Schwartzlose m1907/12

Mk1ltmr7yMText: Andrea T.
Translator: Francesco Cortellini

At the beginning of WW1, the K.u.K.H. (Kaiserlich Und Koneglich Heer) was armed with a limited number of von Dormus M1893 machineguns, a few Schawrtzlose M1907 and a wide number of Schwartzlose m1907/12. In thids respect, it was far better armed than the Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army), that could relay on very few Perino, a few Maxim and a wide number of the mediocre FIAT Model 1914 machineguns.

From a mechanical point of view, the Schawrtzlose stands appart from all the coeval machineguns and represents the only fully accomplished attempt of large calibre automatic weapon with a delayed blowback system.
Andreas Willhelm Schwarzlose (1867-1936) , already a designer of small arms, based his design on the following assumptions:

  1. avoiding the moving barrel and Maxim type bolt, of very complex manufactureing.
  2. Avoiding gas operated systems that at the time were considered fragile and subject to corrosion and fouling.

All this was difficoult to achieve, as the only choice would have been to use a blowback system, but with a bolt that would not be too heavy, not to slow down the rate of fire and subtract energy from the feeding mechanism, and from the entire weapon.


Schwarzlose sorted this problem brilliatntly, creating a “mechanical disadvantage”, through a ltoggle everage ystem that would allaw to dissipate the excess energy on a lightweight boltl, that would therefore work in synchrony with the feeding system. The leverage would impart energy to the bolt gradually, the maximum drag being at the moment of explosion of the propelling charge, that would then decrease during the backwards movement of the bolt.
Schwarzlose patented his system in 1902 and started production of a few prototypes at his factory in Berlin. Two years later, the production version was adopted by the Austro Hungarian Empire as Nodel 1907 and, after 5 more years and a series of improvements, was redesignated M1907/12 and become the standard machinegun of the Austro Hungarian Armed Forces .

Prduction of the Schwarzlose 1907/12 was carried out almost completelly by “Osterreichische Waffenfabricks-Gesellschaft” in Steyr, and continued with several thousand being made untill 1918, whose variants are, unfortunatelly, very hard to distinguish.
The weapon served the Austro Hungarian Forces very well, proving to be robust and reliable under any environmental condition. It was chambered for the 8x50R Steyr ammunition, the same used in tha Steyr M95 rifle, simplyfing logistics and supply.
The Schwarzlose survived the Great War, and was used for another three decades by the Austrian Ungarian and Italian Forces, the latter supplied their colonial troops with thousend of these weapons.

Technical data:

  • designation: Schwarzlose  M1907/12
  • type : Heavy Machinegun
  • manufacturer: Osterreichische Waffenfabricks-Gesellschaft Steyr –Austria
  • characteristics : toggle delayed blowback, fully automatic, water cooled .
  • caliber : 8x50mmR steyr
  • total lenght: 110 cmbarrel lenght:  52 cm
  • weight : 17,2 Kg ( weapon only, no cooling water)
  • weight of tripod: 18,00 Kg
  • feeding : 100 and 250 rounds belts
  • rate of fire: 400-580 rounds per minute.

Let’s now give a closer look to a Schwarzlose  M1907/12 manufactured by Steyr in 1915. This weapon was rechambered by the Austrians after WW1 to fire the 8×56 R ammunition.

Right hand view of the weapon, installed on its surdy tripod. The cocking handle can be seen and next to it is the wooden ammunition bow that contained the 250 rounds belt (rounds on belt are inert dummies). The belt shown here is the metal version, but canvas ones were also used.
Next to the receiver, at the beginning of the cooling sleve, is he cap of the top-up opening. At the end of the barrel, that was the same of the Steyr M95 rifle, the cone shaped flash hider can be seen.

Left hand side view of the weapon. In this picture T-shaped handle with trigger lever, the rear sight with the elevation leaf depressed and the wide angle elevation gudes can be seen; the latter made the weapon ideal for mountain warfare.
The empty belt was ejected to the left. On top of the cooling sleeve is the drain valve.

The weapon’s moving parts seen from above with the cover open. On the left is the bolt with the delayed blowback toggle levers. Behind the bolt group the large recoil spring can be seen. The gun relied on a limite number of very surdy moving parts, and each is individually marked with the weapon’s serial number.To the right of the weapon is the crank type cocking handle.
Below the receiver is the traversing rail, that allaws an angle of 30° to each side.

Thefeeding mechanism with its cover open.
To the left is the cog that, rotates each time the bolt move backwards, causing the theets to hook onto the ammunition, dragging the belt forward and a new round in the chamber. This sistem was simple and effective.To the left is also the feeding mechanism cover’s retaining lever, and above is the cocking handle.

The “Waffenfabrick Steyr” marking and below the year of manufacture. This weapon was reconditioned several times, and during the last one the original burnishing was covered with a thick layer of green paint. Beside that, being over onehundred yesrs old, and being used in both World Wars, it still is in excellent conditions, reflecting the excellent project and the quality of raw materials.
The Schwarzlose M1907/12 was an outstanding heavy machinegun for its time, as witnessed by its long opertional life, often in the hands of former enemies. It is also a testimont to European history, genious and industrial capabilities.

© 2016 – 2017, Andrea T.. All rights reserved.

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