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GUNS Magazine November 2010 - Page 32
™ • HOLT BODINSON • PHOTOS: JeFF JOHN • The US Armament Bulldog .45-70. atented in 1862, declared obsolete and scrapped by the US P military in 1911, rediscovered and transformed in the 1940s as the deadly answer to supersonic aerial gunnery, and now made GATliNG’S lEGACY once again as the model 1877 Bulldog, the Gatling gun’s comeback is unique in the annals of military ordnance. No less remarkable was the gun’s inventor, Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling, who believed his machine gun would shorten wars and save the lives of countless soldiers. Now returning to the stage as US Armament Corporation’s exacting copy of the Colt model 1877 Bulldog, the Gatling is cranking out a lot of lead, smoke and fun in the 21st century. drill that made him a virtual fortune. At age 28, he was afflicted with small pox. Recovering, he spent the next two years taking a medical degree at the Indiana Medical College, but his practice took second place to his inventive turn of mind. His future inventions would include a steam plow, a rotary plow, a cultivator for cotton plants, a lath-making machine, a hemp fiber separator, a distribution system for compressed air and, of course, his legacy, the Gatling gun. He wrote, “In 1861… I witnessed almost daily the departure of troops to the front and the return of the wounded, sick and dead… It occurred to me if I could invent a machine—a gun—which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle as a hundred, that it would, to a great extent, supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease be greatly diminished.” Unfortunately for mankind, it didn’t work out that way. thefrontsight(above),neatlydovetailedinto itsmount,isofbrass.Notetheburnmarks onthefrontofthebarrels.therearsight (below),offsettotherightoftheGatling,is graduatedto1,000yards. Born in 1818 in North Carolina, the son of a successful southern planter, Richard J. Gatling never stopped applying his mind to mechanical challenges for the next 85 years. By 16, he had invented a screw propeller, only to be informed by the Patent Office that Ericsson had filed his patent just weeks before Gatling’s application. By age 26, he had invented and marketed, on an international scale, a wheat The First Patented in 1862, Gatling’s first hand-cranked model looks remarkably like his last. It consisted of six, 58-caliber barrels rotating around a common axis and fed ammunition by a hopper. The ammunition consisted of steel tubes with a percussion nipple in one end that accepted standard 58-caliber paper cartridges. Six individual hammers rotated with the barrels. The hammers were cocked and fired by two incline planes in the breech. After the “cartridge” was fired, it dropped free of the gun as the theAmerican ArmamentBulldog Gatlingisperiod correctinevery detail—downeven tothecratesthe gunandtripod wereshippedin. barrel rotated further. The cyclic rate of the first model was 200 rounds per minute. The second model of 1862, used 58-caliber copper-cased rimfire cartridges inserted again into steel chamber tubes, and it was not until the Model of 1865 that Gatling perfected a reciprocating breech bolt that would load, fire, extract and eject self-contained cartridges. The Gatling was not formally adopted during the Civil War. The Navy requisitioned a few for the Mississippi Squadron, and there were some private sales to wealthy Union commanders. Strangely enough, three Gatling guns bristled from the windows and roof of the New York Times office building in July 1863 to defend the paper against anti-draft rioters who were on a rampage in New York City. No one knows how those Gatlings got there, but just the sight of them deterred the rioters from 32 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • NOVEMBER 2010