Original German WWII Rheinmetall Romanian ST-61 MG 15 Water Cooled Display Gun with Saddle Drum Magazine & Shoulder Stock

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. During the WWII period, the German War Machine was in full swing, producing all manner of weapons. The allies of Germany also had access to much of the same weaponry, made under contract. These were usually marked with an export contract number, which usually had the prefix "ST" in front of it. For example, the ST 63 was the MG 17 Machine gun, and the ST 51 was the 2 cm Flak 30. In this way they would ensure that their allies were well armed to protect their flanks.

The German MG15, originally developed in 1932 for Aircraft use, was given the Export designation ST 61, and many ST 61 and MG 15 marked guns were sent under contract to Romania for using during the War, and they also continued to use them afterwards. While no longer considered effective aircraft weapons, they were fine for use on the ground when equipped with a special bracket and bipod. The 75 Round double Drum magazine provided ample capacity.

Many were later converted to a Water Cooled configuration in Romania, such as this example. This involved replacing the ventilated barrel jacket with a water jacket, and sleeving the ends of the barrel to get a good seal. The water jacket has a bipod attached to the bottom, and a butt stock was attached to the end to make it easier to aim.

This is a fine rare German made Romanian Contract ST 61 MG 15 non-firing water-cooled display gun, marked with the RHEINMETALL BORSIG logo, over serial No 2216. Additionally the right side of the receiver is dated 1942 next to a small Rheinmtall Borsig logo and Weimar style Waffenamt Eagle. The entire forward portion of the receiver has been replaced with a solid steel cylinder per BATF specifications, which has the top machined away so the magazine can fit, and the magazine housing was then slid over the solid steel portion.

The display gun is complete with a bipod and leather securing strap, as well as the removable folding butt stock. Please note that the insert that attaches to the securing bolt for the butt stock is missing, so it cannot be locked on, but it works just fine for display. It also features a lovely bakelite housing trigger group, not the less desirable wooden housing. The removable carry handle is in great shape, and this really is the full setup, in great display condition!

The rare D-T. 15 saddle drum magazine is itself marked with serial Nr. 660k18, as well as the Luftwaffe stock number Fl 46300. It is also dated and maker marked 1941 dfb, for Gustloff-Werke, Waffenfabrik, in Suhl, Germany. This factory had previously been Simson & Co., before the Jewish Simson family found their company headquarters occupied by the SA in 1933. It features a desirable Preßstoff (Pressed Material) Ersatz Leather carry handle. These cannot be deactivated, so they must be shipped to a location where they are permitted.

There are multiple Luftwaffe-style Weimar Eagle Waffenamt proofs on the gun, as well as part numbers and other markings worthy of research. A wonderful wartime produced ST 61 MG15 Display gun, the first one that we have had in quite some time!

The MG 15 was developed from the MG 30 which was designed by Rheinmetall using the locking system invented by Louis Stange in the mid to late 1920s. Though it shares the MG 15 designation with the earlier gun built by Bergmann, the MG 15nA (for neuer Art, meaning new model having been modified from an earlier design) has nothing in common with the World War II gun except the model number. The World War I gun used a tipping lock system while the WWII aircraft gun uses a rotating bolt/lockring. The World War II MG 15 was used in nearly all Luftwaffe aircraft with a flexible-mount defensive position.

Research of the German MG 15 Water Cooled Machine Gun-

International Military Antiques, Inc purchased some 600 original German MG 15 Light Machine Guns in 1999. These had come out of Bucharest, Romania having been supplied to the Romanian Air Force by the Germans in the mid 1930s. The German's referred to this specific Contract by marking the majority of the weapons "ST 61" however many just marked "MG 15" were also included in the delivery.

Once received by IMA it was found that only about 50% of the weapons were still in the original "Air Cooled" configuration in which all the contracted weapons were in at the time of original 1930s delivery. Research in Romania showed that when the military authorities announced that during WW2 when Romania was, initially, until late 1944, an ally of NSDAP Germany, quantities of these MG 15 air cooled machine guns were transferred from Aircraft to ground infantry use in the campaign against the Soviet Union.

Initially the now infantry use of this weapon was established by adding an Aluminum bracket directly under the ventilated Air Cooled barrel jacket that could accept an MG 34 Bipod for ground use. In turned out however that at ground level the temperatures being much higher than at say 10,000 feet altitude say, the guns over heated resulting in severe barrel damage.

The result was the NSDAP manufacturers back in Germany decided to convert the Air Cooled Mg 15 LMG to Water Cooled for ground use. Logistically this presented additional problems since Romania had no effective Machine Gun manufacturing facilities for this alteration to be carried out. The problem was increased when nearby, relatively, facilities in Austria and Czechoslovakia which were working at maximum level producing weapons being used by the German Army could not find any "machine time" available whatsoever. Germany was similarly fully committed as was Fabrique Nationale in Belgium making Browning High Power Pistols. In fact the only qualified facilities under German occupation were in France, the Germans utilizing very few French designed weapons in their Military.

As a result quantities of MG 15 Air Cooled Machine Guns were shipped to France where the required work was completed during, we understand, 1943 and then returned to the Russian Front. The only markings found on the Water Cooled version of the MG 15 to substantiate this is the stamping found on the French made Barrel front bushing which is stamped " Mitr.Rhn.7.9mm" which is abrieviation for "Mitrailleur Rheinmetal" and the German caliber of 7.92 X 57mm.Mitrailleur is French for Machine Gun and Rheinmetal-Borsig was the German Corporation that had originally supplied the "St 61" MG 15 Machine Gun Contract to Romania.

How many weapons were converted we do not know but very few in comparison to the total numbers of MG 15 Air Cooled Machine Guns NSDAP Germany turned out before and during the War time years. The only additional observation is that the Carry handles we believe are post war additions in that the design is very similar to Soviet weapons of the era. Very likely the German's had intended for leather Slings to fill this function probably very similar to the MG 08/15 version of the WW1 years.

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