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Old 12 March 2007, 08:08 AM   #1
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Post The Davis recoilless gun

I come across this very interesting excerpt in Ballantine's "The Guns 1939-45" by Ian Hogg, pp 140-41

Counting out one or two experimenters who didn't really know what they were doing, the first man to make a really recoilless gun was an American, commander Davis. in about 1910 he patented an idea wich was so simple as to appear ridiculous; his gun was made up from two barrels attached to a common chamber, one barrel pointing forward and the other backward. The forward barrel fired a conventional projectile, while the rear barrel fired a counter-shot, of the same weight as the 'business' projectile. The charge was loaded into the central chamber and fired; each projectile departed down its own barrel, equal weights moving at equal velocities, resultin in equal reaction - or recoil -from each barrel. Result - no recoil. The only disadvantage to be seen was the necessity for pointing the back of the gun to a safe area, since the counter-shot would range as far as the 'business' projectile. An attempt to render this countershot less lethal was a system of making it from a mass of grease and lead shot, wich would give the necessary reaction but which would disperse quickly on leaving the barrel.
The Davis Gun, after some initial setbacks, was actually taken into use during the 1st World War by the British Royal Naval Air Service, and alter, the Royal Air Force. An non-recoilling gun firing a heavy projectile was a gift for the early aviators as a method of getting heavy firepower aloft to deal with airships, or for air-to-ground attack. Two, six and twelve-punder (1.57, 2.45 and 3 inch) versions were produced; wether they were much used in combat is doubtful, and they were declared obsolete with indecent haste once the war was over. So far as I know, the only Davis Guns still in existence are in the Imperial War Museum in London, who also have specimens of the ammunitiion. But to Commander Davis goes the honour of producing the first workable recoilless gun to be accepted into military service.
During its short service life the Davis Gun was on the secret list, and little known even in the services wich used it. Otuside it was virtually unheard of, and no further development on his ideas took place for some years...

This is mind boggling to say the least, I can't figure out how was this contraption mounted in an airplane. Anybody heard of this?
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Old 12 March 2007, 10:16 AM   #2
Ransom E. Olds
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The Davis gun was mounted to fire downward and forward, the countershot thus passing rearward and over the upper wing of the plane. From memory I think its primary intended use was for antisubmarine warfare, for which--in theory at least--it doesn't sound too far-fetched. Ransom
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Old 13 March 2007, 03:04 PM   #3
Colin A Owers
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DAvis Gun Carrier

The US Navy designed and flew the N-1 that was designed to carry the Davis Gun. It was thought that the gun would be useful in anti-submarine operations. THe N-1 was unsuccessful and dthe follow up N-2 was not proceeded with as it proved possible to mount the Davis Gun on the front cockpit of conventional flying boats such as the Curtiss HS-2L and H-16.

An example is preserved at the Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola. Florida.

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Old 17 March 2007, 01:14 AM   #4
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THIS article on my website about large-calibre WW1 aircraft guns includes a section on the Davis guns.

Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and discussion forum
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Old 17 March 2007, 07:01 PM   #5
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The Pensacola example, photographed in January 07.

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