The Lafette 34 was a tripod used by Germany to mount its MG 34 machine gun during World War II. The Lafette was well liked for its design and was commonly adapted by various countries for use post-war.
The Lafette tripod was a well-designed platform for the MG 34, created to put large concentrations of carefully aimed ammunition downrange towards enemy troop formations. To accomplish this, the Lafette made use of a gun cradle attached to very effective recoil springs that reduced the recoil of the MG 34 firing significantly and allowed for accurate sustained fire. For adaptability to varying combat situations, the tripod had three height settings, referred to as 'high', 'kneeling', and 'prone'.
Furthermore, the tripod could also quickly be collapsed, moved, and set up again in a new position all while keeping the previous height settings in place, making for a quick redeploy. To maximize the 'beaten zone' as the machine gun's area of fire was referred to, a special device known as the searching-fire unit was placed on the rear of the tripod. This device mechanically controlled the elevation of the gun and spread the machine gun's fire over a wider area. The machine gunner could then input the desired settings into the device to generate a certain sized area of fire at a certain distance.
Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of the Lafette 34 was its size and weight. At 20 kilograms without machine gun, the tripod itself proved to be quite a burden for a machine gun team, not including the further kilograms added by ammunition, replacement parts, and other equipment. To make transport easier, two leather pads were placed on the front leg so when collapsed, they would go against the carrier's back.
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