The invention of the machine gun by Richard J. Gatling (1818–1903) irreversibly changed the face of battle Gatling took advantage of the newly invented brass cartridge. Unlike the earlier paper cartridges it had its own percussion cap) to produce the first rapid fire weapon. In about 1862 The Gatling gun consisted of ten parallel barrels that could fire and reload brass cartridges at rapid speeds through the rotation of a hand-operated crank. With each rotation, the firing and loading mechanisms of each barrel came into contact with a series of cams. The first cam opened the bolt on the barrel, allowing the bullet to fall into a chamber, while the second closed the bolt. The first successful model was deployed in a limited capacity during the American Civil War by Union troops.
The American inventor, Hiram Stevens Maxim, utilized the power of the cartridge explosion to design the first automatic machine gun in 1884 By using the recoil power of the fired bullet, the empty cartridge is expelled and the barrel reloaded. Both reliable and easily transportable, with a firing capacity of 600 rounds per minute, the Maxim was adopted by European armies.
Machine guns based on Maxim’s design dominated fighting during World War I. The machine gun caused heavy loss of life in the static environment of trench warfare. The machine gun earned itself a fearsome reputation. It continued to produce deadly results in World War II. It found its popularity supplanted by the lighter and more mobile sub-machine gun.
World war 1 popularised the use of machine guns. It was capable of bringing down row after row of soldiers from a distance in the battle field
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