Developed in the 1940s, the FG42 stands as one of the most distinctive weapons on any side of World War II. Developed on special order by Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering himself due to political friction with the Army, the Fallschirmjaegergewehr (Paratrooper Rifle) was intended to be a "universal weapon", colored by the needs of airborne warfare. Prior doctrine called for the deployment of airborne troops with conventional infantry weaponry, but weight/bulk limits meant that individual troopers jumped with at most a SMG, with the bulk of the unit's arms coming down separately in drop pods. This had dire consequences for the paratroopers deployed at Crete, who found themselves scrambling to recover their rifles and machine guns while under fire from the island's defenders, causing heavy casualties and robbing them of operational momentum. The FG42, then, was intended to be a weapon to replace all prior categories; enough range to replace the rifle, enough suppressive power to replace the machine gun, and agile enough to replace the SMG. It could also double as a sniper/designated marksman weapon, with the addition of a scope, and carried an on-board spike bayonet for close-in work. In essence, the FG42 would be the spiritual father of the full powered battle rifles that dominated the early phases of the Cold War, and were the de-facto standard Western infantry rifle until the rise of the intermediate caliber assault rifle. In practice, the FG42 suffered the same core issue as other battle rifles; a gun that needed to be a SMG and a squad automatic weapon at the same time meant compromises on both fronts. Without belt feed or interchangeable barrels the rate of fire was limited compared to a dedicated SAW, and running full power rifle ammo through a lightweight gun made control difficult. While never used for a large scale parachute drop (Hitler pulled the plug on those after Crete), the FG42 was still issued to the Fallschirmjaegers, with many observed on the Western Front and in the Falaise Pocket. A number are known to have been captured and studied by American forces, and are believed to have been (along with the MG42) an influence on the design of the M60 machine gun. This is the early "Type 1" production model, built around a forged steel receiver with stamped steel attachments; this style would be phased out for a stamped receiver due to resource issues. A set of flip-up blade front and elevation adjustable peep rear sights are installed, with the top of the receiver marked "FG42/fzs/973", the matching number "973" repeated on buttstock, receiver, front sight, bolt carrier, flash hider, and muzzle brake, and a set of Luftwaffe "droop wing eagle" inspection/acceptance proofs. An elaborate flash hider is threaded to the muzzle, with a cruciform spike bayonet (11 5/8" OAL, 8" spike) below, and a folding sheet metal bipod ahead of the ribbed hardwood foregrip. The trigger assembly is fitted with the early, sharply angled, grip with a variable setting sear that can fire semi-automatic from a closed bolt and full auto from an open bolt, permitting maximum accuracy in the former role and maximum cooling for the barrel in the latter. The buttstock is stamped sheet metal, with a brown leather sling. The included reproduction scope assembly is of the ZF4 pattern, fitted with a special adapter collar marked "ZFG42/Fl2000/ddx./10V054", with a rubber rear eye cup and a set of leather and cork lens protectors. Also included with the rifle is an approved 1946 dated Treasury Department Form 6 import application from a Captain John Starkweather, applying to bring this item (serial number given as "fzs-93", but clearly identified as a FG42) into the United States as a war trophy. Captain Starkweather has not been positively identified.
Very fine, with 75% of the original black enamel finish on the receiver, trigger group, bipod, front sight, and muzzle brake, showing areas of scuffing and flaking revealing the underlying steel, which in turn shows a well aged brown and gray patina. The forearm shows minor chipping and scratching, and the matching number buttstock has some painted-over chips and scrapes. The exterior of the professionally made reproduction scope and mount shows mild wear and tear and the optics are crisp. Mechanically excellent in both fire modes. NOTE: This weapon is a National Firearms Act (NFA), fully transferable Class 3, which is registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (BATFE) that is classified as a "Curios or Relic" as defined in 27 CFR, 478.11. These weapons are still subject to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44 and 27 CFR part 478.
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