- Ukraine has used a WWI-era machine gun on the front line to mow down the enemy.
- “It only works when there is a massive attack going on,” a Ukrainian soldier told BBC News.
- The brutal fighting in Ukraine, filled with trenches and heavy casualties, has frequently been compared to WWI.
Ukrainian forces have used Maxim machine guns, a weapon often associated with World War I, to mow down frontal assaults by Russian troops in the battle for Bakhmut.
“It only works when there is a massive attack going on,” a Ukrainian soldier identified as Borys, 48, recently told BBC News of the Maxim gun. “Then it really works.”
“We use it every week,” Borys added.
Ukrainian forces have found the Maxim M1910 — was first introduced in 1910 (the initial version of the gun emerged in the 1880s) and employed by the Imperial Russian Army during World War I — useful in the fight against the Russians. Ukraine’s troops have modified the guns with modern add-ons such as optics and suppressors, according to reporting from Task and Purpose.
—Cᴀʟɪʙʀᴇ Oʙsᴄᴜʀᴀ (@CalibreObscura) March 5, 2023
—S Sebag Montefiore (@simonmontefiore) March 16, 2023
Hiram Maxim, a key inventor of portable machine guns in the 19th Century, used the recoil force of a bullet to eject its cartridge and feed the next round in from an ammunition belt.
The fighting in Ukraine has repeatedly garnered parallels to World War I, with both sides locked in a brutal war of attrition featuring trenches, relentless artillery barrages, and heavy casualties. In this environment, even some of the weapons of that era have come in handy as Ukrainian troops face human wave attacks on the front line — tactics common to World War I.
Ukraine has also apparently utilized a type of World War I-era sniper decoy, employing dummies meant to fool enemy snipers.
—IntelWalrus (@IntelWalrus) March 12, 2023
But while the fight in Ukraine might have similarities to World War I, the modern weaponry and surveillance also prevalent on the battlefield — particularly drones — have made it all the more deadly by giving troops few places to hide.
The Ukraine war has essentially become “World War I with 21st century ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance],” Mark Cancian, a retired US Marine Corps colonel and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Insider in January.