A London lawyer and inventor, James Puckle, designed a flintlock machine-gun in 1718 for use on board ships. He claimed in his patent application that ‘it discharges so often and so many bullets and can be so quickly loaded as renders it next to impossible to carry a ship by boarding’.
One of the world’s preliminary machine guns, it fired two types of bullets: round ones for shooting at a Christian enemy; and square ones, which were more destructive, for killing Turks! According to the patent, the square bullets would “convince the Turks of the benefits of Christian civilization”. The weapon was also reported as able to fire shot, with each discharge containing sixteen musket balls.
However, it was not the most portable of weapons. IT was heavy, with a bore of 1.5 inches and a barrel nearly 3 ft long. The barrel, mounted on a tripod, had a firing drum that held 11 preloaded chambers, which could be hand-revolved by the gunner.
At a public demonstration in 1722, one such gun discharged 63 bullets in 7 minutes, enough to impress the authorities and put the weapon into production, but it proved cumbersome and hard to load in a action, and was soon no more than a military curiosity.
Three examples survive one in Copenhagen and two in the Tower of London. Both London models, one of iron and one of brass, are fitted with square firing chambers.
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