The Maxim machine gun ("Maxim"), so beloved by us from Soviet films about the war, turns out to be invented by the American gunsmith Hiram Stevens Maxim in 1883. He became the ancestor of all automatic weapons, and was widely used during the Boer War of 1899-1902, the First World War and the Second World War.
In 1873, the American inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim (1840-1916) created the first model of automatic weapons - the Maxim machine gun. He decided to use the recoil energy of the weapon, which had not been used before. But the tests and practical use of this weapon were stopped for 10 years, since Maxim was not only a gunsmith and, in addition to weapons, was interested in other things. His range of interests included various technology, electricity, and so on, and the machine gun was only one of his many inventions (for example, in 1881 at the electrical exhibition in Paris, he received the Legion of Honor for his inventions in the field of electricity).
In the early 1880s, Maxim finally took up his machine gun, but in appearance, his weapon was already very different from the 1873 model. Perhaps these ten years were spent thinking, calculating and improving the design in the drawings. And only after that Hiram Maxim gave a proposal to the US government to adopt his machine gun into service.
But the invention did not interest anyone in America, and then Maxim emigrated to Great Britain, where his development initially did not arouse much interest from the military either. However, he was seriously interested in the British banker Nathaniel Rothschild, who was present at the tests of the new weapon, who agreed to finance the development and production of the machine gun.
In 1893, in Africa, for an hour and a half, a detachment of 50 British military, armed with rifles and four machine guns, repelled the attacks of the Zulu. When the battle was over, the British counted 3, 000 dead opponents.
“Maxim's Armory Company” began to manufacture and advertise machine guns, showing their work in many states. A demonstrative sample of a 45-caliber machine gun (11, 43 mm) was brought to Russia in 1887, it was tested at the proving ground. On March 8, 1888, it was shot by Emperor Alexander III. Hiram Maxim managed to achieve excellent survivability and reliability of his weapon, and at the end of 1899 his machine gun fired 15 thousand rounds without any serious difficulty.
Production of "Maxim" was started in early 1904 at the Tula arms factory. Tula machine guns were cheaper, easier to manufacture and more reliable than foreign ones; their shutters were completely interchangeable, which for a long time could not be achieved at the British and German factories. The machine gun was originally installed on bulky carriages, modeled on mitrailleus carriages; then portable machines appeared, usually on tripods; Since 1910, the Russian army used a wheeled machine developed by Colonel A. A. Sokolov. This machine gave the machine gun sufficient stability when firing and made it possible, unlike tripods, to easily move the machine gun when changing position.
Machine-gun systems "Maxima" have become the most widespread weapon of the army air defense. The quadruple anti-aircraft machine gun mount of the 1931 model differed from the usual "Maxim" by the presence of a device for forced circulation of water and a large capacity of machine-gun belts - for 1000 rounds instead of the usual 250. heights up to 1400 m at speeds up to 500 km / h). These mounts were also often used to support the infantry.
By the end of the 1930s, the Maxim design was morally obsolete. A machine gun without a machine, water and cartridges had a mass of about 20 kg. The weight of Sokolov's machine is 40 kg, plus 5 kg of water. Since it was impossible to use a machine gun without a machine and water, the working mass of the entire system (without cartridges) was about 65 kg. Moving that much weight across the battlefield under fire was not easy. The high profile made camouflage difficult. In addition, the supply of the machine gun with water caused significant difficulties in the summer. However, "Maxim" continued to be produced until the end of the war at the Tula and Izhevsk factories, and until its end it remained the main machine gun of the Red Army.
"Maxim" was not only the very first machine gun, but also the most used, it was used in both world wars and in many small wars. The last fact of the use of a machine gun occurred in 1969 during the border conflict on Damansky Island.