Title:
METHOD FOR LOADING A WEAPON IN LINE WITH THE RATE OF FIRE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A revolver cylinder is rotated at least approximately at a speed that corresponds to the normal rate of fire of a weapon. When a predetermined loading step is reached, the trigger of the weapon is controlled such that fire can be opened essentially without delay. The weapon is fired without break immediately after (with) the loading process. At the same time, the weapon is transferred, thus only directly before firing, from a secure SAFE state to the CHARGED state, whereby the safety standards of the weapon are significantly improved. The time during which the weapon is in the state of operational and firing readiness and not in the SAFE state is minimized or entirely eliminated, which considerably increases the operating safety. Extending the time in the SAFE state allows the level of testing for the weapon (for example for the trigger) to be greater, which in turn results in greater reliability of the weapon.



Inventors:
Gerber, Michael (Zuerich, CH)
Vonlanthen, Alfred (Fehraltdorf, CH)
Application Number:
14/054222
Publication Date:
08/07/2014
Filing Date:
10/15/2013
Assignee:
Rheinmetall Air Defence AG (Zuerich, CH)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41A9/06; F41C3/14
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
CHAMBERS, TROY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Muncy, Geissler, Olds & Lowe, P.C. (4000 Legato Road Suite 310 Fairfax VA 22033)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for loading a revolver gun with a revolver drum with ammunition, the method comprising: starting a loading process in combination with an initiation of a fire command at a first time; inserting the ammunition into at least one or more cartridge chambers in the revolver drum, with the revolver drum being rotated at least approximately at a rate that corresponds to the normal firing rate of the weapon, the revolver drum being rotated further at least until a first cartridge has reached a firing position; and operating a trigger of the weapon at a second time, which immediately follows the first time, as a result of which fire is opened without any delay.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein a firing burst is ended when a third time is reached.

3. The method according to claim 2, wherein, if there is no further fire command, the weapon is unloaded from a further time, as a result of which the weapon is unloaded from a specific end time.

4. The method according to claim 2, wherein the unloading process takes place at the third time and is carried out between the third time and a specific end time at a rate which corresponds at least approximately to the normal firing rate of the weapon.

5. The method according to claim 1, wherein precisely as many cartridges are fed as are required for the fire command.

6. The method according to claim 5, wherein, in the case of a single shot, only one cartridge is fed, the ammunition feed to the revolver drum is interrupted, the revolver drum is rotated further until the cartridge in the firing position is reached, and one and only one shot is fired by operation of the trip at the second time.

7. The method according to claim 5, wherein, in the case of a plurality of shots, precisely this number of cartridges are fed, the ammunition feed is then interrupted, and the revolver drum is rotated further until the last shot has been fired at the third time.

Description:

This nonprovisional application is a continuation of International Application No. PCT/EP2012/055201, which was filed on Mar. 23, 2012, and which claims priority to German Patent Application No. DE 10 2011 017 117.7, which was filed in Germany on Apr. 14, 2011, and which are both herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates a method for loading revolver guns, in particular remotely controlled revolver guns, in time with or depending on the firing rate.

2. Description of the Background Art

Fundamentally, revolver guns are known. They are used, not exclusively, but preferably, in the medium-calibre range. As soon as a gun is not required to be ready for use, the gun is generally unloaded. This means that the ammunition chambers in the revolver drum do not contain any ammunition, that is to say they are empty. This requirement is upheld for safety reasons, according to which it is in every case necessary to avoid ammunition being fired inadvertently, resulting in damage to the gun or danger to the surrounding area. Considered over the entire life, a gun is, of course, predominantly in this unloaded state. Revolver guns therefore always have to be loaded first of all in order to reach operational or firing readiness. This is done by feeding cartridges in steps from the ammunition feed to the firing position in the gun such that at least the cartridge chamber which is in the firing position contains a cartridge in that cartridge chamber. The known medium-calibre range revolver guns are loaded either manually, pneumatically, hydraulically or else electrically.

In this case, step-by-step loading is dependent on the number of cartridge chambers. In the case of a weapon having four cartridge chambers, this means that three loading processes take place. For each loading step, a control slide is accelerated by a hydraulic loading apparatus for this purpose. This hydraulic loading apparatus moves to the rear limit position and is pushed back again by the closing springs. The revolver drum is rotated synchronously through 90° by the control cam in the control slide, and the drum carries out a loading cycle. In an initial position, a round is located in an ammunition feed which generally has no belt links, and is fed from this into a gun feeder. The first cartridge is thus located at the initial position in the feeder and can be gripped by the gun cartridge slide. The first cartridge is then pushed further onto the rotor (drum shaft) by the star wheels of the feeder, and half of it is pushed by the cartridge slide into the upper cartridge chamber (which is referred to as the 12 o'clock position) in the drum. This first cartridge is rotated further on the rotor and is pushed by the cartridge slide completely into the cartridge chamber which is now located at the 9 o'clock position. During the subsequent 90° drum rotation, the cartridge chamber with the first cartridge is rotated further to the 6 o'clock firing position. In this case, the breech block in the weapon housing is positioned behind the cartridge, and locks it. The weapon is thus loaded and is ready to fire. One known hydraulic loading apparatus can carry out the three required loading processes in 1 to about 2 seconds, thus loading the gun within this time.

FIG. 1 shows a conventional breech mechanism 100 of a weapon (gun), which is not shown in any more detail, in the form of an exploded drawing. In this case, 1 denotes a cradle on or in which a control lever 2 as well as return-flow lines 3 and a pressure line 4 are integrated. Both lines are connected to a hydraulic unit 5. The further assemblies are a return-flow store 6, a solenoid valve 7, a loading apparatus 8 and a pressure reservoir 9, a loading piston 10, a plunger 11, a control slide 12, a revolver drum 13 and a cartridge chamber 14. The loading apparatus 8 is attached to the cradle 1 of the weapon. In order to load the revolver gun, the revolver drum 13 must be rotated such that it is possible to insert the cartridges (not illustrated) into the cartridge chambers 14. The hydraulic unit 5 is used to provide the required pressure for operation of the loading apparatus 8. The pressure apparatus 8 has a motor-driven pump, a tank, a filter, an overpressure valve, an adjustable pressure-control valve and a bypass (not illustrated). The pressure line 4 carries the hydraulic medium under pressure to the loading apparatus 8, and the return-flow line 3 passes the medium back into the tank. In order to load the weapon, the hydraulic unit 5 applies pressure to the pressure reservoirs 9 via the pressure line 4. When the solenoid valve is opened, initiated electronically by the weapon controller (not illustrated), the loading piston 10 is forced with a high energy level against the plunger 11, ultimately causing the control slide 12 to move in the opposite direction to the muzzle direction of the barrel (not illustrated in any more detail). The revolver drum 13 is therefore caused to rotate. This process is carried out three times in the case of a revolver drum having four cartridge chambers. The weapon is thus loaded and ready to fire. The method according to the invention now provides for this loading process to be carried out a rate which corresponds at least approximately to the normal firing rate of the gun and, as soon as the weapon is ready to fire immediately after this, the trigger (not illustrated) is released, in order to allow the gun to be fired at the normal firing rate without any delay.

FIG. 2 shows a state diagram of the weapon according to the conventional art. FIG. 2 shows the state Z of the weapon in a state diagram as a function of the time t. According to the known method, the weapon initially (t<t0) is in the unloaded SAFE state. The weapon loading process starts at a time t0 and is completed at the time t1; this time interval normally takes a few seconds. The weapon is therefore loaded well before use, and is left in the loaded state. The loading process is independent of any fire command. From a time t1, the weapon is in the CHARGED state, and is therefore ready for use and ready to fire. In this CHARGED state (and even in the loading phase between t0 and t1), enhanced safety regulations are applicable. From t1, a fire command could be given at a time t2 “FIRE”. There may be very different time intervals between t1 and t2. If a fire command is given at the time t2, the firing of a single shot, of a plurality of shots or of a salvo lasts until a further time t3 “STOP”. Firing is stopped and the weapon remains in the CHARGED state. In this case it is possible for a further fire command to be given, such that the times t2, FIRE and t3 STOP may be passed through several times, with the weapon subsequently remaining in the CHARGED state. Irrespective of whether a fire command is given (that is to say the steps t2 and t3 were possibly not be carried out), the weapon must be unloaded again within the time interval between the times t4 and t5, as a result of which the weapon is in the SAFE state again from t5, in which the safety requirements become less stringent again, and, in particular, maintenance and test processes can be carried out.

Loading processes such as these are particularly time-consuming. A further characteristic of the loading process of these weapons is that the loading process must be carried out a very long time before use. Furthermore, an assessment must be made that the use of the weapon is to be expected at a later time. This assessment is subject to uncertainty and requires extensive planning activities. It is therefore necessary to decide in good time when the weapon will be changed from the safety-non-critical (SAFE) state to the critical (CHARGED) state. In this state, more stringent requirements must be applied to the operation and safety devices of the weapon than in the SAFE state. For example, the rights of the operator to work, carry out maintenance and to remain in the vicinity of the weapon are then greatly restricted. The weapon is therefore in a state other than the generally desirable SAFE state for a relatively long time period. If, when in use, and contrary to expectation and contrary to the preparatory loading activities, the weapon is then not used, the weapon must be unloaded again, because of the fundamentally known safety aspects. This involves an additional time penalty. This is because the weapon is returned to the SAFE state only after being unloaded.

As is known, in some cases, the ammunition being fed and carried away during the loading/unloading process is subject to severe mechanical loads. Since it is normally not possible, when in the usage phase in field conditions, to test which parts of the unloaded ammunition have been excessively mechanically severely loaded and which parts of the ammunition have been only sufficiently lightly loaded that they would still be serviceable for future use, all the cartridges which have been unloaded are disposed of irrespective of the level to which they have actually been loaded. This leads to high costs.

DE 10 2007 046 545 A1, which corresponds to U.S. Pat. No. 8,225,999, and which is incorporated herein by reference, discloses a method for controlling the firing sequence of a machine gun, in which the firing sequence is modified such that the time interval between adjacent shot initiations is alternately reduced or increased, with the desired firing rate being created overall, in order to prevent resonant oscillations of the weapon barrel.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a method for loading revolving guns, which complies with considerably more stringent safety standards while at the same time being cost-effective.

In an embodiment, the invention is based on the idea of speeding up the operation of the known loading apparatus and of linking the loading process to the operation of the trigger at the same time. In this case, the loading process is speeded up such that the, for example three, loading movements in the case of a four-chamber drum are carried out, for example, in a time of between one and a few tenths of a second. Ideally, the steps in the loading process are carried out at a rate which is approximately or is the same as the normal firing rate of the gun. This process is known as loading in time with the firing rate. During the last loading process, the trigger is operated or released, such that fire is opened without any delay after loading.

It is proposed that the revolver drum be allowed to rotate at least approximately at a rate which corresponds to the normal firing rate of the weapon. When a predetermined loading step is reached, the weapon trigger is operated such that fire can be opened essentially without any delay. Firing initiation takes place without any deterioration in the operational conditions, the operational readiness being achieved very quickly overall. In this case, the loading process is carried out in an extremely short time which does not significantly prolong the reaction time for firing the weapon, thus allowing the loading process to be carried out only when fire is actually opened. The weapon is fired without any pause immediately after (with) the loading process. At the same time, that is to say only immediately before firing, the weapon is changed from the SAFE state to the CHARGED state, thus considerably improving the safety standards of the weapon. The time in which the weapon is ready for use and ready to fire and not in the SAFE state is limited to a minimum or becomes zero, thus leading to a considerable improvement in operational safety. Lengthening the time in the SAFE state allows a greater test depth (for example for the trigger) for the weapon, which in turn results in higher weapon reliability.

Since the weapon is now loaded only when fire is actually opened, there is no need to anticipate ammunition losses resulting from ammunition being damaged during the loading/unloading process. Undesirable mechanical loading of the unloaded ammunition is completely avoided, thus avoiding costly disposal.

The method allows a remotely controlled, and automatic and rapid loading process, which can be used even in unmanned guns and gun turrets (for example in the case of naval guns or weapon stations on vehicles/platforms etc.).

Further scope of applicability of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description given hereinafter. However, it should be understood that the detailed description and specific examples, while indicating preferred embodiments of the invention, are given by way of illustration only, since various changes and modifications within the spirit and scope of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will become more fully understood from the detailed description given hereinbelow and the accompanying drawings which are given by way of illustration only, and thus, are not limitive of the present invention, and wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a breech mechanism of a weapon or gun in the form of an exploded drawing, according to the conventional art;

FIG. 2 shows a state diagram of the weapon according to the conventional art;

FIG. 3 shows a state diagram of a weapon with a loading method in time with the firing rate;

FIG. 4 shows a further state diagram with the loading method; and

FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of the loading method.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 3 shows a state diagram of the weapon based on a loading method in time with the firing rate. The weapon is initially (t<t0) in the unloaded SAFE state. In contrast to the loading method according to the prior art, no separate loading command is initiated at a time t0 in order to produce firing readiness in the CHARGED state. The loading process in time with the firing rate is started from a time t1, only in combination with the initiation of a fire command. The loading process is therefore directly dependent on a fire command. In this case, ammunition is inserted into at least one or more cartridge chambers in the revolver drum 13, with the revolver drum being rotated at least approximately at the rate which corresponds to the normal firing rate of the weapon. The revolver drum 13 is rotated further at least until the first cartridge has reached the firing position. Subsequently or approximately at the same time, at a time t2 “FIRE”, the weapon trigger is operated such that fire can be opened essentially without any delay. The firing burst then lasts to a time t3 “STOP”. The weapon is therefore in the ready-to-fire CHARGED state, such that a further shot or firing burst could be initiated without any delay. As soon as no further fire command is given, the weapon is unloaded again from a time t4, as a result of which the weapon is unloaded from the time t5, and is once again in the SAFE state.

The firing rate of known revolver guns is in the range from several hundred to more than a thousand shots per minute. The loading process in time with the firing rate between the times t1 and t2 accordingly takes place in a time period of considerably less than one second, in particular in the range from ¼ to ⅓ second. This delay between the fire command and the firing of the first cartridge is short, and can easily be integrated in the fire control computation for the overall gun by, for example, correction of the lead parameters, the elevation or the azimuth angle, and also the initiation time for break-up or explosive ammunition.

In the case in which the weapon is not used, that is to say no fire command is initiated (not illustrated), the weapon remains permanently in the SAFE state. The less stringent safety requirements for the SAFE state can therefore be maintained and, furthermore, there is no longer any need to unload unused ammunition from the weapon, and then to dispose of it at high cost.

In a further embodiment of the method as shown in FIG. 4, the weapon does not remain any longer in the CHARGED state after the end of a firing burst at the time t3 “STOP”, but, instead, is automatically followed by the unloading process. There is therefore no time t4 for starting the unloading process, since it coincides with the time t3. The unloading process between the times t3 and t5 is likewise carried out at a rate which corresponds at least approximately to the normal firing rate of the weapon. The unloading process is therefore completed very quickly—normally within considerably less than one second—after the end of the firing burst, and the weapon is once again in the non-critical SAFE state.

When required at all, the weapon need be unloaded only when a fire command with the weapon being fired has previously been given. This occurs considerably less often than the production of firing and operational readiness as in the prior art, thus resulting in considerable ammunition and cost savings here.

In a further advantageous embodiment of the method as shown in FIG. 5, during loading in time with the firing rate, only precisely as many cartridges are fed as are required for the fire command. If the fire command comprises only a single shot, only one cartridge is fed, the ammunition feed to the revolver drum 13 is interrupted, and the revolver drum 13 is rotated further until the cartridge in the firing position is reached. Just one shot is then fired by operation of the release at the time t2 “FIRE”. If the fire command comprises a plurality of shots, precisely this number of cartridges are fed, the ammunition feed is then interrupted, and the revolver drum 13 is rotated further until the last shot has been fired at the time t3 “STOP”. The particular advantage of this embodiment is that, after the end of firing, all the cartridge chambers in the revolver drum 13 are empty, and the weapon is therefore automatically once again in the SAFE state. No cartridges need be unloaded. This method is therefore particularly cost-effective, and at the same time safe.

The invention being thus described, it will be obvious that the same may be varied in many ways. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention, and all such modifications as would be obvious to one skilled in the art are to be included within the scope of the following claims.