Gatling, Dr Richard Jordan

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b. 12 September 1818 Winston, North Carolina, USA
d. 26 February 1903 New York, USA
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American weapons designer and metallurgist.
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Gatling first became interested in inventing when helping his father develop more-efficient agricultural machines, and as early as 1839 he developed a screw propeller for ships. Shortly after this he was struck down by smallpox, and it was this that caused him, when he recovered, to study medicine; he did this at the Ohio Medical College, graduating in 1850. The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 triggered an immediate interest in weaponry and he set about designing a rapid-fire weapon, which would both bear his name and be one of the forerunners of the machine gun: he completed his design of the Gatling Gun in 1862. His concept of using several barrels was not unique, with other inventors such as the Belgian Fafschamps and the Frenchman Reffye also employing it. However, Catling's gun was superior to the others in the soundness of its engineering. The rounds were fed through a hopper on top of the gun into the chambers of each barrel, and the barrels themselves were fixed in a cluster. An endless screw operated by a hand crank controlled the operation, opening the breech of each barrel in turn, enabling the round to drop into the chamber through a series of grooves, and then closing the breech and releasing the striker. In the face of fierce competition, the Gatling was adopted by the US Army in 1866, and many other armies followed suit. Although a version powered by an electric motor was introduced in 1893, the Gatling was gradually superseded by the fully automatic machine gun, first developed by Maxim. Even so, such was the excellence of the Gatling's mechanics that the concept was readopted by the Americans in the late 1950s and employed in such systems as the Vulcan air-defence gun and the airborne Minigun. Gatling's inventions did not end with his gun. In 1886 he developed a new steel and aluminium alloy and also experimented with the production of cast-steel cannon.
CM

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Gatling,Richard Jordan — Gat·ling (gătʹlĭng), Richard Jordan. 1818 1903. American firearms inventor of the first rapid firing gun (patented 1862). * * * …   Universalium

  • Gatling, Richard Jordan — ▪ American inventor born Sept. 12, 1818, Maney s Neck, N.C., U.S. died Feb. 26, 1903, New York, N.Y.       American inventor best known for his invention of the Gatling gun (q.v.), a crank operated, multibarrel machine gun, which he patented in… …   Universalium

  • GATLING, RICHARD JORDAN —    the inventor of the Gatling gun, born in Hertford County, N. Carolina, U.S.; he was bred to and graduated in medicine, but in 1849 settled in Indianapolis and engaged in land and railway speculation; his famous machine gun, capable of firing… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Richard Jordan Gatling — noun United States inventor of the first rapid firing gun (1818 1903) • Syn: ↑Gatling • Instance Hypernyms: ↑inventor, ↑discoverer, ↑artificer …   Useful english dictionary

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