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Minigun

Updated on April 8, 2013

Minigun

The Minigun is a multibarreled machine gun with a high rate of fire (several thousand rounds per minute), employing Gatling-style rotating barrels and an external power source. In popular culture the term has come to refer to any externally powered Gatling gun of rifle caliber, though the term is sometimes used to refer to guns of similar rates of fire and configuration regardless of power source and caliber. Specifically, the term Minigun refers to a single weapon, originally produced by General Electric. The "mini" of the name is in comparison to designs that use a similar firing mechanism but 20 mm or larger shells, such as General Electric's earlier M61 Vulcan.

Vietnam Gun (Minigun)

Minigun

1960s: Vietnam war

In the 1960s, the US military began exploring modern variants of the electric-powered, rotating barrel Gatling gun-style weapons for use in the Vietnam War. The US forces in Vietnam, which used helicopters as one of the primary means of transporting soldiers and equipment through the dense jungle, found that the thin-skinned helicopters were very vulnerable to small arms fire and Rocket-Propelled Grenade attacks when they slowed down to land. Although helicopters had mounted single-barrel machine guns, using single-barrel machine guns to repel attackers hidden in the dense jungle foliage often led to barrels overheating or cartridge jams.

In order to develop a weapon with a more reliable, higher rate of fire, General Electric designers scaled down the rotating-barrel 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon for 7.62 x 51 mm NATO ammunition. The resulting weapon, designated XM134 and known popularly as the Minigun, could fire up to 6,000 rounds per minute without overheating. The Minigun was mounted on OH-6 Cayuse and OH-58 Kiowa side pods, in the turret and wing pods on AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, on door, pylon and pod mounts on UH-1 "Huey" Iroquois transport helicopters, and on many other helicopters and aircraft.

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    • seeker2011 lm profile image

      seeker2011 lm 6 years ago

      I guess this would be on the store shelf with General Electric's washing machine. Nice informative lense. At several thousand rounds per minute is it not a weapon of mass destruction.

    • Airinka profile image

      Airinka 7 years ago

      Looks crazy :).