In 1831, 13-year-old Richard Gatling, the son of an American farmer, patented his first invention - a seeder. Later, having received a medical degree, he creates ... several models of mechanical seeders and an original propeller. His finest hour came in November 1862, when he became the patent holder for the Revolving Battery Gun, a high-speed multi-barreled weapon that went down in history as the Gatling machine gun.
From mitrailleza to machine gun
The predecessor of Gatling's revolutionary invention is the French mitrailleuse, a manually-reloading multi-barreled artillery gun designed to fire multiple rocket launchers instead of buckshot. Its significant drawback is a limited sector of destruction (bullets fly, as you know, directly), which is completely uncharacteristic for buckshot.
French mitrailleza - the prototype of the Gatling machine gun
He made the barrels spin.
Gatling proposed an unusual scheme, where several barrels made a full circle in the process of firing. Loading was carried out by the method of free feeding of cartridges under the action of gravity from vertically arranged cassettes. The same principle was used to extract (eject) spent cartridges.
The peculiarity of the Gatling machine gun was that each of the barrels could make one shot, free from the cartridge case and reload. Barrels were rotated manually. Such a scheme had very important advantages - a high rate of fire up to 1000 rounds per minute and the ability to cool the barrel during the turn.
Carousel of Death
The baptism of fire of the new weapon took place on the battlefields of the Civil War in the ranks of the army of the northerners. It was then that they began to call it the "carousel of death." By the end of the 19th century, the Gatling machine gun had serious competitors - single-barreled machine guns, where the recoil energy of the barrel was used when firing. They were lighter, more maneuverable, easier to load and operate, which determined their leading role in the First World War.
The Second World War became a powerful springboard for the development of weapons. Single-barreled machine guns were no longer enough to equip jet aircraft and ground-based air defense systems. There was no need to reinvent the "bicycle" since Dr. Gatling had invented it long ago. The second wind came from the powerful electric motor of the General Electric company, which multiplied the rate of fire of the Gatling machine gun.
In the 50s and 60s, General Electric created a whole series of multi-barreled rapid-fire systems. Among them, it is worth highlighting the six-barreled cannon M61 "Vulcan" (cal. 20 mm). Its record rate of fire is up to 100 rounds per second. Continued the M134 Minigan series - a six-barreled machine gun (col. 7.62 mm), "distinguished" in Vietnam and GAU-8 / A - a powerful 30-mm aircraft cannon, with which A-10 attack aircraft turn armored targets into a sieve.
Our response to the American counterpart came from Tula from the outstanding Soviet gunsmiths V.P. Gryazev and A.G. Shipunov in the form of six-barreled aircraft guns GSh-6-23 and GSh-6-30. They differ from their overseas counterparts primarily by automation, driven by the energy of powder gases. GSh-6-30 found its application in the Navy, becoming an integral part of the shipborne air defense missile system "Kashtan", which has no analogues in the world. The main striking force of the complex is guided missiles, and the guns are designed mainly to finish off targets at close range. One of the latest developments of the Tula gunsmiths is the Duet twin gun mount based on the same GSh-6-30 with a rate of fire of up to 10, 000 rounds per minute.