BACKGROUND: Although development of a Selbstladegewehr, (Semiautomatic rifle), had been undertaken by German armament factories as early as 1908, it wasn’t until the invasion of Russia in 1941, when the Germans came up against Russians armed with the quick firing Tokarev semiautomatic rifles that the Heeresfeldzeugmeisterei, (Army Ordnance Department), issued an urgent request for a comparable weapon. This led to the development of the Selbstladegewehr 41 in 1941 which, with modifications, evolved into the Gewehr 43 and eventually the Karabiner 43 in 1943. The Gewehr 43 and Karabiner 43 were basically improved modification of the Selbstladegewehr 41, and were designed with an integral “T” shaped scope mounting base. This design allowed the rifle to be converted to a sharpshooters rifle with the ease of sliding on a preassembled, mass produced scope assembly. Of Note: As early as 1928 personnel of the Reichswehr High Command decided that the marksmanship efficiency of the individual German soldier had advanced to the level that the development and expense of producing sharp shooting scopes was unjustified. After Hitler’s rise to power the confidence in the marksmanship ability of the German soldier still held sway but due to discord and infighting within the OKH, Oberkommando des Heeres, (High Command of the Army), the development of sharpshooters scopes was officially approved in mid-1939. As a sign of the internal discord the HwaA, Heereswaffenamt, (Army Ordnance Office), a sub-section of the OKH, responsible for testing, evaluation and eventual issue of all army ordnance items, advised development of a four power magnification scope, but mysteriously this advice was overruled and the development of a one and one/half power magnification scope was approved. Eventually in 1943 the Voigtländer optical firm, with HwaA approval, developed the four power magnification ZFK 43, scope, also referred to as the Gw ZF4 sharpshooter’s scope, designed for use with the Gewehr 43 and Karabiner 43 semi-automatic rifles.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The four power magnification, blued, machine tooled, steel and sheet metal construction scope is roughly, 15.4 cm long with a 30mm diameter at both the ocular and objective ends and a squared centerpiece. The centerpiece features a raised, milled, range elevation adjustment dial with variable range adjustments from 100 to 800 meters in increments of 50 meters. The centerpiece also has a raised windage adjustment dial that is internally set and fixed. The optics have the typical single, vertical and dual, horizontal side bar reticule pattern sights. Optics are clean and clear but a touch out of focus. The range elevation adjustment dial raises or lowers the reticule pattern as required. The scope is well marked with impressed designation, “Gw ZF 4”, indicating Gewehr-Zielfernrohr 4-fach, (Rifle-Telescopic sight 4 power), manufacturers code, “ddx” indicating manufacture by Voigtländer & Sohn A.-G Braunschweig , a triangular lubricant code in green for tropical, signifying temperature ranges the scope could be used in, and serial number, “31911”. Scope has no “strike through” on the serial number indicating it was never re-issued again after WW2 and so is a battlefield pick up direct from WW2.
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Original vet bring back from Joe. E. Wanless of Sprinfield, IL who passed away in 2006. More information on Joe can be found with a simple Google search.
His entire liberated collection is displayed on a table in the photos below. It is remarkable at how much stuff he was able to send back to his home in Springfield and includes one of the original shipping crates with his name and home address on it.