.

The gun used multiple propellant charges placed along the barrel’s length and timed to fire as soon as the projectile passed them in order to provide an additional boost. Solid-fuel rocket boosters were used instead of explosive charges because of their greater suitability and ease of use. These were arranged in symmetrical pairs along the length of the barrel, angled to project their thrust against the base of the projectile as it passed. This layout spawned the German codename Tausendfüßler (“millipede”). The barrel and side chambers were designed as identical sections to simplify production and allow damaged sections to be replaced. The entire gun would use multiple such sections bolted together. The smoothbore gun fired a fin-stabilized shell that depended upon aerodynamic forces rather than gyroscopic forces to prevent tumbling (distinct from conventional rifled weapons which cause the projectile to spin); this resulted in a lower drag coefficient.

Shell: 140 kilograms (310 lb)

Caliber: 150 millimetres (5.9 in)

Rate of fire: 300 shells per hour (projected)

Muzzle velocity: 1,500 metres per second (4,900 ft/s)

Maximum firing range: 165 km

03. Horten Ho 229

03. Horten Ho 229

The Horten H.IX, RLM designation Ho 229 (or Gotha Go 229 for extensive re-design work done by Gotha to prepare the aircraft for mass production) was a German prototype fighter/bomber initially designed by Reimar and Walter Horten to be built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik late in World War II. It was the first flying wing to be powered by jet engines.

The design was a response to Hermann Göring’s call for light bomber designs capable of meeting the “3×1000” requirement; namely to carry 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) of bombs a distance of 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) with a speed of 1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph). Only jets could provide the speed, but these were extremely fuel-hungry, so considerable effort had to be made to meet the range requirement. Based on a flying wing, the Ho 229 lacked all extraneous control surfaces to lower drag. It was the only design to come even close to the 3×1000 requirements and received Göring’s approval. Its ceiling was 15,000 metres (49,000 ft).

After the war, Reimar Horten said he mixed charcoal dust in with the wood glue to absorb electromagnetic waves (radar), which he believed could shield the aircraft from detection by British early-warning ground-based radar that operated at 20 to 30 MHz (top end of the HF band), known as Chain Home. A jet-powered flying wing design such as the Horten Ho 229 has a smaller radar cross-section than conventional contemporary twin-engine aircraft because the wings blended into the fuselage and there are no large propeller disks or vertical and horizontal tail surfaces to provide a typical identifiable radar signature.

Engineers of the Northrop-Grumman Corporation had long been interested in the Ho 229, and several of them visited the Smithsonian Museum’s facility in Silver Hill, Maryland in the early 1980s to study the V3 airframe, in the context of developing the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit. A team of engineers from Northrop-Grumman ran electromagnetic tests on the V3’s multilayer wooden center-section nose cones. The cones are 19 mm (0.75 in) thick and made from thin sheets of veneer. The team concluded that there was some form of conducting element in the glue, as the radar signal attenuated considerably as it passed through the cone

Maximum speed: 977 km/h (estimated) (607 mph) at 12,000 metres (39,000 ft)

Service ceiling: 16,000 m (estimated) (52,000 ft)

Rate of climb: 22 m/s (estimated) (4,330 ft/min)

Wing loading: 137.7 kg/m² (28.2 lb/ft²)

Thrust/weight: 0.26

04. Horten H.XVIII

04. Horten H.XVIII

The Horten H.XVIII was a proposed German World War II intercontinental bomber, designed by the Horten brothers with pioneering features such as a flying wing configuration, turbojet engines and stealth characteristics. The unbuilt H.XVIII represented, in many respects, a scaled-up version of the Horten Ho 229, a prototype jet fighter. The H.XVIII was one of many proposed designs for an Amerika Bomber, and would have carried sufficient fuel for transatlantic flights.

The 142-foot wingspan bomber was submitted for approval in 1944, and it would have been able to fly from Berlin to NYC and back without refueling, thanks to the same blended wing design and six BMW 003A or eight Junker Jumo 004B turbojets. Had the Nazis extended the war in 1946 and developed the atomic bomb as planned, the Ho 18 could have been their Enola Gay.

Maximum speed: 820 km/h (510 mph; 443 kn)

Cruising speed: 750 km/h (466 mph; 405 kn)

Never exceed speed: 900 km/h (559 mph; 486 kn)

Towing speed: 192 km/h (119 mph)

Landing speed: 136 km/h (85 mph)

Wing loading: 213 kg/m2 (44 lb/sq ft)

Thrust/weight: 0.00165 kN/kg (0.17 lbf/lb)


Guns: 4 MG151/20 Cannon, 2 in a nose Barbette and 2 more in a top/aft turret

Bombs: 4,000 kg (8,818 lb) of bombs

05. Henschel Hs 117

05. Henschel Hs 117

The Henschel Hs 117 Schmetterling (German for Butterfly) was a radio-guided German surface-to-air missile project developed during World War II. There was also an air-to-air version, the Hs 117H.

The operators used a telescopic sight and a joystick to guide the missile by radio control, which was detonated by acoustic and photoelectric proximity fuses, at 10–20 m (33–66 ft)

In 1941, Professor Herbert A. Wagner (who was previously responsible for the Henschel Hs 293 anti-ship missile) invented the Schmetterling missile and submitted it to the Reich Air Ministry (RLM), who rejected the design because there was no need for more anti-aircraft weaponry.

However, by 1943 the large-scale bombing of Germany caused the RLM to change its mind, and Henschel was given a contract to develop and manufacture it. The team was led by Dr. Herbert Wagner, and it produced a weapon somewhat resembling a bottlenose dolphin with swept wings and cruciform tail.

In May 1944, 59 Hs 117 missiles were tested, some from beneath a Heinkel He 111; over half the trials failed.Mass production was ordered in December 1944, with deployment to start in March 1945. Operational missiles were to be launched from a 37mm gun carriage.

In January 1945, a prototype for mass production was completed, and production of 3,000 missiles a month was anticipated,but on 6 February, SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Kammler cancelled the project.

06. Zielgerät 1229

06. Zielgerät 1229

The ZG 1229 Vampir 1229 (ZG 1229), also known in its code name Vampir, was an active infrared device developed for the Wehrmacht for the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle, intended primarily for night use.

The ZG 1229 Vampir weighed in at 2.25 kilograms (about 5 lbs.) and was fitted with lugs on the StG 44 at C.G. Haenel at Suhl, the weapons production facility. The grenadier carrying this was known as a Nachtjäger (night-hunter). As well as the sight and infrared spotlight, there was a 13.5 kilogram (about 30 lbs.) wooden cased battery for the light, and a second battery fitted inside a gas mask container to power the image converter. This was all strapped to a Tragegestell 39 (pack frame 1939). The searchlight consisted of a conventional tungsten light source shining through a filter permitting only infrared light. It operated in the upper infrared (light) spectrum rather than in the lower infrared (heat) spectrum and was, therefore, not sensitive to body heat.

Vampir gear was first used in combat in February 1945. However, small arms infrared device introduction took place in early 1944. 310 units were delivered to the Wehrmacht at the final stages of the war. Eastern Front veteran reports consist of snipers shooting at night with the aid of ‘peculiar non-shining torches coupled with enormous optical sights’ mounted on their rifles. Similar infrared gear was fitted both to MG34 and MG42 machine guns

07. Schwerer Gustav

07. Schwerer Gustav

Schwerer Gustav (English: Heavy Gustaf or Great Gustaf) was the name of a German 80 cm (31.5 in.) railway gun. It was developed in the late 1930s by Krupp as siege artillery for the explicit purpose of destroying the main forts of the French Maginot Line, the strongest fortifications then in existence. The fully assembled gun weighed nearly 1,350 tonnes, and could fire shells weighing seven tonnes to a range of 47 kilometres (29 mi). The gun was designed in preparation for the Battle of France, but was not ready for action when the battle began, and in any case the Wehrmacht’s Blitzkrieg offensive through Belgium rapidly outflanked and isolated the Maginot Line’s static defenses, eventually forcing them to surrender and making their destruction unnecessary. Gustav was later employed in the Soviet Union at the siege of Sevastopol during Operation Barbarossa, where among other things, it destroyed a munitions depot buried in the bedrock under a bay. The gun was moved to Leningrad, and may have been intended to be used in the Warsaw Uprising like other German heavy siege pieces, but the rebellion was crushed before it could be prepared to fire. Gustav was destroyed by the Germans near the end of the war in 1945 to avoid capture by the Red Army.

It was the largest-calibre rifled weapon ever used in combat, the heaviest mobile artillery piece ever built in terms of overall weight, and fired the heaviest shells of any artillery piece. It is only surpassed in caliber by the British Mallet’s Mortar and the American Little David mortar (both 36 inch; 914 mm)

Weight: 1,350 tonnes (1,490 short tons; 1,330 long tons)

Length: 47.3 metres (155 ft 2 in)

Barrel length: 32.5 metres (106 ft 8 in) L/40.6

Width: 7.1 metres (23 ft 4 in)

Height: 11.6 metres (38 ft 1 in)

Crew: 250 to assemble the gun in 3 days (54 hours), 2,500 to lay track and dig embankments. 2 Flak battalions to protect the gun from air attack.

Caliber: 80 centimetres (31 in)

Elevation: Max of 48°

Rate of fire: 1 round every 30 to 45 minutes or typically 14 rounds a day

Muzzle velocity: 820 m/s (2,700 ft/s)

Effective firing range: about 39,000 metres (43,000 yd)

Maximum firing range: 47,000 metres (51,000 yd)

08. Panzer VIII Maus

08. Panzer VIII Maus

Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus (“Mouse”) was a German World War II super-heavy tank completed in late 1944. It is the heaviest fully enclosed armored fighting vehicle ever built. Only two hulls and one turret were completed before the testing grounds were captured by the advancing Soviet forces.

These two prototypes – one with, one without turret – underwent trials in late 1944. The complete vehicle was 10.2 meters (33 ft 6 in) long, 3.71 meters (12 ft 2 in) wide and 3.63 meters (11.9 ft) high. Weighing 188 metric tons, the Maus’s main armament was the Krupp-designed 128 mm KwK 44 L/55 gun, based on the 12.8 cm Pak 44 anti-tank field artillery piece also used in the casemate-type Jagdtiger tank destroyer, with a coaxial 75 mm KwK 44 L/36.5 gun. The 128 mm gun was powerful enough to destroy all Allied armored fighting vehicles then in service, some at ranges exceeding 3,500 meters (3,800 yd).

The principal problem in the design of the Maus was developing an engine and drivetrain which was powerful enough to propel the tank, yet small enough to fit inside it — as it was meant to use the same sort of “hybrid drive”, using an internal-combustion engine to operate an electric generator to power its tracks with electric motor units, much as its Ferdinand Porsche-designed predecessors, the VK 3001 (P), VK 4501 (P), and Elefant had. The drive train was electrical, designed to provide a maximum speed of 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph) and a minimum speed of 1.5 kilometers per hour (0.93 mph). However, during actual field testing, the maximum speed achieved on hard surfaces was 13 kilometers per hour (8.1 mph) with full motor field, and by weakening the motor field to a minimum, a top speed of 22 kilometers per hour (14 mph) was achieved. The vehicle’s weight made it unable to utilize most bridges, instead it was intended to ford to a depth of 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) or submerge up to a depth of 8 meters (26 ft 3 in) and use a snorkel to cross rivers.

The Maus was intended to punch holes through enemy defenses in the manner of an immense “breakthrough tank”, whilst taking almost no damage to any components. Five were ordered, but only two hulls and one turret were completed before the advancing Allies found them

09. Sturer Emil

09. Sturer Emil

The 12.8 cm Selbstfahrlafette auf VK30.01(H) “Sturer Emil” (German for “Stubborn Emil”) was an experimental World War II German self-propelled anti-tank gun. It was based on the Henschel VK30.01 chassis and armed with a Rheinmetall 12.8 cm K L/61 gun (based on the 12.8 cm FlaK 40). This gun could traverse 7° to each side, elevate 10° and depress -15°. It carried 15 rounds for the main gun.

The chassis was left over from Henschel’s submission for the canceled VK30.01 heavy tank program, but the hull was stretched and an extra road wheel added to accommodate the large gun, which was mounted on a pedestal ahead of the engine. A large, open-topped, fighting compartment was built where the turret was intended to go in the original design.

Two vehicles (named after Max and Moritz) were built, both of which served on the Eastern Front. One vehicle was destroyed, the other captured at Stalingrad in January 1943, with 31 kill marks painted on the barrel. This captured vehicle is now displayed in the collection on the Kubinka Tank Museum.

10. Me 262 Schwalbe

10. Me 262 Schwalbe

The Messerschmitt Me 262, nicknamed Schwalbe (German: “Swallow”) in fighter versions, or Sturmvogel (German: “Storm Bird”) in attack versions, was the world’s first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft.Design work started before World War II began, but engine problems and top-level interference kept the aircraft from operational status with the Luftwaffe until mid-1944. The Me 262 was faster, and more heavily-armed than any Allied fighter, including the British jet-powered Gloster Meteor.One of the most advanced aviation designs in operational use during World War II,the Me 262 was used in a variety of roles, including light bomber, reconnaissance, and even experimental night fighter versions.

Me 262 pilots claimed a total of 542 Allied kills,although higher claims are sometimes made. The Allies countered its potential effectiveness in the air by attacking the aircraft on the ground and during takeoff and landing. Engine reliability problems, from the pioneering nature of its Junkers Jumo 004 axial-flow turbojet engines—the first ever placed in mass production—and attacks by Allied forces on fuel supplies during the deteriorating late-war situation also reduced the effectiveness of the aircraft as a fighting force. In the end, the Me 262 had a negligible impact on the course of the war as a result of its late introduction and the consequently small numbers put in operational service.


Maximum speed: 900 km/h (559 mph)

Range: 1,050 km (652 mi)

Service ceiling: 11,450 m (37,565 ft)

Rate of climb: 1,200 m/min (At max weight of 7,130 kg) (3,900 ft/min)

Thrust/weight: 0.28


Guns: 4 × 30 mm MK 108 cannon (A-2a: two cannon)

Rockets: 24 × 55 mm (2.2 in) R4M rockets

Bombs: 2 × 250 kg (550 lb) bombs or 2 × 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs (A-2a variant)

While German use of the aircraft ended with the close of the Second World War, a small number were operated by the Czechoslovak Air Force until 1951. Captured Me 262s were studied and flight tested by the major powers, and ultimately influenced the designs of a number of post-war aircraft such as the North American F-86 Sabre and Boeing B-47 Stratojet

11. Sun gun

11. Sun gun

The sun gun or heliobeam was a theoretical orbital weapon.

In 1929, the German physicist Hermann Oberth developed plans for a space station from which a 100 meter-wide concave mirror could be used to reflect sunlight onto a concentrated point on the earth.

Later during World War II, a group of German scientists at the German Army Artillery proving grounds at Hillersleben began to expand on Oberth’s idea of creating a superweapon that could utilize the sun’s energy. This so-called “sun gun” would be part of a space station 8,200 kilometres (5,100 mi) above Earth. The scientists calculated that a huge reflector, made of metallic sodium and with an area of 9 square kilometres (3.5 sq mi), could produce enough focused heat to make an ocean boil or burn a city. After being questioned by officers of the United States, the Germans claimed that the sun gun could be completed within 50 or 100 years.

12. Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet

12. Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet

The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational. Its design was revolutionary, and had performance unrivaled at the time. German test pilot Heini Dittmar in early July 1944 reached 1,130 km/h (700 mph), an unofficial flight airspeed record unmatched by turbojet-powered aircraft for almost a decade. Over 300 aircraft were built, but the Komet proved ineffective in its dedicated role as a interceptor aircraft and was responsible for the destruction of only about nine Allied aircraft.(Sixteen air victories for 10 losses, according to other sources.)

The first actions involving the Me 163 occurred on 28 July 1944, from I./JG 400’s base at Brandis, when two USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress were attacked without confirmed kills. Combat operations continued from May 1944 to spring 1945. During this time, there were nine confirmed kills with 14 Me 163s lost. Feldwebel Siegfried Schubert was the most successful pilot, with three bombers to his credit. Allied fighter pilots soon noted the short duration of the powered flight. They would wait, and when the engine exhausted its propellant supply, pounce on the unpowered Komet. However, the Komet was extremely manoeuvrable in gliding flight. Another Allied method was to attack the fields the Komets operated from and strafe them after the Me 163s landed. Due to the skid-based landing gear system, the Komet was immobile until the Scheuch-Schlepper tractor could back the trailer up to the nose of the aircraft, place its two rear arms under the wing panels, and jack up the trailer’s arms to hoist the aircraft off the ground or place it back on its take-off dolly to tow it back to its maintenance area

Establishing a defensive perimeter with anti-aircraft guns ensured that Allied fighters avoided these bases. At the end of 1944, 91 aircraft had been delivered to JG 400 but lack of fuel had kept most of them grounded. It was clear that the original plan for a huge network of Me 163 bases would never to be realized. Up to that point, JG 400 had lost only six aircraft due to enemy action. Nine were lost to other causes, remarkably few for such a revolutionary and technically advanced aircraft. In the last days of the Third Reich the Me 163 was given up in favor of the more successful Me 262. In May 1945, Me 163 operations were stopped, the JG 400 disbanded, and many of its pilots sent to fly Me 262s


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