Blank firing device/Platzpatronengerät

Platzpatronengerät MP/Blank firing device MP

Übungsgerät as depicted in the D167/1 Manual from 1940
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Übungsgerät as depicted in the D167/1 Manual from 1940

The “Platzpatronengerät” (Blank firing device MP) is probably THE most obscure accessory of the MP38 and MP40. The first official notice of the device appeared in the D167/1 manual from the 12th of April 1940. On the last page of the manual the MP38 and MP40 accessories are depicted. The device is described as “Übungsgerät” (exercise device).

The designers of the MP38 and MP40 clearly developed the barrel of the MP38 and 40 to employ a blank firing device. This is the only reason why at this point in time both the MP38 and the MP40 carried a muzzle nut that could be unscrewed from the barrel. At this time there were no developments for a sound suppressor or whatsoever. The fact that the device was depicted in the technical and administrative manuals as well as on the instruction posters also suggests that the intention was to produce and distribute the device on a large scale similar to the pouches, the loader and the magazine brush.

Interestingly the Wehrmacht never seriously attempted to develop a blank cartridge in WW2. Some limited attempts were undertaken in the twenties and thirties. Initially however the Heereswaffenamt must have had plans in 1937 and early 1938 to develop such a cartridge because one of the requirements for the new MP38 was that it could carry a blank firing device. The idea of a blank firing cartridge must have been abandoned very quickly afterwards because the production must have been halted after a few prototypes and maybe a small production batch.

Platzpatronengerät screwed on MP38 muzzle
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Platzpatronengerät screwed on MP38 muzzle

The “Platzpatronengerät” that was a typical over-engineered device as we have seen more often in German engineering. Another good example is the hinged muzzle cap.

In general blank firing devices for blowback and gas-operated firearms are fairly simple of construction. These weapons depend on high pressure in the chamber generated by the ignition of the propellant to push the bolt to the rear, allowing another cartridge to be chambered and fired. If a blank cartridge is fired, there is no bullet to seal the barrel, and the gases exit through the muzzle without building up enough pressure to rechamber the next cartridge.

Simple blank firing devices for these firearms consist of a metal cap that usually can be screwed onto the barrel. The adapter is attached to the barrel muzzle of the firearm. A channel is provided to allow some of the gases to escape. With the more advanced blank firing devices these can be adjustable, allowing it to regulate the amount of pressure used to rechamber the next cartridge.

A downside to the use of these devices in gas-operated firearms is the amount of residue that is gathered in the barrel. Since only a small amount of residue can escape, compared to when live ammunition is in use. The barrel can pollute very quickly. Care must be taken to ensure cleanliness of the barrel following blank firing device use to avoid stoppages or damage to the weapon.

The specific blank firing device for the MP38 and MP40 was slightly more complicated since it’s design consisted out of a cap and a tube that could be inserted into the barrel of the MP38 or MP40. The cap contained 2 screws. On to arrange the gas pressure and one to fixate the gas pressure screw. After firing the blank cartridge the gasses could only travel through the tube and leave the cap, after passing the gas pressure screw through two exhaust holes.

As stated before the Platzpatronengerät first appeared in the D167/1 from the 12th of April 1940. This was the first time it appeared in a manual. Interestingly the device did not appear in the first MP38 manual…..

Platzpatronengerät as depicted in the D167/1 Manual from 1942
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Platzpatronengerät as depicted in the D167/1 Manual from 1942

In the reprint of the 25th of September 1942 the device was renamed from “Übungsgerät” to “Platzpatronengerät” at the photo description. In the textual description it was still named as Übungsgerät. This reprint showed a different device.

The following text was printed in the D167/1 manual on page 9:

Das Platzpatronengerät MP I dient als Rückstoßverstärker beim Schießen mit Platzpatronen. Es wird statt der Mutter zur Laufmündung auf die Laufmündung aufgeschraubt.

Das Platßpatronengerät MP besteht aus einem Kopf mit zwei seitlichen Durchbrüchen und Innengewinde zum Aufschrauben auf die Laufmündung. In den Kopf ist ein Bolzen eingeseßt, der bei aufgeschraubten Platßpatronengerät MP in den Lauf hineintragt. Die Außenseite des Kopfes ist gerändelt und zur unterscheidung von der Mutter(zur Laufmündung) weiß gekennzeichnet.

 

Translation:

The blank firing device MP I serves as a recoil amplifier when shooting with blank cartridges. It is screwed, instead of the muzzle nut, on the muzzle.

The blank firing device MP consists of a head with two lateral openings and internal thread for screwing onto the muzzle. Into the cap a bolt is seethed, which carries with screwed-on blank firing device MP in the barrel. The outside of the head is knurled and marked white to distinguish it from the nut (to the muzzle).

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The “Platzpatronengerät MP” is also depicted on the UT 112. Unterrichtstabelle 112 (Instruction table 112) with no further textual explanation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The “Platßpatronengerät MP” (Blank firing device MP) also appeared in the D197/1 Gerätliste (equipment list) from 1943 with the following specifications:

Neue Gerätnummer:      7903
Alte  Gerätenummer:    
Benennung des Geräts: Platzpatronengerät MP
Kurzbenennung:              PlPatrGer MP
Bemerkungen:                  01-3323

Translation:

New device number:      7903
Old device number:        Not specified
Name of the device:        Blank firing device MP
Short name:                       PlPatrGer MP
Remarks:                            01-3323

It is very strange that the device appeared in most of the official documentation but hardly any surviving specimens are encountered nowadays with collectors. Only one specimen is known to exist to this date. (Please contact me if you have more information at info@mp40.nl)

Platzpatronengerät in wooden box
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Platzpatronengerät in wooden box

This specimen came in a small almost luxury wooden box. The box seems to have been issued by Steyr-Daimler-Puch. On the inside of the cover a small piece of paper is glued with the following text:

“PLATZPATRONENGERÄT” WaA. 623

Das Platzpatronengerät MP 38 und MP40 dient als Rückstoßverstärker beim Schießen mit Platzpatronen. Es wird statt der Mutter zur Laufmündung auf die Laufmündung aufgeschraubt.

STEYR-DAIMLER-PUCH. „Steyr“ 1940.

Translation:

"BLANK FIRING DEVICE" WaA. 623

The BLANK FIRING DEVICE MP 38 and MP40 serves as a recoil amplifier when shooting with blank cartridges. It is screwed on the muzzle instead of the muzzle nut.

STEYR-DAIMLER-PUCH. "Steyr" 1940.

The text slightly differs from the text in the D167/1. What is more interesting is that Steyr is being mentioned. Steyr was the main manufacturer of the MP40 from 1940 until 1944. This is confirmed with the Waffenamt code WaA623.

Commercial logo on Platzpatronengerät
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Commercial logo on Platzpatronengerät

One would expect that Steyr would be the manufacturer of this device but on the main body of the device an unknow logo appears that definitely is not a logo from Steyr. The logo and letters are not clearly visible as the main housing is painted white. The logo seems to have a shape of an octagon and some unclear letter are depicted within the octagon. An “F” or “Z”??

If one of the reader of this page could enlighten me on this logo then please e-mail me at info@mp40.nl