3. Knorr-Bremse MG 35/36
The little-known, and perhaps justifiably forgotten, Knorr-Bremse LMG was the bastard child of a rejected design of muddy provenance and a German auto parts manufacturer. The 6.5mm LH33 was apparently designed in the 1930s by a German named Hans Lauf, and patented in Sweden, although several others, both Swede and German, seem to have been involved with modifications of the original design, siring weapons that were manufactured both in Sweden (Kg/M1940) and in Germany (MG 35/36). It is difficult to determine who exactly bears responsibility for the two weapons to be brought into production that sprang from the original design. Part of this is due to the fact that, while the Treaty of Versailles was in force, German arms were being developed and manufactured by front companies in places like Sweden. Part of it might also be due to outright shame. Success has many fathers, as the old saying goes, but failure is an orphan.
In any case, with a few modifications, the original LH33 design became the 7.92mm MG 35/36. It was gas operated, with the gas tube and piston located above the barrel and stretching to almost the same length. Gas was fed into the gas tube from very near the muzzle, which necessitated a short barrel in order to have enough pressure to cycle the action, and this caused fairly severe muzzle flash. Ammunition was fed to the weapon by way of 25-round box magazines (the Swedish version could employ 20-round BAR magazines) on the left hand side of the receiver, with spent cartridges ejected on the right. There was no fore grip, so the weapon could usually only be fired prone, with the bipod extended and placed securely against the ground. Nevertheless, it was snapped up by the Waffen SS, which in the mid-1930s was still a poor relation to the German army, or Heer, and so procured whatever it could get.
Likewise, the Waffen SS found that the MG 35/36 was unreliable, with numerous stoppages; unsafe, due to a badly designed “safety” that could allow the cocked weapon’s bolt to slam forward and cause an accidental discharge; and badly manufactured, so that firing the weapon would often cause the butt stock to shake itself loose.
The Swedes, desperate for machine guns after war broke out, manufactured their own variant of the LH33, the Kg/M1940, which was known as “the galloping iron bed” due to the severe vibrations during firing. The army passed them to the Home Guard and then dumped them altogether as soon as possible after the war.
Likewise, the Waffen SS found that the MG 35/36 was unreliable, with numerous stoppages; unsafe, due to a badly designed “safety” that could allow the cocked weapon’s bolt to slam forward and cause an accidental discharge; and badly manufactured, so that firing the weapon would often cause the butt stock to shake itself loose. The SS relegated their MG 35/36s to training duties as soon as they could get something better, and then palmed them off on foreign SS “Legions,” particularly the Latvian Legion. A few were bought by Finland, but then the Finns were desperate for anything at the time.
Knorr-Bremse MG 35/36
Type: Light machine gun
Operating System: Gas
Weight: 22 pounds unloaded
Length: 51.48 inches
Barrel length: 27.25 inches
Cartridge: 7.92mm Mauser
Muzzle velocity: 2600 fps
Cyclic rate: 490 rpm
Feed system: 20-round detachable box