By Eric Micheletti
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Extra resources for After the Storm: Iraqi Wrecks and Fortifications
Several such positions would be dug in a well-prepared squad defence, to give the machine-gun team the option of shifting to more advantageous positions, or abandoning ones that appeared threatened. The Germans also became masters of using MG 34s and MG 42s in urban defence. Several such weapons would be positioned around a town square or important street, carefully sited to allow Allied troops to enter a kill zone from which escape was uncertain once the trap was sprung. Barricades of rubble, created by using explosives to collapse buildings across streets, would be covered by individual machine guns, and the weapons would also be positioned at various floor levels in buildings, to give multi-directional and multi-dimensional angles of fire that added to the Allied soldiers’ confusion and casualties.
Mounts included twingun turret mounts such as those used in the PzKpfw I tank (which was exclusively machine-gun armed), plus flexible hull Kugelblende (ball mounts) on cannonarmed tanks. Ball-mounted MG 34s worked under tight limitations. Vision either side of the mount was poor – in the region of 15 degrees left or right – and the gun had a very slim range of elevation and traverse. For such reasons, the ball-mounted MG 34 had optical sights zeroed to only 200m, the gun having little application beyond shortrange defence against infantry, or possibly reaching out further to deliver ranging tracer fire against enemy armour before engaging with the main gun.
The Zwillingsockel 36 could be mounted to vehicle platform, such as the bed of a truck, or to the unusual MG-Wagen 36. This latter mobile AA platform consisted of a two-wheeled cart containing the machine guns and their operator (the floor of the cart was ridged to enable the gunner to gain grip while traversing the mount), plus related equipment and ammunition. When not emplaced on its own, the machine-gun wagon was pulled by two horses, a limber cart connected between the horses and the wagon and seated the driver and machine-gun group leader.