Like other turn-of-the-century world powers, the Russians adopted the famous Maxim Machine Gun - a weapon being the brainchild of American Hiram Maxim and becoming the world's first recoil-operated machine gun system when it was unveiled in 1884. Up to that point, heavy-volume, repeat-fire battlefield weapons required manual actuation such as movement of a hand crank (the Gatling Gun for example) and such weapons were further utilized as artillery pieces rather than tactical-level implements. The Maxim design rewrote the book on automatic fire by its utilization of propellant gasses captured by each spent cartridge and reused in the firing action to set up the subsequent shot. The weapon was such an evolution that it was adopted by the German Empire as the "Maxim 08" and taken on in license production by British Vickers as the "Vickers Machine Gun" - both classic adaptations of the base design. The Russians followed suit and adopted a slightly modified version of the weapon as the "Pulemyot Maxima Obraztsa 1910 Goda" (the "PM Model 1910") which, itself, was an improved version of their earlier Model 1905. Despite the list of designations, all Maxim-related guns shared the same form and function on the battlefield.
The lengthy Puleymot Maxima Obraztsa 1910 Goda name translated rather appropriately to "Maxim's Machine Gun Model of 1910".
The PM Model 1910 was classified as a "heavy machine gun" and required the services of multiple crew as it utilized vast quantities of ammunition, a heavy, solid two-wheeled carriage mount with integral gun shield and tow handle, and water-cooling for the barrel through a canister and hose arrangement. The water-cooling was a necessary function of the gun which led to a large corrugated jacket being set around the barrel assembly. The water would prevent its fracture or deformation through heavy sustained fire - the guns produced a tremendous amount of heat during the firing process, a trait shared by all versions of the Maxim.
While the weapon was not simple to transport, it could easily turn the tide of any single engagement through its voluminous fire capabilities. The weapon made for a batter defensive-minded system but its carriage also allowed operators to haul the weapon into combat along a fluid front line. Like other machine guns of the period, it was a belt-fed system relying on a short-recoil action with toggle-based locking function. A dedicated member of the crew would be in charge of management of this belt and helping to clear any stoppages in the system. Other crew would keep the ammunition supply stocked and at-the-ready while still others would manage the water supply. Rate-of-fire was 600 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 2,430 feet per second - which gave the PM Model 1910 excellent killing power at range. The complete weapon system weighed 140lbs with an overall length of 42 inches. The cartridge of choice was the Russian 7.62x54mmR rife round - a proven man-stopper originating in 1891.
Design of the Model 1910 began in 1909 with production beginning the following year (hence its designation) and, rather amazingly, manufacture continued up until 1939. The weapon proved highly reliable under the worst of battlefield conditions and was used throughout the Russian campaign against Germany in World War 1 (1914-1918) only to be pressed into service against Russians themselves during the bloody Russian Civil War which ended Tsarist rule and formed the beginnings of the Soviet Union. Despite all this upheaval, production continued throughout the interwar years until the period leading up to World War 2 (1939-1945) and several modifications were made to produce slightly different designations (such as the "Model 1910/30" of 1930). By this time, the weapon had progressed down other development paths and saw adoption as a naval machine gun as well as an aircraft machine gun (the "PV-1"). The weapon was also formally adopted by both Finland (the "Maxim M/32-33") and Poland through local designations. The Model 1910 itself formed the basis for the first Soviet-designed Light Machine Gun (LMG) in the "Maxim-Tokarev" of 1925.
With the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June of 1940, the weapon was still in widespread use. Soviet industry, severely hampered by the impressive initial German advances, eventually resettled and additional guns were produced out of Soviet factories from 1941 to 1945 (some 55,258 examples alone in 1942!). In 1943, the Model 1910 was formally succeeded by the SG-43 Goryunov series which used the same gunshield and two-wheeled carriage assemblies as the Model 1910. The availability of both weapons saw them fighting side-by-side through the remainder of the war.
Such massive production numbers ensured the Model 1910 would survive into the post-war years. The Model 1910 was featured in the fighting of both the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and operators went on to include Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Iran, North Korea, Mongolia, Poland, South Korea, Russia, Spain, the Soviet Union, Turkey, and North Vietnam/Vietnam.
Manufacturing State Arsenals - Russian Empire
Austria-Hungary; Bulgaria; China; Estonia; Finland; Hungary; Iran; North Korea; Mongolia; Poland; Imperial Russia; South Korea; Soviet Union; Spain; Turkey; North Vietnam; Vietnam
PM Model 1910 - Base Series Designation; Soviet model of 1910.
PM Model 1910/30 - Soviet Army revision of 1930
Maxim M/09-21 - Finnish Army Designation; model of 1921.
Maxim M/32-33 - Finnish Army Designation; model of 1933.
Maxim wz. 1910/28 - Polish Army model of 1928
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