Designed in an effort to compete with the then-new Colt/Browning air cooled 1895 machine gun, the Extra-Light Maxim weighted in at just 27 (maybe 28) pounds for the gun, and 44 pounds with tripod. This may sound heavy, but it was a remarkable improvement over the 100+ pounds of most models of Maxim with mount. The water jacket was replaced with an air jacket (necessary to support the muzzle), and the whole gun was narrowed. The mainspring was moved to the inside of the receiver, allowing lighter construction but complicating disassembly and removing the ability to tune the mainspring tension to fit a particular batch of ammunition.
The concept proved to be a commercial failure, as the air cooling lacked the sustained fire capability that militaries were looking for. A total of 135 examples were made, but most were sold in small orders for testing, with no major contracts forthcoming.
Many thanks to the Royal Armouries for allowing me to film this tremendously rare artifact! The NFC collection there – perhaps the best military small arms collection in Western Europe – is available by appointment to researchers, but you can browse the various Armouries collections online.