Military Review

The Gatling scheme in modern times


M61A2 cannon in aircraft performance. Photo Wikimedia Commons

During the first half of the XX century. the development of artillery and rifle systems with a rotating block of barrels proceeded extremely slowly and without real results. However, in the post-war period, this architecture attracted attention again, and new models appeared, which eventually managed to enter service. In the fifties in stories multi-barrel systems began a new era that continues to this day.

For aviation and not only

Analysis of the results of combat use aviation during the Second World War, he showed the need to create cannons and machine guns with an increased rate of fire. To this end, in 1946, the US Army Air Force launched a new project, codenamed Vulcan. His goal was to create a small-caliber gun with the highest possible performance.

A curious and almost obvious solution suggested weapons a division of General Electric. Provided for the manufacture of a 15-mm six-barreled machine gun with an electric drive of all mechanisms. The experienced "Vulcan" with the T45 index was manufactured and tested in 1949. At first, the machine gun showed a rate of fire of up to 2500 rounds per minute, and soon it was doubled. However, this weapon did not suit the customer due to its low firepower, limited by the caliber.

GAU-8 gun in the fuselage of A-10 aircraft. Photo USAF

In 1952, General Electric completed development and tested two new cannons based on the T45. One of them, the T171, used a 20x102 mm unitary projectile. The characteristics of such a complex turned out to be optimal, and the customer ordered to continue the development. Work continued for several more years, and in 1959 a new weapon entered service under the name M61 Vulcan.

"Volcanoes" of all versions, including experimental ones, were built according to the classic Gatling scheme with some modern innovations. The basis of the gun was a rotating block of six barrels, equipped with their own bolts and an electric trigger. An external drive was used, first electric and then hydraulic.

In the first modification of the M61, tape ammunition was used. However, in the future, it was abandoned in favor of the original linkless system - such a gun was named M61A1. In the recent past, a modification of the M61A2 was created, featuring a lightweight design. Due to the introduction of new components, the rate of fire was brought to 6-6,6 thousand rds / min.

The M61 and its modifications have been used on a variety of US-designed aircraft and helicopters, both in-line and suspended installations. For installation on ground platforms, a modification of the GAU-4 or M130 cannon was developed. Its design provided for a gas engine, which made it possible to rotate the barrels without an external source of energy. The M61A1 is the main component of the Mk 15 Phalanx anti-aircraft system for fleet... You should also remember the M197 cannon - a three-barreled version of the Vulcan with a reduced rate of fire and recoil, intended for use on helicopters.

M197 automatic cannon on AH-1 helicopter. Photo Wikimedia Commons

In the seventies, the GAU-61 Avenger became a direct development of the M8. This seven-barreled 30-mm gun was developed by GE for installation on the promising AX attack aircraft. As before, the operation of the cannon was provided by a hydraulic drive and linkless means of feeding projectiles. At the same time, significant changes of various kinds were made to the design, determined taking into account the operation of previous samples.

Later, on the basis of GAU-8, several new guns of various calibers were developed, incl. with a reduced number of trunks. Also, this gun became the basis for anti-aircraft artillery systems. The Avenger cannon and products based on it are in one form or another in service with several countries.

M61, GAU-8 and their derivatives are still actively used in the United States and other countries and are unlikely to be removed from service in the foreseeable future. A successful combination of all the main characteristics contributes to the continuation of service. The basis for this success was the use of new technologies and materials. In addition, it should be noted an effective external drive and a successful ammunition system, which successfully complemented the Gatling scheme.

After the break

In the mid-forties in the USSR, work continued on pre-war projects of multi-barreled systems, but they were soon stopped due to limited capabilities and lack of obvious advantages. New projects of this kind were launched in our country only in the early sixties, after reports of American successes.

The AK-630 launcher is firing. Photo Wikimedia Commons

In 1963, the creation of the shipborne artillery mount AK-630 began. The Tula TsKIB SOO became the lead developer, the instrument was designed at the Instrument Design Bureau. The main component of the installation was the 30-mm six-barreled machine gun AO-18. It was a traditional Gatling gun with its own gas engine to drive the barrels. A split-link ammunition belt system was used. The barrel block was closed with a casing, inside which coolant circulated.

AK-630 used a 30x165 mm projectile and could show a rate of fire up to 5 thousand rds / min. Bursts of hundreds of shots were allowed, after which a break was required for cooling. The AK-630 units were mounted on a variety of types of ships and boats of all major classes and were intended to protect against air or surface threats. Many carriers of the AK-630 are still in service.

On the basis of AO-18 / AK-630, a number of guns for various purposes were created. Thus, the AK-306 complex equipped with an AO-18P assault rifle with an electric drive is intended for installation on low-displacement platforms. The rate of fire is limited to 1 thousand rds / min, which made it possible to abandon the means of cooling. An interesting development is the AK-630M-2 "Duet" mount, equipped with two rapid-firing 30-mm cannons. In the mid-seventies, the GSh-6-23 aircraft gun was adopted - a revised version of the AO-18 for the 23x115 mm projectile.

Lightweight AK-306 mount, in the background the "full-size" AK-630. Photo

Domestic multi-barreled guns use the classic Gatling scheme with separate bolts and triggers. At the same time, their most important feature is the presence of their own gas engine and means of preliminary promotion of the barrel block. This to some extent complicates and makes the design heavier, but provides greater autonomy and reduces the requirements for the carrier. In general, this approach fully justified itself and provided the solution to the assigned engineering problems.

Return to machine guns

In 1960, General Electric began testing another version of the M61 cannon. This time, the design was reduced to use a 7,62x51 mm NATO rifle cartridge. A few years later, such a machine gun entered service with several types of troops. Best known for its army designation M134 and the nickname Minigun. The M134 can be mounted on land, sea and aircraft platforms, on turrets or as a container. In this case, the body of the machine gun does not undergo any changes.

"Minigun" is a smaller version of the M61 and largely repeats its design. A block of six barrels with their own locks is used. The work of the mechanisms is provided by an electric motor with adjustable rotation speed; maximum rate of fire - 6 thousand rds / min. For power, a linkless magazine or tape is used in combination with a special device that removes the links before feeding the cartridge to the machine gun.

Machine gun GAU-17A (naval version of M134) on a boat. Photo by US Navy

Soon, the XM214 Microgun machine gun was developed for the low-pulse cartridge 5,56x45 mm, intended for use by the infantry. He used an electric drive powered by a built-in battery and received cartridges from a tape. This machine gun did not live up to expectations, which is why it did not go into a large series and did not enter service.

Since the early eighties, General Dynamics has been producing the GAU-19 machine gun. It uses a 12,7x99 mm cartridge and can be equipped with a block with three or six barrels. Shooting is provided by an electric motor; cartridges are fed by a belt or a linkless system. In 2010, the GAU-19 / B modification was presented, which, with the same characteristics, has a lower mass.

In 1968, work began on Soviet multi-barreled machine guns. Their result was the emergence and adoption of two samples at once - GShG-7,62 chambered for 7,62x54 mm R and large-caliber YakB-12,7 (12,7x108 mm). Both products were intended for promising combat helicopters, which were to be used as built-in and suspended weapons.

The GSHG-7,62 machine gun was developed by the Tula KBP and is a four-barreled system with a gas engine that rotates the barrels and a mechanical descent. With the help of a linkless or tape feed, a rate of fire is provided up to 6 thousand rds / min. Burst length - up to 1 thousand rds.

Machine gun GShG-7,62 without installation and power supply system. Photo Wikimedia Commons

The large-caliber YakB-12,7 was also created in the KBP and has a similar design; the differences are mainly due to the use of a more powerful cartridge. The machine gun with four barrels and a gas engine develops a rate of fire of up to 4,5 rds / min. At the same time, the weapons of the early series showed insufficient reliability. It was susceptible to dirt and jamming after several hundred rounds. Subsequently, the YakBYu-12,7 machine gun was created, which was distinguished by greater reliability and a rate of fire of up to 5 thousand rds / min.

It should be noted that the new Gatling machine guns were created not only in the USA and the USSR, but also in other countries. For example, in recent years, China has been demonstrating its developments in this area at exhibitions. However, no fundamentally new solutions and radical innovations are being observed. All modern projects of this kind are based on fairly old ideas.

Reasons for success

At the beginning of the XX century. weapons of the Gatling scheme left the scene for several decades, but later returned and firmly established themselves in the leading armies. His success was led by a successful combination of various factors - from the capabilities of gunsmiths to the needs of the military.

YakB-12,7 (foreground) and improved YakBYu-12,7. Photo

Already in the forties, there was a need for aircraft guns with an increased rate of fire, and soon this led to the appearance of the M61 Vulcan gun. The rapid development of aviation and weapons of destruction led to the need to develop air defense systems - and in this area, the Gatling scheme also turned out to be very useful. Later, not only small-caliber guns, but also machine guns showed their potential.

The development of new barrel alloys capable of withstanding increased thermal loads contributed to the emergence of new workable samples. In addition, in the middle of the last century, sufficiently compact, powerful and economical electric motors and alternative drives appeared. Finally, the characteristics of potential carriers have increased, which made it possible to install not the easiest weapons with powerful recoil.

In connection with the development of military technology, rapid-fire systems of various kinds remain relevant, and it can be assumed that the M61 or AO-18 cannons, as well as the M134 machine guns or their successors, will retain their place in the troops. They will have to struggle with new goals, but the principles of work will remain the same - and suitable for solving the assigned tasks.
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  1. Sergey_G_M
    Sergey_G_M 4 November 2020 05: 31 New
    An interesting series of articles about the gatling system.
    By the way, from the gatling scheme, we can say that the scheme of revolver guns appeared.
    Cannons - German MG 213, French DEFA 550, English ADEN 30 and our P-23, by the way is also a very interesting topic wink
    1. 3danimal
      3danimal 7 November 2020 16: 00 New
      Revolving lighter (fewer barrels smile ), but has a lower rate of fire for the same reason.
      1. Sergey_G_M
        Sergey_G_M 7 November 2020 21: 42 New
        Depends on the chambering and extraction scheme, there are revolving systems with this scheme like a gatling - in such a system there will be a drawback in limiting the length of the queue due to the faster overheating of the barrel and the pause for its cooling, the rate of fire will be the same (although if you meant practical rate of fire, then yes here you are absolutely right it will fall wink ).
        1. 3danimal
          3danimal 7 November 2020 22: 11 New
          Barrel wear, again a lot more (it is one). The optimal rate of fire is 500-1000 rounds / s per barrel.
  2. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I 4 November 2020 08: 03 New
    For example, in recent years, China has been demonstrating its developments in this area at exhibitions. Well, yeah ... if you look at their 11-barreled "devices", it hardly seems a little ...
    Later, on the basis of GAU-8, several new guns of various calibers were developed, incl. with a reduced number of trunks. I remember that the Americans tested 5-barreled 35-mm and 4-barreled (?) 40-mm artillery mounts ...
  3. sergo1914
    sergo1914 4 November 2020 08: 12 New
    I had a chance to shoot from the "Broadsword". Itite power!
  4. Maki maki
    Maki maki 4 November 2020 08: 31 New
    Thank you for the article hi
    pc Without the Gatling scheme, such a rate of fire of 5000 rpm would be difficult to achieve.
  5. Mister X
    Mister X 4 November 2020 09: 04 New
    XM214 Microgun machine gun chambered for the low-impulse cartridge 5,56x45 mm

    did not live up to expectations, which is why it did not go into a large series and did not enter service.
    Author: Kirill Ryabov

    There was information that it was finalized, and soon it will go into service.
    At the 2019 exhibition, it was designated XM556 Microgun.
    The manufacturer is not General Electric, and not Dillon Aero, but Empty Shell LLC
    Manufacturer's website
    1. 3danimal
      3danimal 7 November 2020 16: 24 New
      Empty Shell XM556 is an interesting weapon and weighs only 6-7 kg, with a very modest size.
      As for the armament of the infantrymen, there are questions: how to shoot the machine gunner from it (aiming)? Say, lying down, with bipods? There is no butt, external battery power (and decent power is needed) - this means plus 0,5-1 kg to the mass. That is, in total - 7-8 kg, which is more than that of the M-249 (6,5 kg).
      (By the way, the latter is considered very problematic and is being considered for replacement).
      On the "HMMWV" or "Oshkosh L-ATV, 30kg M-134 will be more optimal, there is noticeably greater effective range and firepower (we are talking about" gatlings "), or you can put a 3-barrel 12,7mm GAU-19 smile
  6. Constanty
    Constanty 4 November 2020 09: 45 New
    Many countries produce multi-barreled Gatling weapons.
    One example is the Polish four-barreled 12,7 mm WLKM with a rate of fire of 3600 rounds per minute.

    1. Mister X
      Mister X 4 November 2020 22: 21 New
      Quote: Constanty
      Polish four-barreled 12,7 mm WLKM

      There was also an American 3-barreled GAU-19 (also General Electric)

      and the Soviet YakB-12,7, which was installed on Mi-24 helicopters

  7. bk0010
    bk0010 4 November 2020 10: 37 New
    Bursts of hundreds of shots were allowed, after which a break was required to cool
    The cooling system of the AK-630 does not cope or what?
    1. Brylevsky
      Brylevsky 4 November 2020 16: 01 New
      The cooling system of the AK-630 does not cope or what?

      Without liquid cooling, this gun would not have fired hundreds of shots. A break of 7 and 15 seconds is needed in order for the coolant (in summer - water, in winter - antifreeze) did not boil.
      1. Lexus
        Lexus 4 November 2020 21: 59 New
        Colleague hi,
        this is a payment for work on the principle of removing a part of the powder gases.
  8. A. Privalov
    A. Privalov 4 November 2020 11: 59 New
    F-35 Lightning - GAU-22 Equalizer 25 mm
  9. Undecim
    Undecim 4 November 2020 12: 14 New
    Analysis of the results of the combat employment of aviation during the Second World War showed the need to create cannons and machine guns with an increased rate of fire. To this end, in 1946, the US Army Air Force launched a new project, codenamed Vulcan. His goal was to create a small-caliber gun with the highest possible performance.
    A curious and almost obvious solution was proposed by the weapons division of General Electric.

    The need to increase the rate of fire of aircraft cannons and machine guns to increase the mass of a second salvo was realized long before the Second World War.
    As for rotary cannons and machine guns, their creation was not caused by the experience of the Second World War, but by the emergence of jet aircraft and, accordingly, an increase in aircraft speeds.
    The US Army Air Force did not launch the Vulcan project. The Air Force issued a task to General Electric to create an aviation rapid-fire cannon. The project of this gun was designated by General Electric as Vulcan.
  10. cat Rusich
    cat Rusich 4 November 2020 13: 34 New
    There were such machine guns ...
    machine gun HIVAP
    Machine gun HIVAP - 8 smooth barrels
    cartridge 7,87mm for HIVAP
    Triangular cartridge "Traund" for the HIVAP 7,87mm machine gun.
    cartridge for HIVAP
    Machine gun HIVAP - 30 rounds per minute, TRW engineers claim that it can be twice as fast ...
    1. Sergey_G_M
      Sergey_G_M 4 November 2020 15: 15 New
      A very strange bullet, why is it like that? The cartridge shows that it performs the function of a chamber, i.e. shooting is conducted without chambering and extraction.
      As I understand it, the shooting is carried out from the lower and upper barrel, i.e. 2 shots per revolution, 30000/60/2 we get 250 rpm, well, I don’t know how quickly the barrel block can spin up so much, hence I wonder how monstrous in power the drive is needed for this machine gun (in the photo, as I understood the machine gun without a drive)
  11. Alexander Naydenov
    Alexander Naydenov 4 November 2020 16: 27 New
    what nonsense ... from the gatling system there is nothing but the idea of ​​using multiple barrels, although gatling was not a pioneer in this.
  12. Doctor Evil
    Doctor Evil 4 November 2020 17: 17 New
    The Spaniards thought and abandoned the Gatling system:
    1. SovAr238A
      SovAr238A 9 November 2020 16: 57 New
      Quote: Dr. Evil
      The Spaniards thought and abandoned the Gatling system:

      And fools ...
      For all the real rate of fire is 1400 rounds per minute.
      Real ammunition - 700 rounds.
      Meroka is capable of shooting down, ideally, no more than 2 anti-ship missiles.

      And fso ...

      For the rest, she has no rate of fire. no ammunition.

      Meroka is part of Franco's project for his armaments.

      And then. that the reliability of the trunks is supposedly higher, simply by virtue of their number ...
      So this reliability drops tenfold due to the super-unreliable device of the mechanism for distributing cartridges among the barrel blocks ...

      This shit is your Meroka really
  13. Saxahorse
    Saxahorse 4 November 2020 21: 28 New
    The review turned out to be quite good, thanks to the author!

    However, there is a feeling that the rate of fire of the Gatling scheme is not in demand today. The extremely low probability of hitting, even with hundreds of shots, makes it more appropriate to rely on a guided, high-precision weapon. The same KAZ is not a drop of gatling. Either a guided projectile or buckshot at least.

    The only plus of multi-barrels today is IMHO improved barrel cooling, which is essential for a large caliber. But all sorts of means of infantry motorization reduce the requirements for the weight of the weapon. In general, the very place for multi-barrels today, these are all sorts of carts, buggies and similar mobile units.
    1. Oleg Bykov
      Oleg Bykov 5 November 2020 09: 31 New
      It is not intended for sniper shooting, which will not work. And in terms of the affected area, it is similar to buckshot due to the rate of fire, the kinetic energy is still greater and, accordingly, the range of damage.
    2. dokusib
      dokusib 6 November 2020 02: 01 New
      The problem with the Gatling system is not low accuracy. Its disadvantage directly follows from its dignity, it is just a wild expense of ammunition. Where it is justified, and this is aviation and air defense, the system thrives, and where it does not give a special advantage to Gatling, no one is interested. Because feeding the monster is, firstly, expensive, and secondly, logistically difficult. How much does a couple of thousand cartridges weigh 7,62 or 5,56? And it all flies away in less than a second. What is the use of such a weapon in a combined arms battle?
      1. Saxahorse
        Saxahorse 6 November 2020 22: 04 New
        Quote: dokusib
        Where it is justified, and this is aviation and air defense, the system thrives,

        The fact of the matter is that it has not flourished for a long time. There are no longer targets for Gatling in air defense. Il-2 type attack aircraft have not been used for a long time, and if some Toucans fly so exclusively against insurgents, whose DShKs have the upper hand in their air defense capabilities. And all sorts of Su-35 / F-35 strive from a dozen or even two dozen kilometers to shmalnu something. And the gatlings, as it turned out, simply do not hit the rockets, a small target for them. They can land all of their 2000 shells with zero result.

        So the scheme begins to be forgotten .. It does not work today. Even at the Shells, they already offer to throw out the trunks, they have never helped .. But in the subject of small missiles and vice versa, autocannons 30-57 mm with shrapnel. There are a hundred or three balls in each shell, but with programmable detonation.
    3. 3danimal
      3danimal 7 November 2020 16: 31 New
      Extremely low hit probability even with hundreds of shots

      Are you talking about handheld or bipod shooting?
      They shoot very accurately from the M-134 machine and from the CIWS “Phalanx” platform. By analogy: compare shooting from "Kord" with bipod and machine.
      1. Saxahorse
        Saxahorse 7 November 2020 20: 18 New
        I don’t know who from “Phalanx” shot handheld .. I would like to see wassat

        But speaking of low accuracy, I meant exactly Phalanx, I saw the scatter table just for her. One hit from 100-150 shells from 1000 meters with perfect aiming. There is no ideal guidance, and therefore 2000 rounds are regularly not enough even for one missile hit.
        1. 3danimal
          3danimal 7 November 2020 22: 09 New
          One hit from 100-150 shells from 1000 meters with perfect aiming.

          You are exaggerating.
          But the anti-ship missile (including subsonic) is a very difficult target. There are many videos where you can see how the Phalanx is quite heaped the track and cut off the target.
          1. Saxahorse
            Saxahorse 8 November 2020 18: 23 New
            Quote: 3danimal
            There are many videos where you can see how Phalanx is quite heaped the track and cut off the target.

            Just look at the graphs:

            This data is for Phalanx.
            1. SovAr238A
              SovAr238A 9 November 2020 18: 54 New
              Quote: Saxahorse

              This data is for Phalanx.

              But they, these data give almost 99% of the probability of hitting a target in the form of a Yagarpun missile, Exoset in a burst of 4 seconds ...

              This is true. by the way...
              1. Saxahorse
                Saxahorse 9 November 2020 22: 45 New
                Quote: SovAr238A
                with a queue of 4 seconds ...

                Yes, but an ordinary anti-ship missile flies 1000 meters in 3 seconds. A supersonic type Onyx or Brahmos in 1.5 seconds.
  14. alexgall2013
    alexgall2013 5 November 2020 00: 08 New
    Americans always use an electric drive for their multi-barrel systems, Soviet and Russian developments - only the removal of powder gases, I wonder why? Is the battery bad? Or, after all, the culture of production and processing of materials among amers is higher (the strength of the powder gases will equalize any burrs, but for an electric drive, the surface cleanliness already matters)?
    And the YakB-12,7 is generally a freak with a wild number of failures, after a third of the shot ammunition, it began to shoot "approximately in that direction."
    PS I'm not "amerophile" at all, but to the quality of processing and production before them - as to the moon on a tractor
    1. Oleg Bykov
      Oleg Bykov 5 November 2020 00: 17 New
      So as not to bother with batteries and electrical circuits))) Autonomy, reliability, combat readiness! And in terms of technology and production culture, this level is in no way lower.
    2. gross kaput
      gross kaput 5 November 2020 22: 43 New
      Quote: alexgall2013
      PS I'm not "amerophile" at all, but to the quality of processing and production before them - as to the moon on a tractor

      Well, as I understand it, you could compare the manufacturing quality of that YAKB and M61 live? Or are you theorizing? And in general, how many American army shooters have you ever seen and disassembled personally? Let me guess - none laughing I can't boast of a large number of American shooters that fell into my hands, but I happened to disassemble something - M14, M16A2 and Colt 1911A1 - stories about some kind of super duper quality of mass army shooters breaks completely, you just have to disassemble the Colt government or M16 - the quality of the fit and interchangeability does not differ from domestic AKM or pre / post-war TT. If we compare it with the PPSh, especially the most stressful period of the 42nd year, or with the AVT of military production, then without a doubt the quality of processing of American army shooters is better, but the production of peacetime is about the same - because the introductory ones are the same - cheap, massively, as utilitarian as possible.
      Let's just say that the quality of civilian shooters of the middle price segment, too, does not fight very well with stories about super made in YUSA, the same Ruger mini 30 in a stainless steel with a very pleasant external processing had a terrible descent - heavy and with rubbing - the reason is that at the finish They saved the parts of the USA - it looks shiny, shoots - well, okay, but those who are not satisfied with the characteristics of the descent then either pay the gunsmith or buy custom parts for an American penny. Remington 700 policeman - with all the external gloss and massiveness, he introduced into a stupor the quality of processing of the bolt group and, again, the trigger.
      There is simply no need to repeat the stamps of the times of the USSR - everything is super American and ours is all filed out of the rail, believe me there are also enough shooters with the signature "after purchase, file with a file."
    3. Momotomba
      Momotomba 6 November 2020 16: 52 New
      Quote: alexgall2013
      surface finish already matters for the electric drive)?

      Please explain which surface of the electric drive needs to be treated better than the surfaces of the powder motor.
    4. 3danimal
      3danimal 7 November 2020 16: 33 New
      Even externally, the 12,7mm systems are different. We have always wanted (could) be simpler and cheaper.
  15. Arthur 85
    Arthur 85 5 November 2020 08: 29 New
    By the way, but someone knows: after all, a rotating block of barrels should have a bullet / projectile drift in the direction of rotation? And if on the AK 630 this can somehow be compensated by the aiming angle, then on the attack aircraft the cannon is embedded in the plane. He needs to shoot not at the target, but a little to the side ... Or what?
    1. merkava-2bet
      merkava-2bet 5 November 2020 23: 38 New
      The rifled barrel bore is opposite to the rotation of the barrel block, in Russian, if the barrel block rotates clockwise clockwise, then the shells counterclockwise clockwise.
    2. 3danimal
      3danimal 7 November 2020 16: 34 New
      The projectile already blows away due to rotation (friction against the air). The cannon is shot on the ground before taking off.
  16. Incvizitor
    Incvizitor 9 November 2020 02: 29 New
    I remember that video from Syria with gatling and now I think, is it he?