- Gast gun
platform= Tripod, vehicle
target= Personnel, light-armored vehicles, aircraft
World War I
7.92x57 mm Mauser
velocity= 3,050 ft/s (930 m/s)
range=1,800 m (2,200 yd)
The Gast Gun was a German twin barreled
machine gundeveloped by Karl Gastof the 'Vorwerk' company and used during the First World War. It was notable for its high rate of fireof 1,600 rounds per minute and unique mechanism that is used today in the Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23Lseries of Russian aircraft cannon.
The weapon uses two barrels combined into a single mechanism in such a way that the recoil from firing one barrel loads and charges the second. Ammunition was fed into the gun from two drums, one on each side of the gun. The drums had a capacity of 180 rounds of German 7.92 mm rifle ammunition, which were fed by a compressed spring one by one into the breech. The changing of ammunition drums could be completed in a few seconds by an experienced gunner. The weapon would also fire single shots if there was a problem with one side of the mechanism.
The weapon was also easy to maintain, and could be field stripped in one minute, thanks to its simple design.
The gun was relatively light at approximately 60 pounds (27 kg) without ammunition and it was felt that it was highly suited to airborne use. A
telescopic sightwas mounted between the two barrels to aid aiming.
The gun was first produced by Karl Gast in January 1916 while working for the Vorwerk, the first weapon being produced in January 1916. During trials, rates of fire at 1,600 rounds per minute were achieved. Demonstrations of the weapon were conducted on
22 August 1917, which were attended by German government officials who soon after placed an order for 3,000 of the guns, along with ten ammunition drums and spare parts for each gun at a unit price of 6,800 marks each. Delivery of the first 100 guns was promised for 1 June 1918, with production ramping up to 500 guns per month by September 1918.
Production of the weapon exceeded these initial projections, and the weapons were received favourably with promises of an order for a further 6,000 guns being promised in September 1918.
A version of the gun firing 13 mm ammunition, the Gast-Flieger MG was also under development. ["Flying Guns of World War I", Anthony G. Williams & Dr. Emmanuel Gustin. ]
However, the gun was not widely used, and their existence was kept secret until three years after the
Armistice, when a cache of 25 of the guns, ammunition and designs was found near Königsberg.
A Gast gun was evaluated by the
US Army, and found to be reliable and mechanically practical. However it was felt that it did not offer enough of an advantage over the existing machine guns to justify the expense of producing the weapon.
* George M. Chinn, "The Machine Gun. History, Evolution, and Development of Manual, Automatic, and Airborne Repeating Weapons", Volume I.
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