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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Machine Guns and Cannons: Weapons of the Military

Remembering the Gatling Gun, The Precursor of the Machine Gun


The Gatling Gun was the ancestor of the modern Machine gun and was invented by Dr. Richard Gatling.

Dr Richard Gatling the Inventor

In the second half of the nineteenth century an American thought of a revolutionary invention. He was Dr Richard Gordon Gatling. He patented his invention in 1861 and it has been come to be known as the Gatling Gun. This gun is the fore runner of the modern machine gun. It is worth while quoting Dr, Gatling on his invention. He wrote
“ it occurred to me that if I could invent a machine-a gun- which could by its rapidity of fire, enable , one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies and consequently , exposure to battle and disease would be greatly decreased.”

The Gatling Gun

Keeping this in mind Richard Gatling invented the gun that carries his name. The Gatling gun was a revolutionary invention as it fired a succession of bullets which were hand fed into the magazine through a belt. He was the first man to invent a gun that could on its own fire a number of shots at one go. In battle this gun had a charmed existence an dthe US army was the first to start using it in wars. It was also used in the American civil war ( 1861-65). This gun also found extensive usage in the American- Spanish war and played a pivotal role in the battle of San Juan Hill.
The Gatling gun weighed 27 kg and needed a crew of 4. It could fire over 200 rounds a minute. It also was used by foreign armies in the Boxer Rebellion ( South Africa) and the Russo-Japanese war. The Russians also bought 400 of these guns and used them against the Turks. The Gatling gun continued as part of the equipment of the US army till 1911 after which they were discarded as ‘obsolete’.
The Gatling gun is a landmark invention in the field of weaponry. Dr. Gatling’s name is forever reserved in history as one of the great inventors. When one handles the M60 machine gun, one hardly thinks that the Gatling gun is its ancestor.