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MG 15 machine gun: Wikis


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MG 15 machine gun
MG-15 ammo Ju-52.jpg
MG 15 in left beam mounting inside a Ju 52, and above it storage brackets for 12 MG 15 magazines, with one magazine mounted.
Place of origin  Nazi Germany
Service history
Used by Germany
Wars WW2
Production history
Designer Theodor Bergmann
Designed 1915
Manufacturer WW1 Bergmann, Third Reich Rheinmetall
Variants Modular design
Weight 12.4 kg loaded with gunsight and cartridge bag
Length 1078 mm (without attachments)
Barrel length 600 mm

Cartridge 7.92x57mm Mauser
Action Recoil
Rate of fire 1,000 - 1,050 rpm
Muzzle velocity 755 m/s (2,476.4 ft/s)
Feed system 75 round
Sights Various types

The MG 15 was a 7.92 mm (0.31 in) machine gun designed specifically as a hand manipulated defensive gun for combat aircraft during the early 1930s. By 1941 it was replaced by other types and found new uses with ground troops.



Developed from the MG 30 which was designed by Rheinmetall using the locking system invented by Louis Stange in the mid to late 20's. Though it shares the MG15 designation with the earlier gun built by Bergmann, the MG15nA (neuer Art meaning new model having been modified from an earlier design) has nothing in common with the World War II gun except the model number. The WWI gun used a tipping lock system while the WWII aircraft gun uses a rotating bolt/lockring. The World War II MG15 was used in nearly all Luftwaffe aircraft with a flexible-mount defensive position.

It was a modular design with various attachments that could be quickly attached or removed. Operation was easy and the bolt remained in the cocked position after expending the 75 round double drum (also called a "saddle drum") magazine, negating the need to re-cock once a fresh magazine was installed.

The MG15 fires from an open bolt meaning that the bolt stays back when the gun is ready to fire. Pulling the trigger releases the bolt and allows it to go forward, stripping a round from the magazine. The bolt continues pushing the round into the chamber and locks up when the lockring rotates and locks the bolt and barrel extension together. At this point the trip lever releases the firing pin and the gun fires. Recoil pushes the barrel,lock and bolt backwards until the lockring hits a cam that rotates it unlocking the bolt and barrel. Inertia carries the bolt backwards until the base of the fired case hits the ejector flinging the empty out of the receiver. If the trigger is held down the cycle will continue. If the trigger is released the bolt will remain in the rearward position.

The 75 rounds of ammunition was evenly distributed in each side of the magazine with a central feed "tower" where the ammunition is fed to the bolt. Various methods where used to secure the magazines in the aircraft, while a carrier of 3 mags each where used on ground. The drums were preloaded prior to takeoff so that the gunner did not waste time loading (however reloading could be done as quickly as 6 seconds). Ammunition was fed by a spring forced spiral double-drum containing 75 rounds total (not 150 as is often mistaken). This combined with a firing rate of 1000+ rpm means it could empty the magazine in 4.5 seconds or less. Typical practice was to provide at least 10 reloads for each gun on the aircraft, not including the magazine on the gun.

Starting in late 1940 the MG 15 was replaced by the Mauser 7.92 mm MG 81, MG 81Z (twin-MG 81), MG 131 13 mm machine guns, or MG 151/20 20 mm cannons. Many MG 15s were modified for infantry use as heavier weapons replaced them on Luftwaffe aircraft. There were also some watercooled ground versions of the gun made in one of the Balkan countries though little is known of the history of these. There are a number of pictures showing the guns, both aircraft and ground versions, with 25rd magazines from the MG13 but the magazines don't actually work with the MG15. Apparently some advertising exec figured a good way to sell parts kits without including the expensive double drums. Official numbers of conversions was about 17,648 by January 1, 1944, although additional conversions may have been done as well.

The MG 15 was used in the Japanese aircraft as the Type 98 flexible-mounted machine gun.


MG 15 equipped for infantry ops, but lacks the bipod
Debris of a downed Heinkel He 111 along with an MG 15.
  • Calibre: 7.92 +/- .04 mm
  • Cartridge: 7.92x57 mm Mauser
  • Round weight: 35.5 grams (cartridge 24 grams, bullet 11.5 grams)
  • Muzzle velocity: 755 m/s
  • Rate of fire: 1000 (possibly up to 1050) rpm
  • Length : 1078 mm (without attachments)
  • Barrel length: 600 mm
  • Weight unloaded with gunsight and cartridge bag: 8.1 kg
  • Weight loaded with gunsight and cartridge bag: 12.4 kg
  • 75 round Magazine unloaded: 2.27 kg
  • 75 round Magazine loaded: 4.24 kg
  • Weight of the 2-part loader: 0.72 kg


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