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3,7cm Revolver Kanone

Fortress artillery

Contributor :
Bernard Plumier      http://www.passioncompassion1418.com
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Location :
Boalsburg, PA
Pennsylvania War Museum
Coordinates : Lat : 40.78190 / Long : -77.79500
General comments on this surviving gun :

Identical items in the same location : 1
Items covered by this file : 1

Impressive gun in this rich museum. Breech marking '411'

The plaque says this item has been captured from Germans in WW1, but does not mention if it was as a naval gun of a trench gun

View on the 5 rotating tubes

Historic and technical information
Denomination :     3,7cm Revolver K Origin :       ( Hotchkiss)             ( Gruson )          

Historic context :

Benjamin Berkeley Hotchkiss, American citizen born in the Connecticut, migrated to France in 1867 at 41 years old, and founded an ammunition manufacture (Hotchkiss et Cie) in Paris (Saint Denis). Known a a prolific inventor, he designed in 1874, for the ships defence against rapid torpedo light boats but also as a landing or a field weapon, the Quick Fire Revolver Gun, cousin of the famous Gatling machine guns used during the Secession war in USA.

This mythic gun was composed of 5 tubes with a 37 mm (1,5 inches) caliber, rotationg around an axis. The tubes rotation, realized thanks to a crank, allowed the loading of the upper tube via an ammo guide containing 10 little shells assembled with their cartidges, while the lower tube, placed in front of the percussion mechanism, was firing.

The theoretical fire rate was 60 rounds per minute, but practically was better known as around 32 rounds per minute. This latter performance remained remarkable anyway ! It existed in numerous calibers 37, 47, 53 mm..., but the 37 mm was by far the most successful

The Hotchkiss Revolver Gun was adopted by numerous countries including France, USA, Germany, ... in its navy version, on field carriage or a fortress defence weapon. It was sometimes manufactured under license by local producers. Therefore, it was present on both side of the front in several fighting armies as soon as 1914.

In Germany, the 3,7 cm Revolver Gun was manufactured under license by the Gruson company, first as a Navy weapon against quick torpedo boats in 1874, then in 1884 as a rampart or flank defense fortress gun. It was named '3.7 cm Revolver Kanone Hotchkiss - Gruson'

Not really appreciated because of its noise and smoke, and lacking power in its naval role, most of these guns were sent to the depots. They were sent back to service in 1914 to serve as anti-aircraft guns; but also as trench guns and later as anti-tank weapons.

Technical data :

  • Complete description : 3,7cm Revolver Gun
  • Design year : 1874
  • Calibre : 37.00 mm
  • Weight in firing position : 571 kg (casemate version) - 367 kg (field carriage)
  • Weight for transportation :
  • Tube length in calibres : 32.20 (total tube length) - 20 for the rifled part only
  • Grooves : 12 6 degrees angle
  • Projectile weight : 0.63 kg (explosif) - 0.64 kg (boîte à mitraille)
  • Initial speed : 494 m/s
  • Fire rate : 32 to 50 rounds per minute
  • Range : 2000 m (high explosive) - 300 m (grape shot)
  • Elevation range : -10 to +5 degrees (fortress) / -5 to +18 degrees (field carriage)
  • Direction range :

  • German Artillery of World War One           Herbert Jager                   Crowood   2001  
  • A gun for all nations - The 37 mm Gun and Ammunition - Volume I - 1870-1913       Robert A Mellichamp                     2010  
  • Wikipedia http://fr.wikipedia.org/