The MG08 was terrifying when it was first deployed on the WWI battlefield.
World War I was a time of firearms innovations that forever changed the way battles were fought. One of the biggest and most terrifying innovations came from the German army in the form of the Maschinengewehr 08 or Maxim MG08 heavy machine gun.
While crude by today's standards, the gun's heavy rate of fire and hard-hitting 7.92x57mm Mauser ammo helped give the water-cooled gun the nickname "The Devil's Paintbrush."
See this formidable weapon in action in the video below and learn a few extra tidbits about how the Maxim machine gun handles in retrospective more than 100 years since it was first used in combat.
As far as early machine guns go, this German machine gun is a true beast at nearly 140 pounds. And that's before adding some additional weight to the gun body when filling up the water jacket. As cumbersome as that water cooling system was, it was necessary to keep the entire 28-inch barrel length from overheating. The MG08 had a firing rate near 500 rounds a minute. The design of this firearm goes back to 1884 with the Maxim gun designed by British inventor Hiram S. Maxim.
The German Maxim is a beefier, up-scaled variant over the original. The variant was developed by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken also known as DWM, and Spandau Arsenal. DWM manufactured this and various small arms including the Luger pistol in World War 1 and World War II. The MG08 became the German Army's standard machine gun through the war. With a 2,000-yard effective range and a blistering muzzle velocity of nearly 3,000 feet per second, it was the type of firearm that had been seen little in combat up until that point. It's little wonder that allied forces were frightened when they first came up against this gun.
Germany produced a few different variants during the first World War, many in response to criticisms from troops who weren't happy about the weight. They later produced more portable versions. Still, the firearm gained a fearsome reputation using 250-round fabric belts for infantry roles. The Germans also cut the weight down to create a version of this gun for their aircraft. This gun was involved in some of the first dogfights between aircraft in history.
While many light machine gun builds during and after World War II made the MG08 nearly obsolete, the firearm still had a long shelf life. It was used by many armies in many large conflicts and smaller civil wars, well into the 1950s. One of the last places it saw action was during the Korean War. In any case, this firearm has an imposing presence and it is easy to see why it still captures the attention of firearms enthusiasts the world over.
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.