|Place of origin||Germany|
|Wars||World War I|
|Weight||27 kg (60 lb) (without ammunition)|
|Cartridge||8x57 mm IS|
|Rate of fire||1,600 round/min|
|Muzzle velocity||930 metres per second (3,100 ft/s)|
|Effective firing range||1,800 m (2,000 yd)|
|Feed system||Drum magazine|
The Gast Gun was a German twin barreled machine gun that was developed by Karl Gast of Vorwerk und Companie of Barmen and used during the First World War. It was notable for its high rate of fire of 1,600 rounds per minute and a unique mechanism that is used in the Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23L series of Russian aircraft cannon.
The weapon so combines two barrels into a single mechanism that the recoil from firing one barrel loads and charges the second. Ammunition fed into the gun from two, vertically mounted, cylindrical drums, one on each side. The drums held 180 rounds of German 7.92 mm rifle ammunition that a compressed spring fed into the breech. An experienced gunner could change ammunition drums in a few seconds. The weapon could fire single shots if one side of the mechanism had a problem.
The gun's relative lightness at approximately 27 kg (60 lb) without ammunition led to its airborne use; a telescopic sight was mounted between the two barrels. Its simple design eased maintenance and enabled its being field stripped in one minute.
In January 1915, Karl Gast invented the gun, which would become known as the Gast-Maschinengewehr Modell 1917, while working for the Vorwerk company; the first weapon was produced in January 1916. Gast took out patents in 21 January 1916 and 13 February 1917, describing his weapon as "a double-barreled machine gun with recoiling barrels". Rates of fire of 1,600 rounds per minute were achieved during trials.
In August 1917, Gast with a demonstration so impressed ordnance experts in August 1917 that a production order for 3,000 guns along with spare parts and ten ammunition drums for each gun was awarded to Vorwerk und Companie at a unit price of 6,800 marks each. Delivery of the first 100 guns was promised for 1 June 1918, with production increasing to 500 guns per month by September 1918.
Production of the weapon exceeded these initial projections, and the weapons were favourably received with promises of an order for a further 6,000 guns being promised in September 1918.
However, the gun was rarely used, and its existence was kept secret until three years after the Armistice; in 1921 the Allied Control Commission finally became aware of the Gast gun when a cache of 25 of the guns, ammunition, and designs was found near Königsberg. Gast himself had applied for a US Patent in 1920, which was issued in 1923.
A Gast gun was evaluated by the US Army and found to be reliable and mechanically practical. However it was not felt to offer a sufficient advantage over existing machine guns to justify the expense of producing the weapon.
- Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23, a twin-barreled 23 mm autocannon developed in the Soviet Union
- Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-2, a twin-barreled 30 mm autocannon developed in the Soviet Union
- Gatling gun
- Woodman, Harry (1989). Early Aircraft Armament: The Aeroplane and the Gun Up to 1918. Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 138. ISBN 0-87474-994-8.
- Chinn, George M. (1951). The Machine Gun: History, Evolution, and Development of Manual, Automatic, and Airborne Repeating Weapons. Bureau of Ordnance.
- Gast, Karl (December 1923). "Double Barreled Machine Gun with Recoiling Barrels". US Patent 1,477,115. USPO.