Guns of the Silver Screen: V22N10

By Kyle Shea

“Guns of Athena”

“Escape from Athena” takes place on an unnamed Greek island during WWII, where a garrison of German soldiers is forcing POWs to dig for ancient artifacts. The local resistance fights against the brutal German soldiers. One day, with the help of some captured American performers, they plan to liberate the camp and the island. The movie stars Roger Moore, Telly Savalas, Elliott Gould, Stefanie Powers and Claudia Cardinale.

In the movie, Telly Savalas, who plays the former monk-turned-resistance-fighter named Zeno, uses an MP44 Sturmgewehr in a large battle in the middle of the movie. The Sturmgewehr is one of the first assault rifles ever created and is credited as the forerunner of the modern assault rifles. It weighs about 10 pounds, and the magazine carries 30 rounds of the 7.92x33mm Kurz (8mm Kurz) ammunition. It is easy to shoot, doesn’t have too much recoil and has a controllable rate of fire at 600 rounds per minute.

The MP44 almost never came into being, thanks to Adolf Hitler. He was against this for a number of reasons, but the manufacturers decided to ignore him and produced large amounts of these guns and sent them to the war front. Hitler eventually accepted these guns, and according to a number of sources, he gave MP44 its name: The Sturmgewehr 44. This rifle had some effect on the war front, but it was not enough to turn the tide. Had it been introduced earlier and produced in more numbers, it may have won Germany the war.

The MP44 would out live WWII, seeing service in the East German Army until it was replaced with the AKM variants. The Soviet Union got their hands on captured MP44s and sent them to many revolutionary groups around the world. Some of these guns made it to the Viet Cong, who used it against the Americans during the Vietnam War. Some are even still being found in the Middle East, including the Horn of Africa and Syria.

All guns have their flaws, and the MP44 had a few. The first was the ammunition....

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N10 (December 2018)
and was posted online on October 26, 2018


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