MACHINEGUNS PART 2:

Other machineguns

 

 

6,5 mm machinegun M/14 Schwarzlose:

(6,5 mm kulspruta m/14)

PICTURE: 6.5 mm machinegun M/14 on its tripod. Photo taken by Military Official T. Ovaskainen in Weapons Depot 1. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 113222). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (123 KB).

Calibre:

6,5 mm x 55

Length:

102 cm

Barrel length:

60 cm

Weight:

24,0 kg

Fire-rate:

480/minute

Ammunition belts:

250-round fabric belt

Mount:

Tripod 20 kg

Production:

Some 1,250 manufactured

Country of origin:

Sweden

Finnish use: Swedish (SFK) volunteer unit during Winter War and some Finnish units until early 1944 during Continuation War. Total number in Finnish use about 70 guns.

Swedish M/14 machine gun is basically version of Austrian 8 mm Schwarzlose M/07-12 machine gun, which had been designed to use Swedish 6.5 mm x 55 ammunition. Original designer of Schwarzlose machinegun was German Andreas Wilhelm Schwarzlose (1867 - 1936), who patented his machine gun-design in year 1902. First version of this machinegun entered production in Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft (later: Steyr) in year 1905, with improved versions being developed and introduced to production. As the name suggests m/07-12 was improved version of model 1907 introduced in year 1912. The weapon uses delayed blowback principle, which is based to use of heavy bolt, powerful main spring and levers. While the structural design was innovative, it is also limiting the maximum length of gun barrel, which could be safely used in such design. Hence Schwarzlose machine gun had to do with shorter gun barrel than its competitors. But due to blowback-principle the mechanical design was quite simple, robust and reliable. However the design also has inbuilt lubrication system, which during shooting introduced oil to cartridge chamber for the purpose of improving reliability. Like its more commercially successful and famous competitor Maxim-machinegun also Schwarzlose is water-cooled. The gun was equipped with its own tripod design, which was notably small and light compared to other machine gun tripod mounts of the time, but also quite low and lacked precise vertical adjustments. The most important user of Schwarzlose M/09-12 machine gun was Austro-Hungarian Army before and during World War 1. Other users included armed forces of Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Ottoman Empire, Serbia and Romania. Austro-Hungarian version was originally in 8 mm x 50 R Mannlicher and later converted to 8 mm x 56 R Steyr, while Czechoslovakia had theirs in 7.92 mm x 57 JS, Netherlands in 6.5 mm x 53 R and Hungary also used version chambered for 8 mm x 56 R Steyr.

PICTURE: 6.5 mm machinegun M/14 being used in Granholm coastal fort in area of Hanko Peninsula in September of 1941. Photograph taken by Corporal Rolf Grandell. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 72859). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (194 KB).

Swedish Army named this its version of Schwarzlose machine gun as 6,5 mm kulspruta m/14 (6.5 mm machine gun model 1914) with abbreviation Ksp m/14. As the name suggests, the gun used standard Swedish military issue 6.5 mm x 55 ammunition. Sweden acquired manufacturing license for the gun early on and manufacturers of Swedish-used guns were Österreichische Waffenfabriksgesellschaft (later: Steyr) and Carl Gustafs Stadts Gevärsfaktori. Total production for M/14 manufactured in Carl Gustaf Stadts Gervärsfaktori was about 1,250 machine guns, which were apparently manufactured in 1914 - 1930. Cyclic rate of fire for the gun was only around 480 shots/minute and the weapon was fed with 250-round ammunition belts made from canvas. Swedish Army used the gun with similar tripod as other major users. Browning machine gun designs replaced m/14 in production circa year 1930. Later on Browning machine guns replaced it also in use of Swedish military, with machine gun M/14 being last used by Swedish Home Guard (Hemvärnet) until late 1950's or so. The tripod design introduced with it proved even more successful than the actual gun and later saw use also with Swedish used Browning machine gun designs M/14-29 and M/36.

PICTURE: Swedish 6.5 mm machinegun M/14 in use of Swedish soldiers during field exercises in Hiittinen / Hitis (Finnish south coast). Photograph taken by Corporal Rolf Grandell in October of 1941. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 72948). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (95 KB).

During Winter War Finland bought 12 machineguns of this type. Another source of these weapons was Winter War era Swedish volunteer unit SFK (Svenska Frivillig Kåren), which was equipped with standard issue Swedish military small arms financed with donations collected from Swedish citizens during the war. Among military equipment that SFK brought to Finland with its troops were several dozen m/14 machine guns. After taking part in battles during last weeks of Winter War, soldiers of SFK returned to Sweden, but left their weapons to Finnish military. Among the weapons left behind were 40 machineguns of this type. In summer of 1940 the total number of these machine guns in Finnish inventory was 54 guns. By end of year 1940 Finnish military acquire few more, so when Continuation War begun in June of 1941 Finnish military had 70 guns total. During Continuation War some Finnish frontline infantry units used M/14 machine gun until they were replaced with 7.62 mm x 54R calibre machine guns circa 1943 - 1944. Year 1943 Finnish military issued each machinegun m/14 with ten 250-round ammunition belts. Each ammunition belt was issued with a belt can. Other equipment issued with each machine gun included spare barrel and spare bolt. By installing additional extension piece to existing tripod, m/14 could be used as anti-aircraft machinegun. Small number of this machine gun was also issued to home front units during Continuation War. Finland sold 60 or 61 of m/14 machineguns back to Sweden in 1943 - 1944. The last few remaining m/14 machine guns were sold to Interarmco in year 1960 and exported.

 

7,62 mm Colt-Browning M/1895:

(Colt-Browning Machine Gun M.1895)

(Colt-Browning Machine Gun model 1914)

PICTURE: 7,62 mm Colt M/1895 "potato digger" machinegun. Photo taken by Military Official T. Ovaskainen in Weapons Depot 1. (SA-photo.fi photo archive, photograph number 113225). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (108 KB).

Calibre:

7,62 mm x 54 R

Length:

106 cm

Barrel length:

70 cm

Weight:

16,0 kg

Fire-rate:

600 or 300/minute

Ammunition belts:

250-round fabric belt

Mount:

Tripod 25 kg

Production:

1914 - 1917 (?)

Country of origin:

USA

Finnish use: Saw use with both sides during Finnish Civil was in year 1918. Briefly used by Finnish Army in 1918 - 1919, then transferred to Suojeluskunta (Finnish Civil Guard). They remained in Civil Guard use until sold and exported in year 1936.

This machine gun designed by John Browning and introduced in year 1895 was the very first successful gas-action machinegun. Instead of far more common gas-piston, it had had a swinging arm, whose visible movement inspired nicknames such as "digger" and "potato digger". However at the time it also caused considerable argument about possible patent infringement concerning Hiram Maxim's patents from 1884. Colt and Marlin-Rockwell factories manufactured the machinegun in Unites States between 1895 - 1919. US Navy and US Marines used them starting 1890's and they saw combat use in Spanish - American War (1898) in Cuba, Philippine - American War (1899 - 1902) and Boxer Rebellion (1900). Guns used by US Navy and US Marines were chambered for 6-mm Lee Navy cartridge, but later modified first to .30-40 Krag and later to.30-06. Spain, Italy and US Army also seem to have acquired some before World War 1. In addition Canadian mounted troops had used number of guns chambered for .303 British already during 2nd Boer War (1899 - 1902) and later entered to World War 1 with this machine gun. When World War 1 started Colt concentrated its effort for machine gun production into manufacturing of Vickers machine gun), while production of M1895 machine gun was moved from Colt to Marlin-Rockwell company. During World War 1 Belgium, France and Great Britain acquired M1895/14 model of the machine gun from Marlin-Rockwell and large number of guns were ordered for US Army, which used them for training. Late in the war Marlin-Rockwell also manufactured variations M1917 and M1918 equipped with gas-piston for US Air Corps - which were also used in early US armoured vehicles. However when it comes to Finland the only version with significance is Russian contract M/95-14, about 15,000 of which were manufactured in calibre 7,62 x 54R for Imperial Russia during World War 1.

PICTURE: Soldiers of Finnish White Army with four machine guns. Photographed during Finnish Civil War in year 1918. Two machine guns in the left are Colt M/95-14. Notice gun shields in both of the guns. The other two guns appear to be Maxim machineguns, from which one is on Russian tripod intended for Vickers machine guns and another on Sokolov mount. Several of the men appear to be wearing Finnish White Army uniform "M/18" version only used by Uudenmaa Dragoon Regiment and two seem to have Russian shaska sabres. Photographer Harald Natvig. Photo provided by Finnish Heritage Agency (Museovirasto) via finna.fi and used with CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (116 KB).

While this machine gun on itself was notably lighter than Maxim machineguns, which were the standard of that time and had apparently had relatively good reliability, this is sort mis-leading. Early M1895 guns had been equipped with very large gun mounts resembling those of field guns. Later on bipod became the standard mount design, but even then the tripod mainly made from bronze parts was unnecessarily heavy, which still limited the gun's mobility. Russian contact M/95-14 machine guns were apparently delivered with tripod and usually equipped with guns-shield, which was Russian-made. What is known there were at least two versions of the tripod, with its higher version having entered production earlier and lower version introduced for Russian order mid-production. There seem to have been three Russian contracts for M/94-14 machine gun, with all three orders for total of 26,000 guns being signed in year 1916. From those 26,000 guns bit less than 18,000 seems to have been delivered to Russia. The reality seems to have been that this machine gun design was manufactured only in rather limited numbers before World War 1 and its popularity during that was mainly simply explained by the fact that every major nation that entered the war found themselves needing more machine guns and M1895 was readily available from Marlin-Rockwell to US military and Allied powers. Ammunition belts that the Russians used with the M/95-14 seem to have been the same 250-round fabric belts, which they used also in Maxim machineguns of the same calibre. Machine guns M/95-14 delivered to Russia saw use in World War 1 and Russian Civil War (1917 - 1922) and Russian - Polish War (1920). The guns apparently proved quite problematic because swinging arm demanded room to operate and due to this the guns could not be set as low as other machine guns. Other inherent problem of the design is that it fired from closed bolt, which combined with air-cooling and rather light weight barrels used in early guns caused over-heating issues. While heavier barrels were introduced to production, the gun also gained reputation of being less reliable than Maxim guns , hence apparently being rather unpopular in Russian use. Due to over-heating issue and being fire on closed bolt design, no live round could be safely left in chamber after shooting without risk of cartridge cooking off. In general M1895 machine gun versions saw most use in World War 1, but they remained in use of numerous countries also later on, admitted in more often in secondary roles, being still used in Spanish Civil War (1936 - 1939) and World War 2. During World War 2 they got used by Britain (US-delivered M1918 variations used by British Home Guard and as anti-aircraft guns on ships), Italy (anti-aircraft units and coastal artillery) and Soviet Red Army (2nd line units).

PICTURE: Finnish White Army soldiers with machine guns M/1895 sometime during Civil War. Notice that the guns have no gun shields and two partially visible Maxim guns. White ribbon around cuff and two white bars mark rank of platoon leader, while ribbon around cuff and one white bar marking was for squad leaders. This rank system originally introduced for Vörin sotakoulu (whose personnel the soldiers in the photo are probably) was widely used by Finnish White Army during Civil War. Photographed by Erik Hägglund. Photo source Finnish Svenska Litteratur Sällskap in Finland (SLS) via finna.fi and used with CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (116 KB).

Finnish White Army captured about 200 M/95-14 machineguns during Finnish Civil War of 1918. However in Finland they were known simply as M/1895. After Civil War their most important user in Finland was Suojeluskunta (Finnish Civil Guard), for which they were transferred from bicycle troops and infantry of Finnish Army already in year 1919. Civil Guard had them in inventory from 1919 to 1936, but already in year 1924 transferred much of its M/95-14 machine guns to Civil Guard Navy, which were its units operating coastal guns and mixed variety of small boats. Considering the gun's reputation, this was likely a smart move. May of 1928 Civil Guard had in its inventory 99 guns total. From those 99 guns 22 were in storage of Civil Guard Ordnance Department and largest users in the field were in Civil Guard districts of Turunmaa (13 guns) and Kymenlaakso (12 guns). Information suggests that in addition of Civil Guard, there were also number guns somewhere else, since when gathered to Finnish depots to be sold, the total number exceeded the number of guns that had had in Civil Guard inventory about two fold. November of 1936 the remaining 184 Colt M/1895 machine guns were sold to company Oy Transbaltic Ab, which exported them. During World War 2 Finnish military noticed, that some 2nd line Red Army units were still using machineguns M/95-14 at that time. However if any were captured, they do not seem to have seen any use with Finnish military anymore.

 

7,62 mm machinegun DS-39:

(Degtjarev Stankovyj 39)

PICTURE: 7.62 mm DS-39 machine gun with its tripod and shield. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (156 KB).

Calibre:

7,62 mm x 54 R

Length:

117 cm

Barrel length:

72,3 cm

Weight:

14,3 cm

Fire-rate:

600/minute

Ammunition belts:

250-round fabric belt, after Lahti's modification also

200-round Finnish steel belt could be used

Mount:

Tripod 11 kg

Prototype:

1930

Production:

Bit over 10,300 made 1939 - 1941

Country of origin:

Soviet Union, Finnish modification

Finnish use: Bit less than 200 captured by Finnish troops (mostly in 1941). During Continuation War issued to Finnish frontline troops.

Also Soviets had noticed that Maxim machinegun was too heavy to be effective in offensive use. DS-39 (Degtjarev Stankovyj 39) machinegun designed by V.A. Degtjarev was one try to solve this problem. Degtjarev made the first prototype in year 1930 and the test-series manufactured in year 1934 was tested several years. Degtjarev improved the design with help of test results and while these improvements later proved lacking the Soviets seemingly did not spot them at that time. So they decided to replace Maxim machine gun in production with DS-39 machine gun in 22nd of October 1939. This decision soon proved too hasty. Indeed, DS-39 was lighter and it was structurally simpler than Maxim machine gun, but it also had serious reliability problems. The basic reason behind the problems was the rimmed 7.62 mm x 54R cartridge, which demands more complicated feeding system in belt-fed weapons than its non-rimmed competitors. Also fabric ammunition belts (the same ones that the Soviets used in their Maxim machine guns), which the Soviets still used with DS-39 probably did not exactly help in reliability either. The weapon came with new light tripod, which Degtjarev had designed especially for this machine gun. This tripod was otherwise good, but proved problematic when it was set to its highest setting. With its this setting the machinegun placed on it balanced poorly and proved to have excessive muzzle-climb. So do to these factors using the machine gun for anti-aircraft machine gun role was difficult.

PICTURE: Captured Soviet DS-39 machine gun in use of Finnish troops. Notice that the machine gun shield has already been ditched - Finnish soldiers were not big fans of such shields and they are rarely seen with captured Maxim M/09-09 machine guns either. Machine gun mount seems to have been set up the wrong way (set too low), which has made using sights difficult. Soldier working as machinegunner have short boots M/34. Photographed by E.J. Viitasalo in July of 1941. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 40845). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (91 KB).

Tech-wise DS-39 (Stankovyj = with mount) was full-automatic only gas-action weapon with adjustable gas-regulator. It was air-cooled and looked bit like smaller version of 12.7-mm DShK heavy machine gun (to which it was partially based). By adding spring-loaded buffer to the mechanism the weapons rate-of-fire could be doubled (to 1,200 shots / minute) for antiaircraft use, but this does not seem to have been popular - almost certainly because with it the already existing reliability problems got a whole new magnitude. Structurally (especially when it came to its bolt and operating rod) this machinegun was based also to DP light machine gun, which Degtjarev had designed earlier, but has rotary feed system originally developed by another Soviet designer - Georgij J. Spagin. As to be expected the gun is open bolt firing design with belt-feed. Eventually the Soviets noticed the problems and tried fixing them, but in of 1941 Germany invaded Soviet Union and they run out of time for coming up with improvements. In that situation the Soviets decided to stop manufacturing of DS-39 and to return old, heavy and complicated but reliable Maxim machine gun back to production. Tula Arsenal was the only manufacturer of DS-39 machine gun and manufactured total 10,345 in between June of 1940 and June of 1941. From those 10,345 machine guns 6,628 were produced in year 1940 and 3,717 in year 1941. Some changes were made to the design during the production. Maybe the most notable of these were changes made to barrel attachment system. In the old version the barrel was locked with screw and screwdriver was needed for replacing barrel. In the new version the barrel was locked with a switch, hence no tools were required for replacing barrel. Another part going through changes during manufacturing was safety-switch. Due to weapons shortage following German attack in 1941 the Soviets issued also DS-39 machine guns to 2nd line troops of Red Army. After World War 2 the Soviets presumably scrapped their remaining DS-39 machineguns. Year 1943 Soviets introduced new SG-43 machinegun, which proved to be the worthy replacement of old Maxim. Year 1942 Degtjarev still came up with improved version prototype of DS-39, but in testing the Soviets organized in May of 1943 the SG-43 prototype proved more reliable and durable than the improved DS-39.

PICTURE: Captured Soviet DS-39 photographed while being inspected in weapons repair shop of Finnish Army in Nurmoila. Photographed by Aavikko in January of 1942. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 69608). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (87 KB).

Finnish troops captured bit under 200 DS-39 machineguns during Continuation War - most of them year 1941. Also Finnish troops soon noticed the reliability problems of these guns. Aimo Lahti studied captured DS-39 machine gun and in year 1942 he planned it eight improvements, which were intended to considerably reduce the problem. Maybe the most important of these improvements was decelerator switch, which was added to the gun's bolt, as the original high rate-of-fire had proved related to reliability problems. Other improvements included making gas-piston thinner (otherwise it would typically jam the weapon after only 1,000 rounds or so) and adding chamber for soot in end of gas-piston (otherwise the soot could jam gas-piston after some 4,000 - 5,000 rounds). Holes of gas-regulator were also increased in size to allow more gas to reach gas-piston and angle of contact piece was changed. In addition also firing pin was made thinner. The last but not least of improvements was modifying the weapon's feeding system to allow use of Finnish 200-round ammunition belts M/32 made from steel. While these Finnish improvements reduced reliability problems of DS-39 in some extent, they failed solving the basic problem - the feeding system of this machine gun had been poorly designed and it simply did not work that well. Late 1942 Finnish military withdraw all captured DS-39 machineguns from the troops and sent them to VKT (Valtion Kivääritehdas = State Rifle Factory), where this eight part improvement plan was implemented. After making the improvements the machine guns were re-issued to Finnish frontline troops. While not part of the improvement plan Finnish military also removed the attachment of optical sight from the captured DS-39 (it seems that the optical sights belonging to these weapons were not captured - at least not in real numbers). Finnish soldiers also usually removed gun shield, as the protection it offered was highly questionable. Year 1943 Finnish Army typically issued either twenty 250-round fabric belts or similar number of 200-round steel belts with each DS-39 machine gun. In its highest the total number of DS-39 machine guns in Finnish use peaked to 175 and after 2nd World War 145 of them still remained in Finnish inventory. While captured DS-39 saw use with Finnish Army during Continuation War, their use seem to ended with the war. After World War 2 the remaining DS-39 were mothballed until being declared obsolete year 1986 and most of them being scrapped. Nowadays unknown number of Finnish-captured DS-39 machine guns remains in Finnish military museums and collections of Finnish collectors. Besides the DS-39 machine guns that have survived in Finnish collections, there are practically no remaining guns of this model anywhere else.

 

7,62 mm and 7,70 mm Vickers Machineguns:

(Gun, Machine, Vickers, Mark I)

PICTURE: Vickers medium machine gun with its tripod, this is 7.70 mm (.303 British) calibre version. Photo taken by Military Official T. Ovaskainen in Weapons Depot 1. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 113226). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (162 KB).

Calibre:

7,62 mm x 54 R / 7,70 mm x 56 R (.303 British)

Length:

110 cm / 115,6 cm

Barrel length:

72,1 cm

Weight:

15 kg

Fire-rate:

450 - 500/minute

Ammunition belts:

250-round fabric belt

Mount:

Tripod 22,5 kg

Country of origin:

Great Britain

Finnish use: About 100 used by Finnish Navy (coastal troops) and home front units during World War 2.

Vickers machine gun was British further development based to earlier Maxim machine guns. "Maxim Gun Company" and "Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company" merged already on turning into "Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company". Later the Company was re-named "Vickers Son and Maxim" until 1911 it was finally renamed as "Vickers Ltd". Starting year 1901 the machine guns made by this company were no longer named after Maxim, but Vickers. Models 1901 and 1906 had several important improvements, most important of which likely was adjustment for headspace (of cartridge). At the same time old bronze parts were replaced with ones made from steel and aluminium, which lightened the weapon considerably. However "Vickers C" introduced in 1912 was the first to have the most defining differences to previous Maxim machine gun - locking mechanism and receiver. George Buckham was the designer, who came with the idea of turning locking mechanism upside down and adding angled tail to toggle arm. With this change the locking mechanism required less space, which allowed height of the weapon's receiver to be reduced prominently. In fact this the feature from which Maxim and Vickers machine guns can be maybe most easily separated - while receiver of Maxim extends notably below water jacket the Vickers receiver is only about the same height as its water jacket. Once manufacturing of Vickers started in year 1912 it continued until end of World War 2 and remained in use of their most important user, British Army, all the way until 1960's. Also air-cooled versions (mainly for aircraft) were manufactured starting year 1916 and were still quite common during World War 2. Besides these rifle-calibre machine guns Vickers manufactured also (quite rare) .50 calibre version and automatic cannons based to these designs in 37-mm (1-pound) and 40-mm (2-pound) calibre. Needless to say Vickers Ltd was the main manufacturer of the machine gun with over 75,000 guns being manufactured during World War 1 alone. Also during World War 1 Colt factory in United States manufactured variations in .30-06 for US Military and in 7.62 mm x 54R calibre for Russia. Some 3,000 of the Colt-manufactured machine guns were delivered to Russia - with few of them ending up to Russian troops which were stationed in Finland in year 1918.

PICTURE: World War 2 era photo of Finnish Army machinegun team with Vickers Mk I medium machinegun. Photo taken by Aukusti Tuhka. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 42185). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (208 KB).

Naturally Finnish troops captured those few machineguns, which were transferred (along with other mixed weaponry) to Suojeluskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) in 1920's. Few more Vickers machine guns arrived to Finland with mixed materials from various weapons deals of 1920's and their number reached few dozen. Early 1930's VKT (Valtion Kivääritehdas = State Rifle Factory) modified 49 of Vickers machineguns as aircraft weapons. During World War 2 some Finnish military aircraft were still armed with these modified Vickers aircraft machineguns. However already during Continuation War most of these modified machine guns served in Finnish Airforce as antiaircraft machineguns, which had been eq uipped with improvised machinegun-mounts. During Winter War Great Britain donated Finnish military 100 machineguns chambered in .303 British. During Continuation War Finnish Army also captured from the Soviets few more additional Vickers machine guns, which had earlier belonged to Latvian military. During Continuation War Vickers machine guns were issued to coastal troops and home front units. Also some of the British-delivered .303 Mk I guns seem to been have been used as antiaircraft machine guns in the home front during the war. Year 1943 Finnish military issued typically twenty 250-round belts with each Vickers machine gun. After the war remaining Vickers machine guns were mothballed until being sold and exported in year 1956.

 

7,92 mm Maxim MG 08:

(Maschinengewehr 08)

PICTURE: 7,92 mm Maxim MG 08 machine gun manufactured in year 1918 with the typical "Schlitten 08" mount and ZF 12 optical sight. These German World War 1 era optical machine gun sights were delivered with MG 08 machine guns to Finland in year 1941. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (154 KB).

Calibre:

7,92 mm x 57 JS

Length:

117,5 cm

Barrel length:

72 cm

Weight:

18,4 kg

Fire-rate:

300 - 450/minute

Ammunition belts:

250-round fabric belt (*)

Mount:

32,3 kg

Production:

1908 - 1918

Country of origin:

Germany

(*) Standard issue ammunition belts came in sections 50 rounds long and seem to have usually been attached as 250-round ammunition belts.

Finnish use: Used by troops of German Baltic Sea Division (Ostsee Division) in Finnish Civil War of 1918. About 1,000 guns used by Finnish coastal troops during Continuation War. During late Continuation War relatively small number was also issued to fortification units.

Just like in Russia Hiram Maxim demonstrated his machinegun to German VIP's in 1888 and seemed have better success than in Russia. Series of samples were delivered to Germany in 1889 and early 1890's for tests and in agreement about license production was signed in 1892. Production of Maxim designed machineguns started for German Navy in 1894 and for German Army in 1899. German Army called this first version as MG-99, which was soon developed to new version called MG-01.

PICTURE: Photograph showing three Maxim machine guns in use of Tampereen Rykmentti (Tampere Infantry Regiment of Finnish Army) in year 1922. Forefront are two MG 08 machineguns with their Schiffenlafette 08 mounts and behind them Maxim M/09-09 equipped with early production version of Sokolov mount. (Photo part of Jaeger Platoon Website photo collection). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (150 KB).

Neither MG-99 nor MG-01 was produced in large numbers and staff of German Army was not exactly favourable to them. Just like in Russia the Russian - Japanese War of 1904 - 1905 changed things. It changed attitudes of German Army personnel and made Germans to introduce improved MG 08 version of Maxim machinegun and arrange it to mass-production. German MG 08 had unique mount, sled mount called Schlittenlafette 08, which offered handy possibility of dragging the machinegun on top of its mount to fire position. The mount contained storage lockers for extra bolt, other spare parts and tools needed to keep the gun running and featured elevation system with hand wheel being used for elevation, but as a downside offered only quite limited traverse. German military started World War 1 with some 12,500 MG 08 machineguns. One of the clauses of Versailles treaty banned further development of water-cooled machineguns from Germany and also limited number of machineguns in German use, this lead MG 08 spreading to use of several countries just after 1st World War.

PICTURE: German Maxim MG 08 in use of Infantry Regiment 9 of Finnish Army in frontline sector of River Syväri / Svir in April of 1942. Photo taken by Niilo Helander. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 81620). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (93 KB).

First visit of MG 08 to Finland was during Finnish Civil War in year 1918. German Baltic Sea Division that participated to last phases of this war had MG 08 among its weaponry. It it is also possible that there some in use of Finnish White Army, as small number of guns is known to have remained in Finland after the war. Among guns purchased by Finland from France in year 1919 were also about 100 MG 08 machineguns. However most MG 08 were sold to Poland already in year 1924 (in this trade Finland gave Poland 7.92 mm x 57 JS caliber guns and received guns in 7.62 mm x 54 R in exchange). The last guns were sold abroad in early 1930's.

German MG 08 would later make a comeback in use of Finnish Army during World War 2. There were not enough medium machineguns in Finnish inventory for equipping all troops and by late 1930's Finland had succeeded gathering to itself 7.62 mm x 54R caliber Russian Maxim guns in such extent, that they were no longer available in large numbers. With no further former Russian Maxim guns in 7.62 mm x 54R being available anymore, Finnish industry started building new improved guns in 1930's, but manufacturing them was slow. Hence when Finland found itself in war, there were need for other solutions to the poor availability of Maxim guns.

PICTURE: Maxim MG 08 in machine gun nest of Fortification troops in Ino in October of 1941. Maxim MG08 machine guns delivered to Finland had German optical sights such as ZF.12 n/A among their equipment. In this gun the team leader seems to attempt using it to spot for targets. Photographed by Lieutenant Pauli J. Wiro. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 54417). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (112 KB).

Finnish military re-introduced MG 08 to its inventory in June of 1941 by buying 998 machineguns from Germany. They arrived in 14th of June 1941. During Continuation War these weapons were issued to coastal troops and later smaller number also issued to fortification units. When delivered to Finland in June of 1941 many of the MG 08 machineguns were in bad shape to begin with (what else can one expect from pre-1918 made weapons that had fought a war or two), but their losses were still remarkably small for rest of the war. June of 1944 still 982 of the original 998 weapons remained in inventory. They had been delivered with the standard MG 08 mount type - Schlittenlafette 08 and Finnish military seems to have used them with this mount type or when used in bunkers with bunker machine gun mounts. Year 1943 Finnish military typically issued each MG 08 with 100 ammunition belts of 50 rounds, which were typically linked each other to create twenty 250-round belts. Other equipment normally issued for each gun included two spare barrels, two spare bolts, ZF 12 optical sight, seven water cans and anti-aircraft equipment. Soon after World War 2 those MG 08, which were in worst shape got scrapped. By year 1951 the number of MG 08 still remaining in Finnish inventory had dropped to 620 guns. Finally practically all of the remaining MG 08 machine guns were sold to Interarmco around 1959 - 1960 and exported.

 

7,92 mm light machine guns M/08-15 and M/08-18:

(MG 08/15) aka (Maschinengewehr 08/15)

(MG 08/18) aka (Maschinengewehr 08/18)

PICTURE: 7,92 mm Maxim M/08-15 machinegun with its bipod. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (74 KB).

Calibre:

7,92 mm x 57 JS

Length:

142 cm

Barrel length:

72 cm

Weight:

20.8 kg (M/08-15) (*) / 19.3 kg (M/08-18)

Fire-rate:

450/minute

Ammunition belts:

50, 100 and 250-round fabric belts

Mount:

Bipod 1 kg

Country of origin:

Germany

(*) With empty water jacket and without ammunition. Water jacket would take about three liters of water - which added 3 kg to total weight.

Finnish use: Used by German Baltic Sea Division (Ostsee Division) in Finnish Civil War of 1918. Few dozen remained in Finland after Civil War. Year 1919 Finland bought additional 350 guns from France. They were all sold abroad around 1931 - 1933 and hence no longer in Finnish use during World War 2.

Author's note: While Finnish Army literally named these weapons as light machineguns (kevyt konekivääri), the role in which they served was not really the same as actual light machineguns of Finnish Army at that time. For one thing Finnish Army operated MG 08/15 and MG 08/18 with four man machinegun team per weapon, while magazine-fed light machineguns had only two man team - although in both cases there were additional soldiers reserved for carrying ammunition for them. It is also worth noting that Finnish Army also referred type of magazine-fed light machineguns like Madsen m/20 and Lahti-Saloranta m/26 as pikakivääri, while English language does not specify the difference in between magazine-fed and belt-fed machine guns. Hence I placed them here among machine guns, instead of light machineguns.

During World War 1 it become apparent to German Army that their Maxim MG 08 standard machinegun was too heavy and clumsy to be carried fast from one place to another. Hence they needed lighter and more mobile machinegun, but they had no suitable tested weapon design available and had no vacant production capacity. Hence even if they would have had new light machinegun design to place into production, placing it into production in factories that were already busy with manufacturing of MG 08 would have interfered with its production. So instead of totally machinegun design, they decided to develop lighter machinegun based on already matured and tested MG 08. That new weapon was MG 08/15, which is basically a "thinned out" design of somewhat ad-hoc nature. Heavy Schlittenlafette 08 sled mount had been replaced with bipod, structure of whole weapon had been lightened, "shovel-grips" had been replaced with pistol grip and wooden butt and the design had been designed to carry ammunition boxes containing shorter ammunition belts of 50 and 100 rounds attached on right side of receiver. In addition MG 08/15 was equipped with new muzzle booster design. With these changes and several parts weight replaced with lighter versions total weight of the weapon-system dropped from 55 kg "needs a crew of several men just for carrying" to "mere" 20.8 kg, which single soldier was able to drag around in a battlefield, although he still needed team of several men to to assist him and carry ammunition. While more mobile than standard MG 08 machine gun, the resulting MG 08/15 was still big and clumsy for a light machinegun, so further development was continued. This further development resulted to introduction of MG 08/18 in year 1918. Major improvement introduced with MG 08/18 was replacing water barrel-jacket with air-cooled barrel-jacket, which reduced total weight of the gun for yet another 1.5 kg, but limited the weapon's capability for sustained fire. Overall when the two machine guns are compared MG 08/18 has a different gun barrel, barrel jacket, carry handle and muzzle booster, in addition to which its wooden butt is easily removable. It is worth noting that neither MG 08/15 or MG 08/18 have quick barrel swap capability.

PICTURE: Soldiers of Suomen Valkoinen Kaarti (Finnish Army pre World War 2 military unit, which proceded Guard's Regiment) in machine gun live fire training. The machine guns are MG 08/15 and the photograph probably from late 1920's or early 1930's. Photograph provided by Finnish Heritage Agency (Museovirasto) via finna.fi and used with CC BY 4.0 license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (131 KB).

From these two machineguns MG 08/15 was the one that got issued to German front-line infantry in massive numbers around 1916 - 1918, while MG 08/18 was apparently not issued at least in any real numbers before ending of World War 1. This because ending of the war cut short production of MG 08/18 already early on. German industry manufactured about 130,000 MG 08/15 during World War 1, making it the most numerous German machine gun for World War 1. This while total production number of MG 08/18 was very much smaller - possibly only about 1,000 guns. From ecomical perspective production cost of MG 08/15 was bit less than two thirds of the production cost of MG 08. While MG 08/15 was heavy and clumsy for a light machinegun, it apparently still served World War 1 German Army well, allowing it to have more mobile machine gun with proven design, that could be placed in production without disrupting existing production, hence the massive total production number. MG 08/15 remained in use of German Army through 1920's and 1930's, being the standard German machine gun until replaced by MG 34 in year 1936 and number of guns still being issued to rear echelon troops during World War 2. During this long service career the gun got several improvements, from which the most significant one was moving the bipod to new attachment point that was in front end of water jacket, which apparently helped a great deal in making the recoil more controllable. Other post World War 1 German improvements made to existing MG 08/15 included improved feed block (compatible also with new steel ammunition belts), new type magazine box attachment and introduction of anti-aircraft sights

PICTURE: Group of Finnish soldiers photographed with M/08-18 (MG 08/18) machineguns probably sometime around 1919 - 1920. Photo: Jaeger Platoon photo collection.) CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (198 KB).

As mentioned the basic basic structural design of these machineguns was directly based on earlier MG 08. The most notable visible difference of MG 08/15 to MG 08 is that it no longer has the "shovel grips" in end of receiver, since they have been replaced with partially hollowed-out wooden butt and new pistol grip with trigger and safety switch have been added under the receiver. While MG 08 and MG 08/15 may first otherwise seem quite similar and it would make sense for the two weapons to have as much compatability of parts as possible, MG 08/15 has surprisingly large number of parts, which are not identical to those used in its predecessor. These unidentical parts include receiver, water jacket and bolt. The receiver is slightly smaller in internal volume basically with some corners removed and lighter also due to having thinner walls, in addition to which water jacket is somewhat smaller version, with volume of water contained by it being about 2.8 liters (instead of about 4 liters of standard MG 08). While these features made the weapon somewhat lighter, the hollowed out wooden butt, pistol grip and clumsy bipod all added into the weapon's total weight, hence reducing saving of weight. MG 08/15 was equipped with weapon sling to make carrying it somewhat easier, but it was still an absolute beast to carry around in the battlefield. While more mobile than MG 08 with its standard mount, these light machineguns seem to have been much less effective for long range fire, since the bipod apparently does not provide good support and recoil makes the weapon difficult to control. Rear sight design used in MG 08/15 and MG 08/18 was also different from those used in MG 08 - it was a tangent sight with settings for 400 - 2,000 meters. Bipod could be installed to the gun in either way, in manner that they pointed slightly towards front or back, but manual specifies that they were to be attached in manner that they pointed back, since it made the weapon work more reliably.

PICTURE: Soldiers of Karjalan Kaartin Rykmentti (Carelian Guard Regiment of Finnish Army) pose with machineguns sometime in 1920's. Forefront is 7,92 mm Maxim M/08-18 machinegun on its bipod. The machineguns on the back are Maxim M/09-21 (Photo part of Jaeger Platoon Website photo collection). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (104 KB).

German Baltic Sea Division (Ostsee Division) that participated in Finnish Civil War in year 1918 left behind few dozen M/08-15 machineguns. Summer of 1919 Finns as part of larger acquisition of war materials bought additional 350 light machineguns M/08-15 and M/08-18 from France. Those 350 machineguns contained over 250 M/08-15 and bit less than 100 M/08-18. Few more additional guns arrived among other weapons bought by Finnish military in 1920's. So year 1929 Finnish Armed Forces had in its inventory total 340 M/08-15 and 112 M/08-08 machineguns. Some of these machineguns also saw use in Finnish armoured trains in 1920's. But that time most were issued to Finnish Army infantry units, where they were used by four man machinegun teams. When production of Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machinegun started in year 1928 these old 7.92 mm "light" machineguns were no longer needed as much, especially since for the large part they were in such a poor condition, that Finnish military at the time was considering their practical value as weapons of war to be dubious. Hence year 1931 total 470 machineguns M/08-15 and M/08-15 were sold to company Oy Transbaltic Ab with 8,1 million rounds of 7.92 mm x 57 JS ammunition and five MG 08 machineguns along 10 German L14 mountain guns with 7.500 artillery shells. In exchange Transbaltic provided Finnish military 76 K/02 field guns, artillery dial sights, Lahti-Saloranta M/26 light machineguns and rifle parts for Mosin-Nagant M/1891 rifles.

While typical ammunition belt for German Maxim machineguns was 250-round fabric belt these machineguns had also other options for feeding them. "Belt box M/15" typically used with M/08-15 contained 100-round ammunition belt and "belt pouch M/18" usually used with M/08-18 contained 50-round ammunition belt. Belt boxes are made from metal, contain roller for ammunition belt and are equipped with crank/latch that locks down rotation of the belt feed. Ammunition belts used with these ammunition boxes were fabric belts, which are sentitive to getting getting wet, since when they dry up, their material tends to shrink.

PICTURE: Receiver area of 7,92 mm Maxim M/08-18 machinegun (Photo provided by MRB and taken in Polish Military Museum, Warsaw). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (109 KB).

 

SOME OTHER MACHINEGUNS USED BY FINNISH MILITARY:

8 mm Hotchkiss M/1914 (Hotchkiss Mle 1914): This French medium machine gun was designed in 1890's by Laurence V. Benet and Henri Mercíe from a earlier (unsuccessful) effort by Austrian Baron Adolph von Odkolek von Augeza. If compared to Maxim gun, which for all practical purposes was the standard medium machine gun of that time, the two had very little in common. While also most Hotchkiss were likely issued with tripods, the gun itself was air-cooled gas-action automatic firing from an open bolt. As if that had not been enough ammunition feed of Hotchkiss MG used feed strips instead of more common ammunition belts. The first functional version of Hotchkiss machine gun was introduced in year 1895, but that version was sold only in relatively small numbers. The improved Mle 1900 version did bit better with large export deal to Japan, with the Japanese using the guns with success in Russian - Japanese War of 1904 - 1905. But the real success did not come until with the easier to manufacture Mle 1914, which was manufactured in massive numbers during World War 1. Replacing earlier St.Étinne Mle 1907, it became the standard issue medium machinegun for French Army and also saw use with British and American troops.

Finnish Army used Hotchkiss M/1914 machineguns only in machinegun-armed version of Renault FT 17 tanks in 1919 - 1937. These machineguns were chambered to French 8 mm x 50R Lebel cartridge, which at that time Finnish Army did not use in any other weapons. While Hotchkiss M/1914 seems to have gained rather good reputation for reliability in many countries, Finnish Army found it unreliable. This may be result of problems with lubrication - apparently it was typically used with plenty of gun-oil, but this would have worked poorly with typical freezing Finnish winter temperatures combined with rather primitive gun oils of that time. What ever the reason, Hotchkiss M/1914 gathered such a poor reputation among Finnish military, that Finnish main weapons designer Aimo Lahti found gaining approval for his gas-action weapons problematic in 1930's due to poor reputation given by Hotchkiss M/1914 for gas-action machineguns. Even if also 250-round ammunition belt was developed for Hotchkiss M/1914 before end of World War 1, Finnish Army seems to have used these machineguns with (24- and/or 30-round) feed strips. Year 1937 Finnish Army replaced Hotchkiss-machineguns used as armament of Renault FT 17 tanks with air-cooled 7.62 mm Maxim M/09-31 machineguns. Still that same year the last remaining 20 Hotchkiss machine guns were sold to Transbaltic Oy, which exported them from Finland.

 


SUGGESTED LINKS FOR MORE INFO:

The Vickers Machinegun Gun, excellent website about Vickers machineguns.

Gothia Weapons Historical Society website, contains page with more info about m/14 machineguns.

German-language website about MG 08 and MG 08/15.

Excellent German-language website about Sir Hiram Maxim's machineguns.


SOURCES:

Markku Palokangas: Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918 - 1988, 1 - 3 (Military Small Arms in Finland 1918 - 1988 parts 1 - 3)

Timo Hyytinen: Arma Fennica 2, sotilasaseet (Arma Fennica 2, military weapons)

D.N. Bolotin: Soviet Small-Arms and Ammunition.

Roger Ford: The World's Great Machineguns.

Machine Guns of the World War 1 by Robert Bruce.

Small Arms of the World by E.C. Ezell.

The Machine Gun by George M. Chinn

Terry Garder & Peter Chamberlain: Small arms, artillery and special weapons of the third reich

Military manual: Kevyt Konekivääri by Puolustusministeriö (printed 1923).

Article: Asekummajainen itänaapurista, konekivääri DS39 by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 3/90.

Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki


Last updated 19th of May 2023
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Copyrights (text and graphics): Jaeger Platoon Website. Copyrights of photographs vary on case to case basis and are marked along each picture.