The Nordenfelt Gun was a multiple barrel
Multiple Barrel Firearm
A Multiple barrel firearm is a firearm of any type with more than one barrel, usually to increase the rate of fire/hitting probability and to reduce barrel erosion/overheating.-Definition:...
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....
that had a row of up to twelve barrels. It was fired by pulling a lever back and forth. It was produced in a number of different calibres from rifle up to 25 mm (1 inch). Larger calibres were also used, but for these calibres the design simply permitted rapid manual loading rather than true automatic fire.
DevelopmentThe weapon was designed by a Swedish engineer, Helge Palmcrantz
Helge Palmcrantz , Swedish inventor and industrialist. He was born in Hammerdal, in the province of Jämtland, as the son of a captain at Jämtlands fältjägarregemente. He was recruited as a cadet to his father's regiment, where he worked with land survey...
. He created a mechanism to load and fire a multiple barreled gun by simply moving a single lever backwards and forwards. It was patented in 1873.
Production of the weapon was funded by a Swedish steel producer and banker (later weapons maker) named Thorsten Nordenfelt
Thorsten Nordenfelt , was a Swedish inventor and industrialist.Nordenfelt was born in Örby outside Kinna, Sweden, the son of a colonel. The surname was and is often spelt Nordenfeldt, though Thorsten and his brothers always spelt it Nordenfelt, and the 1881 Census shows it as Nordenfelt...
, who was working in London. The name of the weapon was changed to the Nordenfelt gun. A plant producing the weapon was set up in England, with sales offices in London, and long demonstrations were conducted at several exhibitions. The weapon was adopted by the British Royal Navy, as an addition to their Gatling
The Gatling gun is one of the best known early rapid-fire weapons and a forerunner of the modern machine gun. It is well known for its use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s, which was the first time it was employed in combat...
and Gardner gun
The Gardner gun was an early type of mechanical machine gun. It had one or two barrels, was fed from a vertical magazine or hopper and was operated by a crank. When the crank was turned, a feed arm positioned a cartridge in the breech, the bolt closed and the weapon fired...
During a demonstration held at Portsmouth a ten-barrelled version of the weapon, firing rifle calibre bullets fired 3,000 rounds of ammunition in 3 minutes and 3 seconds without stoppage or failure.
The weapon also had relatively impressive performance: During testing in Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...
, a 38 mm (1.5 inch) calibre Nordenfelt gun penetrated deeper into a 5 cm (2 inch) thick iron plate than a 88 mm (9-pounder, 3.5 inch calibre) gun at the same range.
However, with the development of the Maxim gun
The Maxim gun was the first self-powered machine gun, invented by the American-born British inventor Sir Hiram Maxim in 1884. It has been called "the weapon most associated with [British] imperial conquest".-Functionality:...
the weapon was eventually outclassed. Nordenfelt merged in 1888 with the Maxim Gun Company to become Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company
Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company
The Maxim-Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company was the result of a takeover by Hiram Maxim of Thorsten Nordenfelt's Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company in 1888.-History:The company produced a range of light artillery, machine guns and ammunition....
- Animations and technical descriptions of 2, 4 and 5-barrel Machine Guns (Requires Quicktime and not suitable for slow-speed links)
- Nordenfelt Video—video of Nordenfelt machine gun firing