- Revolver cannon
A revolver cannon is a type of
autocannoncommonly used as an aircraft gun. It uses a cylinder with multiple chambers, like those of a revolverpistol, to speed up the loading-firing-ejection cycle. Some examples are also power-driven, to further speed the loading process, but this is by no means universal. A revolver cannon differs from a Gatling gunin having only a single barrel, so the spun weight is lower and lends itself to gas operation. Automatic revolver cannons have been produced by many different European manufacturers, whereas the U.S., and to a lesser extent Russia, generally favor the Gatling gun.
The archetypal revolver cannon is the
Mauser MK 213, from which almost all current weapons are derived. In the immediate post-war era, Mauser engineers spread out from Germany and developed similar weapons around the world; both the British and French made outright copies of the 30 mm versions of the MK 213 as the ADEN and DEFA, respectively, Switzerland produced the Oerlikon KCA, while the U.S. used the 20 mm version, re-chambered for a slightly larger 102 mm cartridge intermediate between the 213's 82 mm and Hispano-Suiza HS.404's 110 mm. A number of larger experimental weapons were also developed, like the 42 mm Oerlikon RK 421, but did not see service. [Anthony Williams, [http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/RED%20QUEEN.htm "The Red Queen and the Vigilante"] ]
Several generations of the basic ADEN/DEFA weapons followed, remaining largely unchanged into the 1970s. At that point a new generation of weapons developed, either for the proposed
NATO25 mm standard, or based on the Mauser 27 mm round, the leading current example is arguably the Mauser BK-27. The Rheinmetall Millennium 35 mm Naval Gun System is the largest to see service. [The British were developing a 42 mm revolver cannon in the 1950s before cancelling in favour of missiles] The French GIAT 30is a newer generation power-driven revolver cannon, and the Rheinmetall RMK30modifies the GIAT system further by venting the gas to the rear to eliminate recoil.
Automatic revolver cannons generally have a lower maximum sustained rate of fire than Gatling guns, as all the rounds are fired through a single barrel, which suffers from much higher heating loads. Cannon-calibre Gatling guns have a rate of fire of up to 10,000 rounds per minute (
Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-6-23), while revolver cannon typically have less than 2,000. On the other hand, revolver cannon generally have a high "initial" firing rate due to the lower moving mass involved – only the chambers are being spun. Gatling type guns spin the whole multiple barrel and breech assembly which in equal calibre versions can weigh hundreds of kilograms. Also, the external power source of US gatling guns provides less power in a burst than the gas-operation of a revolver cannon, so that about half a second of spin-up time is required until the maximum rate of fire is reached. As it avoids the additional weight of multiple barrels, a revolver cannon can fire a larger calibre projectile than a Gatling gun of the same weight.
Hotchkiss Revolving Cannonof the late 1800s was not a revolver cannon in the modern sense, being of a Gatling type. Arguably, a forerunner was the Puckle gun, which was a manual revolver cannon, as opposed to an automatic one.
ShKAS machine gun
Mauser MK 213
Notes and references
* [http://www.canit.se/~griffon/aviation/text/akandata.htm List of Military Gatling & Revolver cannons]
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