The Maschinengewehr Patent Schwarzlose M.07/12 was a medium machine-gun, and was a standard issue firearm in the Austro-Hungarian army throughout World War I, and by the Dutch, Greek and the Hungarian armies during World War II.
The Schwarzlose M.07 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 a simpler design that 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 a stronger spring. It was a robust and reliable weapon in its intended role as an infantry gun but unlike the highly adaptable Maxim-derived machine guns the Schwarzlose met with less success when it was used in roles it had not been designed for.
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)
and the Netherlands (6.5mm caliber)
. 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 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 World War II.
The Schwarzlose MG M.07 is a Toggle-delayed blowback, water cooled machine gun. The mechanism incorporates a device that oils cartridge cases to ease extraction.
Use as an infantry and naval weapon
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 it self 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 fortification weapon
After World War I the Schwarzlose got to armament of Czechoslovakia, where was adapted and new produced as Schwarzlose vz.07/24 by Janeček factory. When Czechoslovakia started with building fortification against Nazi Germany in 1935-1938, light fortification objects, type 36 and 37, was armed by Schwarzlose vz.07/24.
Use as an aircraft gun
Apart from its use as a heavy infantry machine gun and 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 and although the weapon was eventually successfully synchronized the result was never entirely satisfactory and Austro-Hungarian aircraft thus armed usually carried an ingenious bullet strike sensor on the propeller to warn the pilot of a malfunction in the synchronization mechanism (although the Schwarzlose's unusual design made synchronization failures more common, poor reliability was a problem common to most early synchronizer mechanisms)
. Until these synchronization problems had been overcome it was thus 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 guard seen on most of the infantry guns was removed. Later 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 to a very respectable 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 drum-magazine 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.