By SAR Staff
MG 34 The Movie
by Folke Myrvang &
Approx. 55 Minutes
Retail – $25
Review by Chuck Madurski
The MG 34 machine gun was the first General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) fielded by any major power. While technically and tactically advanced, it was still manufactured the old fashioned way using machined billet parts and forgings and a myriad of other expensive production methods requiring time and expertise that produced high quality, finely finished parts. For the rapidly expanding German military, it required newer, more efficient teaching methods for the men expected to carry this into battle and maintain it in the field. The first two thirds of this video seem to be just that. It shows technicians disassembling portions of the MG 34 and inspecting the gun and components. It also uses excellent (for the time) animation to compare the operation of the gun with that of the Mauser K 98k, the general issue bolt action rifle of the German Army. During this part of the video, many of the differing parts of both guns have their nomenclature nomenclature printed on the screen in German. It is assumed this film was shown with an instructor narrating as it is totally silent.
The last part of the video is high speed video (slow motion to the viewer) of an MG-34 firing. What is remarkable about this is that it was filmed using fluoroscopy, an x-ray video technique, so you can see the internal mechanism operating while going through the firing cycle. This part was produced by the Norwegian Army in the 1970s to look into stoppages and their causes in the MG 34.
The first portion was best viewed at two to four times normal speed due to the slowness of the original production. The fascinating see-through gun was more enjoyable at the normal speed so as to watch the interaction of the parts. Also, it should be noted that due to the differences in screen sizes between the film and the DVD video, sometimes the German nomenclature runs off screen and partially out of view. This is no concern since in most every case enough of the word can be seen to know what it says – if you read German that is!
Though a soundtrack or English translation for the German labels would have been nice with this DVD, it is forgivable when the story behind this disk is known. These German training films were but a myth to Folke Myrvang until not too long ago. Getting the film onto DVD was an expensive process, so the frills were disregarded. He stumbled across them on an auction site out of Germany and they were expensive. While there may be more “out there,” what is on this DVD is all that is known right now. Some of the film was obviously damaged, perhaps by water, which makes it at times difficult to watch. But remember, this material is basically unobtainable anywhere else and, as such, your only choice.
Lastly, a nice companion for the serious student might be an English translation of the MG 34 manuals. These are available from John Baum on line at http:// www.germanmanuals.com/ and includes several titles that range from the operator’s manual to one for use of the Lafette tripod and even a 1943 dated picture book.
Available from Allegheny Arsenal, Inc.
or directly from Folke Myrvang
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V11N3 (December 2007)|