By: Warren Gray

“I could invent a machine, a gun, which could…enable
one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred.”

— Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling, 1877.

In April 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, Doctor Richard Jordan Gatling, age 42, of Maney’s Neck (Hertford County), North Carolina, was living in Indianapolis, Indiana. Although he was a medical doctor, since 1850, he never practiced medicine, and was more interested in a career as an inventor. He had already invented a rice-sowing machine and a wheat drill, that had revolutionized the agricultural system. Gatling invented the famous Gatling Gun after noticing that more far soldiers (83%) were lost to disease than to gunshots and believing that if firearms were more efficient and labor-saving, massive armies exposed to battle and disease would “be greatly diminished” in size, thereby reducing the number of battlefield deaths. Gatling incorrectly felt that his new weapon would demonstrate the folly and futility of war.

Gatling’s six-barrel invention was actually based upon the same concept as his successful, 1855 seed planter, and the Gatling Gun Company was founded in Indianapolis in 1862 to market the new, patented weapon, which was initially difficult because a factory fire destroyed the first six production guns in December 1862. Also, Gatling was accused of being a “Copperhead” (essentially, an anti-war Democrat, favoring a peace settlement with the Confederacy) because of his North Carolina roots.

The Gatling Gun was a towed field weapon with wagon wheels and multiple barrels (usually six to 10) to reduce overheating, and was hand-cranked and gravity-fed with loose ammunition, so it was prone to jamming. Initially, its rate of fire was 200 rounds per minute (rpm), or 3.3 rounds per second of .58-caliber, rimfire ammunition, which was considered very fast at the time, allowing a rapid and continuous rate of fire.

This new weapon was first used by Union forces during the Civil War, with 12 guns (sold for $1,000 each, or $15k in 2020 dollars) seeing action under General Benjamin F. Butler during the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia, in May 1864, while eight more were fitted on gunboats. The Gatling Gun was not officially accepted by the U.S. Army, however, until 1866. Just four years later, Richard Gatling sold the patents for his gun to Colt Arms Company, which produced the remainder of the future models.

Colt Gatling Guns were produced in various calibers, including .50-70, 1-inch, .42 caliber, .45-70, and .30 Army (.30-40 Krag), with some converted to .30-03 Springfield, and .30-06, and having either six or 10 barrels. New models were created in 1874, 1875, 1876, 1877 (Bulldog), 1879, 1881, 1883, 1889, 1890, 1893, 1895, 1900, and 1903, the year that Dr. Gatling died in New York City. Beginning with the M1893, Gating Guns were electrically powered, and no longer hand-cranked.

These weapons saw some action during the Indian Wars of the 1870s, but George Armstrong Custer left three Model 1866s behind in North Dakota during his fateful expedition to the Little Bighorn River. There were limited, foreign sales, including one to the Argentine Army in 1867, dozens to the Peruvian Navy in 1879, 400 to Imperial Russia to combat the Turkmen cavalry, and extensive use by the British Army and Royal Navy from 1873 to 1882, but especially during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

Anyone who has seen the famous, 1964 epic war film, “Zulu,” starring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine, can readily visual the massed, human-wave attacks by fierce, Zulu warriors. The very famous Battle of Rorke’s Drift, in particular, on January 22-23, 1879, resulted in the award of 11 Victoria Crosses, Britain’s highest decoration for valor, and the most ever received for a single action by one regiment. The valiant defenders, who were literally outnumbered by 40 to one, held fast and killed more than 20 Zulu warriors for each British soldier killed in action.

As a direct result of this type of human-wave attack, the British forces later deployed a pair of Gatling Guns in the Battle of Ulundi on July 4, 1879, which was the Zulu capital at the time. A half-hour of concentrated fire from these deadly weapons at the center of the British lines into frontal charges by the Zulu warriors inflicted serious casualties, and contributed to this final, British victory that ended the war.

The Gatling Gun’s greatest and most successful combat deployment took place during the Spanish-American War, on July 1, 1898, when a battery of three Colt M1895 10-barrel Gatlings in .30-40 Krag, commanded by Lieutenant John Henry “Gatling Gun” Parker, provided extensive, suppressive fire against the determined Spanish defenders at San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill, Cuba, from 600 yards away, during the famous, uphill charges of Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and his “Rough Riders.”

This Gatling Gun detachment fired a total of 18,000 rounds in just eight and a half minutes, wreaking terrible carnage. The guns became so hot that their barrels glowed red, and a captured, Spanish officer said that, “It was terrible when your guns opened, always.” Parker’s own after-action report stated that, “The guns were pushed right up in the hottest place there was in the battlefield…at the most-critical point in the battle…(and) so successfully subdued the Spanish fire that from that time to the capture of the practically-impregnable position was only eight and a half minutes.”

But despite its successes, the weapon’s weight and cumbersome artillery carriage hindered its mobility with infantry forces, especially over difficult terrain, and it was declared obsolete and retired by the U.S. Army in 1911 after lighter, cheaper, recoil-and-gas-operated machine guns came into use.

During the First World War, the Imperial German Empire developed the externall powered, Fokker-Leimberger 12-barrel machine gun in 7.92x57mm Mauser, which was claimed to fire 7,200 rpm (120 rounds per second), in 1916; but there were problems with bursting cases, and the weapon “proved unsuccessful because of its inability to seal breech cylinders” and never entered production.

After 1911, all Gatling Guns were retired from service, and it wasn’t until nearly a half-century later that the jet age of aerial warfare led to the greatest and most-successful, Gatling-style variant ever produced. Let’s now examine the modern evolution of the Gatling-Gun concept:

M61A1 “Vulcan” 20mm, six-barrel, rotary cannon (1959 to present):
This stunning new weapon resurrected the M1893 Gatling Gun with an electric motor, actually testing an M1903 Gatling Gun from a museum, and taking advantage of significant advances in metallurgy for stronger barrels and higher rates of fire. Originally designed for the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1946 under “Project Vulcan,” General Electric created a six-barrel, electric Gatling gun to achieve extremely high rates of fire against jet-powered, enemy aircraft, using high-explosive, 15mm or 20mm ammunition.

It wasn’t until the advent of the sleek, supersonic F-104A Starfighter in 1959, however, that the M61 Vulcan gun was perfected in its present form, as a rotary, 20mm weapon, upgraded from linked ammunition to a linkless feed system in the M61A1 production model, and the Starfighter interceptor was the first aircraft to carry it. This six-barrel gun fires at a rate of 6,000 rpm, or 100 rounds per second, usually firing at 70 rps during the first second, as it spins up to full rotating speed.

In actuality, though, a burst controller usually limits the number of rounds fired with each pull of the trigger to no more than 50, for barrel cooling. The current ammunition standard is the low-drag, semi-armor-piercing, high-explosive-incendiary (SAPHEI) 20mm PGU-28/B round, with a respectable muzzle velocity of 3,450 feet per second.

The Vulcan cannon first saw aerial combat over North Vietnam in April 1965, resulting in three enemy MiG-17 Fresco fighters shot down by U.S. Air Force F-105 Thunderchiefs in a confusing dogfight, although no American pilot claimed a kill. The first confirmed, Vulcan kill came in June 1966, by Major Fred Tracy, flying another F-105D. During the Vietnam War, U.S. fighters scored 39 total victories with the M61 gun.

It was used on the F-104 Starfighter, F-105D/F Thunderchief, F-106A Delta Dart, F-107A, F-111A Aardvark, F-4C/D (SUU-16/A or SUU-23/A gun pods only) Phantom II, F-4E/F Phantom II, A-7D Corsair II, B-52H Stratofortress (tail gun only, later removed), B-57G Tropic Moon III night-interdiction aircraft (downward-swiveling, turret gun), B-58A Hustler (tail gun only), AC-119K Stinger gunship, AC-130A/E/H Spectre gunships, F-14A/B/D Tomcat, F-15A/B/C/D Eagle, F-15E Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, YF-17A Cobra, Mitsubishi F-1, Italian AMX/A-11B Ghibli fighter, Taiwanese F-CK-1 Brave Hawk fighter, F/A-18 Hornet/Super Hornet (Super Hornet uses lighter M61A2), and F-22A Raptor stealth fighter (M61A2), YF-23A Gray Ghost stealth fighter (planned, but never produced), M163 and M167 Vulcan Air Defense Systems (VADS, until 1994), and Navy Mk. 15 Phalanx weapon system. The M61 has been produced by General Dynamics since 1993, and continues to be a huge success story. The M61A2 gun is 20-percent lighter, and fires at 6,600 rpm, which is 10 percent faster.

The Vulcan gun has been exported to Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Yemen.

M134D, GAU-2/A, and GAU-17/A Minigun 7.62mm, six-barrel, machine gun (1963 to present):
The General Electric Minigun is a scaled-down version of the M61, produced in 7.62mm NATO-caliber, and firing at the variables rates of 2,000 to 4,000, or 6,000 rpm. The upgraded and improved, M134D model, produced by DillonAero, is the current, standard model since 1997, and the company has most-notably supplied the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (160th SOAR[A]) with the hybrid (steel barrels and housing, but titanium accessory parts), M134D-H model. DillonAero also manufactures a self-contained, DAP-6 gun pod configuration.

Miniguns have been used on the UH-1 Huey, AH-1G/S Cobra, O-2A Skymaster (SUU-11/A gun pods only), AP-2H Neptune (gun pods only), A-1 Skyraider (gun pods only), AC-47D Spooky gunship, AC-119G/K Shadow/Stinger gunships, AC-130A Spectre gunship, OV-1 Mohawk (gun pods only), AH-56A Cheyenne, A-37B Dragonfly, MH-53H/J/M Pave Low II/II/IV, MH-60L/M Black Hawk Direct Action Penetrator (DAP), OH-6A Cayuse, AH-6M Little Bird, OH-58 Kiowa, MD-530G Light Scout Attack Helicopter, CH/MH-47 Chinook, CV-22B Osprey (remote-control, defensive system), NH90 helicopter, AW149 helicopter, and other systems. Even some naval vessels used the DillonAero GAU-17/A model. In Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents have fearfully referred to this rapid-fire weapon as “the breath of Allah.”

The M134 Minigun has been exported to Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. The Chinese Jian She Minigun (2009) and CS/LM12 (2012) are recent copies.

XM214 Microgun 5.56mm, six-barrel machine gun (1966):
This weapon was first developed by General Electric for aircraft applications, firing the same ammunition as the M16 service rifle. It was a scaled-down, smaller version of the M134 Minigun, and a 300-pound gun pod was also developed for this system. Its rate of fire was an astonishing 10,000 rounds per minute (167 rounds per second), however, it was never accepted into service because its range and accuracy compared to the M134 were lacking.

M197 20mm, three-barrel, rotary cannon (1967 to present): This was essentially an M61 Vulcan cannon, reduced to just three barrels to save weight, for use on helicopters and other light aircraft. It was used on the AU-23A Peacemaker, UH-1 Huey, OV-10A Bronco (GPU-2/A gun pod only), YOV-10D Bronco Night Observation Gunship (NOGS), AH-1E/F/J/P/T/W/Z Cobra/SeaCobra/SuperCobra/Viper, and Italian AH-129A/C/D Mangusta/Turkish T129A/B ATAK helicopters. Iran has created and deployed a vehicle-mounted, 23mm version of this weapon, known as the Asefeh (“Tornado.”) During the Iran-Iraq War of 1980 to 1988, Iranian AH-1J SeaCobra attack helicopters scored numerous air-to-air kills with their M197s against Iranian helicopters, achieving a 10:1 kill-to-loss ratio, and even against five Iraqi jet fighters (three MiG-21 Fishbeds, a Su-20 Fitter-C, and a MiG-23 Flogger.) This weapon has been exported to Iran, Italy, Jordan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.

GAU-7/A 25mm, four-barrel, Gatling gun (late 1960s to 1974): Ford-Philco offered this advanced design of a 25x155mm Gatling gun, using telescoped ammunition with a combustible case, for greater range and striking power than the M61 Vulcan, but the project was a failure, and it was cancelled in 1974. It was supposed to arm the new, F-15A Eagle fighter, which adopted the M61A1 Vulcan gun instead. This concept later evolved into the four-barrel, 25mm GAU-22/A gun mounted in the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, but without the telescoped ammunition.

GShG-7.62 Russian, four-barrel, machine gun (1968): This 7.62mm weapon was used as a nose gun in the small, Ka-29TB Helix-B naval assault helicopter, and in GUV-8700 helicopter gun pods.

GSh-6-23 Russian 23mm, six-barrel, rotary cannon (about 1970 to present): This Gryazev-Shipunov weapon was used in the MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor and Su-24 Fencer strike fighter. Use of this gun, and its SPPU-6 gun pod version, was halted by the Soviet Air Force in 1982 due to premature shell detonation and other system failures. Since then, all Russian MiG-31s and Su-24s have flown with fully-operational guns installed, but embarrassingly, without ammunition.

GAU-8/A “Avenger” 30mm, seven-barrel, rotary cannon (1977 to present): This is probably the ultimate Gatling gun ever created, designed to destroy Soviet tanks with its very-high-velocity (3,324 fps, about as fast as an M16’s rifle bullet), armor-piercing ammunition, and with rotating barrels seven and a half feet long. It fires at a normal rate of 3,900 rpm (65 rounds per second.) The A-10A Thunderbolt II/“Warthog” attack aircraft was essentially designed around this massive gun, which is part of the reason that the Military Channel listed the A-10 as “the #1 Most-Feared Aircraft in the World.” The Air Force has attempted at least three times to prematurely retire the venerable Warthog, but each time, the renewed and credible threat of Russian tanks has prevented its early retirement.

This amazing gun has been used on the A-10A/C Thunderbolt II/“Warthog,” Goalkeeper naval weapon system, and previously on F-16A/C Fighting Falcon (GAU-13/A four-barrel version only, in GPU-5/A gun pod.) The pod was notoriously inaccurate, suffered from excessive vibration, and is no longer used. U.S. Marine Corps LAV-25 vehicles often use the GAU-13/A, with the Marines having purchased virtually all former-Air Force versions. The Goalkeeper naval system is operated by Belgium, Chile, Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, and formerly by the United Kingdom, while the GAU-8/A Avenger aircraft cannon and vehicle-mounted GAU-13/A are strictly American systems.

GAU-12/U “Equalizer” 25mm, five-barrel, rotary cannon (1971 to present): Used on the AV-8B Harrier II, AC-130U Spooky II gunship, and F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter (GAU-22/A four-barrel version.) The GAU-12/U fires at variable rates between 1,800 to 4,200 rpm, with 3,600 rpm being the normal rate, and the GAU-22/A fires at a slightly-reduced rate 3,300 rpm.

Yak-B Russian 12.7mm, four-barrel, rotary machine gun (1973):This Yakushev-Borzov weapon was used on the Mi-24A/D Hind-B/D attack helicopters, and GUV-8700 helicopter gun pods. The Yak-B gun has been used extensively in combat worldwide. During the bloody, Afghan-Russia War of 1979 to 1989, the long, sleek, and exceedingly-fierce, Mi-24 Hind assault chopper with its Yak-B Gatling gun was referred to by the mujaheddin insurgents as Shaitan Arba (“Satan’s Chariot.”)

GSh-6-30 Russian, 30mm, six-barrel, rotary cannon (1975 to present): This was a powerful, ground-attack weapon, used in MiG-27 Flogger-D/J, Su-25TM/Su-39 Frogfoot, and naval variants of AO-18K/L/KD, AK-630, GSh-6-30K, and CADS-N-1 Kashtan systems. It was exported to India, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, and Ukraine. The aircraft version is infamous for damaging all aircraft to which it is mounted, due to horrendous recoil and vibration, resulting in engine failures, avionics shutdowns, and other harrowing stories, so only 12 Flogger-J ground-attack aircraft remain in service worldwide, with the Kazakhstan Air Force. All 16 Russian Air Force Su-39s have replaced their problematic, GSh-6-30 Gatling guns with the standard, GSh-30-2 twin-barrel weapon of the Su-25 Frogfoot ground-attack series.

XM188 30mm, three-barrel, rotary cannon (1975): Used in YAH-63A (Bell 409) Advanced Attack Helicopter. This was a highly-modified, AH-1 Cobra variant, which was never selected for operational use. General Electric built only four XM188 development guns for the prototype aircraft.

GAU-19/A/B three-barrel, rotary machine gun (1983 to present): This weapon was originally produced by General Electric as the GECAL-50 in 1982 with six barrels, as a scaled-down, .50-caliber version of the M61, but this was soon redesigned to three barrels for reduced weight in helicopter applications. The GAU-19/A weighed 138 pounds, and had preset firing rates of either 1,000, 1,300, or 2,000 rounds per minute, and the newer GAU-19/B, delivered in 2012, weighed 106 pounds, with a fixed, firing rate of 1,300 rpm. This is the version now used by the 160th SOAR on their AH-6M Little Birds.

It has been mounted on the MH-60L/M Black Hawk Direct Action Penetrator (very seldomly), AC-47T Fantasma gunship (Colombia), AT-802U/L Air Tractor/ Longsword, OH-58 Kiowa, AH-6M and AH-6i Little Bird gunships, CH/MH-47 Chinook, MD-902 helicopter (Mexico), S-70M Black Hawk and Bell 407 (Saudi Arabia), Bell 407GT, Bell/NSA 407MRH Lightning (UAE), Longline (British) Cobra light strike vehicle, and various Humvees and other ground vehicles. There is also a self-contained, General Dynamics GP-19 gun pod system available for the GAU-19/B weapon. Iran has produced a vehicle-mounted, six-barrel version of the original GECAL-50, known as the Moharram (“Forbidden.”)

It was a pair of GAU-19/A rotary machine guns, fired from two AH-6M Little Bird special operations gunships deployed from offshore, naval vessels, that killed al-Qa’ida-linked al-Shabaab terrorist leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and five more terrorists near Baraawe, Somalia, on September 14, 2009, in Operation Celestial Balance.

The GAU-19 has been exported to Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Japan, Mexico, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, and North Korean naval vessels have recently been seen armed with GAU-19/A copies.

M-1990 North Korean, 30mm, four-barrel, rotary cannon:
This is probably a copy of the American GAU-13/A cannon, built in small numbers and rarely seen.

XM301 “GE Vulcan II,” 20mm, three-barrel, rotary cannon (1992):
Developed from the M197 for use with the RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopter, which was also never adopted for operational service. This is the world’s lightest 20mm, rotary cannon, cancelled in 2004.

North Korean 14.5mm, six-barrel, Gatling Gun: This is a new development, seen so far in towed applications for the army, and mounted on naval vessels.

Chinese Type 730 CIWS and 1130 CIWS, 30mm rotary cannon (2003 to present): These are naval, close-in weapon systems (CIWS), with either seven or 11 barrels.

XM556 Microgun 5.56mm, six-barrel machine gun (2016 to present):
Designed by Empty Shell Defense, LLC, of Spring, Texas, this unique, prototype weapon is a handheld, rotary machine gun for defense-suppression in combat. Weighing only 16 pounds, with either 10-inch (standard) or 16-inch (optional) barrels, it fires at either 3,000 or 6,000 rpm, and is fully capable of up to 12,000 rpm! That’s 200 rounds per second! It can also be mounted on any standard, M134 Minigun mount, for use on vehicles or helicopters. The full potential of this tiny, new Microgun has yet to be attained. At 6,000 rpm, it produces as much combined firepower as eight M249 Minimi light machine guns!

“Death Claw” (2017 to present):
This is not an actual weapon, but an automated aiming system for M61A1/A2 and GAU-22/A rotary cannon in jet fighters. Steve Trimble wrote for Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine on January 27, 2020 that, “The Digitally-Enhanced, Aiming-Through-Control-Law (‘Death Claw’) system is in development…(at) the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School…As a new, automated flight mode, it solves a practical problem for pilots of F-16s and potentially other fly-by-wire fighters (the F/A-18 Hornet/Super Hornet, F-22A Raptor, and F-35 Lighting II.)

“The F-16’s sensors and flight computer can precisely calculate where the F-16 needs to be pointed for the 20mm rounds from the fighter’s M61 cannon to hit a moving target in the air or on the ground. But the computer still relies on the human pilot to accurately point the aircraft at the spot indicated on the gunsight pipper on the head-up display. The answer seems obvious. Add an ‘auto-gunnery mode’ to the flight-control law, and allow the autopilot to point the aircraft when the gun is engaged.

“The Death Claw demonstration conducted 12 test flights in November 2017 to January 2018…(and) accuracy was calculated based on how closely the aircraft was pointed compared to the gunsight pipper…The autopilot proved (several times) more accurate than the pilot at aiming the aircraft…Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works (their Advanced Development Programs [ADP] center) is now working on an improved, operational version of the new, autopilot gunnery mode.” Lockheed Martin produces the F-22A Raptor and F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters in current, frontline service.

DillonAero 503D three-barrel, rotary machine gun (2020):
The DillonAero 503D (.50-caliber, 3-barrel, Dillon-designed) Gatling-style machine gun is a distinctive improvement over the very-similar, GAU-19/A/B series, but is much lighter, at just 84 pounds, exactly the same weight as an M2HB Browning, single-barrel, heavy machine gun, but firing at nearly three times the rate, and faster-firing than the already-lightweight GAU-19/B, but 21-percent lighter. The 503D fires at 1,500 rpm (25 rounds per second), but with longer barrel life, due to its three barrels, and its unique flash suppressor, shaped like the streamlined, shock-cone nose on a MiG-21 jet fighter, for reduced, aerodynamic drag in forward flight.

This is a serious contender to begin replacing the bulky, GAU-19 gun series, especially in helicopters and other aircraft, where weight matters. The most-likely applications are for the AH-6M Little Bird, Bell 407, and Air Tractor AT-802U/L.

DillonAero five-barrel, .338 Norma Magnum Gatling gun (2020):
This brand-new, five-barrel weapon is produced exclusively for the U.S. Special Operations Command, firing at the rate of 2,500 rpm (42 rounds per second.) It could eventually replace the DillonAero M134D-H 7.62mm Gatling guns currently in use on special operations helicopters such as the MH-47G Chinook, MH-60M Black Hawk, and AH-6M Little Bird, providing much longer range and hard-hitting firepower in a comparable-sized package.

The .338 Norma Magnum (from Sweden, 2009) has nearly-identical ballistics to the earlier, .338 Lapua Magnum (from Finland, 1989), but uses a shorter cartridge case, and was specifically designed to improve upon the Lapua round when firing very-low-drag, heavyweight, 300-grain, Sierra MatchKing hollowpoint, boat-tail (HPBT) bullets, using a shorter action for reduced gun weight and faster cycling between rounds. U.S. special operations forces have already purchased the new, SIG-Sauer MG 338 infantry machine gun and the Mk. 22 Mod. 0 (Barrett MRAD) Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR, $17k) in .338 Norma Magnum, so their interest in this powerful, new caliber is clearly growing.

In conclusion, the original, iconic, multi-barrel, Gatling-Gun concept, although nearly 160 years old, remains one of those rare weapons that is instantly and universally recognizable, and essentially unchanged with the passage of time, except for an electric motor, used in one form or another for the past 127 years. The very names “Gatling Gun” and “Vulcan Cannon” both conjure up vivid images of fearsome, fire-breathing, high-speed, rotary machine guns or cannon, designed to instill fear in the enemy and maximize hit probability against moving targets in the air or on the ground. The need for such highly efficient weapons of war remains undiminished over time.

Warren Gray is a retired, U.S. Air Force intelligence officer with experience in joint special operations and counterterrorism. He served in Europe and the Middle East, earned Air Force and Navy parachutist wings, and four college degrees, including a Master of Aeronautical Science degree, and was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Intelligence Operations Specialist Course, and the USAF Combat Targeting School. He is currently a published author and historian. You may visit his web site at:

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, By E.H. Hart, New York City – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper.(Original text : * Source site: URL:, Public Domain,