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Tidying up.

On the lingering Whatzis's...

Yes, that last bolt, unidentified until shown in it's bolt carrier - belongs to the Castle's Desert Eagle Mk VII in .357 Magnum.

The Desert Eagle in the holdings of the Arsenal of Argghhh!

I got that pistol back in the late 80's, I was just tickled at the thought of a gas-operated handgun. You have to give it the right fodder, and grip it firmly, or it won't function reliably - I'll say that much! No light loads. I'll do a Gun Pr0n expose' on that pistol sometime in the future, if life will slow down just a touch.

Okay - the "sausage maker" whatziss...

Lombard  centrifugal gun. US National Archives.

It isn't a kitchen appliance. It's a "powderless machine gun".

During WWI, the Army needed lots of weapons, fast. So, the word was spread that anyone with a design for anything remotely like a machine gun should bundle it up and submit it to the Army for evaluation. Every garage tinkerer had an idea - none of which would best John Browning's design, to be sure, but there were some oddities!

Meet the “Lombard Centrifugal Gun”, the invention of a Mr. Levi W. Lombard of Mattapan, Massachusetts. An article from the Repository, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania reported in it's March 18, 1918 edition:

Powderless Machine Gun Tried

Boston March 8: A powderless machine gun that will fire from ten to fitly bullets a second, is the invention of Levi W. Lombard of Mattapan, and Earl E. Ovington, of Newton. The latter will be remembered as one of Boston's first aviators.
The gun is in effect nothing more than an enlarged slingshot. A company has been incorporated to manufacture them. The gun action is simple. It is a revolving disc, which emits bullets after they have traveled on its surface. The machine fires round bullets. Those used in the tests had steel bearings. The shot is fed into a hopper at the side of the gun and as the disk
revolves it throws the bullet at a terrific force through a slot.
The test was made at the Wakefield Police Range and the gun proved its effectiveness by piercing three-eighths-inch boiler plate at 200 yards, and cutting through a two-inch door from the same distance.
The first gun was operated by electricity. Its inventors, knowing that only a limited power can be obtained from this source, will operate it by steam at its next test.

More below the fold, in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Another article, this time in the Free Press of Easton, Pennsylvania on March 29 1918, offered up some more details:

Centrifugal Operated By Steam and cannot jam, Claim War Department Interested

A centrifugal gun which fires 33,000 shots a minute, declared to be the greatest death-dealing machine gun yet conceived, is the invention of Levi W. Lombard, of Boston, Mass. Tests have proved the machine’s efficiency, the inventor declares, and he has succeeded in interesting the War Department in the weapon. Its manufacture is being carried on under the utmost secrecy at a place not announced.
Lombard has worked on the gun for thirty-seven years, and he declares its accuracy amazes gun authorities who have watched it work. It has no barrel, operating on the principle of a sling. The latter operates under a disk, which revolves at tremendous speed. The ammunition is fed through a tunnel-like attachment from a tube, which leads into two veins beneath the disk.
The “veins” center upon an opening about two inches wide, and the bullets are thrown with terrific velocity. Steam is the source of energy.

The machine can be placed in a first-line trench and operated hundreds of feet in the rear. From there, it can be regulated to any angle. It is easily portable and “jamming” and heating, common to machine guns, are eliminated. In a recent test, the inventor says the gun was turned on sheets of steel plates, three-quarters of an inch thick hundreds of feet away. The bullets went through them like paper. The missiles are small steel balls similar to bearings.

Sounds pretty cool, no? But wait - there's a cloud on the horizon. A letter submitted by Charles Wirt on March 11, 1918, published by the Philadelphia Public Ledger on the 19th whizzed in the Wheaties...

Several Centrifugal Scoffs To the Editor of Public Ledger:

Sir — I note the centrifugal gun has been invented again. This time at the rate of 33,000 shots per minute, able to pierce three-fourths-inch plate.
It is certainly discreditable to the American Nation, considering our achievements in engineering and application to science, that we have so many persons who seem to be agape to believe the unbelievable.
To fire 33,000 shots per minute, even supposing they are of approximately the same weight as standard infantry rifle projectiles, would require a horsepower somewhere about 6,000. If you look at the problem in another way, the highest speed which engineers know of is the rotor of the steam turbine, with a speed somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 feet per second. The speed of a rifle bullet for flat trajectory is 3,000 feet per second.
During the Spanish-American War the centrifugal gun was extensively discussed and exploited. The reasons for its uselessness should be apparent to a beginner in engineering. The perpetual motion or “unlimited-power-for-nothing” scheme has been a joke among engineers ever since it first appeared before the public, and yet [it] has been taken seriously by the Congress of the United States. It makes us squirm to think how episodes of this kind must make Americans look to the Germans. The only comfort one can get out of such a situation is the reflection that weeds will grow in rich soil and it is only American talk that we are ashamed of not American accomplishment.

Charles Wirt
Philadelphia, March 11, 1911

Dolf Goldsmith notes in his excellent book on the Browning Machine Gun -

This was the last that was heard in the press about the Lombard “powderless machine gun”.

The final blow came after the war was over when the Ordnance Department tested the centrifugal gun at Aberdeen Proving Ground. As recorded in Ordnance Committee Minute (0CM) Item 1215 April 12, 1921, a “Sub-committee consisting of representatives of the Ordnance Department and Using Services” considered the test reports and concluded in part as follows:

It was found that for all practical purposes the muzzle velocity was 10 percent of the r.p.m. of the rotor, that is 1,000fs. for 10,000 r.p.m. The angle of dispersion was about 30°. The rate of fire at 10,000r.p.m. was 1,141 rounds per minute... In an accuracy test, 2,000 rounds were fired at a screen at a range of 50 yards. The main group of hits formed a rectangle approximately 10’x 7’ and the extreme dispersion covered an area of 10’x21.5’, the greater axis being the horizontal.
The Committee is of the opinion that the centrifugal gun submitted did not show sufficient promise to warrant further investigation. In general it is believed, considering the physical limitations of such an arm and the mechanical difficulties of operating it, that further experimental work along this line should be discouraged
.

So, why did I go to all this trouble? Well, it seems that the Centrifugal Gun is not DREAD, er, dead.

Meet the DREAD. From the New Scientist in August 2005:

A gun that spits out ball bearings after spinning them to extreme speeds is being developed by a US inventor. The novel design has already caught the imagination of some defence industry experts.

The weapon, called DREAD, was invented by Charles St George, a veteran of the US firearms industry who founded the company Leader Propulsion Systems to promote the idea. He claims a major US defence company has shown an interested in developing it further and has produced a promotional video showing a prototype in action, which can be seen here (Quicktime). He says a new prototype will be developed in August 2005.

Heh. The more things change...

"The system seems absolutely feasible," says David Crane, editor of the website DefenseReview.com. The weapon could strike targets with “overwhelming and devastating firepower - we're talking about total target saturation," he wrote in an article posted to the site. Terry Gander, who edits the defence industry journal Jane's Infantry Weapons, adds that similar concepts have been developed in the past. But Gander notes that these have had low projectile velocity and have been proposed as crowd control weapons. "It all depends on the sort of power source you have," he told New Scientist. "I'd be very interested to know what its range is." But Abrahams finds the idea outlandish. "Anything that seems so far beyond anything else is worth a moment's thought before you completely gulp it down," he told New Scientist. "It is way out on the side of the scale that deals with high levels of imagination."

David Crane's (quoted above) article in Defense Review is available by clicking here.

Not only is it not a new idea - it has a long pedigree - as these patent applications indicate.

A lot of back and forth in the Military.com forums on the subject, back in the day.

The Physicists weren't too impressed...

But I'm betting BCR could build one if she wanted to...

Lombard's Centrifugal Gun. US National Archives

3 Comments

Powderless Machine Gun Dude looks like he's gonna get hit in the face if he fires that thing.
 
A steam-powered machine gun! Oh you just gotta love it...!
 
This should be in steampunk.