One of the most interesting events surrounding German resistance to the disarmament clauses of the Versailles Treaty was the creation of a firm in Switzerland to develop German patents on machine guns and small arms.
Starting in 1929 Rheinische Metallwaaren- und Maschinenfabrik AG (Rheinmetall) entered into a relationship with two Austrian firms, Patronenfabrik Hirtenberger (cartridge factory owned by Fritz Mandl, who “coincidentally” owned most of “Patronenfabrik Solothurn AG” stock after it collapsed) and Steyr-Werke AG, where they acquired controlling interest in a failing Swiss cartridge maker. This Swiss based firm, Waffenfabrik Solothurn AG, would work closely with the famous Steyr-Werke (formerly ÖWG) to develop weapons based upon patents that were owned by Rheinmetall, which due to the Versailles Treaty and German law, could not develop them or sell them for export.
Rheinmetall had hidden machinery in the Netherlands after World War One and this would become the foundation for the heavy machine guns and cannons the new firm would produce. For the small arms manufacture, the facilities at Steyr would be leased. Starting in November 1930 this new company, “Steyr-Solothurn Waffen AG”, would develop some of the most innovating and important heavy machineguns and small arms of the interwar period, many of which would see further development during World War II.
We have just completed three issues of the MRJ, #209, 210, & 211, this is three of the four issues we are going to do this year. We are going to get another issue out by Christmas and this is a new effort to get things back on course…
After some discussion, we have decided to try and put out issues timelier, though they will be shorter and how short will depend upon how many articles are contributed for us to print. We have decided to shorten the issues to about 20 pages, a few more or less depending on the length of articles available. The reasons are many, for one we do not have enough articles to sustain 27-29 page issues anymore, second shorter issues will easier to complete, print and mail. Also, we have introduced the new pdf version of the MRJ, we tried it last issue experimentally, to about 25% of the subscribers, but we are expanding it to anyone that wants to participate. Again, this is due to printing and mailing costs, especially to the overseas subscribers, where costs are ridiculously high even for a 3 oz newsletter. We will continue to offer mail service, the MRJ started in 1991 with the newsletter format and we will not change that, though our printers are old and the print quality is not what it once was… we urge everyone that can go to pdf to do so, with the pdf you can print your individual copy in the quality you desire, or just the article of interest or read it on electronic devises at your leisure. We must say though that the continued existence of the MRJ depends on a good number going to pdf, it is the largest hurdle we face printing and mailing copies, – the MRJ costs us money every printing and if half the subscribers go pdf we might actually have a small profit continuing it (naturally our goal is to at least break even, but profit is better as it is time consuming). Either way, one way or another, we will get four issues out next year, – even if they consist only of a few pages…
Often the question comes up on the internet forums about when the dismounting washer-ferrule, typically referred to as a takedown disc (German collectors call it a kolbenauge), and finger grips show up on wartime German rifles. The question is not easy to answer though because each feature shows up at different times on each maker, it was not implemented in an organized manner, and even when these features show up it can often be intermittent, or in batches before it becomes normal.
The take down washer-ferrule was the first feature order by the War Ministry, on November 8, 1915 it was ordered that a take down washer be added to each stock to aid in the disassembly and cleaning of the bolt. Due to the complicated process this involved, this feature took the longest to introduce. It varies between manufacturers, but typically the larger manufacturers took the longest to introduce this feature, none seem to have made it a regular feature before late 1916, and the Suhl Consortium (JPS, CGH, VCS regularly have this feature by the m-block of 1916) were the earliest to introduce this feature so far as research has shown.
The finger grips along the sides of the stock, to make it easier to grasp the stock, was ordered by the War Ministry on January 1916, it was the earliest to show up, probably because it was an easy feature to add to a stock. Even still, the larger firms were slow to implement them regularly, DWM for example managed to get them done starting 1916, but it was intermittent and very late, and not until well into 1917 that both became regular features. The Suhl Consortium again was early to include both features, it is rare to find a late 1916 or 1917 Suhl maker without both features.