Richard Jordan Gatling

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Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling (September 12, 1818February 26, 1903) was an American inventor, best known for his invention of the Gatling gun, the first successful machine gun.

The son of an inventor, Gatling was born in Hertford County, North Carolina and by the age of 21 had invented the screw propeller for steamboats, only to discover it had recently and independently been patented by Francis Pettit Smith.

Gatling graduated from Ohio Medical College in 1850 but was more interested in continuing his career as an inventor than in practicing medicine. He invented the Gatling gun after he noticed the majority of dead returning from the American Civil War died of illness, rather than gunshots. In 1877, he wrote: "It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine - a gun - which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished."

He founded the Gatling Gun Company in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1862. The company merged with Colt in 1897. In the interm he further developed the device, and while experimenting with improving gatling guns he made a electric motor powered one, creating the first minigun. Miniguns and electric powered gatling cannons of various size would go on to be used as aircraft weapons on airplanes and helicopters starting in the later half of the 1900s, as well as on some ground forces. The hand-cranked gatling gun was declared obsolete by the United States Army in 1911, though machine driven Gatling Guns (miniguns) would see use again later that century.

Gatling died in New York City in 1903.de:Richard Gatling nl:Richard Gatling no:Richard Jordan Gatling pl:Richard Gatling

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