Vintage Saturday: Mounts

German troops posing with a variety of MG08 mounts
German troops posing with a sampling of Maxim machine guns (photo courtesy Beryl Barnett)

From left to right, an MG08 on its sled mount, a captured Russian 1910 on a Vickers J tripod modified with wheels (and an MG08 blank adapter), a dummy MG08, and a blank-adapter MG08 on a German MG01 sled mount.

12 Comments

  1. Remember, whatever happens

    We have got the Maxim gun,

    And they have not.

    Of course, they did have Vickers. Seems like you let an MG out of the bottle, you can’t stuff it back in.

  2. Very interesting photograph. Those early-design sled mounts were absolutely solid and almost literally built like the proverbial tank, but, like a tank, they weighed a ton. On the other hand, the relatively static nature of trench warfare on the Western Front during the Great War also meant that the MG-08’s could be used to maximum advantage in their intended sustained-fire role from fixed and semi-permanent firing positions, where the weight was less of a concern. Although it was really artillery that inflicted the most casualties sustained by both sides, the machine gun was nevertheless still responsible for a very large proportion of casualties as the grim statistics have shown.

    On another note, everyone in this photograph sports the de rigeur mustache with the exception of three individuals ; quite a testament to what was regarded as a fashionably “manly” countenance at the time.

  3. Looks like a MG01 on that MG01 Sled. Note the feedblock appears to have the roller below the feedblock hole. Also note the steam tube sticking out above the BFA. Plus its a MG01 Sled… so its more likely to be a MG01 than a MG08… at least I think. Can’t see the Optics rail on the other side of the gun. That could just be the angle but I think we should see be able to see the top of it. So I would guess its a MG01 on shown on the far right.

  4. there is a maxim on a sled mount in west newbury,MA but the condition of the thing would make you cry. figure it’s been outside since probably the 1930’s or so, and it doesn’t look like anyone made any effort to keep it from turning to rust.

    I’ve been trying to catalog all of these war memorial/VFW/legion artillery and other war relics in my area (southern NH/northern MA). most have been well kept and restored. but not these.

    • Allen–

      Where is the W Newbury Maxim?

      You’re aware of the 1″ ex-USN Maxim on outdoor static display in Seabrook, NH, aren’t you? I am a couple towns up from there. Funny thing is, I lived in Seabrook years ago and didn’t know it was there — my old team sergeant told me about it and we went and looked at it on one of his visits.

      When I was a kid one of my dad’s poker buddies, a retired general who had been a field grade officer on Patton’s staff, had an MG08, presumably a DEWAT, on his front lawn pour dĂ©courager les rĂ©presentants, as he put it. That was in central Mass. Unfortunately the General and his salesman-dissuader are both long gone.

      Yes, in the 1960s you could have a machine gun on your lawn in Massachusetts and be thought merely mildly eccentric.

      • the west newbury maxims (there are 2) are at the park at training field road,next to the GAR memorial library on rt.113

        you may not want to go look, it will either make you cry or make you mad. they almost completely rusted out.

        have you seen the M37 self-propelled artillery in Georgetown,MA?

        http://warhorse03826.deviantart.com/art/M37-self-propelled-artillery-108076079

        back near the VFW building itself they have 2 m1895 “potato digger”s and a m1914 hotchkiss MG cemented in place.

      • and yes, I have pics of that 1″ maxim…and if you go down the road that is in front of (walton rd), there is a 75mm pack howitzer in front of the american legion hall.

  5. The major selling point of the MG-Schlittenlafette 08 from the German army’s POV was that not only could it be dragged along like a sled by folding the two front legs back, but since the entire assembly weighed 140 pounds or thereabout (58 lb gun + 70 lb. mount), by folding the front legs up and forward to the horizontal two men could carry the gun like a stretcher. Which the German infantry quickly learned was by far the easiest and fastest way to move it through a trench complex in a hurry.

    The limited traverse of the ’08 mount wasn’t considered a handicap at the time, as most firing was done from fixed positions, each tasked with covering a specific area of the front. The major advantage of the MG.08 for this was of course that being water-cooled, it could sustain fire for a long time without packing in on the gunner.

    IMHO, there’s still a place for the liquid-cooled heavy MG in the inventory, as a support weapon with a higher sustained-fire volume capability tan air-cooled single-barrel guns, but without the external power demands of weapons like the 7.62 x 51mm Minigun. A “product improved” MG.08 in .300 WSSM or even .338 Lapua would nicely bridge the gap between the M240 and the M2 HB, with more reach and punch than the former and a greater sustained-fire volume than the latter.

    Since “wave attacks” seem to be coming back into style (vis. ISIS), it couldn’t hurt to have a “No. 4 wood” in the mech infantry’s bag between the “fairway driver” and the “wedge”.

    cheers

    eon

    • There is also one other way to carry the MG08. Ever wonder what the pads on the front legs are for? They are shoulder pads! You can stick your head through the front legs and pick up the Sled as a backpack. I have done this several times when moving my MG08 outside. Its not a real bad way of doing it if there is no one to help. However when you go to set it back down, it tries its best to make you fall backwards.

      It is a very easy carry for two people and thats the best way to carry it.

      There was a larger caliber German Maxim. At the end of the war the Germans were coming out with a T.u.f. Maxim. Basically a MG08 shooting 13mm (51.2 Caliber) at something like 350RPM. They had something like 4000 ready for assembly when the war ended and they did their best to see that none survived. However there are a few out there but not well known.

      Frankly the idea of keeping water and even harder, the seals given todays environment, I frankly don’t see its use today. The idea of switching barrels is far easier. Yes they can put down fire like nothing else but today, Artillery really fills that role. The days of plunging fire are long gone.

      • “There was a larger caliber German Maxim.”
        One of reason to success of Maxim design was that it can be made to accept almost any cartridge and can be also scalled-up to be artillery size see 1-pounder (37mm) and 2-pounder (40mm) pom-pom guns.

        “Frankly the idea of keeping water”
        The modern Russian AK-176 is water-cooled, but it is ship-mounted gun so the water is not problem: http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNRussian_3-60_ak176.htm

      • The US went to interchangeable barrels, but also in the M60 to a barrel with a Stellite liner for the first 8″ or so and, crucially, an air gap between the blocks of steel that make up the chamber and the rifled section of the barrel. This isolates the heat from barrel friction from the chamber, delaying the onset of cook-off appreciably.

        To my amazement, after decades of the thing NOT being improved by Saco in its various iterations and the US Army (whose Springfield Armory developed the abortion in the first place), most of my beefs with the dreadful M60 (maybe all of them!) have been addressed by US Ordnance, who have updated the living daylights out of it since they acquired the line something like 15 years ago. They actually have won at least one NATO contract from a previous MG3 (improved MG42) user (Denmark, this year). But I’m pretty sure they kept the barrel design, because it’s freaking ingenious. Rayle describes it (with evident pride in his Springfield colleagues) in his book, Random Shots (Ian, you should put up a link to that book again, even though it’s mostly about the M14 program there’s some great MG design experience in there).

        Cook-off is only one problem of course. Another is high temps from sustained fire altering the heat treatment of a barrel. This can promote throat erosion (indeed, it really accelerates this erosion, especially on unlined barrels) and it also can destroy the barrel’s accuracy. US research in WWI found that even a 20-second burst from an M2/M3 .50 aerial gun (higher ROF than a ground M2HB) could render the barrel inaccurate, and get this, without changing the dimensions. So the damned thing would look fine on a borescope, erosion gage or even when air-gaged, but it would now fire IIRC a five foot group at 100 yards. This almost didn’t matter in aerial warfare (since 99.999% of shots were not fired in an alignment to hit, dispersion was curiously beneficial) but it really is significant for ground combat.

        Bear in mind that WWII aerial guns were not only air cooled, but they were air-cooled by stratospheric air (-50 to -60ÂşF).

        In WWI, you didn’t need deteriorating barrels to help you with dispersion, because you only wanted horizontal dispersion. You wanted your rounds to beat the ground the enemy foot soldiers were crossing at their ankle to belt level. Machine gunners learned a great deal of gun theory including MG indirect fire in those days. If you look at the interlocking fields of fire in German Westwall bunkers along, for instance, Omaha Beach, you can see that the German engineers relied on WWI experience, and the kind of MG theory taught to the Kaiser’s machine gunners, to produce the deadly field of interlocking fire.

    • Your note on liquid cooled MG falls in with my thinking; it makes sense for mobile emplacements, large caliber guns. In variety of industrial practise are used alloys with capability to store heat and other substances which transit between solid and liquid, absorbing and giving away heat in more modest manner that metals.

      It could be viable to use them in some sort of layered / composite structure where in core would be usual barrel steel of even stellite.
      http://engineering.mit.edu/ask/are-there-materials-can-absorb-heat-without-becoming-hot

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