Welcome to our new website, we have been down for awhile but it was necessary for updating the website. We have set up this site with a new feature, I will try and do a short blog every week or so to keep new information on our website, especially while Gewehr98.com is down during its update.
The Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) was initially formed from the Prussian Navy in the 1870’s, it was an Imperial force, unlike the Imperial era German Army, which was made up of the Armies of Prussia, Saxony, Württemberg and Bavaria, united under the Kaiser only in emergencies. Originally the Imperial German Navy was a rather small force, funded by the Imperial German parliament (Reichstag) rather than the individual state legislatures, and really didn’t become an ocean going force before the turn of the 20th Century, when Germany began upon an expansion program “for its place in the sun”, party in response to its trade rivalry with Britain and its quest for a colonial empire. The timing was perfect in relation to the Gewehr98, the First Naval Bill was put forward on December 6, 1897 and passed in 1898, it was followed by subsequent Naval Laws that great expanded the German Navy.
This expansion naturally included rifle contracts, the first rifle contracts were assigned to Deutsche Waffen-Und Munitionsfabriken, Berlin during 1899, it is believed this is largely due to the Prussian State Arsenals were completely occupied with the contracts to supply the German Armies, which left the Navy to seek out the commercial patent holds, DWM and Mauser Oberndorf.
The manufacture of the Kaiserliche Marine rifles were under taken by DWM from 1899 through 1907, most rifles made by DWM between 1899-1905 that are original-matching have marking that indicate they were part of the naval contract. Starting in 1905 the first Army marked rifles begin to show up, but naval rifles continue through 1907 production.
Beginning in 1909, DWM begins to curtail their manufacture of the Gewehr98, passing production over to Mauser Oberndorf, this is because DWM refocuses its manufacturing towards the P.08 (Luger) and the MG08 for the Army, which they have the patent rights in Germany to produce. The last known contract for the Kaiserliche Marine was handled by Mauser Oberndorf during 1910 and 1911, where they sold the German Navy 2050 Gewehr98’s, this is the sum of all known contracts for the Imperial German Navy prior to the war. While the rifles that armed the Kaiserliche Marine came from the commercial manufacturers, they are not the only rifles that can be found to have served the German Navy, small numbers of Arsenal manufactured rifles are known, small numbers of early Erfurt made Gewehr98’s have been identified, mostly from 1899-1900.
For more information on rifles of the Kaiserliche Marine, please refer to my article in the August 2010 Military Rifle Journal, found in our back issues section.
January 14th, 2013