Hetzer Remote Controlled M.G.
by Paul Decker | July 1977 AFV News

Faced with appallingly high losses among crewmen serving as machinegunners on assault guns and tank destroyers, a new MG mount designed to minimize these losses was developed. The new mount permitted the operator to defend the vehicle from inside the vehicle.
This device consisted of a standard MG.34 with a 50-round magazine mounted on a hollow column base atop the fighting compartment. Handlebar controls extended through the roof, which allowed the gun to be aimed, elevated and traversed without exposing the crew. A shield was bolted to this mount to protect the MG itself from hostile fire. The mounting consisted of a flanged socket bolted to the roof, into which fitted a hollow rotating pivot which carried the gun cradle above, and the handlebar controls below.
The gun cradle itself was a pressed steel frame mounted eccentrically on the pivot to provide vertical movement as well a horizontal movement. The MG.34 was mounted by two hooks on the rear of the cradle and a hinged clamp at the front. The firing trigger on the cradle was operated by a Bowden cable which ran through the hollow column to either a "T" handle which hung down, or a firing trigger on the traversing handle. When mounted on the traversing handle, the trigger looked like a bicycle handbrake lever with a thin metal handguard.
The periscope on this mount was a standard 3-power sniper's scope fitted to with mirrors and lenses. A link between the control shaft for the MG and the periscope mount allowed simultaneous traverse and elevation of both the periscope and the gun. The fixed graticle in the periscope consisted of a vertical line with a large gap, and a large inverted "V" which formed the aiming point. Six small triangles, 3 on each side, provided a deflection scale of 8 mils each, or a total of 24 mils both left and right. Small vertical lines of 4 mils each were situated between the triangles.
While this mount was successful in reducing the crew's exposure when operating the MG, there WERE problems. The 50-round drum slowed down the volume of defensive fire, since the gun had to be loaded largely by "feel". Fifty rounds was only half the size of the normal panzer MG belt, so the cumbersome reloading process had to be done far more often. The field of vision of the periscope was only 8 degrees, which meant enemy troops could more easily approach the vehicle undetected. The hatch behind the mount could not be opened until the mount was swung sideways. Finally, the control portion of the gun extended about 18 inches down into the already cramped fighting compartment. Loading the heavy rounds, and ducking the mount, especially in a heavy firefight, required the combined skills of a weight lifter and an acrobat.
DIMENSIONS:
Total Weight of Mount:- 82 lbs.
Diam. of Flange Socket:- 10"
Overall Height:- 19"
Overall Height of Gun Cradle:- 13.9"
Overall Length of Handlebars:- 23"
Overall Length of Periscope:- 14.5"

Inside view of loaders and gunner's position.

Overhead shot of MG34 mounted.

Front of mount. Small hole in center of barrel is gas vent for blank adapter.

Overhead front shot showing front clamp and 2 control arms that control elevation.

Overhead shot of mount itself. Bowden Cable and return spring for remote trigger device.

Front of mount.

Closeup of eccentric mount with 2 control arms projecting from hollow flange.

Phil Cavanaugh, Patton Museum Director (1966) demonstrating the remote MG mount.

Closeup of the mount. This base was actually stolen from a StuG.III.

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26 June, 1999

Richard Gruetzner