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“The artillery shapes the battlefield—machine guns defend it!” This sentence characterizes the battles of materiel fought during the First World War like almost no other. After the outbreak of war in 1914, the revolutions in armaments of the late 19th and early 20th centuries resulted in industrialized warfare, which was marked in particular by the use of machine guns—and artillery.
In addition to the standard MG 08 and MG 08/15 machine guns, the book also describes the Luft-MG 08 and 08/15 variants, the MG 08/18 which ended the Maxim development series, and the very rare models Parabellum M 1913, M 1913/17, the Dreyse machine gun, the Bergmann machine gun alter Art and neuer Art models, and the Anti-Tank and Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun. The period under consideration thus extends from 1892 until the post-war period after the First World War and into the time of the Reichswehr. The authors digress to examine the Mondragón self-loading rifle and the Mauser aircraft self-loading carbine, which though not automatic weapons, were used by the German air force as predecessors of automatic weapons. Finally the book also examines the Maschinenpistole 18, the automatic weapon introduced shortly before the end of the First World War which for the first time allowed the machine gun to be wielded as a versatile hand-held weapon.
New knowledge, gleaned from the archives of the Bavarian War Archive and the Bundesarchiv/Militärarchiv, makes possible a new way of looking at production and procurement procedures, the use of machine guns by the German Army in the First World War, and the use of captured machine guns.