I got an email from a reader named Philip who is a fan and collector of Maxim guns, who put together an interesting video on the use of the bipod on the MG08/15.
From his email:
The MG08/15 is often considered the blacksheep of the Maxim world. It does tend to rock a bit while shooting because of the standard mid gun rigid bipod mount. Even the Germans were not really happy about this as it does affect accuracy.
Well around 1936, the Germans upgraded their stock of MG08/15s in the Nazi rearmament program. One of things upgraded was the addition of a front bipod mount held on by a loop that is secured around the booster. This moves the bipod from the mid gun position to the front of the firearm. Since most Maxims in the US were brought home after WWI, these WWII upgrade parts are very rare in the US. This is not to say they are common in Europe either. For several years now I have been in search of one of these front bipod mount adapters. I felt that it would be a really interesting option for the MG and hopefully help increase accuracy. Well after half a decade searching, I was able to obtain one of these adapters. It needed a little work and paint as it had none.
After completing this work, it was time to take it out and see how well it worked. In the video you can see 4 different bipod positions. Bipod facing forward and backwards at the front and middle of the MG08/15. I have to report that I did not care that much for the new positions which was actually pretty disappointing after so long of a search for the part. However very few people in the US have ever had a chance to use on of these as there can’t be more than one handful in the country. It certainly falls into that forgotten category since those with them in Europe don’t get to shoot their guns! From what my German friends tell me the Germans consider the bipod rearward cant to be the correct position. I find the cant forward to be better in both bipod positions when I fire and I think you can see why in the slow motion part of the video.
Thanks, Philip! Definitely interesting to see the difference between the type of mounting.
Very interesting and always a pleasure to see a Maxim barking away!
Glad you liked it! I get my Maxims out 4 times a year. They draw a crowd for sure!
I believe that if you review Drake Goodman’s superlative collection of WWI photographs on Flickr, he has several examples where the bipod id definitely canted forward.
Yes you will find historic pictures with the forward and rearward cant. The book/manuals always shows it to the rear.
I suspect that the shot dispersion is far, far better from the front position. If you look what happens in the middle position, the gun is pivoting up and down a lot, whereas on the front mount it’s moving almost parallel.
Could you shoot some comparative targets, say 20 round single-bursts on each to see the difference?
I am not so sure. Your ability to aim has to play a significant role. I found it much harder to keep the target in my sights with the front mount. I understand what you are saying and is exactly why I thought it would be better. However with the gun dropping or lifting, your head goes up and down with it. Its hard to explain but when its rocking, your heads better able to rock with it. At least for me laying down. I will try some more and post more videos if I get different results. However if you watch my hearing protection, its most clear. What how much they get moved around. Its a direct indication of how the stock was pushing my head around.
Thanks very much for sharing your valuable experiences and wonderful collection with us. Based on what you are saying, it seems possible that the manufacturers and the German Army of the time really had a pretty sound reason for adopting the mid-position mount after all, even though conventional reasoning would argue against it. I’m guessing that the weight distribution of the gun and its moving parts together with its particular recoil characteristics during a firing sequence were the primary reason for this — although I will be the first to say that it is just an educated guess. Other more knowledgeable Maxim enthusiasts could probably provide a much more precise and in-depth analysis on this subject than I could.
Oops! drake has one picture with a neutral or slight rearward cant of the mid position bipod. One of the armorer’s WW1 period pictures has two 08/15s with the mid bipod in the forward cant position.
I could guess the Germans preferred the rearward canting position because it seems easier to yank up when getting up from a prone position while advancing towards the enemy lines after the other team is half dead. If I were moving forward while getting up, I wouldn’t want that bipod to snag on a bush whilst charging on foot at 7 km/h, would I?
Having the bipod at midpoint likely allows the gunner some sort of “tactical flexibility” in that he could be pivoting the gun upwards or downwards depending on where the gunner and intended victim were with respect to each-other’s positions. This assumption is likely wrong, but I have to say something… Could the bipod be improvised with something else to provide a make-shift AA platform?
You may ignore the following block of text if you wish. It is an outlandish “what if” scenario and you don’t have to read it.
If in some alternate history you and your friends were under attack by zeppelin-flying sky pirates or tank-riding bandits during the depression era, what would you grab? Choices are listed below but you can take more than one:
1. MG 08/15 and plenty of ammo belts!
2. 1914 German 7.7 cm anti-balloon gun or 7.7cm FK 16.
3. Browning M1921 (water-cooled predecessor to the M2 we all know and love) on a fictional AA mount
4. Lebel Grasset big game rifle chambered for .445 Nitro Express (okay, I just had to give you this for fun)
5. Mauser T-Gewehr
6. Maxim 08/18 Tank-und-Flieger chambered for the T-Gewehr’s ammo (I don’t know if this really did exist)
7. Fokker D.VII (yes, THAT plane mentioned in the Treaty of Versailles)
8. Add your favorite toys to this list!
Go get your toys. KILL EVERYONE IN YOUR WAY!
As said before, you may ignore the previous block of text if you wish. And if you do, please do not mention it in any response you have to this post. Thank you.
Got to say, the mid position appears to work better, would certainly give you a better control in regards to moving muzzle up/down while aiming. Having used M60 in action I have a little experience with forward bipod and always wished it was mid-mounted and attached to body. Each barrel having bipod attached did make them heavier and awkward to carry.
Got to say, humping that 2 gallon, metal water reservoir would have been the very definition of suckage, though. 😉