Mk 18 Mod 0 grenade launcher
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|Mk 18 Mod 0 grenade launcher|
Mk 18 Mod 0 Grenade Launchers (right and on tripod) at the War Remnants Museum (Ho Chi Minh City)
|Place of origin||United States|
|In service||1960s - Early 1970s|
|Used by||US Navy|
|Manufacturer||Honeywell Corporation and Aeronautical Products Division|
|Action||Hand Cranked, Manual Reloading|
|Rate of fire||250 rounds per minute|
|Effective firing range||2200 yards|
The Mk 18 Mod 0 was a 40x46mm grenade launcher used by the US Navy during the Vietnam War and also the last known hand crank operated firearm since the Gatling Gun. It has been replaced by the Mk 19 in service with the United States Armed Forces.
This weapon is a manually operated, belt fed, rapid-fire 40mm grenade launcher designed to provide coverages of targets with high explosive fragmenting grenades. It will fire at variable rates up to 250 rounds per minute at ranges from approximately 328 yards to 2,200 yards. The rotary spilt breech, utilized in this weapon, allows straight through feeding of ammunition and eliminates the need for a reciprocating bolt, extraction of ammunition from a belt, extraction from a chamber and ejection for the weapon.The 40mm Mk18 utilizes a spilt breech concept which has been previously used but has some original characteristics based on the introduction of a mechanism to allow the top rotor to move vertically and synchronizes the bottom rotor. Between 1965 and 1968, approximately 1200 of the Mk18 Mod 0, 40mm Multiple Grenade Launchers were produced by the Honeywell Corporation and Aeronautical Products Division, Hopkins, Minnesota. The first patent application was filed by Honeywell in 1964, however, the initial development work commenced in late 1962. The concept was originally proposed during a study on the behavior of fuzes for the M79 grenade launcher ammunition. Honeywell had anticipated the need for a simple, inexpensive and extremely mobile rapid fire weapon that could provide a team of two men with an effective capability for delivering large quantities of explosive grenades within a limited range primarily for suppressive and defensive fire purposes. The development of the 40mm cartridge grenade with its two stage propelling system (essentially an impulse system) made such a weapon possible. The high-low pressure propelling system utilized in the 40mm cartridges permits the use of a spilt breech mechanism which allows the weapon to be extremely light and simple....Test Result - From results of the evaluation it was concluded that the prototype 40mm Mk18 Mod 0 grenade launcher as received from Honeywell Inc. will fire 5000 rounds without wearout failures. However, during the evaluation, the performance of the gun, especially during the first 3000 rounds was unsatisfactory because of the high stoppage rate due to faulty ammunition belting, inadequate firing pin protrusion, and the rough cycling action of the weapon at the higher rates of fire. It was also recommended that the firing mechanism be modified to prevent inadvertent firing of the round during movement of the firing pin from the safe to fire position. While this concept was soon declared obsolete due to the introduction of the much needed automatic 40mm grenade launcher system, ". More than 500 of the new weapons have been ordered by the Navy from Honeywell, Inc, which developed the weapon in 1963, under contracts of more than $750,000. Designed for use on a low tripod, the small lightweight weapon is capable of firing up to 375 meters at a rate of over 250 rounds a minute. For its Navy role, the gun is expected to be mounted atop a 50-caliber machine gun on the stern of each PBR. Two rounds are fired during each full crank revolution; thus, loading occurs at 3 and 9 'o'clock,' firing at 6 and 12. A three position know is located at the rear of the gun for 'Fire,' 'Safe,' and 'Load' control. For the Navy, a 48-round ammo box weighing 35 lbs. is used. A 19-lb., 24-round box also is available for use in the field. Belts are hand-loaded and may be reused up to 4 or 5 times. The Mark 18 was used primarily on small boats or in fixed positions such as bunkers; their primary users were the so-called “River Rats” and the SEALs. They could be mounted on M-2HB, M-60, or M-1919 tripods or pintle mounts, but could not be fired without such a mount.