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Posted: 7/15/2001 5:49:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/29/2001 2:53:26 PM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
The US Army has a interesting page about Gatling guns [url]http://www-acala1.ria.army.mil/LC/cs/csa/aagatlin.htm#1862[/url] It points out some interesting little facts. Like for example, in 1875 the Gatling Gun Company demonstrated a small, tripod mounted 5 barrel Gatling called the "Bulldog" supposidly for police riot control. The little gun introduced a rear mounted hand crank, in that configuration it could fire a honest 1000 rounds per minute!!! Compare this to what the machine guns of World War I could do. Most were 500 rpm or less. Then in 1886 the Army introduced that last of the .45 cal Gatlings. It also had the option of a rear mounted crank. With 10 barrels it could fire 1800 rpm. The only problem with these guns was that no one could figure out how to feed them. Hiram Maxim introduced the fabric belt in 1881, but no one tried to adapt it to the Gatling. One system that was tried was the Hotchkiss metal strip feed with the 30 round strips. This was tried on the M1893 .30/40 Gatling. It was not repeated- the Army claimed that it suffered from feed jams. Yet in 1909 the Army would adopt the Colt built Benet-Merce M1909 LMG, using the exact same feed mechanism. Not to mention all of the 8mm Hotchkiss guns we used during WWII. The fact was that the old Gatling gun- hand cranked- was superior in performance to any of the truly automatic machine guns of the First World War. They even weighed the same, when not mounted on stupid artillery carrages. Oddly the US Army only purchased a few tripod mounts- available as far back as 1873- and rarely used them. But a Gatling on a tripod was no heavier than a Vickers, or the German MG 08. And there were experimental Gatlings that werent any bigger than the Browning 1917. In hindsight we made a bit of a mistake in abandoning the Gatling when we did. Even with the Hotchkiss feed, it was a better HMG than the Hotchkiss itself. And unlike the Vickers and MG 08 it didnt need water. We declared the Gatlings obsolete in 1909, six years later, the British invented a modification of the Hotchkiss feed for use on their tank and aircraft mounted Hotchkiss Mk1 .303in MG. They introduced a "belt" feed that consisted of a string of little 3round sections of Hotchkiss strip hinged togeather. They were made into 249 round 'belts' almost matching the 250rd fabric belts of the Vickers gun. Think of what could of happened if the Army had still had Gatlings with Hotchkiss feed that they could have converted to this. Of course it would have been better still if someone could have found a way to adapt the Gatling to a more conventional metal or canvas belt feed. We can do it today with disintigrating metal belts on the miniguns. Consider it another of those lost opportunities.
Link Posted: 7/28/2001 7:03:04 AM EDT
Is it true that Gatling guns are not considered automatic weapons by the goverment for NFA purposes?
Link Posted: 7/28/2001 10:59:49 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/28/2001 10:59:31 AM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
From what I understand they are considered a manual repeater just like a lever rifle. However dont try to put a motor on one, THEN it becomes illegal. But since a 10bbl .30cal with the handcrank in the rear position can make 1800 rpm by hand you arent loosing much. At 180rpm per barrel, you can fire almost indefinently (according to US Army manuals the modern M249 and M60 can keep up about 200 rpm without having to change their barrels) You can build your own hand cranked gatling, plans are available over the internet and from vendors that advertise in shotgun news. .45/70 black powder ones are the most popular though, you might see one at a large SASS meeting like End Of Trail. I'd like to see someone build one in .223 to take AR mags. I dont have the machine tools- or the knowledge to use them- in order to make one myself.
Link Posted: 7/28/2001 2:26:07 PM EDT
In the 1800's the Army considered the Gatling Gun as artillery. Probably if the Confederates or Indians had used massed or human wave tactics then the Army would have seen the benefits of a more mobile mount.
Link Posted: 7/28/2001 3:37:33 PM EDT
Originally Posted By JonnieGTyler: In the 1800's the Army considered the Gatling Gun as artillery. Probably if the Confederates or Indians had used massed or human wave tactics then the Army would have seen the benefits of a more mobile mount.
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Unfortunately true. And when they did get to see such attacks in the Phillippines, as well as seeing how effective MG support in the assault was during the Spanish American War, they chose to condemn the Gatling as a whole instead of realizing that it was just the mounts they stuck them on that were bad. They turned to the 1895 Browning and the Maxim instead.
Link Posted: 7/28/2001 5:47:35 PM EDT
Lbrl, the advantages of the Gatling hand cranked gun that you point out are valid-- I'd be interested to see a cost comparision of a gatling type gun to a autoloading single barrel gun. Maybe it's irrelevant if the Gatling guns would have been that much more efficient. Other question I'd have is if the gatling would have been adaptable to higher pressure cordite cartridges instead of the black powder cartridges. I don't know what the breech mechanism is for the Gatling. Also, there is always the possibility of a hand-cranked equivelant of the chaingun. Now that would have been interesting too.
Link Posted: 7/28/2001 5:59:27 PM EDT
In 1890 the Navy started working on an electric powered Gatling gun. It achieved the firing rate of 1500 rpm. Dr. Gatling patented a similar gun in 1893 that achieved 3000 rounds per minute. Both guns had 10 barrels and were chambered in .30-40 Krag. The design is capable of adaption from low pressure cartridges to high pressure cartridges. A cost comparison would be interesting, but I would bet the difference would not be as great as one would imagine.
Link Posted: 7/29/2001 9:56:37 AM EDT
Yeah, if the weights of the early auto machineguns and gatlings were comparable, they were both using the same amounts of steel, so the difference in production cost may not be much. Plus, I imagine the gatling would last longer under sustained fire. Would have been interesting making a co-axial mount for a gatling though :) J-Tyler-- the French also classified their early Mitrailleuse machine guns as artillery. I think that they were supposed to be a big secret, but the Prussians found out about them and took great care to knock the mitrailleuse batteries out with Krupp breech loaders. The German commanders also followed the American lead of using railcars to ferry troops. Come to think of it, it doesn't seem like much of a brain-wave.
Link Posted: 7/29/2001 3:34:14 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/29/2001 3:44:29 PM EDT by ArmdLbrl]
Originally Posted By Ustulina: Lbrl, the advantages of the Gatling hand cranked gun that you point out are valid-- I'd be interested to see a cost comparision of a gatling type gun to a autoloading single barrel gun. Maybe it's irrelevant if the Gatling guns would have been that much more efficient. Other question I'd have is if the gatling would have been adaptable to higher pressure cordite cartridges instead of the black powder cartridges. I don't know what the breech mechanism is for the Gatling. Also, there is always the possibility of a hand-cranked equivelant of the chaingun. Now that would have been interesting too.
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Well I fixed the link, I guess one of Goat Boys updates made the way I wrote it invalid. If you look again you will see that the last hand-cranked Gatling, the Model 1906 was chambered for .30/06. The Gatling barrel cluster, although not a "quick change" is not hard to remove either, the single nut in the center at the muzzle end is basically all that is holding it in place. But even so, none of the hand cranked guns exceeded 200rpm per barrel. Even modern LMGs like the M60 and M249 cant fire faster than that without changing their barrels. But with 10 barrels that Gatling could attain 1800rpm for as long as you could feed it, never having to stop and change due to overheat. Watercooled guns like the Vickers and Browning 17' didnt need barrel changes for heat unless you ran them out of water. But they had to cange do to [i]wear[/i] every 10,000 rounds or so. The Gatling barrel change would be slower, but it need be done only every 100,000 rounds. A Gatling gun didnt have to carry more than ammo, and a spare barrel cluster- back then they were more likely to suffer a squib load before they wore the barrel cluster out. Making their load effectively less than the Vickers Gun that had to carry ammo and also water, which is very heavy. Today, GE's Gatlings are hamstrung by the same problem that bedevils elctric car builders- the size and weight of the batteries that are needed to power them. Thus they are only used as vheicle and aircraft mounted weapons. Even then, lots of people still prefer to mount Brownings and FN's because they will still function if the vheicle looses power. Excluding batteres, GE's .50cal Gatlings exhibit a tremendous superiority to the M2 Browning. The three barrel version fires up to eight times as fast as a M2, but weighs 20lbs less. The 6bbl version is just 10 pounds heavier than a M2 and fires 12 times as fast. Both are also shorter overall for the same length barrel. And as mentioned above, if you tune them down to around 1200 rpm they would fire as long as you could feed them without overheating. Oh, I almost forgot; Gatling guns can have VERY long barrels, because of the way the barels in the cluster support each other. The M61A2 used in the F22 Raptor has a barrel cluster 90calibers long! The original M61 was 75cals. But barrel lengths as long as 120cals are theoretically possible. They can wring every ounce of power out of the shells they are chambered for, and still group nicely.
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