Lafette 42 Tripod...

The Laffette 42 tripod was a German design, used as a medium machine gun mount for the MG34 and MG42 machine guns. The MG42 was a development of the MG34, essentially adapted to make production easier, quicker and no doubt, cheaper. With a high rate of fire, over 1200 rpm (rounds per minute), it was a very reliable design, and it influenced many other designs, while the basic design, with only relatively minor updates, remains in service with the German army and many other nations, as the MG3.

At the end of WW2, Yugoslav forces simply lifted the manufacturing tools from German factories back to Yugoslavia, where they began to build their own version of the gun, the M53, and the associated Lafette tripod. 

The changes were minimal, such as slowing the rate of fire to about 950 rpm and the deletion of the screw thread for fitting the AA site to the top of the gun. The tripod was also a straight copy with only minor changes. One of these was a data plate fitted at the back of the top plate for the mounting. These are often removed but can be recognised by the 4 small holes where the plate once was (as on my example). The original German Lafette doesn't have these holes/plate.

Now, what prompted this series of pictures was when I finally got round to setting up my tripod and fitting the M53 for the first time. Straightforward, until I came to fold it up again. There was one element I couldn't immediately work out, though knowing it had to be simple. So, I searched on You Tube but couldn't find the answer I needed. Trying again, and looking for 'simple', I tried again, this time finding the answer. Still I thought a photo sequence might help others and give some extra detail for modellers.

There are plenty of wartime pictures showing the tripod in action, and being carried on the crews backs when on the march. The two large pads are there to protect the back of the crewman carrying it. The first point I would add is how heavy the tripod is, at around 20Kg (over 40 lbs). I don't have the shoulder harness for it, but the four D-rings can be clearly seen.

To start with, the two rear legs.  These are folded forward into bracket rest. Undo the large butterfly nut and loosen the toothed grip. Fold the legs back to the stop and tighten the butterfly nuts to fix.

For the front leg, there is a securing clip at the back, so release this and fold the leg forward.

Adjust it to where you want it to be fixed, then hold down the clip release on the front leg and extend it forward as far as you need.

Then stand the tripod on it's legs, and the next stage will be to raise the main gun support to the operating position. Press the lever seen in pictures 23-25, to release the securing catch, allowing the top plate to be lifted up and the trigger group and range table to raise to the operating position. A nice design touch is that the hand grip has a screw top and has a wire brush for what is an 'oil bottle'.

With the tripod erected, the gun can be fitted, the lugs at the back into the rear of the mounting, the trigger mechanism then slots into place when the front fitment locks onto the front of the mounting.

To fold the tripod again, the trick is to use both hands to pull back the two clips (seen in photos 37-41) and lift the upper plate, allowing the mechanism to disengage and enable the tripod to be folded down once more. The one thing I will add is to take care throughout the whole erection/collapsing process as it would be easy to trap your fingers, and that could cause injury if you are not careful.

I found mine through D&B Militaria here in the UK.

Robin

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