Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Posts tagged “gun

Elephant mounted with a M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun, WWI; ca. 1914-18.

"I gotta be honest fellas. This seemed like a much better idea on paper..."

The least they could have done was give the elephant some giant ear plugs.

A corporal aims a Colt M1895 atop a Sri Lankan Elephant.  The M1895 was developed by John Browning during the 1890s, it was a belt-fed, air cooled, gas operated machine gun.   As the weapon was air cooled it did not require the water cooling system used by the Maxim Gun, as a result it was much lighter weighing just 35 lbs.

The M1895 was lever actuated which meant that the gun was cocked by retracting the lever and once the first round was fired the propellant gas was tapped from a gas port several inches from the muzzle this gas pushed the lever down and swung it back towards the receiver to cock the gun for the next round.   If the gun’s tripod was set too low, or impeded by cover, then the lever would catch any obstruction, as a result it quickly became known as the ‘potato digger’ by troops.  There looks to be more than enough clearance on top of the elephant.

While there is historical precedent for the use of elephants in warfare for over 1000 years, used by the Persians, Alexander the Great, Indian Sultans, Siamese warriors who mounted Jingals (small guns often mounted on walls) on elephants well into the 1880s, and later by the British Army in India as pack animals capable of carrying mountain guns and supplies over difficult terrain.  Why the corporal is atop the elephant is a mystery but it was never a weapons platform adopted by the US Army.


A Punt Gun, used for duck hunting but were banned because they depleted stocks of wild fowl; ca. 1920’s.


Called the “Punt Gun,” this firearm of unusual size could discharge over a pound of shot at a time, and dispatch upwards of fifty waterfowl in a single go.  A punt gun is a type of extremely large shotgun used in the 19th and early 20th centuries for shooting large numbers of waterfowl for commercial harvesting operations and private sport. “Used for duck hunting” isn’t the right expression for aiming this piece of artillery in the general direction of a flock of ducks, firing, and spending the rest of the day picking up the carcasses.

How they were used:

Krupp K5, a WWII German rail gun; ca. 1944.

This is a Krupp K5. It fired 283mm, 255kg shells at 1120 m/s out of its 21m barrel to a range of up to 64 km.

This is a Krupp K5. It fired 283mm, 255kg shells at 1120 m/s out of its 21m barrel to a range of up to 64 km.

The Krupp K5 was a rail gun, in that it was transported by rail and was mounted on a carriage that rode on several sets of parallel, curved track in order to train the gun. It did not use an electromagnetically-powered carriage riding between two rails to launch its projectile.

Several other proposals were made to modify or create new models of the K5 which never saw production. In particular, there were plans for a model which could leave the railway by use of specially modified Tiger II tank chassis which would support the mounting box in much the same manner as the railway weapon’s two bogies. This project was ended by the defeat of Germany. (Source)

Take a very close look at this picture of the K5. at the end of the barrel you can see groves on the inside of the barrel. These grooves are 8cm deep and go all the way down the length of the barrel in a helical pattern like this. This is called rifling.


When the gun fires, the ‘bullet’ is put under tremendous forces, and as a result is compressed lengthwise. The compression also pushes parts of the bullet into the groves, and as the bullet travels down the barrel, it locks onto the groves, causing it to spin. This spinning is important as it keeps the bullet stable and pointing forward for the entire duration of it’s flight, taking advantage of gyroscopic stability.