Schwarzlose machine gun
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|Maschinengewehr (Schwarzlose) M. 7|
MG M.07/12 mounted on a wheel in a World War I-era anti-aircraft configuration.
|Place of origin||Austria-Hungary|
|In service||1908 – 1945 (at least)|
|Used by||See Users|
World War I
Austro-Slovene conflict in Carinthia
Greco-Turkish War (1919–22)
World War II
|Designer||Andreas Wilhelm Schwarzlose|
|Produced||1908 – 1918|
|Weight||41.4 kg (gun & tripod)|
|Barrel length||530 mm|
|Rate of fire||400-580 round/min (M.07/12)
600-880 round/m (MG-16A)
|Feed system||250-round Belt (firearms)|
The Maschinengewehr (Schwarzlose) M. 7, also known as the Schwarzlose MG, was a medium machine-gun, used as a standard issue firearm in the Austro-Hungarian Army throughout World War I. It was also used by the Dutch, Greek and Hungarian armies during World War II. It was also routinely issued to Italian colonial troops, alongside the Mannlicher M1895 rifle.
The Schwarzlose M. 7 was a water-cooled, belt-fed weapon designed by a German named Andreas Wilhelm Schwarzlose. It was usually mounted on a tripod and looked broadly similar to the family of Maxim-derived machine-guns such as the British Vickers and the German Maschinengewehr 08. The Schwarzlose, however, was of simpler design and featured an unusual, delayed blowback mechanism which contained only a single spring. The initial variants of the M.07/12 had a cyclic rate of about 400 rounds/m, but this was later increased to 580 rounds/m during World War I by fitting the mechanism with a stronger spring. The Schwarzlose was a robust and reliable weapon in its intended role as an infantry weapon, but unlike the highly adaptable Maxim-derived machine guns, met with less success when it was used in roles it had not been designed for. The simplicity of its design however, made the weapon very inexpensive to manufacture.
The Schwarzlose enjoyed moderate export success in the years leading up to World War I. Apart from the armies of the Austro-Hungarian empire (8mm caliber) it was adopted by the armies of Greece (6.5mm caliber), the Netherlands (6.5mm caliber) and Sweden (using the 6.5×55mm cartridge and designated kulspruta m/1914). In addition, the British ammunition company Kynoch produced a machine gun based on the Schwarzlose patent in 1907, using the .303 British cartridge. The Netherlands used an modified version, the Schwarzlose M.08, in production from 1918 (2,006 made). After the First World War the Schwarzlose continued in use with the new nations that emerged from the fragments of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Captured examples of the Schwarzlose saw some sporadic use by Russian and Italian units during the First World War. During World War II the Schwarzlose saw limited action in North Africa as an anti-aircraft weapon in Italian service. It was also the standard MG issued to Italian colonial troops. Besides, captured Schwarzlose machine guns of various types saw service with second line units of the Nazi German army, especially during the desperate fighting that took place in the final phases of that conflict.
For infantry use, the Schwarzlose was usually employed as a traditional, tripod mounted, heavy machine gun served by a crew of at least three soldiers, one of whom was the commander, usually an NCO, a gunner who carried the weapon, a third soldier who served as an ammunition carrier and loader and he would presumably also carry the tripod although in practice a fourth soldier might be added to the team to carry the tripod. Another less commonly seen method of deployment was the more compact 'backpack mount'. In this configuration the gun was fitted with a backwards folding bipod attached to the front of the water jacket near the muzzle. The backpack mount itself consisted of a square wooden frame with a metal socket in the center. When the gun was fully deployed the frame was laid on the ground, the gun's central mounting point that usually attached to a tripod now had a small mounting pin attached to it instead which was inserted into the mounting socket in the center of the wooden backpack frame and finally the bipod was folded forward. The Schwarzlose would also have seen service as a fortress weapon in which case it would have been deployed on a variety of heavy and specialized fixed mountings and it also saw some use as a naval weapon aboard ship. During World War I the Schwarzlose was also pressed into service as an anti-aircraft gun and as such it was deployed using a variety of often improvised mountings.
Use as a fortification weapon
After World War I the Schwarzlose equipped the armed forces of Czechoslovakia, where it was adapted (vz. 7/24) and manufactured (vz. 24) as the těžký kulomet vz. 7/24 (heavy machine gun model 7/24) by the Janeček factory (adapted from 8 mm calibre to standard Czechoslovak munition 7,92 Mauser). When Czechoslovakia started building fortifications against Nazi Germany in 1935-1938, light fortifications, known as types 36 and 37, were partially armed with the Schwarzlose vz. 7/24.
Use as an aircraft gun
Apart from its use as a heavy infantry machine gun and as an anti-aircraft weapon, the Schwarzlose saw service with the Austro-Hungarian Luftfahrtruppe during World War I as an aircraft machine gun, a role for which it was not entirely suited. The Schwarzlose was used both as a fixed forward firing gun and as a flexible, ring mounted, defensive weapon.
Synchronizing the Schwarzlose for use in fighters turned out to be a difficult engineering challenge. A critical factor in synchronization is the time delay between the trigger movement and the moment when the bullet leaves the barrel, as during this delay the propeller will continue to rotate, moving over an angle that also varies with engine rpm. Because of the relatively long delay time of the Schwarzlose M7/12, the synchronization systems that were developed could be operated safely only in a narrow band of engine rpm. Therefore the Austro-Hungarian fighters were equipped with large and prominent tachometers in the cockpit. The M16 version of the gun could be synchronized with greater accuracy, but a widened engine rpm restriction still had to be respected, except for aircraft equipped with Daimler synchronization gear. The result was never entirely satisfactory and Austro-Hungarian aircraft thus armed usually carried the Kravics indicator, an ingenious bullet strike sensor on the propeller, to warn the pilot of a malfunction in the synchronization gear.
Until these synchronization problems had been overcome, it was not uncommon to see the Schwarzlose deployed in a removable forward firing Type-II VK gun container which had been developed by the Luftfahrtruppe's Versuchs Kompanie at Fischamend. The Type-II VK, which received the macabre nickname 'baby coffin' due to its shape, is remarkable in that it was possibly the first example of what today would be called a 'gun pod'. It was usually mounted on the centerline of the upper wing of Austro-Hungarian fighters and two-seat combat aircraft during the early phases of World War I and remained in use on two-seat combat aircraft until the end of the war. In its role as an aircraft weapon the Schwarzlose was initially used unmodified other than that the distinctive cone shaped flash-hider seen on most of the infantry weapons was removed. The Schwarzlose was further modified for aircraft use by cutting slots into the water jacket to facilitate air cooling. In 1916 the water jacket was removed entirely and the resulting weapon was re-designated as the Schwarzlose MG-16 and MG-16A when fitted with a stronger spring and a blowback enhancer to increase the guns cyclic rate which was eventually brought up to 880 rounds per minute in some versions of the MG-16A. As a defensive ring mounted gun the Schwarzlose usually retained its normal twin firing handles and trigger button although some MG-16 aircraft guns were fitted with enlarged pistol shaped handles and a handgun style trigger. All ring mounted defensive guns were equipped with specialized sights and a box for the ammunition belt which allowed quick and trouble-free reloading. After the end of World War I the Schwarzlose saw limited use as an aircraft gun with various East European air forces. The best known post war operator of the Schwarzlose was probably the Polish air force who acquired and used significant numbers of surplus Austro-Hungarian aircraft and used them against Soviet forces during the Polish-Bolshevik War. The Schwarzlose was, however, quickly phased out of service as an aircraft weapon when more suitable equipment became available.
- MG M. 7, MG M. 7/12, MG-16, MG-16A in 8x50mmR Mannlicher.
- Kynoch Machine Gun was manufactured by the Kynoch ammunition company, presumably in .303 British, 
- Schwarzlose-Janeček vz.07/24: The M.7/12 Machine Gun was modified by inventor František Janeček. Modifications include: rechambering to 7.92×57 mm Mauser, a ligher bolt, shorter recoil spring and extension of the barrel by 100 mm. Manufacture and adaptation of these guns took place in the Zbrojovka Brno factory. During 1922 and 1934 there were 4937 modified Schwarzlose M.7/12 MGs to vz.7/24 and 2253 newly produced vz.24 MGs.
- M08, M08/13, M08/15 in 6.5×53mmR.
- MG M.07/31 converted from original 8x50mmR Mannlicher to 8x56mmR. Same as their Mannlicher M1895 rifles.
- Kulspruta m/1914 in 6.5×55mm.
- Albania
- Kingdom of Bulgaria
- China
- Colombia: used in the Colombia–Peru War in 1933.
- Nazi Germany
- Kingdom of Greece
- Kingdom of Hungary
- Kingdom of Italy
- Ottoman Empire
- Second Polish Republic
- Kingdom of Romania: Converted to 7.62x54mmR, metal belt fedding and fitted with a larger water jacket.
- Russian Empire
- State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs: Used in the Austro-Slovene conflict in Carinthia, later passed on to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
- Kingdom of Serbia
- Sweden: Adopted as the Kulspruta m/1914 in 6.5×55mm cartridge.
- Kingdom of Yugoslavia
- Yugoslavia: Used by partisans in WW2.
- Phillip Peterson (24 September 2007). Standard Catalog of Military Firearms: The Collector's Price and Reference Guide. Gun Digest Books. p. 31. ISBN 1-4402-3046-3.
- Ortner, M. Christian (2011). Storm Troops. Verlag Militaria. p. 214. ISBN 978-3-9501642-8-2.
- Willbanks, James H. (1 January 2004). Machine Guns: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-85109-480-6.
- Peterson, Phillip (18 October 2013). Standard Catalog of Military Firearms: The Collector's Price and Reference Guide. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-4402-3692-1.
- The Swedish machineguns before 1950. Text and pictures by O. Janson
- Hatcher, Julian. (1947). Hatcher's Notebook. The Military Service Press Company. ISBN 0-8117-0795-4 p. 38-44
- Woodman, Harry. (1989). "Early Aircraft Armament" Weidenfeld Military. ISBN 0-85368-990-3
- A Century of Triumph: The History of Aviation. New York: Simon and Schuster. 2002. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-7432-3479-5.
- Lugosi, József (2008). "Gyalogsági fegyverek 1868–2008". In Lugosi, József; Markó, György. Hazánk dicsőségére: 160 éves a Magyar Honvédség. Budapest: Zrínyi Kiadó. p. 382. ISBN 978-963-327-461-3.
- «в течение осени и зимы 1915 года… своих винтовок царской армии уже недоставало. Многие солдаты, в частности, весь наш полк, имели на вооружении трофейные австрийские винтовки, благо патронов к ним было больше, чем к нашим. По той же причине наряду с пулемётами „Максим“ сплошь и рядом в царской армии можно было встретить австрийский „Шварцлозе“»
А. М. Василевский. Дело всей жизни. 7-е изд. кн. 1. М., 1990. стр.21-22
- "Instruktion [...] Maschinengewehr (Schwarzlose) M. 7" (PDF). Wien: k. k. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei. 1913 .
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Schwarzlose MG.|
- The Schwarzlose machine gun photogallery (probably czech heavy machine gun model 7/24)
- Austro-Hungarian Machine Guns - Schwarzlose
- The Schwarzlose in Swedish service
- Images of the Schwarzlose aircraft gun
- Firing the Schwarzlose Machine Gun Video