From Max Popenker, we have a set of photos of a very funky German submachine gun from the first world war (presumably 1918). The weapon is currently in possession of the weapon design department at Tula State University in Russia, and that’s where these photos were taken. Until now, the only photo available of this gun was this one (and it has some minor differences from Tula’s example, including the front grip and oil bottle in the stock):

Experimental German SMG based on Maxim 08/18

Well, it turns out that the gun in that picture is missing its feed box, which is a pretty important part, and tells us a lot about how it worked. The gun actually fed from a multi-column clip which held 8 rows of 10 cartridges each, somewhat like a cross between a 1914 Fiat-Revelli and a Japanese Type 11 LMG. When first loaded, the first column of cartridges is engaged by a sort of rack and pulled up to the chamber one by one. After the 10th round is chambered, the entire clip is stepped to the right so that the second column of cartridges is in position to be fed upwards. When all the rounds have been fired, the now-empty clip is pushed out through a slot (with its own spring-loaded dust cover) on the right side of the feed box.

The action of the gun itself is based on the Maxim MG08/18 air-cooled machine gun, using the same type of recoil-operated toggle lock, just scaled down to the 9mm Parabellum pistol cartridge. Instead of having the recoil (fusee) spring on the outside of the gun, in this case it is located inside the buttstock, like many other more modern designs.

Pretty much nothing else is known about this gun, including who made it, exactly when, whether it ever saw field use, how many were made, and whether or not it actually worked effectively. Heck, I don’t even know what the proper name of it is…but it certainly is interesting and unusual. Thanks, Max!


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