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November 21, 2006

The Sunday Whatzis, revealed.

Confused? Click here.

That's a bullet for the Nordenfeldt 1-inch anti-torpedo boat gun. The Nordenfeldt guns were an early type of machine-gun. Like the Gatling gun, they used multiple barrels and mechanical power to operate. Unlike the Gatling, the didn't last very long in the grand scheme of things, much less enjoy a renaissance when someone realized what electricity might accomplish when applied to the concept.

Here's a group of Brit tars training with one (though no feed hopper has been loaded).
Brit Sailors practicing with a Nordenfeldt machine gun.

The Nordenfeldt guns were developed between 1873 and 1878 and were very popular in Europe, especially amongst the sailors. They generally had four barrels in line horizontally and were fed by gravity-feed hoppers. You can see them with 5 barrels or as few as two. One advantage the Nordenfeldts had over the Gatling was that the mechanism was much easier to get to for the purpose of clearing jams. Plus, if the jam was too complex and the situation dire, you could simply disconnect the barrel and keep firing with the remaining barrels. Unlike the Gatling, which used a rotating crank to cycle the gun, the Nordenfeldts used a lever that was moved back and forth. I've seen both a lever in the vertical plane, on the left side of the gun, or a handle that moved in the horizontal plane, on the right side of the gun. The sailor on the left right (sigh, I suppose, in the future, I'll just submit all posts to CAPT H for editing before publishing) in the picture has his hand on the lever for this particular gun. The cyclic rate of fire was about 350 rounds per minute.

Here we can see some more sailors getting it on for the camera. This gun has its feed-hopper mounted.

Sailors manning a 4-barrel Nordenfeldt 1-inch Machine Gun, Mark 1

All that flailing about did affect accuracy a bit, but heck, they weren't used as sniper weapons.

The Brit National Maritime Museum has a wonderful copyright protected (way too expensive to buy permission to use) photo of a 1-inch Nordenfeldt anti-torpedo boat gun right here.

The Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Grounds has a nice little four-barrel Nordenfeldt - which shows the lever nicely, too.

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Comments on The Sunday Whatzis, revealed.
MajMike briefed on November 21, 2006 08:27 AM

now that is certainly an interesting little bit of bang stick.

Trias briefed on November 21, 2006 12:04 PM

Interesting. It makes me think of harpoon. Is it based on the design or am i delusional again?

Pogue briefed on November 21, 2006 12:57 PM

So did the barrels fire sequentially or volley?

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 21, 2006 03:06 PM

Trias - as in a harpoon gun? Not really. Perhaps I don't understand the question.

Pogue- they fired in sequence.

SezaGeoff briefed on November 21, 2006 04:42 PM

Before the "progressives" took over, the Melbourne Museum (Australia) had quite an impressive firearms gallery. The Nordenfeldt in the collection took pride of place at the entrance to the gallery, and was able to be touched and operated. Thousands of children must have put millions of imaginary rounds in defence of Her Majesty's Victorian Ships through that weapon.

SezaGeoff briefed on November 21, 2006 04:55 PM

Ooh, the Museum still has it - even if it is spelt wrong. Go to Nordenfeldt and click on the pictures for a larger image.

P.S. ours is nicer than yours (snark) - is that because it is squid equipment?

J.M. Heinrichs briefed on November 21, 2006 05:59 PM

"The sailor on the left ..." hmmm, looks like what sailors would refer to as "... to starboard".



[Oh, feh, I fixed that in the version that got... dumped.]

emdfl briefed on November 21, 2006 08:50 PM

Interesting note.
The guy who brought back all the Martini rifles from the Armory in Napal also found a couple of twin-barreled Nordenfelt guns there(not to mention a pile of other interesting boomenshooters).

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 21, 2006 08:51 PM

Geoff - I rather think the one at the National Maritime Museum in Blighty is nicer than yours... all that gleaming bronze.

As for the condition of ours - yep, we took (and at many museums, still take) crappy care of things like this.

Especially at Army Museums. The Navy and Air Force, with all that flight pay to draw on, have much better private support than us dumb grunts.

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 21, 2006 08:54 PM

Oh, and the middle picture? HMS Cerebus, which might ring an Ozzie bell...

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 21, 2006 08:54 PM

Oh, and the middle picture? HMS Cerberus, which might ring an Ozzie bell...

Though I got the picture elsewhere, it's there on that site, too.

SezaGeoff briefed on November 22, 2006 05:41 AM

Interesting about the Cerberus picture, because I had a thought that the 4 barrel may have been from Cerberus, but most of the data indicates that they were 2 barrel 1-pounders. I also wondered about the long barrel in the background as it originally had no secondary armament, but some sources list a pair of QFs added later. Wiki has timelined armament specs.