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Maxim MG08/15 - Heaviest 'Light' Machine Gun

Maxim MG08/15 - Heaviest 'Light' Machine Gun

The Maxim MG08/15, the heaviest 'light' machine gun and World War I relic, is one of the most common belt-feds among U.S. collectors. Both its design and history make it interesting.

Maxim MG08/15

With the loaded drum carrier and five pints of water, the total deployment weight of the Maxim MG08/15 is 49 pounds, the heaviest LMG ever fielded.

German Maxim Water Can

The German Maxim water can was first fielded in 1916; and it is exactly the same size and configuration as the standard issue German 250-round ammunition can.


The MG08/15 was derived from the MG08. This one has a Maxim telescopic sight and is mounted on a Swiss Maxim tripod with gunner's seat on the trailing leg.

Vickers-Maxim water-cooled medium machine gun

British troops were armed with the Vickers-Maxim water-cooled medium machine gun, and were the first to field a true Light Machine Gun (LMG), the Lewis Gun.

Flash Hider

The flash hider could be supplemented with a muzzle gland that enabled the gun to fire at a slower rate, or a muzzle booster, which raised the cyclic rate.

MG08/15 blade-type front sight

The MG08/15 unprotected, blade-type front sight can be drifted in its dovetailed mount on top of the water jacket, although this was never done in the field.

Water Jacket

The water jacket was filled with 5 pints of water at this point, usually with an offset funnel made of galvanized metal. The MG08 held 7 pints in a larger jacket.

V-notch Rear Sight

The V-notch rear sight can be adjusted for elevation only in 100-meter increments from 400 to 2000 meters. There was no windage adjustment.

Rare Altered Feedblock

When the switch in the very rare altered feedblock is raised upward as shown here, Gurt 33 belts for the MG34 and MG42 can be successfully used in the Maxim.


The trigger is on the underside of the receiver in front of the wooden pistol grip. The safety lever is on the left side of the pistol grip at its top.

The barrel, sliding frame and bolt

The barrel, sliding frame and bolt are driven forward by the fuzee spring on the outside of the left receiver wall and protected by the sheet metal fuzee cover.


Command height cannot be altered, nor can the gun be rotated laterally on the bipod. The bipod can be installed either slanted forward or rearward.

Leather Sling

The leather sling was specifically designed for deployment of the gun from the operator's hip for "walking fire" during assaults across "no man's land."


The MG08/15 as fielded has an overall length of 53 inches, with the buttstock — which replaced the spade grips — representing 12 inches (304.8mm) of that.

Cocking Handle

The cocking handle rotates back and forth during recoil. Keep the fingers well away from the rotating cocking handle, as it can easily remove a fingertip.

Belt carrier drum

A bracket on the right side supports a belt carrier drum that holds a 100-round belt wound on a spool by means of a crank. This was also used on Turkish Vickers guns.

Water Jacket

The greatest amount of weight reduction on the Maxim MG08/15 was achieved by downscaling the water jacket and reducing the receiver wall thickness.

Water in the Jacket

Water in the jacket turns to steam, passes through the hose into the water can, where it condenses into water. All water-cooled machine guns operate this way.

\"Light\" Machine Gun

"Light" machine gun is a relative term when you're talking about the MG08/15. It was lighter than the MG08, but a lot heavier than the competitive Lewis Gun.

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