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German cross  Construction and details of the Lafette German cross

The MG Lafette was a pretty complicated piece of machinery for its time. Some would say "typical German over-engineering". It contains several systems that all work together. The difference between the Lafette 34 and the Lafette 42 is mainly the cradle. The weapon mounts and the trigger mechanism are simpler on the MG42 cradle. In addition it has a different bolt box. Everything else seems to be identical.  This page will only describe the Lafette 34. The change from the Lafette 34 to the Lafette 42 will be fully dealt with on the Wartime development page. On this page I will briefly explain the function of each of the components that make up the Lafette. For an even better and deeper understanding of the components you must visit my page Extreme details or the pages about Evolution of the Lafette (when they are finished).

Main parts

According to the D 124/2 the Lafette 34 was made up of 5 main components:
- Unterlafette (Lower mount)
- Oberlafette (Upper mount)
- Richt- und Tiefenfeuereinrichtung (Laying and searchfire mechanism)
- Lafettenaufsatzstück (Mount AA adapter)
- Trageriemen (Carrying slings)
The last two components are today generally viewed as "accessories", so I will discuss them on the accessory page instead.

Unterlafette
The lower mount consists of the mainframe, the two rear legs, the front leg and the support strut. It is made up of over 100 individual parts.


The central part is the frame (A1), around which everything happens. The upper mount is attached to the lower through the pivoting pin on the turntable (A2). This part allows for both elevation and traction. The rear legs are hinged at each rear corner and can be individually adjusted in height through a large wing nut. Use of the legs is an option, as the frame is equipped with a pair of paws that will do the same job if the legs aren't needed. The angle of the front leg can be adjusted to fit the terrain, and it can also be extended to acquire the correct height. The support strut will adjust to the correct length and ensure a firm connection between the front leg and the frame. At the rear of the frame an arc (A13) is mounted that holds the slider (A19), which is connected to the laying and search fire mechanism, and enables the sideways movement of the upper mount. A box containing a spare bolt is fastened to the left side of the frame.
The arc is divided into 65 mils. The system used by the germans was based upon H/6400. A full circle would consist of 6400 mils (360 degrees) and the arc would represent 65/6400 parts of a complete circle. There is an adjustable stopper to each side of the slider. These will prevent the machine gunner from firing at friendly troops when he is firing in corridors between own forces. The alignment mark and numbers on the legs enables the gunner to find the correct position for the legs.
At the center of the arc an alignment mark is placed at 32,5 mils. A corresponding mark is situated in the center of the slider and filled in with paint. This enables the operator to zero the upper and lower mount to each other (which comes in handy when you need to fold up the mount).
The front of the slider has a locking lever that enables the operator to lock the laying and search fire mechanism to the arc in any given direction
The front of the frame has the welded on pivot pin for the Lafettenaufsatzstück and the two horns that was used to attach the Lafette to a special bracket for transport on vehicles.
The IF5 trailer with the Zwillingssockel had two brackets at the back to mount the Lafette 34. A permanently attached canvas cover kept most of the dust out during transport.
The removable bolt box is mounted on the left side of the frame. According to the manual it could, under special circumstances, be repositioned to the right side of the frame or on the left rear leg. Note also the D-rings for the carrying straps and the support cradle for the folded leg, welded to the frame. 
The front leg and the support strut has the same locking mechanism, and both have milled out dots that have been filled in with paint to aid in the set up process. The leg has two support pads that rest against the carriers back. The upper one is non-adjustable, while the lower one can be loosened and slid up or down.

Oberlafette
The upper mount consists of the cradle, the weapon mounts and the spring assembly. It is made up of over 140 individual parts.

The cradle (E1) is attached to the lower mount through the turntable (A2 above) in front, and to the laying and search fire mechanism through two spring pressured arms (E43) that helps lock the mechanism to the cradle. It holds the recoiling frame (G1) with the weapon mounts and the buffer spring assembly (H1). The optic sight's mount sits on a bracket that is welded to the rear left side. The mechanism to fire the weapon from the remote trigger runs on the inside to the right. The buffer assembly is anchored to the cradle at the front, while the rear is attached to the center crossbar of the frame with the weapon mounts. The frame with the weapon mounts rides on the 4 rollers (E5) that is mounted inside the cradle from above with the four pins (E4). The trigger mechanism, the spent casing tray and the weapon mounts rides on the 
frame with the weapon mounts.

The four pins that holds the rollers guiding and carrying the recoiling frame with the weapon mounts are easily seen from above.
The bracket for the optic sight's mount is welded to the rear left side.
The trigger mechanism sits in the inside right wall of the frame with the weapon mounts. It is adjustable for automatic/semi-automatic fire by pushing down the serrated button on top or pushing it back up again. The pin at the bottom is also used to pull the trigger to the front when the weapon is mounted to the cradle.
The trigger housing sits opposite the trigger mechanism. This is not an adapter or a mount, it simply contains the leverage that controls the trigger mechanism on the opposite side. Note the two small pins holding parts of the mechanism
The recoil spring assembly is contained inside the tube that is anchored to the cradle in front and attached to the recoiling frame with the weapon mounts at its rear.
The forward gun mount with its break-down mechanism can also be seen in this picture. The MG34 barrel shroud is clamped down with a standard box lock. But locking the clamp will at the same time move the axel rod (G7) to the rear until it enters a hole at the rear of the barrel shroud on the actual weapon. When twisting the arm on the left upwards the forward gun mount with the barrel shroud will hinge to the right pivoting around the axel rod (G7), allowing access for a barrel change.
 
There is an arm mounted underneath the cradle on the left side. This will hit the Searchfire mechanism every time the cradle recoils.
The rear cover contains the locking mechanism that will keep the Lafette either in the open or closed position. On later models the release button was moved to the underside as it was prone to break when the Lafette was transported.
Pushing the square button on top right will release the locking catch in the center bottom when the Lafette is collapsed. Pushing it when the Lafette is in the raised position will release the two arms that join the Laying and search fire mechanism and the upper mount. The top can now be raised and the mechanism swung forwards to allow the upper cradle to fold down.


Richt- und Tiefenfeuereinrichtung
The Laying and search fire mechanism consists of (no surprise!) the Laying mechanism and the Search fire mechanism. It is made up of over 70 individual parts.

The height adjustment wheel (K11) enables the gunner to change the elevation of the gun, and it can be limited by the stoppers (K17 and K15) to shoot over the heads of own troops. The wing nut (K24) adds friction to the elevation adjustment for better accuracy. The tube (J9) acts as a handle for sideways movement and contains oil and a brush that can be used during maintenance. To my surprise, it is specifically not used to ensure that the slider (A19) runs smoothly along the arc (A13). The tube also acts as the counterbalance for the trigger (K26). The search fire mechanism is set by the slider (L7) and operated automatically by the arm (G3 above) hitting the lever (L20). The leverage for the trigger runs inside the search fire and connects with the trigger mechanism in the cradle on top of the search fire.


By pressing the elevation adjustment wheel to the right its teeth will engage with those on the stoppers, preventing the MG from shooting outside of approved elevations (in order to protect own troops).
The button on the opposite side of the mechanism aids in unlocking the elevation adjustment wheel when it is pulled out to the left.
The rear of the laying mechanism holds the wing nut that locks the elevation adjustment, the Überschieß- und Tiefenfeuertafel and the lip that keeps the Lafette folded up.
The rear side of the search fire mechanism has an alignment mark that enables the operator to see which setting the mechanism is on.
The recoiling actuator arm on the cradle hits the lever of the search fire mechanism for every shot, and elevates or depresses the MG according to the setting. The rubber pad to the front rests against the support strut when the Lafette is folded up and acts merely as a shock absorber during transport.
The oil tube contains a small amount of oil, with a brush in the top cap to enable application. At the same time it acts as a handle for sideways movement and a counterbalance for the trigger handle.
Pressure on the trigger handle is transferred on top of the search fire to the trigger mechanism in the right side of the cradle. The green aluminum arm pivots on the bolt and pushes the spring pressured arm forwards to engage the trigger mechanism on the right side of the cradle.
That was the quick guide to the Lafette and most of its functions. For an even better understanding of the individual components I will have to take the sucker apart and show you how it is all connected and works. The Lafette in extreme details will give you this insight. For details about the evolution of the individual parts you will need to see the Evolution of the Lafette 34 and Evolution of the Lafette 42.


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