German Machine Guns of World War 1

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Stephen Bull
Product / Stock #
WPN 47
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Cover Art

Now that we stand 100 years from “The War to End All Wars”, it seems reasonable to step back a bit and reflect on the vast changes this war instigated, not the least being the changes to warfare itself. The Maxim machine gun was used in some form by virtually all of the belligerents in that war (France notwithstanding), but nowhere to the effect that the German Army employed it. Looking back, it seems amazing that not every military mind of the age was able to perceive the terrible impact such a device would have on combat, in a time when the “line charge” was still regarded as a staple of tactical thinking. Nonetheless, it was the German army that realized how such a piece of equipment could help make up the disparity in military might between a relatively new nation and a host of other nations amassed against them. It also ruthlessly brought the tactics of warfare into the industrial age.

Osprey’s new book, German Machine Guns of World War I, explores the development of this weapon through this conflict and beyond, most notably the MG 08 – the staple of German trench warfare – and its companion, the MG 08/15, which was a more portable version of the same weapon, although “portable” here is a relative term. Trimmed to the bone, the machine still weighed around 45 pounds without ammunition. Despite this, some 130,000 of these were manufactured by war’s end, and went on to soldier in the post-war Wermacht up to and including World War 2.

The book does make for fascinating reading, extensively covering the development and production of these two weapons as well as providing tactical use and deployment. Each weapon is examined in minute detail, even including maintenance and handling information. Variants used for aerial combat are also briefly discussed.

The book is well covered with some really rare pictures dating back to the 1890s, as well as several color art plates with some intriguing situations for the figure modeler to glean inspiration from.

I don’t think there’s any way to overstate the grim impact the creation of these weapons had on the face of modern warfare, and this book examines their development, use and impact in thorough fashion. It’s really a must-read for anyone interested in World War One and the technological innovations that came from that great conflict.

My thanks go out to Osprey for the production of this useful tome and of course to IPMS/USA for a chance to read it.


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