Academic journal article Military Review

The Grim Reaper: Machine Guns and Machine-Gunners in Action

Academic journal article Military Review

The Grim Reaper: Machine Guns and Machine-Gunners in Action

Article excerpt

THE GRIM REAPER: Machine Guns and Machine-Gunners in Action by Roger Ford. 320 pages. Sarpedon Publishers, NY. 1997. $22.95.

This well-written, easily read book takes the reader on a tour of the past 130 or so years of warfare as it succinctly describes the invention, development and employment of the automatic firing weapon. Beginning with the tattling gun's use in the American Civil War, the author describes "manual machineguns," including the mitrailleuse, conceived by Belgium Captain T.H.J. Fafschamps in 1851. This weapon was not a machinegun as we now define the weapon; rather, it was a volley gun, which possessed 27 independent barrels that fired simultaneously. The author highlights the development of truly automatic weapons through an evolutionary process, which ironically comes full circle with the development of the six-barreled antiaircraft Vulcan. In addition, an excellent description of the development of the machine pistol or submachinegun is included in the text.

The major contributors to the design and development of this type weapon are given credit for their creative work. …

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