The Sturmgewher 44 was the world's first true assault rifle and was introduced by the German army late in WWII. It was the direct inspiration for the Russian AK47, the most prolific gun in the world. If the war had continued another year, the SG44 would have replaced every other rifle, ligh machine gun, and submachine gun in the Wehrmacht, including the antique Karabiner 98k and anemic MP38.
The SG44 was revolutionary in that it combined the best elements of both rifles and submachine guns. It fired an intermediate cartridge that was powerful enough to hit targets accurately at long ranges, yet not so overwhelming that automatic fire became impossible.
The SG44 was originally called the Maschinenpistol 43, but when Hitler cancelled the MP43 project for dubious reasons, its designers were so confident in its benefits, they changed the name and secretly continued research.
The assault rifle proved an invaluable weapon, especially on the Eastern front, where it was first deployed. A properly trained soldier with an SG44 had a greatly improved tactical repertoire, in that he could effectively engage targets at long range across open terrain, or in close range urban fighting, as well as provide cover fire in all situations as a machine gun role.
The wisdom of the assault rifle concept has been born out in that, with the exception of a few specialized positions such as the sniper, virtually every soldier in every army today carries a descendent of the SG44.
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