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ST61 converted MG15

Article about: A little bit of a mystery. There are two or three "on-line" experts who have slightly contradicting ideas on this one. I have only this to go by as there is nothing on a water cool

  1. #1

    Default ST61 converted MG15

    A little bit of a mystery.

    There are two or three "on-line" experts who have slightly contradicting ideas on this one.
    I have only this to go by as there is nothing on a water cooled MG15 in any of my machine gun books.
    Internet conjecture:
    i. Produced by Germany in Romania (never fielded kept in storage) exported to UK then by IMA to the US as parts kits.
    ii. France to Romania in WW2, converted for export by German officials, Romania changed sides never fielded, and guns stayed in storage - then to US as parts kits.

    It is an MG15 machine gun converted to ground use, with a water cooled front end.
    The receiver is marked 1943 but has been stamped ST61.
    All MG15 parts are waffen marked and also have the more imperial looking eagla sans swastika.
    The water cooled parts are rougher finish and unmarked - no waffens or eagles and only mismatched numbers.
    There are no markings on the bipod.

    Would love to see any pictures of it in "period" use - if anyone can find any.

    The best anyone has come up with is a Romanian training manual that looks circa 1950's but could be more modern.

    Quite a high ROF (1200 to 1500 RPM) - with a very violent ejection, in fact never seen anything quite like it, almost dangerous to shooter's toes appendages.

    Anyway for your study and conjecture.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by pitfighter; 10-07-2013 at 07:11 AM.

  2. #2


    Anyone know anyone collecting in Romania or with a knowledge of Romanian/German ordnance?

  3. #3


    I have the same MG for over 10 years and have never been able to find any pictures of it in "period use" either or any other info other than what you posted.

  4. #4


    Hi Samnev,

    This site has a more European skewed following than the other MG sites I am a member of, so I threw it out there, lol.

    You've likely seen this thread from MG.42:
    There are some "solid" clarifications that need to be corrected with your post- One, ****ALL*** ST-61 marked receivers were made as water-cooled guns. There were never any aircraft/air-cooled "ST-61" marked guns built as-such, at least none of the existing provenance has ever shown that to be true. So, an "ST-61" is and always was a water-cooled gun variant. Now, the fact that you have a DEMIL-ed parts set with that receiver is of no account as once all the ST-61 guns reached the UK in the late 90's they were made up later as to whatever the downstream market would bear- A/C guns as DEACT's, A/C guns imported here as DEMIL-ed parts sets, water-cooled display guns, you name it.....wasn't done with any particular care toward historical accuracy as to keeping "correct" parts together anymore......

    Once again, for the guns that made it over here via Christian Cranmer's efforts, Bob Naess may want to chime in as he had a special connection to them once they were in Bond over here.....he was the guy who cut them up here. Maybe he will wish to say something more.......

    As for Rheinmetall-Borsig AG in general, one must remember that during this time Rheinmetall was most certainly totally controlled, and largely personally OWNED, by Hemann Göring through his personal company "Reichswerke Hermann Göring" which became the controlling interest in the company throughout the War years. These kinds of things were rampant throughout the Reich as highly-placed senior NAZI officials padded their incomes by all manner of theft, graft, and outright seizure of industrial assets. Göring was a very visible proponent of this conduct and it is a long established fact that he diverted a multitude of wartime production capacity to personal deals made on the side, almost certainly without the knowledge or permission of either Der Führer or OKW/OKL officials, after-all, he was a Reichsmarschall and nominally Number 2 in the outfit through much of this time......who was going to complain?? The ST-61 deal was almost certainly a private production matter, though whether this was conducted solely a the behest of Göring personally or by company officials acting on their own is likely never to be known. The key element of provenance with this gun is that the receivers bear no official German military proof or acceptance marks of ANY kind, and the markings that do exist...particularly the actual receiver makers marks are pure Rheinmetall commercial trademarks ('Herstellermarke').....all at a time when the NAZI were fully implementing the renowned "Fertigungskennzeichen" manufacturing ordnance production code system....there is no way such a long-established weapon system and prime contractor would escape the marking requirements. And.....just as obviously, such a long-established weapon system would never escape the required Military inspectors acceptance markings, ie, "(Heeres)waffenamt Inspektoren Marke" standard applied also to all Luftwaffe flieger-bordwaffen by decree. The ability to produce ANY military weapon during this time period minus all these required markings could ONLY have occurred with an exceptionally high level of concurrence by SOMEONE at the very top of the food chain.

    Next....the whole issue of ANY "MG-15" being in production as complete guns by 1942 is troublesome and problematic when one realizes that the MG-15 as front line weapon system was well known to be operationally outdated and largely irrelevant by the end of the Battle of Britain- October 1940-as the LuftWaffe had long ago(by 1942) completely realized this and had utterly converted mountings of MG-15 emplacements on-board miltarily-relevant aircraft to the much more effective mountings of either MG-81/81Z, or MG-131 guns as appropriate. By 1942 it is almost certainly safe to say that no front-line combat aircraft were still mounting MG-15's, at least not any of those that had the possibility to have been converted over the more effective newer designs. Those second line machines where it was not possible to install 81/81Z or 131 guns (certain seaplanes in particular, which interestingly, were also kept mounting equally obsolescent MG-FF/M for the same reasons) flew on with their original MG-15 mountings until lost or destroyed. Short-story is quite simply that save for the very limited necessity to continue to keep producing some small amount of spare parts, actual full time production of the MG-15 gun was pretty well a thing of the past long before 1942. While I have seen MG-15 with '42 production dates, I cannot think that I have ever seen any pictured with even a '43 date, though that does not mean that they don't exist. Neither can I remember a DT-15 drum mag with a date beyond '43??? Point being that for Rheinmetall to make up a very small batch of non-std water-cooled guns with obscure, non-official markings for a private contract that late in the MG-15 game speaks volume of SOMEONE'S desire internally to make a quick profit off of existing production capacity going underutilized or even from existing stocks of spare parts.....just the kind of under the table deal you'd be doing if you were Reichsmarschall and just happened to own the factory, too.

    There are many cold trails on the ST-61 story....the current best-reasoned belief is that they were delivered to Romania, or at least intended for delivery there.

    I need to get one of these nifty canvas shell catchers:
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  5. #5


    Thanks for the additional 411 Pit

  6. #6


    Wow, never seen one. Thanks for showing it! Good job on explaining whats known on them.

  7. #7


    Thanks Mike -

    Samnev - ref. more MG15 myths - I bought quite an expensive specialty loader for this - after reading how impossible the mags are to get ready without one (likely written by people who never actually owned a doppeltrommel.)
    However, as I am sure you have found with a little care and attention, the mags are loadable by hand - just make sure that last guiding "linked-bullet" doesn't flop over on it's side, and you're good to go - if it flops over and you load on top of it, you pretty much have to dismantle the mag, lol - don't ask me how I found that out.

    Our biggest task so far has been adapting the magazine for blank ammunition - unfortunately a one way conversion.
    Blanks are just short enough to dislodge themselves from the guiding strips inside the mag, again causing a total break down.

  8. #8


    I was lucky enough to get a loader and my brother made the loading stand for the dopple trommel. using pictures of the original in the MG 34/42 book by Folke Myrang. So I never had a problem loading them. With a good drill press on hand we outlined the mag on a 1/2" piece of oak he hand on hand and milled out the wood aded 2 metal straps as per the original loading stand and completed the project with a coat of Greman Field Gray which actually is the green color of the German uniforms.
    I can imagine what a problem it must be try to load blanks in the mags. I've never tried to load the mags by hand. I got the MG 15 from Bob Landies at the SAR west show in December of 2002 It came with 3 extra barrels 3 mags and the original mag loader. I have since bought a parts kit for it and a friend donated the MG 15 internal parts he had (he doesn't own an MG 15) as well.

  9. #9


    Sounds like you have a fantastic set-up!
    My loader is a modern one which also came from the SAR West show - it works beautifully, but was not cheap.
    I have some internal parts left over, but it sounds like you're set.
    For extensive footage of the MG15 on film watch "The Battle of Britain" - great film anyway.

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