Original Item: Received from a museum quality private collection! (Please scroll to the bottom of the page for more photos.) This is one of the most unusual Machine Guns of WW2. Starting life probably in the late 1930s as an Air Cooled MG 15 Luftwaffe Machinegun used in Junker Bombers etc these were transferred to ground use for the Eastern Front some time after 1942. In the air cooled configuration at ground level however the high rate of fire caused barrel overheating which didn?t happen at high flying altitudes. The result was that barrels were very quickly worn out with overheating so in 1943 it was decided to convert some of these MG 15 Air Cooled weapons to a Water Cooled configuration for ground use.
The logistical problem that the Germans faced was that all Arms Factories were already at full Wartime production in Germany, Belgium and Czechoslovakia making the same weapons they had made prior to WW2 but now for use by the Nazis.
Only in France was there "machine time" available in the occupied Arms Factories since the German used little war material manufactured by the French.
The end result was that quantities of Air Cooled MG 15 Luftwaffe Machine Guns were shipped from the Eastern Front to France for conversion to the Water cooled ground configuration.
Each Water Cooled MG 15 is marked on it's new muzzle gland directly in front of the new Water Jacket " Mitr.Rhm.Cal.7.92" which was short for MITRAEUSE RHEINMETAL. CALIBER 7.92mmX 57mm. The MG 15 was referred to as the "Rheinmetal" having been developed by the German Company Rheinmetal Borzig and Mitraeuse is French for Machine Gun and obviously the 7.92mm is the standard German WW2 Rifle and machine gun ammunition.
The water cooled version was designed for use with both the traditional Luftwaffe 75 round "saddle drum" magazine AND a version of the MG 13 box magazine with a 25 round capacity. As a result of use with a tall standing box magazine the Water Cooled version had "off set" sights to avoid obstruction.
All these Water Cooled examples were used primarily on the Eastern Front and indeed examples have survived from only that area. Although the conversions were done in France in 1943 the "Carry Handles" we believe are a post war addition with a distinct Russian influence. The added butt stock is derived from a simplified MG 13 version and the newly added short bipod is a conversion from the standard MG 34 production; an ingenious German transformation of a Luftwaffe Air Cooled Weapons to Water Cooled Ground use.
The traditional 75 round Saddle Drum magazine in this case has the scarce "Prestoff" imitation leather carry handle strap and is dated and coded "wd41" for Hugo Scheider Werk A.G. in Langewiesen, Germany and 1941.
Reconstructed as a Display Gun this system allows the bolt to be retracted, cocked and fired without any chance of re-conversion to an operational weapon. Determined as a "NON GUN" by BATF these items are unrestricted by Federal Law.
Beautifully restored to display condition by our own Jerry Jacobsen, this superior example of this scarce MG 15 Water Cooled Display Machine Gun is a credit to any collection.
Complete as shown, simply the best we've seen.