The Machine Gun

Abn Machine Gun Repeating WeaponsWeapons Franco Prussian War

De Reffye Mitrailleuse, a 25 Barreled Version as Modified by the French Ordnance Oliicer.

German arms supremacy, lie felt the morale of the Frenc h army had been endangered by the achievements of the Prussians with their Xund nadelgewehr (needle gun), and required some strong stimulus to regain prestige. His attention had been called to the Catling gun, but national pride rebelled at accepting a foreign weapon. However, when he saw the weapon on exhibit at the Paris World's Fair of 18G7, he had it withdrawn to Versailles to be tested in his presence. Presumably this weapon embodied Calling's 1865 improvements, but the French ammunition was of inferior design. The tests were unimpressive; and the Montigny mitrailleuse, already adopted, continued to be ordered as the standard French equipment, 190 being in service at the outbreak of hostilities 3 years later.

The Franco-Prussian War proved the downfall of the weapon. Too many separate opera tions needed to be done by hand, and in se-

quence, any one of which, if neglected, would prevent the gun from firing. The firing crank must be reversed after the loading crank lias pulled back the breech, otherwise the gun would not sear. The loading crank must then close the breech after the replacement of the loading plate willi discharged cases by one filled with complete rounds. Where the Gatling depended on steady-rotation of a single crank, its French competitor required constantly changing operations: forward and reverse rotation of two separate cranks, and a pause while the loader removed and replaced the loading plate between each 25 shots. Contemporary foreign writers commented on this complexity and marveled that the French, who usually insisted on simplicity above all else in their guns, should have adopted such a weapon.

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