Gatling Gun, Model 1883, Ten-Barrel, Cal. .45, with Accles Feed Drum.[Vous devez être inscrit et connecté pour voir cette image][Vous devez être inscrit et connecté pour voir cette image]
The 37 years that Gatling lived, following the official adoption of his gun by the United States, were spent as head of the Gatling Gun Co. (a section of Colt's Patent Fire Arms Co., Hartford, Conn.), where he constantly sought to keep the weapon ready to meet changing conditions.
In 1871 Gatling patented his first improvement on the gun, namely, the introduction of a center-fire firing pin. In the next year he was granted a patent on general improvements allowing him to reduce the size and weight of the gun. This patent covered most of the features of his caliber .45 camel gun, so called because it could be easily transported on mules, horses, or camels, and was useful in mountainous desert countries. The gun had 10 barrels, weighed 125 pounds, and fired at a rate of 600 rounds per minute. An automatic traversing mechanism was described, but not claimed in this patent. The patent also shows an alteration in the breech housing to facilitate the use of the drum-type gravity feeder. The feeders came in two sizes, holding 200 and 400 rounds. The heavy guns were equipped with two of the large drums.
In 1873 Gatling patented his automatic traversing mechanism. The same year he began experimenting with a five-barrel model with a direct-drive crank in the rear replacing the side crank with reduction gears.
In 1875 the Springfield Armory issued a pamphlet with field instructions for maintenance and use of the weapon. In this handbook, under the heading Precautions, it was noted that the headspace of the gun was customarily adjusted to the ammunition to be used before being issued to the service. In the event this critical measurement was changed; through use or disassembly, and the weapon started separating brass from excessive headspace, a simple field adjustment could put it back in safe operation. By removing the front cover, and tightening the adjusting screw on the front of the main shaft, headspace could be shortened, allowing a minimum clearance for freedom of action between rotating barrels and breechblock. If a case should rupture during firing, or a block should fail on any barrel, there came as standard equipment with every gun a steel insert that would prevent an attempt to feed the fouled chamber and eliminate jams, while permitting the remaining chambers to function.
The same handbook cautioned the man in the field to limit bursts to 10 minutes, or 4,000 rounds. It had been observed that a burst of this duration was sufficient, by color test, to heat the barrels to a point where ammunition in the feed might be exploded from contact with the hot mechanism.
In 1876 the Gatling gun received the only award for machine guns at the International Exhibition in Philadelphia. The gun shown there was a 5-barrel one using a caliber .45 infantry rifle cartridge. It had a traversing mechanism that, at the choice of the gunner, could either fire at a single target or spread its field of fire automatically over a large lateral area. The weight of this gun was a little over 90 pounds. It fired sustained bursts at 700 rounds per minute and short bursts at 1,000 rounds per minute. At this time the Colt Co. was also making a 10-barrel model with all the improvements of the smaller gun.
By 1880 Gatling was getting fire at a rate of 1,200 rounds per minute from his light gun. Three years later, James G. Accles, an employee of the Gatling firm, patented what has since been known as the Accles feed. This made the weapon even more reliable, and is the grandfather of the drum feed we know today.
In 1886 Gatling developed a new type of gun alloy, composed of steel and aluminum, which was successfully adapted to gun manufacture. In this case, like other inventors of the era, Gatling was forced by popular demand into a field in which he had no business.[Vous devez être inscrit et connecté pour voir ce lien]