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MG08: The Devil’s Paintbrush

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The MG08 was the German Army standard Maxim gun in World War One. The Germany Navy adopted the Maxim first in 1894, followed by the Army in 1899, then a new pattern in 1901, and finally the MG08 in 1908. This was actually a somewhat old-fashioned pattenr of Maxim when it was adopted, as the Germans chose to use the 1889-style lock, which was neither headspace adjustable not field-strippable. Their decision was based on the idea that they could produce locked to perfect interchangeable headspace, and field stripping was not really necessary – and they were not wrong in these assumptions. MG08 guns were issued with two spare locks in each sled mount, and that handled any broken parts that might occasionally happen. During the war, about 106,000 MG08s were built by two main factories, the Spandau Arsenal and the DWM company. This remained the standard German Army heavy machine gun until the adoption of the MG34.

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