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Paul Anthony Samuelson
Paul Anthony Samuelson was an American economist and a Nobel Price winner.
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15 May 2020

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James Puckle patents the world's first machine gun15.5.1718

Wikipedia (09 Apr 2013, 11:47)

It would not be until the mid-19th century that successful machine-gun designs came into existence. The key characteristic of modern machine guns, their relatively high rate of fire and more importantly machine (automatic) loading, came with the Model 1862 Gatling gun, which was adopted by the United States Navy. These weapons were still powered by hand; however, this changed with Hiram Maxim's idea of harnessing recoil energy to power reloading in his Maxim machine gun. Dr. Gatling also experimented with electric-motor-powered models; this externally powered machine reloading has seen use in modern weapons as well. The Vandenburg and Miltrailleuse volley (organ) gun concepts have been revived partially in the early 21st century in the form of electronically controlled, multibarreled volley guns. It is important to note that what exactly constitutes a machine gun, and whether volley guns are a type of machine gun, and to what extent some earlier types of devices are considered to be like machine guns, is a matter of debate in many cases and can vary depending which language and exact definition is used.

Early rapid-firing weapons

The first known ancestor of multi-shot weapons was created by James Puckle, a London lawyer, who patented what he called "The Puckle Gun" on May 15, 1718. It was a design for a 1 in. (25.4 mm) caliber, flintlock revolver cannon able to fire 9 rounds before reloading, intended for use on ships. According to Puckle, it was able to fire round bullets at Christians and square bullets at Turks. While ahead of its time, foreshadowing the designs of revolvers, it was not adopted or produced.

The Puckle gun

The Puckle gun (also known as the Defence gun) was invented in 1718 by James Puckle (1667–1724) a British inventor, lawyer and writer.

Design and patent

It is a tripod-mounted, single-barreled flintlock weapon fitted with a multishot revolving cylinder. It was intended for shipboard use to prevent boarding. The barrel was 3 feet (0.91 m) long with a bore of 1.25 inches (32 mm). It had a pre-loaded cylinder which held 11 charges and could fire 63 shots in seven minutes—this at a time when the standard soldier's musket could at best be loaded and fired three times per minute.

According to the Patent Office of the United Kingdom, "In the reign of Queen Anne of Great Britain, the law officers of the Crown established as a condition of patent that the inventor must in writing describe the invention and the manner in which it works." This gun's patent was one of the first to provide such a description.

Two versions

Puckle demonstrated two versions of the basic design: one, intended for use against Christian enemies, fired conventional round bullets, while the second variant, designed to be used against the Muslim Turks, fired square bullets. The square bullets were considered to be more damaging. They would, according to the patent, convince the Turks of the "benefits of Christian civilization." The square bullets, however, were discontinued due to their unpredictable flight pattern.

Production and operational use

The Puckle Gun drew few investors and never achieved mass production or sales to the British armed forces, mostly because British gunsmiths at the time could not easily make the weapon's many complicated components. One newspaper of the period sarcastically observed, following the business venture's failure, that the gun has "only wounded those who hold shares therein".

John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu, Master-General of the Ordnance (1740-1749), purchased several for an ill-fated expedition in 1722 to capture St Lucia and St Vincent.

Surviving examples

Two examples are on display at former Montagu homes: One at Boughton House and another at Beaulieu Palace. There is a replica of a Puckle gun at Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum in Hampshire. Blackmore's British Military Firearms 1650–1850 lists "Puckle’s brass gun in the Tower of London" as illustration 77.

In popular culture

The Puckle Gun is featured in Tony Harrison's play Square Rounds.

In the 2009 PC game Empire: Total War, the Puckle Gun is available as a unit in the late 18th century. Only a limited number may be maintained at a time by a faction, reflecting the weapon's historical unpopularity.

In the Belisarius series by Eric Flint and David Drake, the Romans mount Puckle Guns on their steamships and supply barges to protect their supply lines on the Indus River. One is used to repel boarders in the final novel The Dance of Time.

2000AD series Defoe references the Puckle Gun in the form of an elaborate clockpunk machine gun which fires "round bullets for Christians, square bullets for zombies".

The Puckle Gun is referenced in the 2007 Richard Morgan novel Black Man.

The Puckle Gun is referenced in the 1908 George Daulton short story The Death-Trap.

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