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August Coenders’ 9x19mm Belt-Fed MG


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian McCollum and I am filming today from beautiful Malta by gracious invitation of the Association of Maltese Arms Collectors and Shooters. And today we are going to take a look at August Coenders’ 9mm, belt-fed, submachine gun. So August Coenders was a firearms designer
of German birth. He was born in 1890, and starting in the very early 1920s he …
actually started his own firm in Germany doing developmental work on the 20mm Oerlikon
gun, or a gun like it. The sources are a little bit vague. He continued this for about four years until in 1924
the company he was working for went bankrupt, so he needs somewhere else to go.
So at that point he actually went to France, and he went to work for the Puteaux
Arsenal for three more years until 1927. Again, working on, apparently, 20mm aircraft guns. When that finished off, he ended up then going
to England. So he travelled around quite a bit. In the 1930s when, you know, international
tensions started to build, he came back to Germany. But, as a result of his time spent working in France and
the UK, the German government never really trusted him. And that would come back to have a real impact
on many of his well, basically all of his designs. So as Germany started to rearm itself and
as it eventually got into World War Two, Coenders designed a number of different guns …
that he wanted to have used by the German military. This is one of them. This is a belt-fed 9mm, it’s not really a submachine gun,
it’s sort of a 9mm light machine gun. We’ll pull this apart and talk about it in
just a moment, but I also want to point out he also made an 8×57 Mauser calibre
light machine gun, which allegedly competed in the trials that led to the MG42.
Not surprisingly, his didn’t win. He was acting as an independent designer,
because of this former work experience in France in particular, the German
authorities just didn’t really trust him. And I think it didn’t help that he
was apparently quite outspoken, angrily against people who said
his work wasn’t maybe the best ever. When his work was criticised he
responded in kind and quite forcefully. And so he developed really a pretty poor
relationship with the German military authorities. Which, of course, is not going to be helpful in trying
to get the German military authorities to buy your guns. Anyway, he developed an 8mm light machine gun,
or medium machine gun, this 9mm thing. He also developed a Volkssturmgewehr rifle, what appears to be a five-round manually operated last-ditch rifle at the end of the war. None of these went anywhere. The thing
that actually did have some success was a special type of artillery shell he developed. That’s a story for a completely different video,
but that’s probably the best-known thing about him. … Because he was independent, he wasn’t associated
with any of the main German arms companies. In fact, after World War Two when in
fact this gun was captured by American soldiers at his workshop and taken
back to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Coenders himself wasn’t actually
found until partway through 1946. Apparently he was basically hiding out in a cabin
in the forest, and it took several attempts for US troops and the German police to
locate and arrest him for questioning. Which was pretty standard of arms designers, other
countries wanted to know what he’d been working on. So anyway, it wasn’t until 1946 that he
was finally found and interrogated about the various work that he had done during the war. So that’s the story of the man, August Coenders. And
now let’s go ahead and take a closer look at this gun. Before we take this apart, there are a
couple things that we need to cover. So there is only one example of this gun extant.
There may only have been one ever built. And when this was captured by US troops, it was
actually missing the barrel and the top cover assembly. However, we actually have an original
archived German photo showing it with its original barrel and top cover
assembly and there are some differences. So the original barrel actually
has a ventilated shroud here, and it has a front sight on the
front of the barrel that flips up. The original top cover is not of this type of design.
This is basically copied from the MG42 because this gun was completed by
technicians at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in order to do testing, and the German
belt-fed gun that they were familiar with was the 42, and so they they basically
copied the same style of top cover for it. On the original gun, the Coenders
design, we don’t know how it worked, because we only have
basically the one picture from the side. But … it’s a cylindrical assembly and it
has a larger cylindrical assembly right here over the feedway, which would suggest
that it had some sort of rotary sprocket or something like that. Not the same, well, I can
just show you this right here, not the same style of MG42 type … feed system like this has now. So there are three versions of
pictures you will see of this gun. One of them is in this configuration, one of them has the original top cover and there is a book that was put out by Aberdeen covering their gun collection at the
end of the war, or in the ’50s or ’60s, that shows it as it was captured,
without a barrel and without any top cover. Now having covered that, there are some features
here that we can point out. It is 9mm Parabellum. It used a non-disintegrating
metallic belt for feeding, looks fairly similar to the MG34 / MG42 belts,
but obviously not exactly the same. There was a belt with this gun.
Unfortunately several years ago the belt itself was actually stolen, and
remained missing to this day, very sadly. However, it is a simple blowback mechanism.
So it’s got a fixed firing pin, it fires from an open bolt, there is no locking system, there’s no delaying
system. It’s just mass and a spring, which is all you would need for 9mm. This is the bolt handle. You do actually have to have it cocked You’ve got a little stud here
on the bolt, which runs in this spring-loaded track. Of course,
… that top cover is Aberdeen’s, not Coenders’. So, fires from an open-bolt like so. Belt comes out here, and the empty cases come
out here. So we have this bent piece of sheet metal which ensures that the belt
doesn’t interfere with the ejection, so you don’t get cases
bouncing back into the ejection port. The trigger is a very simple open bolt style
of sear, there’s really nothing fancy to it at all. There is a major question of why would you
want a gun like this? Like, what’s the point? And the most likely answer to
that seems to be for a vehicular mount. If … you think of … not necessarily a coaxial gun, but a gun port firing weapon in an armoured vehicle
that’s not typically going to be used at long distance. It’s largely going to be used
for point defence for the vehicle. And at that sort of range one can understand
how a 9mm Parabellum could be potent enough to be considered acceptable. And you get
the nice benefit of having a much smaller gun, a lighter gun, smaller ammunition.
You could carry more ammunition, or you could carry the same amount
of ammunition in a smaller space. And space is valuable on the
inside of an armoured vehicle. They are cramped and something
like this could be justifiable. So that seems to be the
most likely explanation for the gun. Now to take it apart is actually really quite simple
because, of course, it is just a simple blowback action. Our barrel is held on with a spring catch right
here. I push that down. It’s really quite tight. There we go. We rotate the barrel 90
degrees and then the barrel comes off. Just two lugs holding the barrel on. Once again,
I have to point out this is the Aberdeen made barrel, this is not the original Coenders barrel. So we can’t
necessarily infer anything from this particular barrel. We can then take the bolt out through
the rear, because the butt-stock assembly is simply threaded onto
the end of the receiver tube. Take this off … That comes out, we have a guide rod in the butt-stock. A very simple recoil spring. To take the
bolt out, we have to open the top cover. Pull this back, I can pull out this
guide pin and then the bolt. The slot for the bolt handle
goes all the way to the very back, so the bolt comes out there. And then we have one more bit of disassembly.
You’ll notice there’s a pin across here. This actually has a recoil buffer built into the
back end of the bolt. That’s a little guide rod. So a really heavy spring here on this plunger.
That is simply to give a little bit of absorption, of padding basically, so that when
the bolt hits the rear end of travel in the receiver in the butt-stock, it’s not transmitting a
violent impact into the bolt assembly every time. That heavy spring just absorbs a little
bit of whatever recoil is left at that point. And this spring comes off, like so. You can see the fixed firing pin there, extractor, slot for the ejector, and just a big
spoon handle, sort of a blade style, of bolt handle. There’s not a whole lot else to show you on the receiver. We do know that the original top cover would
have assembled in basically the same way, because this latch … was originally
Coenders. They didn’t change that. We have our feed mechanism right here.
So a belt comes in and this hole, right there, is where the bolt is going to pick up a cartridge
and push it down into the barrel out of the belt. This rib on the top of the bolt is what does that. So, right there, that rib comes through,
hits the back end of a cartridge case, pushes it in. This is going to act, right here,
as a downward-sloping feed ramp. Pushes it into the chamber and then
immediately fires it with the fixed firing pin. There’s the view from the front. And, of course,
the original top cover did have a rear sight on it, where the Aberdeen one doesn’t,
because of course they were only interested in looking into its functionality,
not actually trying to use it. The firing mechanism is extremely simple. You can
just barely see it down there in the bottom of the tube. It’s just a sear that drops when I pull the trigger. There doesn’t appear to be any special safety in there like you might expect for a more
thoroughly developed submachine gun. So, that’s it. There we go. That is pretty much
everything we know about August Coenders’ 9mm, belt-fed, probably made
for a vehicle, machine gun. Interestingly for such a small scale, independent sort of
operation we have this Coenders 9mm gun that exists. We don’t know if any of his light machine
guns exist, but one of his last-ditch Volkssturm rifles also exists and sold
recently, I believe in an Amoskeag action. So that one’s still out there. And
there are some good trials reports, or good intelligence reports on his
artillery shells that include some biographical information, which, by the way, is
the reference material which I used for this video. So it’s kind of cool that so much of the stuff
about this guy does still survive to this day. I’d like to give a big thanks to the Maltese
collector who let me bring this one out to take apart and show to you guys.
Hopefully you enjoyed the video. If you did, please do consider supporting me directly
through ForgottenWeapons.com or via Patreon. It is your support there that makes it possible for me to
travel to places like Malta and bring you guns like this one. Thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “August Coenders’ 9x19mm Belt-Fed MG

  1. Coenders sounds more like an originally Dutch/Belgian name???. It probably should be pronounced more with a UUHH/OEHH sound ???

  2. Very interesting concept. It might have been very effective as a firing port weapon. I'm particularly impressed that the ordnance guys at Aberdeen were able to design and fabricate their own top cover for the gun which may have worked very well and was more aesthetically pleasing than the original. I wonder whether you could get it to work with slightly modified M27 5.56mm disintegrating links…

  3. While most of the comments are about how the gun ended up in Malta, I'm more impressed by the two Norwegian books in the cardboard.

  4. Ian, I was just in a massive fight with my mother. And on the verge of tears. And I dont know how or why but your videos always calm me down so well. And make me feel so.much better. You have no idea how.much you help.people. even when you don't mean to do anything more than educate us, you end up helping us all.
    Thank you for doing what you do.
    -a friend

  5. Bet this must've pissed off the techs at Aberdeen. "We basically have to complete this design – but we know what it is – it's a small-caliber machine gun. Pretty sure it's not going to be the secret weapon we want to adopt – but the brass said 'all designs' so of course that means 'all designs' so until they find that douche hiding unnecessarily in the forest in Bavaria somewhere we have to finish his design and test it – even though we know the likely results."

  6. Folks, it’s a horrible idea. In 1940 it was a horrible idea. You could probably figure out a use for such a blivit, (canoe paddle?) but it is still horrible.

  7. It sounds like that guy was super excited when someone finally wanted to talk to him. This literally looks like someone took some pipes and made a gun out of them.

  8. Ha! Best video ever. Was looking at the library behind you and noticed the soviet small arms and ammunition book. Paused the video, found book on web at Canadian book seller and purchased. Interesting video, cool book added my book shelf, win win. Thanks!

  9. I'm working on some video game design stuff and we wanted an alternate-world weapon, and I told the artist I wanted an ugly submachine gun. Like truly fugly: a uncomfortable looking grip, a muffler for a barrel shroud and a boot for a stock.
    He linked me this video with no further context.
    We're adapting this to our game. Mag-fed, though, we're not madmen.

  10. Looks like it would be great as a SAW seeing that soldiers back then didn't wear body armor like today. Light, compact, and I'm sure the RoF on it is tremendous, perfect for suppressing the American fireteam or Russian human waves.

  11. I love the obscure weapons you feature. I do 3d modeling as a hobby so it's great when I have something unique to look at an use for inspiration.

  12. Belt feed seems like the ideal way to take everything you need in a submachinegun, and ruin it. Maybe as a scaled down prototype to test the feed-mechanism, for a useful machinegun, but that's about the only reason i could conceive of making something like this. Other than a "Hey, look what I did!" Colin Furze kind of curiosity.

  13. I see a couple of Norwegian books there. One Kongsberg and another one bearing the shield of the Norwegian military. Can't see what they are about though. Probably guns …

  14. Can you imagine if this gun was available today. One of those mg42 drommelmags underneath it and away you go!

  15. I love old German prototypes. You can see so many similarities when you take down guns still being used today by our Military.The Luger PO8 is very similar to the Israeli Kriss inner recoil management system

  16. "he wasn't easily found… He'd basically been hiding out in a cabin in the woods and it took several attempts by American & German authorities to arrest him" — Koolest Gun Designer Ever !!!

  17. Had me sold on the idea of a Belt-Fed Uzi. Do not care if people say it is stupid. It is Belt-Fed! They will be crying in terror. Now if Water Cooled. Heavy's Laugh from Team Fortress 2

  18. Coënders as you keep saying it? or Coenders? with oe as one sound that is like ou but seemingly doesn't exist in English?

  19. Well… The idea wouldn't be that stupid in an early aircraft gun… You can save weight because you don't have to carry mags and 9mm being so light weight and it would be enough for ww1 era planes

  20. They should CASTRATE PEOPLE who steal antique items like that belt. Total aholes. There was a similar thing in the state capital near where I worked. This group of old guys had these 2 ancient war aircraft and believed they could make one, the only WORKING ONE IN THE COUNTRY from these 2 beat up ones. Some ahole stole a completed wing and THEN it was never found by cops, they put out an appeal on the news and STILL nothing and after a few years they closed up because it was simply impossible without that wing. Plenty of methheads in the area. Society doesn't need methheads. They should finish them with AA guns.

  21. Like an ultralight aircraft….but would have some usefulness.
    That thing would be great with a backpack full of linked ammo & quick change barrel, a true trench sweeper.

  22. The feeding mechanism on the picture of the original Coenders MG looks rather similar to the rotating feeding mechanism of the MG-17. The MG-17 feeding mechanism was reversable and could be fed from either side, something that would make alot of sense to copy in gun (supposedly) designed to be used in a confined space like a vehicle.

  23. This is very intresting and would be a nice remake! As pointless as it is I'd still love to have one and that's why I'm going to get my FFL just so I can make that!

  24. the thing looks like a pipe gun from fallout 4, I mean the part holding together all the parts for the firing mechanism is a damn pipe.

  25. Soo, a german 9mm MG in malta after being captured by americans and made by a german who worked in france

    Anyone else wondering how?

  26. This would be ideal for mounting in murder holes in bunkers where a full size mg would be impractical. If one had to deny access to a short hallway for as long as possible that's definitely a practical lil' option….

    plus its cute

  27. Yeah its a rotary sprocket, Theres no other way to push the belt left or right without that design besides an MG style top cover/belt feeder.

  28. Coenders sounds suspiciously Dutch. I guess he had Dutch or Flemish ancestry? Or is it actually Cönders? though the C still wouldn't make sense in German.

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