MG 08 use at the start of the war.

Discussions on the small arms used by the Axis forces.
Damper
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MG 08 use at the start of the war.

Post by Damper » 23 Dec 2017 16:27

My understanding is that large numbers of MG 08s were surrendered to the Allies as war reparations at the end of World War I, with the treaty of Versailles allowing only limited numbers allowed to remain in the inventory of the new Reichswehr.

Did Germany retain the capacity to manufacture MG 08s after the treaty of Versailles? How many were in inventory when Germany began it's rearmament program in 1933?

Knouterer
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Re: MG 08 use at the start of the war.

Post by Knouterer » 25 Dec 2017 12:12

The Treaty of Versailes allowed the Reichswehr 861 heavy and 1475 light MGs. About 125,000 MGs of various types were surrendered, but a considerable number were also hidden from the Allied Control Commission, thousands according to some authors.
Limited production of MGs was permitted to replace worn weapons, for 1922 for example this number was put at 303. Export was forbidden.

Since the MG 08 was outdated by 1918 and development of new MGs started in the late 20s (MG 13, followed by MG 34) I assume that production was halted by about 1930 at the latest. Some tinkering went on after that, for example a new tripod was introduced and the feed mechanism was adapted to handle the new metal link belts as well as the old cloth belts.

Nevertheless, photographic evidence suggests that the MG 08 was still in widespread use in 1939/40, particularly in MG companies of units of the later "mobilisation waves". As the picture below (Bundesarchiv, Bild 1011-0245-10A, Germans troops advancing through the Ardennes in May 1940) shows, the MG 08/15 was also still in frontline use in 1940. The man on the left is carrying an AA tripod for the gun across his back if I'm not mistaken.

Many MG 08 were recaptured from various nations during the war.
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Knouterer
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Re: MG 08 use at the start of the war.

Post by Knouterer » 26 Dec 2017 10:21

Translation of second paragraph:

"On 3.3.1941 the OKH announces that by the end of March 1941 all divisions of the field army will be fully equipped with the MG 34. Any MG 08, MG 08/15, MG 13 Long and captured machine guns still in infantry depots, repair workshops etc. are to be handed over to the Heereszeugämter.
Landesschützen units are issued the MG 26 (t) and must hand over all other types of MGs."

However, the production of the MG 34 could not keep up with demand and in 1943 the commander of the replacement army (Ersatzheer) was requested to arm units of newly raised infantry divisions that would not normally take part in combat - such as the bakery company - with MG 08 or 08/15 from store.
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Last edited by Knouterer on 26 Dec 2017 12:16, edited 1 time in total.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Knouterer
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Re: MG 08 use at the start of the war.

Post by Knouterer » 26 Dec 2017 10:44

And a data sheet (Kennblatt) of January 1941 about the MG 08/15 as (re)captured from the Belgians, who had converted them to 7.65 mm Mauser.
The fact that this sheet was published suggests that these weapons were not scrapped but kept in store for possible future use.
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forttravel
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Re: MG 08 use at the start of the war.

Post by forttravel » 26 Dec 2017 22:32

Please remember that begining of war and later MG 08 was a basic weapon on fortifications along Germany's borders. Almost all old style bunkers what used Panzerplatten 7p7 and older styles with "open window" were armed with such gun as standard. It were a tousends of bunkers mostly on eastern border (Pommernstellung, Oderstellung, positions on Eastprussia, OWB and Westwall too). It was designed also a device to use MG 08/15 as replacement too.

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