New Life for an Old Gun: 1917 Spandau

International Replica Arms Company (IRAC) is in the process of restoring an original German 1917 Spandau Machine Gun for the Fighter Factory maintenance facility at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA.

The primary use of the Spandau was in conjunction with an aircraft. The Spandau was lighter than than the MG 08, its predesesor, as the water cooling jacket had been replaced with an air cooling jacket, allowing air to pass through it while the aircraft was in flight. Spandau, interestingly is not the technical name of this weapon.

During WWI the British nicknamed it “Spandau” simply because there were plates on the gun with the Spandau name, referring to the place of production, which was a district of Berlin, Germany. Averaging 500-600 rounds per minute with a reach of 2000-3000 yards, this weapon was a weapon of choice during the first world war and then evolved to also be useful in the second world war.


This particular Spandau that IRAC is restoring is especially unique in that during our initial cleaning, the team found not one, but two separate plates with varying dates. One for the initial manufacturing when it was used by the Germans, BUT then a separate notation showing that the British later used the gun in WWII.

It is a unique find and we are excited to get it refurbished to its original condition.

In this photo, our lead machinist, Chris, is working on getting the gun pulled apart. Many of the separate pieces have been braised together and even though the most common way to remove braised parts is through intense heating in a industrial oven, Chris only needs to remove one part. Instead of baking the Spandau in order to remove the necessary part, Chris will be working the braised part that needs fixed, by hand. This is one step in the tedious process of disassembling the gun part by part to ensure the restoration is done properly.

Did you know that IRAC does more than just restorations?

Our standard replica models, are produced from high quality 6061 aluminum, steel and/or light weight alloy castings and machined parts. By using these specific materials we are able to produce a realistic, yet lightweight replica that is guaranteed to awe anyone who gets an opportunity to see it up close. Not to mention, if you are into reenactments, this is the ideal weapon for you and your organization. It’s safe, looks and sounds authentic, and because of the aluminum foundation, it’s easier than an original to lug around to events.

International Replica Arms Co. is founded on the relentless pursuit of providing the highest quality, durable and authentic replica machine guns possible. We do this because, when it comes to preserving history and training soldiers, we believe the details matter. From the tapering of the barrel, to metals we choose, our replica weapons are crafted to look and perform like original machine gun. And when it comes to firing, the proprietary firing system included in our simulated-fire guns inexpensively, safely and legally simulate the same rapid machine gun bursts one would hear on the battlefield.