I recently had a chance to do some shooting with a friend’s luftgekühltes maschinen gewehr 08/15 – the air cooled, lightened version of the German MG08 Maxim gun. These were one of the standard armaments for German aircraft in WWI (mounted in fixed positions on the fuselage or cowling and fitted with synchronizer gears), and they were also used to arm Zeppelin airships. The one I was shooting is set up as a Zeppelin gun, although keen-eyed observers will not a couple problems with it. Specifically, it has a standard MG 08/15 ground gun top cover and rear sight, and a fabricated front sight (this gun should have a spiderweb-type AA sight). For the video, we used an MG34 belt to run the gun, which is a practice that was used later, during WWII. The timing of the belt is such that it will run fine, but the standard feed block pawls don’t properly pull the belt through, so an assistant gunner must keep tension on the belt during firing. A special feed block was developed to allow use of MG34 belts in 08/15 guns, but these are quite rare in the US today.
At any rate, and with a big thank-you to Mark and his father for giving me the opportunity, let’s take a look: