Principle Of Richard J Gatling

Light Wt. - A/C Development

M61 Vulcan
M61 Al, CHAG. and GAU-8/A Machine Guns

History oi Vulcan

At the close of World War II, it was realized by the U.S. Military that the new high speed jet fighter aircraft had changed the requirements for airborne guns. In air-to-air combat the time on-target was reduced to well below three seconds.

This meant, to be effective and to score air-to-air kills, new guns were needed to supply more projectiles on target in a shorter time. More short bursts were needed also in a shorter time requiring greater reliability and sustainability. Decreased time of projectile flight to target demanded higher muzzle velocities.

However, most military aircraft at this time were equipped with little more than modified ground weapons that were certainly imcompatible with the advent of the jet age.

The Navy and the Ordnancc Corp opened studies to attain new designs for more effective aerial guns. Contracts were signed with industry and universities to conduct conceptual gun design studies and to build and test fire development models of new high performance guns for air combat.

General Electric at that time was involved in providing armament systems to the Air Force for bomber defense using the M24A1 single barrel 20mm Machine Gun in dual mount turrets. General Electric also, as a result of this work, became aware of the need for more effective guns, and in 1946 was awarded a contract from the Springfield Armor}' based on General Electric'sproposal to modernize the Gatling Gun principle.

Richard J. Gatling's rotating, multiple barrel design, patented over three quarters of a century earlier in 1862, contained the promising features that could be modernized to obtain the new up-to-date needs of a very high firing rate with sustained, reliable fire power. In fact, in 1893 it was demonstrated in a very simple test that a Gatling Gun could be fired at up to 3000 spm using an electric motor and belt to drive the Gatling's crank.

This proved correct when in 1949 General Electric started testing the first model of its new Vulcan Guns. This gun was the T45 (Model A). It fired calibre .60 ammunition and fired at about 2500 shots per minute from its six barrels being driven by an electric motor.

Although this first gun was heavy and the firing rate was low, it provided technical data as a firing test bed for improved design and performance that was to follow.

The T45 proved again that the Gatling principle of rotary motion eliminated gun bolt buffers which caused extremely high impact, accelerations, and was the gun design of the future. The T45 proved that the earlier planned requirement of 6000 spm firing rate with greater parts life and fewer malfunctions were correct and could be attained. There were test firings of 10 guns that included flight tests on an

F-94 at Eglin Air Force Base and firings at the Springfield Armory, at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

The problems that were recognized and had to be refined included excessive weight, high drive power to accelerate the gun to full rate in 0.4 seconds, ammunition capability for firing electrical primers, weak ammunition belts, and links, larger storage containers, barrel cluster integrity and heating, gun clearing after each burst, gun feeding and case ejection and gun bolt lock stiffness.

A new contract was signed with General Electric to work out these problems with a new design gun. The new gun was the T171E1 callcd the Model C. It had six barrels and fired 20mm ammunition at about 4000 spm. It weighed 365 pounds, dowrn from 426 pounds of the T45.

From 1953 to 1955 there were thirty-three T171E1 guns produced and tested at GE and the government testing agencies. Over 700,000 test shots were fired, establishing a reliability of 9000 shots per malfunction, and a parts replacement schedule at 12,000 shots fired.

Design work also started on the next model, the T171E2 (Model D). Weight was reduced to 262

20mm Vulcan Rifle
20mm Vulcan Rifle
Model D Vulcan

pounds, number of gun parts reduced from 576 (Model C) to 448; and, the firing rate was increased to 6000 spm. This gun, the T171E2 was considered the production design, and was the forerunner of the

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