Armstrong Mitchell Gatling gun with 10 barrels within brass jacket, made in 1884.

The Gatling gun is an semi-automatic early machine gun, apparently first used in combat in the American Civil War. According to Bill Smith in 'Armstrong Siddeley Motors' (Veloce Publishing Ltd, 2006), 'In 1870 Sir W.G. Armstrong & Co built the American-designed Gatling gun under licence...'

Armstrong had been established in 1847 by William G. Armstrong as an engineering works on Tyneside, the manufacturer was keen to develop international standing and to sell weapons to defence forces in the Australian Colonies. It entered an exhibit of 'war-like material' in the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880, for which it won a gold medal now held by Museum Victoria (NU 32587). The firm had previously won a gold medal at the Sydney exhibition in 1879 for the same exhibit. Armstrong eventually was merged several times, and today operates as Vickers Defence Systems. The Melbourne International Exhibition ran from 1 October 1880 to 30 April 1881.

According to the British Royal Armouries, the Gatling gun shoots a large number of bullets quickly, but unlike modern machine guns a crank handle has to be operated by hand to keep the gun firing. 'The machine gun can be counted among the most important technologies of the past 100 years. It set the brutal, unrelenting tone of World Wars I and II. With a machine gun a single soldier could fire hundreds of bullets every minute, decimating entire units. Heavy battle equipment such as tanks had to be developed to withstand this sort of barrage.'

Physical Description

Gun with 10 barrels and brass jacket. Mounted in yoke towards rear of barrel, allowing for vertical adjustment. A semi-circular blade beneath the pivot point maintains alignment during movement. A wooden handle at the rear would be used for pivoting the gun.

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