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STRANGE WEAPONS - GATLING GUNS - NEW & OLD -

The Gatling gun saw only limited use in the Civil War, (Ben Butler used two around Petersburg and eight on gunboats; Porter acquired one; and Hancock ordered twelve for his I (Veteran) Corps), however, the conflict did test this weapon, perhaps the first successful true machine gun used in warfare. Invented by Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling, the Civil War model served as the precursor of more successful models.
The Gatling gun was a hand-crank-operated weapon with 6 barrels revolving around a central shaft. The cartridges were fed to the gun by gravity through a hopper mounted on the top of the gun. 6 cam-operated bolts alternately wedged, fired, and dropped the bullets, which were contained in steel chambers. Gatling used the 6 barrels to partially cool the gun during firing. Since the gun was capable of firing 600 rounds a minute, each barrel fired 100 rounds per minute.
The gun had a number of problems, however. The bores were tapered, and often the barrels and chambers did not exactly align, affecting accuracy and velocity. The chamber system itself, in which a paper cartridge was contained inside a capped steel chamber, was both expensive and fragile. While the gun showed much promise and fired the standard .58-caliber ammunition, it had so many drawbacks and was so radical in both design and purpose that Gatling was unable to interest the U.S. government. The army purchased none of his guns, but Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, after a field test, purchased 12 for $1,000 each and two were used on the Petersburg front in 1864 and apparently were considered successful.
In Jan. 1865 Gatling's improved Model 1865 gun was tested by the Ordnance Department. Among other things, this weapon used rimfire copper-cased cartridges instead of the steel-chambered paper variety. Though this model did not see service, it was adopted officially in 1866. Having at last received government approval, Gatling began to sell his guns throughout the world; they achieved lasting fame in the post-war years.
 

STRANGE WEAPONS - GATLING GUNS - NEW & OLD -






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