Friday, September 23, 2016

Gatling Gun

From what I can see, the Gatling Gun was created and patented in 1861 by Dr. Richard Gatling during the Civil war. It was the first machine gun since it was crank-perated and multi-barreled. In 1862 the gun used steel chambers and percussion caps. In 1866 or 67 (I've seen both dates) Gatling redesigned the gun and this version was purchased by the U.S. army. The Gatling gun was obsolete in 1911 after 45 years of service with the army.

Below is a copy of the patent Gatling presented in 1865

Dr. Gatlin describes the gun:
The gun consists of a series of barrels in combination with a grooved carrier and lock cylinder. All these several parts are rigidly secured upon a main shaft. There are as many grooves in the carrier, and as many holes in the lock cylinder, as there are barrels. Each barrel is furnished with one lock, so that a gun with ten barrels has ten locks. The locks work in the holes formed in the lock cylinder on a line with the axis of the barrels. The lock cylinder, which contains the lock, is surrounded by a casing, which is fastened to a frame, to which trimmers are attached. There is a partition in the casing, through which there is an opening, and into which the main shaft, which carries the lock cylinder, carrier, and barrels, is journaled. The main shaft is also at its front end journaled in the front part of the frame. In front of the partition in the casing is placed a cam, provided with spiral surfaces or inclined planes.

" This cam is rigidly fastened to the casing, and is used to impart a reciprocating motion to the locks when the gun is rotated. There is also in the front part of the casing a cocking ring which surrounds the lock cylinder, is attached to the casing, and has on its rear surface an inclined plane with an abrupt shoulder. This ring and its projection are used for cocking and firing the gun. This ring, the spiral cam, and the locks make up the loading and firing mechanism.

" On the rear end of the main shaft, in rear of the partition in the casing, is located a gear-wheel, which works to a Kinion on the crank-shaft. The rear of the casing is closed by the cascable plate. There is hinged to the frame in front of the breech-casing a curved plate, covering partially the grooved carrier, into which is formed a hopper or opening, through which the cartridges are fed to the gun from feed-cases. The frame which supports the gun is mounted upon the carriage used for the transportation of the gun.

" The operation of the gun is very simple. One man places a feed-case filled with cartridges into the hopper; another man turns the crank, which, by the agency of the gearing, revolves the main shaft, carrying with it the lock cylinder, carrier, barrels, and locks. As the gun is rotated, the cartridges, one by one, drop into the grooves of the carrier from the feedcases, and instantly the lock, by its impingement on the spiral cam surfaces, moves forward to load the cartridge, and when the butt-end of the lock gets on the highest projection of the cam, the charge is fired, through the agency of the cocking device, which at this point liberates the lock, spring, and hammer, and explodes the cartridge. As soon as the charge is fired, the lock, as the gun is revolved, is drawn back by the agency of the spiral surface in the cam acting on a lug of the lock, bringing with it the shell of the cartridge after it has been fired, which is dropped on the ground. Thus, it will be seen, when the gun is rotated, the locks in rapid succession move forward to load and fire, and return to extract the cartridge-shells. In other words, the whole operation of loading, closing the breech, discharging, and expelling the empty cartridge-shells is conducted while the barrels are kept in continuous revolving movement. It must be borne in mind that while the locks revolve with the barrels, they have also, in their line of travel, a spiral reciprocating movement ; that is, each lock revolves once and moves forward and back at each revolution of the gun.

"The gun is so novel in its construction and operation that it is almost impossible to describe it minutely without the aid of drawings. Its main features may be summed up thus : ist.—Each barrel in the gun is provided with its own independent lock or firing mechanism. 2nd.—All the locks revolve simultaneously with the barrels, carrier, and inner breech, when thel,Tin is in operation. The locks also have, as stated, a reciprocating motion when the gun is rotated. The gun cannot be fired when either the barrels or locks are at rest.

There is a beautiful mechanical principle developed in the gun, viz., that while the gun itself is under uniform constant rotary motion, the locks rotate with the barrels and breech, and at the same time have a longitudinal reciprocating motion, performing the consecutive operations of loading, cocking, and firing without any pause whatever in the several and continuous operations.

The small Gatling is supplied with another improvement called the "drum feed." This case is divided into sixteen sections, each of which contains twenty-five cartridges, and is placed on a vertical axis on the top of the gun. As fast as one section is discharged, it rotates, and brings another section over the feed aperture, until the whole 400 charges are expended.

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