08/15 Machine Gunner, Western Front 1917/18 with Trench Section
- Scale / Maßstab: 1:16
- Approx. height of figure: 114mm
- Material: Resin (figure & equipment), Model Plaster (base, wall, firing step & sand bags) / Modell-Gips (synethetische, kunststoffveredelte Gießmasse)
- Parts / Teile: 52
- Infosheet / Infoblatt: English
- Code: 21MXG
Contents / Inhalt:
- Figure (4 parts) / Figur (4 Teile)
- Canvas Gas Mask Holder / Segeltuchtasche für Gasmaske
- Haversack M1887 / Brotbeutel M1887
- Water Bottle M1907 / Feldflasche M1907
- Bayonet 84/98 / Seitengewehr 84/98
- Pistol 08 / Pistole 08
- Signal-Flare Gun (2 parts) / Leuchtpistole a. A. alte Art (2 Teile)
- Loose 13mm Flare Gun Ammunition / Lose 13mm Luechtpistolen-Patronen
- Machine Gun 08/15 (3 parts) / Maschinengewehr 08/15 (3 Teile)
- Standard MG 08/15 Bipod / MG08/15 Zweibein
- Rubber Steam Hose / Dampfschlauch
- Double-Ended Metal Spare Barrel Container / Ersatzrohr-Behälter
- Drum Magazine (2 parts) / Trommelmagazin / Patronenkasten 16 (2 Teile)
- Wooden Ammunition Boxes / Munition Holzkisten
- Wooden Ammunition Box – open (3 parts) / Munition Holzkisten offen (3 Teile)
- Water Container (2 parts) – Wasserkasten 15 (neuer Art) mit Ausgiesser ausgeklappt (2 Teile)
- Ammunition Belt / Patronengurt
- Stick Grenades M.15 / Stielhandgranaten M.15
- Egg Grenade M.17 / Eierhandgranate M.17
- Steel Helmet M.16 with Sandbag Cover / Stahlhelm M.16 mit Sandsack-Überzug
In Model Plaster / Modell-Gips:
- Trench Duckboards (Base) / Grabenboden (Sockel)
- Firing Step / Grabenstand
- Trench Wall / Grabenwand
- 2 x Sandbags / 2 Stck. Sandsäcke
Extracts from the Infosheet with this figure:
The figure depicts a machine gunner with an infantry unit stationed within the frontline area during the winter 1917/18. This is not the forward frontline, but a support trench further to the rear of the main position. The fact that he is not wearing his steel helmet and warming both hands in his pockets suggests that enemy activity is not expected.
The original idea for this figure came from an early wartime group photo of Bavarian machine gun troops (MG 08), probably during training. Apart from the absence of the spiked helmet and leather MG carrying strap, this a near as possible reproduction of this soldier.
The MG, positioned on the parapet behind the figure (diorama set version) is purely fictional and not based on any one photo. It was quite common in fact to keep the MG 08/15 with all ammunition in the dugouts as this was a portable weapon and would not normally be built into a fixed position as often seen with the larger MG 08.
The German Soldier of 1917 and 1918. The German soldier in 1917/18 had changed somewhat from his comrades of 1914. Firstly, he would have been much younger – on average about 18/19 years of age after finishing training – NCOs a year or two older. The style of his uniform differed not only in quality but functionality as well, with many items of clothing and equipment produced in Ersatz material, or a combination of mixed dress. Infantry Companies within the Front Line areas numbered on averaged 75 – 80 soldiers, some as low as 50 (a full Company strength would be around 135 men), with the bulk of its fighting capacity and experience held by only 15 – 20 old sweats. As the war progressed more emphasis was put onto automatic weapons and as many as 4 MG 08/15s per Infantry Company were issued.
Field Grey Overcoat M1915 / Einheitsmantel M1915: The standardized field grey coat M1915 for all ranks (including officers) was to replace all other types in service at the time for both mounted and dismounted soldiers in the German Army. The coat was to be more practical for front line service, enabling extra freedom of movement and make officers and other ranks appear alike. Front line experience showed that troops needed good protection against the elements and the extensive cut of the coat enabled the wearer, particularly in cold conditions to add extra garments underneath. In addition, during off duty hours the soldier could rap himself up within the coat.
The length of the coat was to half way up the calf muscle; the turned back sleeves should cover the hands up to the knuckles. In the above centre part of the back was a large fold, which started at the collar and ended at the waste band belt. The lower part of the rear was split in two, started just below the waste belt and was held together by 4 horn buttons. If an equipment belt was worn with the coat then the waste belt should be visible below. For mounted and marching troops the front 2 coat flaps could be turned outwards and fixed to the sides (more commonly seen with French troops of this period). The wide reed-green turned down collar (field-grey with Bavarian units) could be buttoned up either under the chin or with a second fastener hook over the mouth. In front is a row of 6 Tombak or nickel buttons (later on account of shortages – steel) the last button should be below the waistline (or belt). At each side were 2 large pockets with flaps.
On the greatcoat itself, the structure and fold of the creases follows the standard form copied from various photos of German troops in the field. It is always better when gathering reference material to use original photos of troops who have been actually wearing their uniforms over long periods of time, as most garments (as indeed all types of clothing, depending on the material used) will crease and fold in roughly the same way. Some reference books, especially for collectors of uniforms are helpful for colour-reference and information etc., but will not always portray an accurate picture of how the uniforms appeared after being worn over long periods of time.
Steel Helmet M16 / Stahlhelm M.16: This helmet, which first entered service in 1916 during the initial stages of the battle of Verdun was designed by Professor Friedrich Schwerd and made from high quality chrome-nickel steel. Weighing between 950 and 1200g, depending on size – more heavier than the Allied helmets, but giving a better protection to the face, ears and neck. The horn venting bolts on each side enabled the fitting of an extra armoured shield over the helmet (also available in 1:16th scale from Jon Smith Modellbau) for sentries, MG troops, snipers or other particularly exposed / dangerous employment. This weighing around 2000g was seldom used; although a total of 50000 were supposedly produced.
Colour: first issued in field- grey, which would reflect in sun light and proved unsatisfactory. Various trials were carried out, but it was not until July 1918 that an official camouflage scheme in brown and green sharp-edged irregular patens, all outlined in black was introduced. These were carried out by unit maintenance workshops (other weapons and equipment, particularly artillery pieces and MGs were also rendered in the same way). It seems that helmets were re-painted by individuals or units in a variety of colour schemes before the official order and items with red- brown, ochre (brownish- yellow), green and blue- grey, all outlined in black were common. Helmets were also covered using the light brown sandbag material, or the issued helmet-covers, seen particularly in the later war period.
The M.17 & 18 helmets followed with only slight differences to the inside padding and chin strap fasteners. The last model to see service during the war, if only in small numbers was the M.18 Ohrenausschnitt, or Helmet M.18 with ear cut-outs (also available in 1:16th scale from JSM), more commonly (and stubbornly) known as the Cavalry or Telegraph Helmet. The cut-outs were in fact a further design feature of the M.18 to improve the hearing ability of the wearer and avoid the hissing noise experienced by troops.
Signal / Flare Gun old Type – Calibre 17mm / Leuchtpistole a. A. (alte Art – old type) Kaliber 17mm: First accepted for issue in 1894 and essentially used as a form of signalling in conjunction with the artillery and was an indispensable asset to frontline troops. The 3 colours used were red, green and white (white – also as parachute flare – these longer rounds). The different coloured rounds could be distinguished at night by the distinctive tops to each colour flare – in other examples of cartridges the bottom lip had different numbers of indents stamped into them. There was no issued holster and pistols were carried around the neck on a string cord, pushed into belts or kept in a sandbag. The ammunition, or more precise the black powder content was susceptible to moister and great care was taken to keep the cartridge supply dry and separate from other stores. Used cases were sent back and re-charged up to 6 times with the bottom of the round being stamped each time. The same pistol was issued during WWII, however with a much shorter barrel. Colour: the wooden pistol grip appeared quite dark on the original example. All other parts were dark gunmetal. Ammunition – brass cases with coloured ends referring to the type of flare; pointed – red, flat – green and round – white.
Original ammunition for this weapon is rare today and is a sought after collector’s item. The models ammunition was mastered with the aid of measurements and photos of original WWI brass flare cases seen at a collector in Bavaria.
Machine Gun 08/15 / Maschinengewehr 08/15: Germany’s first light machine gun – Maschinengewehr 08/15 entered service in the second half of 1916 and was available in greater numbers from 1917 onwards. Sir Hiram Maxim invented the first machine gun, and the original was patented in 1883. The need for an increase in the volume of fire, particularly in the attack and defending newly won ground, led to this somewhat cumbersome and heavy LMG. It was in reality a scaled-down version of the original MG 08, incorporating many interchangeable parts. To decrease the weight the constructors reduced the water capacity of the cooling jacket from 4 to 3 litres, redesigned the box receiver and removed the mount for the ZF12 telescopic sight. A pistol grip in place of the double-handed spaded grips and a wooden rifle type shoulder stock were added along with a lightweight bipod. A new flash hider (muzzle booster/flash suppressor) was introduced to give a better recoil action. The savings resulted in a portable MG, still weighting 43 lbs. (19.5 Kg), but with the advantages of some interchangeable parts, same function, rate of fire, ammunition (belt fed, but of different types), similar training for crews already rehearsed on the MG 08 and ease of production at the same factories.
Conflicting accounts for the correct amount of crew, or Trupp for the MG 08/15 appear to vary between 3 and 4 (2 x trained gunners and 1 or 2 ammunition carriers). A second Trupp consisting of 7 riflemen and section commander could back up this MG Trupp, or section. The two Trupps would form a Gruppe, the object being to defend the MG at all costs. It was possible with the aid of a leather sling and the 100 round drum magazine for the gun to be carried and operated by a single gunner. During firing the crank handle moves in a half cycle forwards and backwards.
Note: the separate crank handle can be attached to the rear right side of the MG block and fixed in the required position. Also, using a small drill and a knife it is possible to hollow out the space inside the breach block, allowing for the ammunition belt to be placed into the opening – here the resin has been cast as thin as possible. This can also be applied to the inside of the forward and rear sling attachment (under the barrel jacket and within the wooden stock).
The term 08/15 (spoken ´Null Acht Funfsehn´) is used in the German language to describe anything, which is ordinary, simple / crude, or to describe something senseless and apparently derived from this MG. Colour: the wooden pistol grip and shoulder stock were of a hard dark wood. The water jacket was either dark green or painted in the many different German outlined-camouflaged patterns seen on late-war steal helmets – this was in fact an official directive from the High Command, but judging from original photos seems not to be too widespread. All other parts are dark gunmetal.
Standard MG 08/15 Bipod / MG08/15 Zweibein: This entirely new pressed-steel lightweight bipod was to replace the large and heavy sled mounts used with the MG 08 and allowed for a 180° traverse. It had a universal attachment fitting, which could be fitted to the Mauser T-Gewehr – Mauser anti-tank rifle. Colour: dark green.
Double-Ended Metal Spare Barrel Container / Ersatzlaufbehälter für 2 Rohre MG08 oder 08/15: Designed to carry two spare barrels and a cleaning rod. This was an essential piece of equipment with the high rate of fire achieved by this weapon. Barrel changing was an important part of the training and could even be achieved whilst the barrel jacket was still full of water. Colour; grey-green with pale coloured cloth straps and reinforced leather fastener holes.
Drum Magazine / Trommelmagazine: The side mounted drum magazine (or the official name: Patronenkasten 16) made out of sheet metal and incorporating a 100 round ammunition belt enabled the operating of the gun from the slung position by a single gunner. This magazine weighed fully loaded 3.17 Kg and was attached to the receiver by means of a bracket. The small handle on the rear face had to be lifted into the up position during firing to disengage the internal drum ratchet (on the model the handle is in the locked position, preventing the belt from unwinding itself). Normal allocation per gun would be 2 drum magazines, delivered in a wooden box. The round openings at each side of the drum are the actual rotating spindle (2 small discs). Colour: dark green. Discs – metal.
Note: looking into the top one can see 2 rounds cast into the bottom of the hole. On top of these can be placed the 3 separate rounds (1 set is spare) to indicate a full magazine. A casting web is attached to the handle enabling a better flow of resin – this will need to be cut away.
Drum (Magazine) Bracket: A separate detachable bracket (+ 1 spare) is supplied with the MG to support the drum magazine. On many original photos this seems to have always been attached to the MG, regardless if drum fed or from ammunition boxes.
Wooden Ammunition Box M1901 / Holz Patronenkasten M1901: The wooden ammunition box held a 250 round woven cotton belt with brass spacers and was used for both the MG08 and the MG08/15 (although the belts were different and not interchangeable). A push-in fastener held the lid closed with the metal handle folding into the crevice of the lid. Early models had brass handles, hinge fittings etc., later these were produced in steel. Colour: The boxes, which I had looked at had been painted originally in grey-green, with of cause the edges to the boxes quite worn. Stenciled on the lid in black were sometimes a single arrows, indicating the direction that the box should be placed next to the MG.
Note: one ammo box supplied has a detachable lid – the strips of ammunition can be painted separately and placed inside the open box afterwards. The last / top inlay has the brass bound feed tab. Plywood was used in making the original master ammunition box in order to maintain the wood grain surface on the model structure.
Ammunition Belt: The woven cotton belt with brass spacers and rounds in caliber 7.92mm. Different types of ammunition used were: standard ball, armoured- piercing and armoured-piercing tracer (1 every 10 rounds) the belts had a tendency to swell out when wet, loosening the rounds and sometimes causing stoppages. Colour: cotton belt – khaki or light yellow / brown. Case spacers – brass. Round heads – copper.
Water Container / Wasserkasten 15: The new type water container was used to collect the condense steam generated by the sustained firing of the MG and refill the cooling jacket afterwards. The swivel spout could be turned back into the recess of the can enabling better storage when not in use. Colour: The water cans, which I had looked at, had been painted originally in different grey-greens. Like the wooden ammunition boxes these show considerable wear and tear on outside edges.
Rubber Steam Hose / Dampfschlauch: The 2 m rubber steam hose would be attached into the top of the water jacket and is to extract the vaporized water, which is then collected within the water container / can. Firing from a trench, or fixed position the MG crew, provided that they had a sufficient water supply, would bury the end of the hose to one side of the gun and thus avoid the rising white plume of steam giving their exact position away. The condensed steam can if necessary be reused to refill the water jacket. Colour: varied in colour from grey to dark matt coloured rubber – not quite black.
Egg Grenade / Eierhandgranate M.17: This was introduced in early 1917 as a lightweight, long-range offensive grenade to be used in conjunction with the more powerful ‘ball’ Kugel or stick grenade. The grenade could be thrown up to 50 m and was carried in greater numbers, quite often in sandbags. This is the late version with the central fragmentation band. The screw-in friction primer fuse has a wire loop attached to the top – approx. the same length as the visible part of the fuse itself – this can be made from light copper fuse wire. When not primed the grenade would have a small metal screw-stopper, or transportation plug inserted. Colour: grenade – black, fuse silver metallic, pull cord – wire.
Firing step: The built-up fire step is constructed from a sandbag outer wall, log platform and filled with earth. A slight incline to the rear is to enable any rainwater to drain off the surface. On the left side a sandbag has collapsed causing part of the log platform to fall in – this can be drilled out under the supporting log.
Trench floor with duckboards: This depicts a section of trench floor; complete with slatted wooden duckboards. The end wooden slats on one of the boards have bowed downwards with the constant use. Underneath the duckboard was normally the trench sump or drainage. The floor is generally muddy and a few footprints can be made out here and there. The figure has 2 alternative positions; either standing on the firing step, or on the duckboards. Colour: if untreated, wood when outside for longer periods will turn grey.
Wooden revetment wall: Set at an angle, slanting outwards from the trench floor and intended to hold back the earthen walls to avoid collapsing (through rain water). The vertical beams are holding the wooden revetment planks in place and these in turn are held by wire, attached to pegs and built into the soil underneath the parapet.
Individual sandbags: these can be place within the trench scene. Some of the bags show the prominent seems at the sides and underneath. Tie cords around tops of sandbags are visible, but could be added separately as these would in some cases hang freely.