|Type||Rapid-fire gun, hand cranked Machine gun|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by|| United States |
Empire of Japan
|Wars|| American Civil War |
|Designer||Richard Jordan Gatling|
|Manufacturer||Eagle Iron Works|
Cooper Firearms Manufacturing Company
Colt Manufacturing Company
American Ordnance Company
|Mass||170 lb (77.2 kg)|
|Length||42.5 in (1,079 mm)|
|Barrel length||26.5 in (673 mm)|
|Cartridge|| .30-40 Krag |
|Caliber||.308 inches (7.8 mm)|
|Rate of fire||200 rounds per minute in .58 caliber, 400-900 rounds per minute in .30 caliber|
The Gatling gun is a rapid-firing multiple-barrel firearm invented in 1861 by Richard Jordan Gatling. It is an early machine gun and a forerunner of the modern electric motor-driven rotary cannon.
The Gatling gun's operation centered on a cyclic multi-barrel design which facilitated cooling and synchronized the firing-reloading sequence. As the handwheel is cranked, the barrels rotate clockwise and each barrel sequentially loads a single cartridge from a top-mounted magazine, fires off the shot when it reaches a set position (usually at 4 o'clock), then ejects the spent casing out of the left side at the bottom, after which the barrel is empty and allowed to cool until rotated back to the top position and gravity-fed another new round. This configuration eliminated the need for a single reciprocating bolt design and allowed higher rates of fire to be achieved without the barrels overheating quickly.
One of the best-known early rapid-fire firearms, the Gatling gun saw occasional use by the Union forces during the American Civil War, which was the first time it was employed in combat. It was later used in numerous military conflicts, including the Boshin War, the Anglo-Zulu War and the assault on San Juan Hill during the Spanish–American War.It was also used by the Pennsylvania militia in episodes of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, specifically in Pittsburgh. Gatling guns were even mounted aboard ships.
The Gatling gun is operated by a hand-crank mechanism, with six barrels revolving around a central shaft (although some models had as many as ten). Each barrel fires once per revolution at about the same position. The barrels, a carrier, and a lock cylinder were separate and all mounted on a solid plate revolving around a central shaft, mounted on an oblong fixed frame. Turning the crank rotated the shaft. The carrier was grooved and the lock cylinder was drilled with holes corresponding to the barrels.
The casing was partitioned, and through this opening, the barrel shaft was journaled. In front of the casing was a cam with spiral surfaces. The cam imparted a reciprocating motion to the locks when the gun rotated. Also in the casing was a cocking ring with projections to cock and fire the gun. Each barrel had a single lock, working in the lock cylinder on a line with the barrel. The lock cylinder was encased and joined to the frame. Early models had a fibrous matting stuffed in among the barrels, which could be soaked with water to cool the barrels down. Later models eliminated the matting-filled barrels as being unnecessary.
Cartridges, held in a hopper, dropped individually into the grooves of the carrier. The lock was simultaneously forced by the cam to move forward and load the cartridge, and when the cam was at its highest point, the cocking ring freed the lock and fired the cartridge. After the cartridge was fired the continuing action of the cam drew back the lock bringing with it the spent casing which then dropped to the ground.
The grouped barrel concept had been explored by inventors since the 18th century, but poor engineering and the lack of a unitary cartridge made previous designs unsuccessful. The initial Gatling gun design used self-contained, reloadable steel cylinders with a chamber holding a ball and black-powder charge, and a percussion cap on one end. As the barrels rotated, these steel cylinders dropped into place, were fired, and were then ejected from the gun. The innovative features of the Gatling gun were its independent firing mechanism for each barrel and the simultaneous action of the locks, barrels, carrier, and breech.
The ammunition that Gatling eventually implemented was a paper cartridge charged with black powder and primed with a percussion cap because self-contained brass cartridges were not yet fully developed and available. The shells were gravity-fed into the breech through a hopper or simple box "magazine" with an unsprung gravity follower on top of the gun. Each barrel had its own firing mechanism.
Despite self-contained brass cartridges replacing the paper cartridge in the 1860s, it wasn't until the Model 1881 that Gatling switched to the 'Bruce'-style feed system (U.S. Patents 247,158 and 343,532) that accepted two rows of .45-70 cartridges. While one row was being fed into the gun, the other could be reloaded, thus allowing sustained fire. The final gun required four operators. By 1886, the gun was capable of firing more than 400 rounds per minute.
The smallest-caliber gun also had a Broadwell drum feed in place of the curved box of the other guns. The drum, named after L. W. Broadwell, an agent for Gatling's company, comprised twenty stacks of rounds arranged around a central axis, like the spokes of a wheel, each holding twenty cartridges with the bullet noses oriented toward the central axis. This invention was patented in U. S. 110,338. As each stack emptied, the drum was manually rotated to bring a new stack into use until all 400 rounds had been fired. A more common variant had 240 rounds in twenty stands of fifteen.
By 1893, the Gatling was adapted to take the new .30 Army smokeless cartridge. The new M1893 guns featured six barrels, later increased to ten barrels, and were capable of a maximum (initial) rate of fire of 800–900 rounds per minute, though 600 rpm was recommended for continuous fire. rpm.Dr. Gatling later used examples of the M1893 powered by electric motor and belt to drive the crank. Tests demonstrated the electric Gatling could fire bursts of up to 1,500
The M1893, with minor revisions, became the M1895, and 94 guns were produced for the U.S. Army by Colt. Four M1895 Gatlings under Lt. John H. Parker saw considerable combat during the Santiago campaign in Cuba in 1898. The M1895 was designed to accept only the Bruce feeder. All previous models were unpainted, but the M1895 was painted olive drab (O.D.) green, with some parts left blued.
The Model 1900 was very similar to the model 1895, but with only a few components finished in O.D. green. The U.S. Army purchased several M1900s. All Gatling Models 1895–1903 could be mounted on an armored field carriage. In 1903, the Army converted its M1900 guns into .30 Army to fit the new .30-03 cartridge (standardized for the M1903 Springfield rifle) as the M1903. The later M1903-'06 was an M1903 converted to .30-06. This conversion was principally carried out at the Army's Springfield Armory arsenal repair shops. All models of Gatling guns were declared obsolete by the U.S. military in 1911, after 45 years of service.
The original Gatling gun was a field weapon that used multiple rotating barrels turned by a hand crank, and firing loose (no links or belt) metal cartridge ammunition using a gravity feed system from a hopper. The Gatling gun's innovation lay in the use of multiple barrels to limit overheating, a rotating mechanism, and a gravity-feed reloading system, which allowed unskilled operators to achieve a relatively high rate of fire of 200 rounds per minute.
Although the first Gatling gun was capable of firing continuously, it required a person to crank it; therefore it was not a true automatic weapon. The Maxim gun, invented and patented in 1883, was the first true fully automatic weapon, making use of the fired projectile's recoil force to reload the weapon. Nonetheless, the Gatling gun represented a huge leap in firearm technology.
Before the Gatling gun, the only weapons available to military forces capable of firing many projectiles in a short space of time were mass-firing volley weapons, like the Belgian and French mitrailleuse of the 1860s and 1870s, and field cannons firing canister shot, much like an upsized shotgun. The latter was widely used during and after the Napoleonic Wars. Although the maximum rate of fire was increased by firing multiple projectiles simultaneously, these weapons still needed to be reloaded after each discharge, which for multi-barrel systems like the mitrailleuse was cumbersome and time-consuming. This negated much of the advantage of their high rate of fire per discharge, making them much less powerful on the battlefield. In comparison, the Gatling gun offered a rapid and continuous rate of fire without having to be manually reloaded by opening the breech.
Early multi-barrel guns were approximately the size and weight of artillery pieces and were often perceived as a replacement for cannons firing grapeshot or canister shot.Compared with earlier weapons such as the mitrailleuse, which required manual reloading, the Gatling gun was more reliable and easier to operate and had a lower, but continuous rate of fire. The large wheels required to move these guns around required a high firing position, which increased the vulnerability of their crews.
Sustained firing of black powder cartridges generated a cloud of smoke, making concealment impossible until smokeless powder became available in the late 19th century.When operators were firing Gatling guns against troops of industrialized nations, they were at risk, being vulnerable to artillery they could not reach and snipers they could not see.
The Gatling gun was designed by the American inventor Dr. Richard J. Gatling in 1861 and patented on November 4, 1862.Gatling wrote that he created it to reduce the size of armies and so reduce the number of deaths by combat and disease, and to show how futile war is.
The US Army adopted Gatling guns in several calibers, including .42 caliber, .45-70, .50 caliber, 1 inch, and (M1893 and later) .30 Army, with conversions of M1900 weapons to .30-03 and .30-06.The .45-70 weapon was also mounted on some US Navy ships of the 1880s and 1890s.
British manufacturer James George Accles, previously employed by Colt 1867–1886, developed a modified Gatling gun circa 1888 known as the Accles Machine Gun.Circa 1895 the American Ordnance Company acquired the rights to manufacture and distribute this weapon in the Americas. It was trialed by the US Navy in December 1895, and was said to be the only weapon to complete the trial out of five competing weapons, but was apparently not adopted by US forces.
The Gatling gun was first used in warfare during the American Civil War. Twelve of the guns were purchased personally by Union commanders and used in the trenches during the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia (June 1864—April 1865).Eight other Gatling guns were fitted on gunboats. The gun was not accepted by the American Army until 1866 when a sales representative of the manufacturing company demonstrated it in combat.
On July 17, 1863, Gatling guns were purportedly used to overawe New York anti-draft rioters.Two were brought by a Pennsylvania National Guard unit from Philadelphia to use against strikers in Pittsburgh.
Gatling guns were famously not used at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as "Custer's Last Stand", when Gen. George Armstrong Custer chose not to bring Gatling Guns with his main force.
In April 1867, a Gatling gun was purchased for the Argentine Army by minister Domingo F. Sarmiento under instructions from president Bartolomé Mitre.
Captain Luis Germán Astete of the Peruvian Navy took with him dozens of Gatling guns from the United States to Peru in December 1879 during the Peru-Chile War of the Pacific. Gatling guns were used by the Peruvian Navy and Army, especially in the Battle of Tacna (May 1880) and the Battle of San Juan (January 1881) against the invading Chilean Army.
Lieutenant Arthur L. Howard of the Connecticut National Guard had an interest in the company manufacturing Gatling guns and took a personally owned Gatling gun to the District of Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1885 for use with the Canadian military against Métis and First Nations rebels during Louis Riel's North-West Rebellion.
The Gatling gun was used most successfully to expand European colonial empires by defeating indigenous warriors mounting massed attacks, including the Zulu, the Bedouin, and the Mahdists.Imperial Russia purchased 400 Gatling guns and used them against Turkmen cavalry and other nomads of central Asia. The British Army first deployed the Gatling gun in 1873-74 during the Anglo-Ashanti wars, and extensively during the latter actions of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu war. The Royal Navy used Gatling guns during the 1882 Anglo-Egyptian War.
Because of infighting within army ordnance, Gatling guns were used by the U.S. Army during the Spanish–American War. 8+1⁄2 minutes (an average of over 700 rounds per minute per gun of continuous fire) against Spanish troop positions along the crest of both hills, wreaking terrible carnage.A four-gun battery of Model 1895 ten-barrel Gatling guns in .30 Army, made by Colt's Arms Company, was formed into a separate detachment led by Lt. John "Gatling Gun" Parker. The detachment proved very effective, supporting the advance of American forces at the Battle of San Juan Hill. Three of the Gatlings with swivel mountings were used with great success against the Spanish defenders. During the American charge up San Juan and Kettle hills, the three guns fired a total of 18,000 .30 Army rounds in
Despite this remarkable achievement, the Gatling's weight and cumbersome artillery carriage hindered its ability to keep up with infantry forces over difficult ground, particularly in Cuba, where roads were often little more than jungle footpaths. By this time, the U.S. Marines had been issued the modern tripod-mounted M1895 Colt–Browning machine gun using the 6mm Lee Navy round, which they employed to defeat the Spanish infantry at the battle of Cuzco Wells.
Gatling guns were used by the U.S. Army during the Philippine–American War.
One such instance was during the Battle of San Jacinto (1899) (Spanish : Batalla de San Jacinto) which was fought on November 11, 1899, in San Jacinto in the Philippines, between Philippine Republican Army soldiers and American troops.
The Gatling's weight and artillery carriage hindered its ability to keep up with American troops over uneven terrain, particularly in the Philippines, where outside the cities there were heavily foliaged forests and steep mountain paths.
After the Gatling gun was replaced in service by newer recoil or gas-operated weapons, the approach of using multiple externally powered rotating barrels fell into disuse for many decades. However, some examples were developed during the interwar years, but only existed as prototypes or were rarely used. The concept resurfaced after World War II with the development of the Minigun and the M61 Vulcan. Many other versions of the Gatling gun were built from the late 20th century to the present, the largest of these being the 30mm GAU-8 Avenger autocannon as used on the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.
Current usage favors mounted guns, either vehicular or emplaced, where the fire rate necessitates multiple barrels to space out the use of each to avoid melting a single barrel at full auto fire. These guns are not able to be fired by humans, and attempting to do so can be fatal as the rotational force from the extremely rapid rotation of modern miniguns throws the gun at the user if it is not secured.
A machine gun is an auto-firing, rifled long-barrel autoloading firearm designed for sustained direct fire with fully powered cartridges. Other automatic firearms such as assault rifles and automatic rifles are typically designed more for firing short bursts rather than continuous firepower, and not considered machine guns. Squad automatic weapons, which fire the same cartridge used by the other riflemen from the same combat unit, are functionally light machine guns though not called so. Submachine guns, which are capable of continuous rapid fire but using handgun cartridges, are also not technically regarded as true machine guns.
A revolver is a repeating handgun that has at least one barrel and uses a revolving cylinder containing multiple chambers for firing. Before firing a round, cocking the hammer partially rotates the cylinder, indexing one of the cylinder chambers into alignment with the barrel, allowing the bullet to be fired through the bore. The hammer cocking can be achieved by either the user manually pulling the hammer back, via internal linkage relaying a rearward movement of the trigger, or both. By sequentially rotating through each chamber, the revolver allows the user to fire multiple times until having to reload the gun, unlike older single-shot firearms that had to be reloaded after each shot.
The M61 Vulcan is a hydraulically, electrically or pneumatically driven, six-barrel, air-cooled, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary cannon which fires 20 mm rounds at an extremely high rate. The M61 and its derivatives have been the principal cannon armament of United States military fixed-wing aircraft for sixty years.
In firearms terminology, an action is the functional mechanism of a breech-loading firearm that handles the ammunition cartridges, or the method by which that mechanism works. Actions are technically not present on muzzleloaders, as all those are single-shot firearms with a closed off breech with the powder and projectile manually loaded from the muzzle. Instead, the muzzleloader ignition mechanism is referred to as the lock.
A semi-automatic pistol is a type of repeating single-chamber handgun (pistol) that automatically cycles its action to insert the subsequent cartridge into the chamber (self-loading), but requires manual actuation of the trigger to actually discharge the following shot. As a result, only one round of ammunition is fired each time the trigger is pulled, as the pistol's fire control group disconnects the trigger mechanism from the firing pin/striker until the trigger has been released and reset.
A chain gun is a type of machine gun/autocannon that uses an external source of power to cycle the weapon's action, rather than diverting excess energy from the cartridges' propellant as in a typical automatic firearm, and does so via a continuous loop of chain drive similar to that used on a motorcycle or bicycle.
A magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device for a repeating firearm, either integral within the gun or externally attached. The magazine functions by holding several cartridges within itself and sequentially pushing each one into a position where it may be readily loaded into the barrel chamber by the firearm's moving action. The detachable magazine is sometimes colloquially referred to as a "clip", although this is technically inaccurate since a clip is actually an accessory device used to help loading ammunitions into a magazine.
A revolver cannon is a type of autocannon, commonly used as an aircraft gun. It uses a cylinder with multiple chambers, like those of a revolver handgun, to speed up the loading-firing-ejection cycle. Some examples are also power-driven, to further speed the loading process. Unlike a rotary cannon, a revolver cannon has only a single barrel, thus its spun weight is lower. Automatic revolver cannons have been produced by many different manufacturers.
The M134 Minigun is an American 7.62×51mm NATO six-barrel rotary machine gun with a high rate of fire. It features a Gatling-style rotating barrel assembly with an external power source, normally an electric motor. The "Mini" in the name is in comparison to larger-caliber designs that use a rotary barrel design, such as General Electric's earlier 20 mm M61 Vulcan, and "gun" for the use of rifle ammunition as opposed to autocannon shells.
A rotary cannon, rotary autocannon, rotary gun or Gatling cannon, is any large-caliber multiple-barreled automatic firearm that uses a Gatling-type rotating barrel assembly to deliver a sustained saturational direct fire at much greater rates of fire than single-barreled autocannons of the same caliber. The loading, firing and ejection functions are performed simultaneously in different barrels as the whole assembly rotates, and the rotation also permits the barrels some time to cool. The rotating barrels on nearly all modern Gatling-type guns are powered by an external force such as an electric motor, although internally powered gas-operated versions have also been developed.
The .30-40 Krag was a cartridge developed in the early 1890s to provide the U.S. armed forces with a smokeless powder cartridge suited for use with modern small-bore repeating rifles to be selected in the 1892 small arm trials. Since the cartridge it was replacing was the .45-70 Government, the round was considered small-bore at the time. The design selected was ultimately the Krag–Jørgensen, formally adopted as the M1892 Springfield. It was also used in M1893 and later Gatling guns.
The Colt–Browning M1895, nicknamed "potato digger" because of its unusual operating mechanism, is an air-cooled, belt-fed, gas-operated machine gun that fires from a closed bolt with a cyclic rate of 450 rounds per minute. Based on a John Browning and Matthew S. Browning design dating to 1889, it was the first successful gas-operated machine gun to enter service.
A handgun is a short-barrelled firearm that can be held and used with one hand. The two most common handgun sub-types in use today are revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, although other handgun-types such as derringers and machine pistols also see infrequent usage.
The Mendoza RM2 was a light machine gun similar to the M1918 BAR manufactured in Mexico by Productos Mendoza, S.A.. Rafael Mendoza have been producing machine guns for the Mexican Army since 1933 and all have been noted for their lightness, simplicity, ease of maintenance, and economic construction without sacrificing reliability.
The Colt New Model Revolving rifles were early repeating rifles produced by the Colt's Manufacturing Company from 1855 until 1864. The design was essentially similar to revolver type pistols, with a rotating cylinder that held five or six rounds in a variety of calibers from .36 to .64 inches. They were mainly based upon the Colt Model 1855 Sidehammer Pocket Revolver developed by Elisha K. Root. Colt revolving pistols and rifles were attractive mainly because of their high rate of fire. They were used to a limited extent on the Pony Express, and made a brief appearance in the American Civil War. However, the rifles were generally disliked by soldiers, and were ultimately discontinued due to serious design flaws.
A multiple barrel firearm is any type of firearm with more than one gun barrel, usually to increase the rate of fire or hit probability and to reduce barrel erosion/overheating.
The Agar gun was an early rapid fire machine gun developed during the US Civil War. The weapon was nicknamed the Coffee Mill Gun, and was also called the Union Repeating Gun.
The Bailey Machine Gun was a rapid-fire weapon developed in the late 19th century. It was a multiple barrel weapon similar to the much more commonly known Gatling gun, and was the first weapon of this type to be belt-fed. Although commonly referred to as the Bailey Machine Gun, it is technically not a machine gun since it is externally powered using a hand crank. However, rapid-fire weapons of this type are commonly referred to as machine guns, even though this usage of the term is technically incorrect.
A repeating firearm, or repeater, is any firearm that is capable of being fired repeatedly before having to manually reload new ammunition into the weapon.
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