Similar items over time

Gatling Gun - Armstrong Mitchell, 1884 Object Reg. No: ST 038282

Armstrong Mitchell Gatling gun with 10 barrels within brass jacket, made in 1884.

The Gatling gun is an semi-automatic early machine gun, apparently first used in combat in the American Civil War. According to Bill Smith in 'Armstrong Siddeley Motors' (Veloce Publishing Ltd, 2006), 'In 1870 Sir W.G. Armstrong & Co built the American-designed Gatling gun under licence...'

Armstrong had been established in 1847 by William G. Armstrong as an engineering works on Tyneside, the manufacturer was keen to develop international standing and to sell weapons to defence forces in the Australian Colonies. It entered an exhibit of 'war-like material' in the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880, for which it won a gold medal now held by Museum Victoria (NU 32587). The firm had previously won a gold medal at the Sydney exhibition in 1879 for the same exhibit. Armstrong eventually was merged several times, and today operates as Vickers Defence Systems. The Melbourne International Exhibition ran from 1 October 1880 to 30 April 1881.

According to the British Royal Armouries, the Gatling gun shoots a large number of bullets quickly, but unlike modern machine guns a crank handle has to be operated by hand to keep the gun firing. 'The machine gun can be counted among the most important technologies of the past 100 years. It set the brutal, unrelenting tone of World Wars I and II. With a machine gun a single soldier could fire hundreds of bullets every minute, decimating entire units. Heavy battle equipment such as tanks had to be developed to withstand this sort of barrage.'
Gun with 10 barrels and brass jacket. Mounted in yoke towards rear of barrel, allowing for vertical adjustment. A semi-circular blade beneath the pivot point maintains alignment during movement. A wooden handle at the rear would be used for pivoting the gun.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Australian War Memorial (AWM), 1955
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 670.00 mm (Height), 280.00 mm (Width), 1295.00 mm (Length)
Dimension Comment: Measurement From Conservation. Measuring Method: Maximum dimensions, gun on mount

More information

Tagged with: australian military forces, colonial military forces, defences, machine guns american, machine guns british, machine guns
Themes this item is part of: William Armstrong & Co., Engineers, England, Arms Collection, Numismatics & Philately Collection
Primary Classification: ARMS & ARMOUR
Secondary Classification: Firearms
Tertiary Classification: longarms
Inscriptions: Plate on the jacket inscribed 'Sir W G Armstrong Mitchell & Co Limited Mclf 1884'. On trunnions: 'no 4136'. On the yoke: 'no 4136'.
Model Name/Number: 1884 Gatling Gun
Manufacturer: Sir W.G. Armstrong Mitchell & Co Ltd, England, Great Britain, 1884
References: Royal Armouries web site, accessed 20/11/08.


John Rogers Posted on 17 Apr 2010 11:11 PM
The Gatling Gun exhibited at the Melbourne Exhibition in 1880/1 afterwards went to Adelaide and then back to Melbourne where it was sold to the Victorian Government and mounted on Cerberus in August 1882. The Argus, 28 August 1882.
Details at

Add your comment

  • Museum Victoria does not provide valuations, for more information please visit the valuation infosheet
  • Please note that Museum Victoria staff will not normally respond to comments posted on our website.

Similar items

Yes No