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German cross  The Lafette 34 converted to 42 German cross

The general situation

During the year 1942 the production of the MG42 increased steadily, supplying the front line units with the new and improved general purpose machine gun. In order for the MG42 to fulfill its role as a heavy machine gun it also needed a Lafette.
The development and evolution of this is item is fairly well covered in my article Evolution of the Lafette 42

But the production of guns and accessories in the Third Reich never managed to keep the same pace, creating a shortage of accessories once a gun was fielded. The Sturmgewehr family of guns is one of the best examples. Less than 2 out of 10 period photos of the gun in use show the soldier with pouches for the issued magazines!
The Lafette 42 must have arrived in too small numbers at the front, too late.

Improvise - Adapt - Overcome

As a stop-gap measure some units had Waffenmeisters that converted readily available Lafette 34s into Lafette 42s. To prove my case; that the conversion really happened during WW2, I will present some proof!

Exhibit A:

The Lafette above is fsu 1941 serial number 8248d. It was sold on Ebay as a Lafette 42, something which would be impossible for a 1941 dated Lafette. It is beyond doubt in its original color, un-tampered with since WW2 and sports a MG34 rear weapon mount. The trigger mechanism appears handcrafted, and isn't a 1:1 copy of the Lafette 42 mechanism.

The rear buffer mount is clearly modified from the original Lafette 34 version to resemble the one on the Lafette 42. The release lever on the forward gun mount appears to be handcrafted, when viewed from the rear. 

Exhibit B:

The picture above was lifted from a Youtube video. The owner bought this dug-up Lafette from Normandie, France. This is clearly another Lafette 34 converted to a Lafette 42. The rear buffer mount clearly identifies this as a Lafette 34, and the forward gun mount appears to be a handmade copy of the one on the Lafette 42. Due to the state of the Lafette there can be no doubt about it; this Lafette originated as a Lafette 34 and was converted to take the MG42 before it ended up in the soil for 60-70 years.

The complete youtube video (not very spectacular) can be accessed by clicking on the picture above.

All that glitter isn't gold!

In my article Postwar era I discuss the varieties of the postwar refurbished Lafette 34s converted to Lafette 34/42. 95% of these Lafettes on the market were converted by the Austrians or Yugoslavians postwar. The only way to find out who converted the Lafette is to study the forward gun mount. The only other part that was converted was the trigger lever/mechanism, and it is impossible to use that part for identification.
Remember that the real (wartime) Lafette 34/42 was converted using handmade parts. The Waffenmeister didn't have access to stamping machines like those used in the industry, so the release lever for instance had to be improvised. The Austrians and Yugoslavians used industrial machinery, resulting in high quality, consistent looking gun mounts.

Original German WW2 made mount. Note the smooth left side and the right side with the "step" and the narrow top edge. This type of mount will of course also be present on original Lafette 42 cradles that have been refurbished in Austria or Yugoslavia.

Austrian made mount used on their refurbed Lafette 34/42. It has a stock number on top, but also note how the right side lacks the "step", and how both top edges are very narrow. Yugoslavian made mount. Same mount was used on the Lafette 34/42 (Yugo refurb) and the Lafette 53. Note the welded seam on the left side surface. The right side kept the German feature of the "step", but also has the tell-tale Yugo welded seam. A handmade mount. It has the step on the right side, but the sides are more angled, which leaves a gap between the mount base and the cradle. Both top edges have the same narrow top. The WaA on this one is a fake marking added postwar. Another handmade mount. Again the sides are much steeper than the original, leaving a gap between the bottom of the mount and the frame. Like the Yugo mounts, this one sports a welding seam along the sides, although much cleaner than the Yugo ones.

The Norwegian Lafette 34/42 conversion. This one doesn't look anything like the others, looks very "handmade", but was converted for the Norwegian army postwar. Has nothing to do with the Waffenmeister Lafette 34/42 conversions.


This is one messed up Lafette! But check the release lever on the forward gun mount. It appears to be a handmade Waffenmeister item, so this might have been an original Lafette 34/42. The canvas pads and Yugo oil cap suggests that it saw Yugo service before someone repainted it khaki.....

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