The Maschinengewehr 08, or MG08, was the German Army's standard machine gun in World War I and is an almost direct copy of Hiram S. Maxim's original 1884 Maxim Gun. It was produced in a number of variants during the war. The MG08 remained in service until the outbreak of the Second World War due to a shortage of its successor, the MG34. It was retired from front-line service by 1942.
The Maschinengewehr 08 (or MG08)—so-named after 1908, its year of adoption—was a development of the license made Maschinengewehr 01. It could reach a firing rate of up to 400 rounds per minute using 250-round fabric belts of 7.92 mm ammunition, although sustained firing would lead to over-heating; it was water-cooled using a jacket around the barrel that held approximately one gallon.
The MG08, like the Maxim Gun, operated on the basis of short barrel recoil and a toggle lock; once cocked and fired the MG08 would continue firing rounds until the trigger was released. Its practical range was estimated at some 2,200 yards up to an extreme range of 4,000 yards. The MG08 was mounted on a sled mount (Schlitten) that was ferried between locations either on carts or else carried above men's shoulders in the manner of a stretcher.