Original German WWI Maxim MG 08/15 Camouflage Display Machine Gun by Spandau Arsenal - dated 1918
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a fine example of the legendary German Maxim Maschinengewehr (Machine Gun) 08/15, known as the MG 08/15, complete with a very rare original bipod. This gun became, by far, the most common German machine gun deployed in World War I (Dolf Goldsmith, 1989) since it reached a full allocation of six guns per company or 72 guns per regiment in 1918. By that time, there were four times as many MG 08/15 light machine guns than heavy MG 08 machine guns in each infantry regiment. This fine example is covered with markings and proofs, and is nicely marked on the top cover:
Spandau Arsenal, known in German as Gewehr und Munitionsfabrik (Gwf.) Spandau during the WWI period, the center for development of military small arms for Imperial Germany from the Industrial Revolution until 1919. They manufactured many long arms during the 19th and early 20th centuries at the their location, which is today part of Berlin.
The top cover is marked with serial number 5135/d, and the top latch is matching, but the rest of the parts have different serial numbers. There are lot of markings and proofs on this example, typical of WWI German production. There is even a maker mark on the bottom of the bipod, which looks like interlocking letter "S"s. The fusee spring cover and water jacket have very nice camouflage paint jobs, though these were done post war. The camouflage is very well executed and certainly add to the display appeal.
This is a complete and fully BATF approved inert non-firing display gun for the advanced collector. This fine example was built from all original parts and is offered in fine condition with multiple German markings and serial numbers. Only the steam port cover is a well made reproduction. Please note that there are combat dents to the fusee spring cover and water jacket, but overall a really nice display piece from over 100 years ago. Most internal parts are included and are complete. The lock is not included.
History of the MG 08-
The Maschinengewehr 08, or MG 08, was the German Army's standard machine gun in World War I and is an adaption of Hiram S. Maxim's original 1884 Maxim gun. It was produced in a number of variants during the war. The MG 08 served during World War II as a heavy machine gun in many German infantry divisions, although by the end of the war it had mostly been relegated to second-rate fortress units.
The Maschinengewehr 08 (or MG 08) - so-named after 1908, its year of adoption - was a development of the license made Maschinengewehr 01. It could reach a firing rate of up to 400 rounds per minute using 250-round fabric belts of 7.92x57mm ammunition, although sustained firing would lead to overheating; it was water-cooled using a jacket around the barrel that held approximately one gallon of water. Using a separate attachment sight with range calculator for indirect fire, the MG 08 could be operated from cover. Additional telescopic sights were also developed and used in quantity during the war.
The MG 08, like the Maxim gun, operated on the basis of short barrel recoil and a toggle lock; once cocked and fired the MG 08 would continue firing rounds until the trigger was released (or until all available ammunition was expended). Its practical range was estimated at some 2,000 metres (2,200 yd) up to an extreme range of 3,600 metres (3,900 yd). The MG 08 was mounted on a sled mount (German: Schlittenlafette) that was ferried between locations either on carts or else carried above men's shoulders in the manner of a stretcher.
Pre-war production was by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) in Berlin and the government arsenal at Spandau (so that the gun was often referred to as a Spandau MG 08).
A lightened and thus more portable version - by "stepping-down" the upper rear and lower forward corners of the original MG 08's rectangular-outline receiver and breech assembly - was tested as a prototype in 1915 by a team of weapon designers under the direction of a Colonel Friedrich von Merkatz: the MG 08/15. The MG 08/15 had been designed to be manned by four trained infantrymen spread on the ground around the gun and in the prone position. To accomplish that purpose the MG 08/15 featured a short bipod rather than a heavy four legged sled mount, plus a wooden gunstock and a pistol grip. At 18 kg, the MG 08/15 was lighter and less cumbersome than the standard MG 08 since the MG 08/15 had been designed to provide increased mobility of infantry automatic fire. It nevertheless remained a bulky water-cooled weapon that was quite demanding on the quality and training of its crews. Accurate fire was difficult to achieve and usually in short bursts only. It was first introduced in battle during the French "Chemin des Dames" offensive in April 1917 where it contributed to the very high casualty count among the French assailants. Its deployment in increasingly large numbers with all front line infantry regiments continued in 1917 and during the German offensives of the spring and summer of 1918. The MG 08/15 became, by far, the most common German machine gun deployed in World War I (Dolf Goldsmith, 1989) since it reached a full allocation of six guns per company or 72 guns per regiment in 1918. By that time, there were four times as many MG 08/15 light machine guns than heavy MG 08 machine guns in each infantry regiment. To attain this goal, about 130,000 MG 08/15 had to be manufactured during World War I, most of them by the Spandau and Erfurt government arsenals.
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