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Syrian Civil War: WWII weapons used. Sturmgewehr (Stg) 44, “assault rifle 44”

In August 2012, the ISIS affiliated Syrian Al-Tawhid Brigade posted a video clip on their YouTube channel showing a cache of StG 44 in their possession, which they claim to have captured amongst 5,000 StG 44 rifles and various ammunition from a weapons depot in the city of Aleppo.

Photos later surfaced of the rebels using them in combat.

The WWII waffenamt stamp on one of the Syrian StG-44s.

Note: The video was removed by Youtube for unknown reasons.

The al-Tawhid Brigade was formed in 2012. Reportedly backed by Qatar, al-Tawhid was considered one of the biggest groups in northern Syria, dominating much of the insurgency around Aleppo. The al-Tawhid Brigade was formed in 2012 in order to coordinate the Battle of Aleppo, with the stated mission to found a “civil state in Syria with Islam being the main source of legislation.

Zielgerät 1229 infra-red aiming device, also known by its codename Vampir (“vampire”)

Some StG 44s were fitted with the Zielgerät 1229 infra-red aiming device, also known by its codename Vampir (“vampire”). This device consisted of a large scope, rather like modern starlight scopes, and a large infra-red lamp on top, the scope being able to pick up the infra-red that would be invisible to the naked eye. The user had to carry a transformer backpack powered by a battery fitted inside the gas mask canister. Electric cables connected the power unit with the IR reflector, with the cathode ray tube mounted on the rifle imaging IR from the spotlight. The Vampir had only 15 minutes of battery life, but was able to sight within 200 meters in total darkness. A conical flash hider was added to the barrel to keep the muzzle flash from blinding the shooter.

The StG 44 was the first assault rifle-type weapon to be accepted into widespread service and put into mass production. “The principle of this weapon — the reduction of muzzle impulse to get useful automatic fire within actual ranges of combat — was probably the most important advance in small arms since the invention of smokeless powder.” The StG 44’s effect on post-war arms design was wide-ranging, as made evident by Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47, and later Eugene Stoner’s M16 and its variants.

The rifle was chambered for the 7.92×33mm Kurz cartridge.

A soldier demonstrates the transitional MP 43/1 variant, used to determine the suitability of the rifle for sniping purposes, October 1943. The rifle is fitted with a ZF 4 telescopic sight.

At the end of the war, Hugo Schmeisser claimed that 424,000 MP 43/MP 44/StG 44 rifles were built between June 1943 and April 1945 in four plants: 185,000 by C.G. Haenel in Suhl; 55,000 by J.P. Sauer & Sohn in Suhl; 104,000 in Erfurt; and 80,000 by Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG in Steyr, Austria. This was fewer than the 1.5 million ordered, and far fewer than the 4 million planned.

Some 822 million rounds of 7.92×33mm Kurz ammunition were produced from 1942 to 1945. At the beginning of March 1945, the troops had 273.9 million rounds, with a replenishment reserve of 69.6 million rounds on standby.