By Jean-Francois Legendre
The author Dolf Goldsmith presents in his authoritative study on Maxim machine guns The Devil’s Paintbrush: Sir Hiram Maxim’s Gun, the story of the early Maxim machine guns adopted for service in Italy. The earliest Maxims purchased by the Italian government were chambered for either 10.4x47R Vetterli or 6.5×52 Carcano. Trials span between 1887 and 1906 when finally the Italian Army officially adopted the Maxim machine gun under the designation Mitragliatrice Maxim M. 1906 calibro mm 6.5. A total of 220 Maxim machine guns chambered for the 6.5×52 Carcano cartridges were purchased from the Vickers Sons & Maxim company (VSM). Tripods were not purchased together with the weapon itself from VSM but rather from the Spanish company Gabolino y Cia in Eibar. Some ammunition belts might have probably been supplied from VSM but others were manufactured locally in Italy. So far, only one scarce Italian-made Maxim belt has been encountered by the author and it remains unknown if any other different Italian makers ever produced belts, or even if VSM ever provided ammunition belts on a large scale.
The Italian-made belt described here was made by the company Unione Elettrotecnica Bresciana in the city of Brescia. It is characterized by an odd capacity of 200 rounds, which reason might perhaps find its origin in the size of the ammunition box available.
As soon as 1914, the Italian Army adopted a new domestically designed machine gun, the Revelli Model of 1914, whose only major advantage was being of Italian origin. This new weapon soon caused the end of the Italian Maxim adventure.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V9N11 (August 2006)|