Friday, 12 May 2017

Military History Photo Friday: A Viennese Death Organ from 1678

I was rummaging through some old photos yesterday and came across some from the Military History Museum in Vienna I took back in 2013. The museum has an incredible collection from the 16th century up to modern times, with an especially strong World War One section. More on that in a later post. Today I'm sharing something from a bit earlier, an attempt to make a quick firing gun from 1678. It was constructed by Daniel Kollman, a gun maker for the Holy Roman Empire.

By this time guns were in common use on the battlefield and armor was on its way out, but guns still suffered from the fact that they could only fire one shot and took a while to reload. Various attempts were made to solve this, such as making guns with two or more barrels. Another solution was to put rows of guns on a carriage. This device was called a ribauldequin and appeared as early as the 14th century. It also earned the name "organ gun" since its barrels looked like the barrels of a church organ, although the music wasn't as good.
Because I couldn't get behind the ribauldequin, I couldn't see its firing mechanism. I presume it was a series of flintlocks that set off the powder in the barrels. It would have made quite a nasty antipersonnel weapon against a closely packed group of pike men, one of the more common infantry formations at the time. Reloading it must have taken ages!

1 comment:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Kind of like the first machine gun.

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