The MG 08/15 Updated Between the Wars

This MG08/15 is being sold by Morphys on October 30, 2018.

In the aftermath of World War One, the Treaty of Versailles strictly limited the number of machine guns that the German military could keep in inventory. The main type that the Germans chose to keep was the MG08/15 (although a substantial number of MG08 guns were kept as well). Through the 1920s and 1930s, these Maxim guns were improved and updated in a variety of ways until finally replaced by the MG34 starting in 1936. Many of these updated 08/15s would be deployed in reserve areas during World War Two, but relatively few survive today. Today we are looking at one such gun, and noting the changes made to it compared to the 08/15 of World War One. Specifically:

  • Anti-aircraft sights and mounting brackets
  • Oiler bottle in the stock
  • Bipod attachment at the muzzle
  • New water drain and fill plugs
  • Modified drum hanger bracket
  • Feed block for both cloth Maxim belts and metal MG34 belts
  • Leather pistol grip cover
  • Top cover locking latch


  1. In 1941 the Commonwealth Military Forces of Australia (the Army), collected all MG 08/15 held in Service Clubs, as trophies in units, and those held in museums or private hands. These weapons were then converted to caliber .303in by each State Ordnance Depots, and received various modifications to suit modern military usage. Upon conversion they were then issued to the various State Battalions of the VDC (Volunteer Defence Force) as form of Home Guard, and kept in use to the war’s end and the disbandment of the VDC. At the same time standard MG 1908 were converted in a similar manner to caliber .303in. On being returned to the Ordnance system the vast majority were scrapped. These were both in quite substantial numbers, and a very good article was written in a Australian Army magazine some years ago, my copy is somewhere in the boxes currently being assembled whilst my home is renovated and extended!

    • Although the gist of your story is true, very few MG08/15 and MG08 were actually converted. Less than 500 as the number of Vickers and BREN guns were starting to role off the Lithgow production lines. The machine guns not converted were not returned to their allocated war trophy locations and as you pointed out were either scrapped or many were dumped down abandoned mineshafts in places such as Broken Hill where most of the calibre conversions were to take place.

  2. I know it’s unrealistic but the MG-08/15 shows up as a portable heavy machine gun in “Guns, Gore, and Cannoli.” For some reason it appears the US Army brought them along with bazookas, poison gas grenades, and flamethrowers to deal with the zombie outbreak (and they also actively target gangsters, including the player). It’s rather hilarious to steal the machine gun and belt-boxes from the soldiers (or just salvage the ammunition from dropped weapons in random spots) and then run around spraying zombies, soldiers, and hostile gangsters in the face. And this is a zombie/gangster themed shoot-them-up game set in 1928 with a mob enforcer as the player character! Did I forget to mention that the zombies were people who drank moonshine spiked with (formerly) government sponsored zombie poison on Saint Patrick’s day?

    “If you didn’t want to die, you shouldn’t have walked in front of my gun!” How anyone was stupid enough to leave military grade ordnance unguarded during a Prohibition Era zombie apocalypse taking place in a city full of zombies and opportunistic gangsters is beyond my knowledge! Feel free to ignore this post.

  3. This is certainly unique and impressive piece of ordnance and on top of it in excellent condition. However, my favored German machinegun of WW1 would be Parabellum MG 14.

    It is substantially slimmer package while using same, although inverted toggle lock. Because it was lighter and handier, it was used primarily in aircrafts and balloons.

  4. This gun does not fit the MG34 metal belts. It is for an intermediate 250 rd metal belt that looks like the 34 belt but a different geometry

  5. I encountered an MG-08 in Kabul, Afghanistan in @2007. It wasn’t in use, just one of many many firearms on display over there. Interesting to think how it might have gotten there. Now I wish I’d examined it more closely…

  6. More than the state of German armament this gun shows us the state of German mental state. I was just thinking that the oil bottle looked excessive when I saw the black leather machine gun bondage gear. In retrospect I would say the Germans spent way too much of 1935 attaching stuff to machine guns. Although to be fair I am on this site at 2am because of a very similar fetish.

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