The MG 17 was a German aircraft-mounted machine gun based on the MG 15. It was fitted on many fighters and bombers of the Luftwaffe during the earlier years of World War II.


In its essence, the MG 17 was a stripped-down, belt-fed modification of the standard MG 15 infantry machine gun.[3] As such, its basic mechanics were the same.

Unlike the MG 15, the MG 17 featured no grip, stock, or shoulder piece to accommodate a gunner. [3] To make it more useful, it was also equipped with propeller synchronization gear for nose-mounted positions.[3][2]

The machine gun was designed to be belt-fed. Standard cartridge-fed machine guns were impractical for fighters, since they could not be reloaded unless the craft was landed.[3][2]

The MG 17 was typically used for fixed-mounts on aircraft, in either the wings or nose cowlings.[3][2] In a few cases, an MG 17 was utilized as a motorkanone.[4] Its more complex twin, the MG 15, was mostly used for flexible rear-gunner mounts on German bombers and heavy fighters.[3]


The MG 17 was the main offensive machine gun of the Luftwaffe from long before World War II.[1] The belt-fed gun saw its first combat service on pre-war biplanes like the Heinkel He 51 and the Arado Ar 68.[5]

As early as 1934, the MG 17 was mounted on even earlier craft like the Ar 64.[6]

Between 1937 and 1940, the MG 17 was mounted on a number of German aircraft, including the early Messerschmitt Bf 109 versions (Anton, Bertha, Clara, Dora and Emil), the Messerschmitt Bf 110, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, the Junkers Ju 87, Junkers Ju 88 nightfighter versions, the Heinkel He 111, the Dornier Do 17 and 215 nightfighter versions, and the Focke-Wulf Fw 189.[1]

By 1940, the MG 17 was fazed out of service in favor of heavier armaments. Approximately 24,271 MG 17s were completed by January 1st of 1944. A number of conversions were completed to make the weapon usable by infantry. [1]

By the end of the war, the MG 17s numbers were very limited.


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