Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1119: U.S. Navy Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon

Auction Date: May 15, 2021

Rare and Highly Desirable U.S. Navy Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $55,000 - $85,000

Rare and Highly Desirable U.S. Navy Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon

Manufacturer: Hotchkiss
Model: Revolving Cannon
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 37 mm
Barrel: 28 3/4 inch cluster
Finish: bright/black
Item Views: 2572
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 90
Class: Antique

The Hotchkiss revolving cannons were Gatling inspired artillery pieces invented in 1872 by Benjamin B. Hotchkiss. Versions were designed for field and naval use in 37 mm, 47 mm, and 53 mm. The 37 mm bore on this example dwarfs the .45 and .30 caliber rounds typically loaded into the Gatling. The original 16 ounce 37 mm cartridges were designed because exploding projectiles that weighed under 14 ounces were prohibited from use because they were deemed "inhumane". Using a five barrel cluster, the Hotchkiss is fed with gravity driven magazines, which would be replaced by a gunner's assistant while the gunner operated the elevation and traverse knobs, and kept the main crank running. They were used by several countries throughout the world, including the U.S., France, and Russia, and had an impressive range of over four miles (considered accurate to a mile). A well experienced crew was capable of firing 43 rounds a minute. A 37 mm Hotchkiss field gun is known to have been used by the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars including during the Ute Uprising in Colorado in 1879. Others were used during the Spanish-American War by both sides. Hotchkiss naval revolving cannons continued to be used even into WWI primarily as defensive weapons used by larger vessels against torpedo boats. This example has U.S. Navy markings on top of the receiver: “U.S.N./[anchor]/No-44 37 m/m/495 LBS-.” The breech has the Pratt & Whitney marking (faint). Pratt & Whitney started to manufacture the Hotchkiss revolving cannon for the U.S. Navy in 1888. The trunnion is marked “CAL-1.457/1889” (right) and “WWK” (left). Each barrel is numbered on the collar 1 through 5. Attached to the cannon is a leather faced wooden shoulder stock. The cannon is mounted on a rolling 1968 dated Boeing Vertol balancing propeller stand. Included are two shell casings and 30 projectiles. Provenance: Firearms for Freedom Collection

Rating Definition:

Fine overall, with the brass having a highly attractive untouched aged appearance. The barrels retain half of the original black enamel mixed with flaking and some residue. The elevation adjustable rear sight needs work. Mechanically fine. This highly desirable, rarely encountered U.S. Navy Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon will make a grand statement in any U.S. militeria arms collection.

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