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The mystery of the vanishing gun inventor
BBC ^ | 15 August 2013 | Steve Punt

Posted on 08/16/2013 9:21:09 AM PDT by Second Amendment First

William Cantelo, a 19th Century inventor rumoured to be working on an early version of the machine-gun, left his house one day and never returned.

In the early 1880s, the residents of Bargate Street, Southampton, were probably a bit fed up with one of their neighbours.

From the cellar beneath the pub run by William Cantelo would come the sound of rapid gunfire.

Cantelo, an engineer and gun-maker, was experimenting with a new type of gun. Nobody knew what it was, but it produced shots in quick succession. It was clearly not your average rifle.

One day, Cantelo announced to his sons - also engineers - that he had perfected his new invention. It was a machine-gun, a weapon which used the energy of explosive recoil to load the next bullet. It would fire continuously until the bullets ran out.

Cantelo and his sons packed it away into cases, and Cantelo went off, presumably to sell it. He frequently travelled on sales trips, as a successful builder of - among other things - ships' capstans, and other bits of marine engineering.

William Cantelo was never seen again.

As millions of Europe's young men were busy machine-gunning each other to death in World War I, the inventor of the weapon died, a very rich man and a knight of the realm. His invention had revolutionised warfare - the centuries-old infantry advance became useless, as it could be simply mown down.

Consequently armies retreated into trenches while the generals worked out how on earth to fight this new kind of war. The man who had brought about this murderous step-change was quietly buried in a south London cemetery.

His large and impressive monument contains no indication of what he invented. But his name is written in large letters - Sir Hiram Maxim.

(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: banglist; cantelo; machinegun
Interesting bit of firearms history.
1 posted on 08/16/2013 9:21:09 AM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: Second Amendment First

2 posted on 08/16/2013 9:33:17 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: Second Amendment First
The Brits started early. This from 1718. The barrel was 3 feet (0.91 m) long with a bore of 1.25 inches (32 mm) and a pre-loaded "cylinder" which held 11 charges and could fire 63 shots in seven minutes. Besides being a breech-loader, it had the added benefit of having chambers to shoot round balls against Christians and square ones against the Turks, "to convince them of the benefits of Christian civilization."


3 posted on 08/16/2013 9:35:31 AM PDT by Oatka (This is America. Assimilate or evaporate.)
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To: Oatka

If Chucky Schumer could time travel, he’d go back and hate on this guy.


4 posted on 08/16/2013 9:40:06 AM PDT by TurboZamboni (Marx smelled bad & lived with his parents most his life.)
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To: Oatka

I wonder how the square bullets worked.


5 posted on 08/16/2013 9:44:31 AM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: Second Amendment First

This reminded me of an old, humorous Russian short story, about a despondent and suicidal inventor, who the devil had successfully persuaded to commit suicide. But then the devil gets an impression from the man’s mind of the design of the, at the time, first fully automatic pistol.

Realizing its potential as a murderous weapon of war, suddenly the devil realizes that if the inventor commits suicide, the plans for the automatic pistol will be lost, and countless lives spared. So the devil has to do whatever he can and quickly, to convince the inventor to not commit suicide, that life is worth living.

This puts the devil in a most peculiar position of having to discreetly help the inventor find success, money, a wonderful wife, happy children, etc., for as long as it takes for him to complete his invention.


6 posted on 08/16/2013 10:02:22 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy (Be Brave! Fear is just the opposite of Nar!)
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To: cuban leaf

Great book!


7 posted on 08/16/2013 10:03:18 AM PDT by gop4lyf (Are we no longer in that awkward time? Or is it still too early?)
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To: Second Amendment First
I wonder how the square bullets worked.

Probably, due to windage, not too well, but it was a neat selling point ("That'll show 'em!")

I don't know if the barrel was smooth-bored or rifled, but if smoothbore, and the chambers loaded with shot, at 37MM, it would have made a nasty close-range weapon. Heck, put wheels on it and wheel it on the flanks of advancing ranks of infantry and you'd raise merry hell.

8 posted on 08/16/2013 10:14:11 AM PDT by Oatka (This is America. Assimilate or evaporate.)
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To: Second Amendment First

“We have no fear of the Hottentot, for we’ve the Maxim gun......and they do not.”


9 posted on 08/16/2013 10:25:40 AM PDT by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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To: Second Amendment First
I wonder how the square bullets worked.

Probably well enough, unless the operator used the square chambers with the round barrel.

10 posted on 08/16/2013 10:28:50 AM PDT by DeFault User
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To: TurboZamboni

And be called out and done away with in a Duel.

A custom of honor we never should have done away with.


11 posted on 08/16/2013 10:33:58 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (I will not comply.)
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To: cuban leaf

The Guns of the South is a great read. AK-47’s in the Civil War, provided by time traveling South Africans.


12 posted on 08/16/2013 10:40:58 AM PDT by SpeakerToAnimals (I hope to earn a name in battle)
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To: SpeakerToAnimals

The Guns of the South is a great read. AK-47’s in the Civil War, provided by time traveling South Africans.


Yep. It’s also the only one of his books that I REALLY enjoyed. The rest are not bad, but I don’t think they are very good either.


13 posted on 08/16/2013 10:43:05 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: cuban leaf

You are not the first one to tell me that.


14 posted on 08/16/2013 11:01:10 AM PDT by SpeakerToAnimals (I hope to earn a name in battle)
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To: SpeakerToAnimals

I actually bought (at garage sales and other sources) hard back copies of his books on alternate history for the first world war and the second world war (in the latter, space aliens attack during the war). But I felt like I was being strung along. Some themes started in one book didn’t reach completion until two books later. I read four and sold the rest of them to a second hand book store.

My time is too valuable.


15 posted on 08/16/2013 11:04:30 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: Oatka
I don't know if the barrel was smooth-bored or rifled, but if smoothbore, and the chambers loaded with shot, at 37MM, it would have made a nasty close-range weapon. Heck, put wheels on it and wheel it on the flanks of advancing ranks of infantry and you'd raise merry hell.

The Marines used 37MM canister rounds(shotgun rounds)with devastating effect against the Japanese on Guadalcanal.

16 posted on 08/16/2013 11:15:23 AM PDT by calex59
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To: cuban leaf; SpeakerToAnimals

A former friend of mine who was a giant lib and a CW reenactor who believed himself to be a CW expert would go into apoplectic fits if this book was even mentioned. He would complain to management if he saw it on the shelf in a store. He said it was racist trash like the Turner Diaries. It was like a crucifix to a vampire with him. Piqued my interest enough to read it, and it was fairly good. It got me to reading alternative history.


17 posted on 08/16/2013 11:47:56 AM PDT by jboot (It can happen here because it IS happening here.)
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To: Jimmy Valentine
Hiram Maxim’s son wrote a delightfully funny book called A Genius in the Family about growing up with his father. The old man was quite a character. He invented a number of other things. The son went on to invent the silencer for pistols.

It was Kitchener who said something to the effect of they have the numbers but we have the Maxim gun, before defeating the army of Abdullah al-Taashi in the Battle of Omdurman and securing control of the Sudan in 1898.
18 posted on 08/16/2013 12:43:39 PM PDT by Hiddigeigei ("Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish," said Dionysus - Euripides)
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To: Hiddigeigei

Up until the NFA of 1934, Marlin .22 lever action rifles could be ordered with Maxim silencers.


19 posted on 08/16/2013 12:48:32 PM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: Second Amendment First

Is the author saying William Cantello and Hiram Maxim are one and the same ? Or what’s the point of the Cantello part of the story ?


20 posted on 08/16/2013 12:51:59 PM PDT by jimt (Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.)
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To: jimt
Either that or that Maxim stole Cantello's invention and did away with him.

The first would be rather easy to prove with DNA testing.

21 posted on 08/16/2013 12:54:05 PM PDT by Harmless Teddy Bear (Revenge is a dish best served with pinto beans and muffins)
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