US 3427923 A
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Feb. 18, 1969 A. MEYER ETAL 3,427,923
STORAGE OF LINKED AMMUNITION F OR CARTRIDGE FEED SYSTEMS sheet Filed Feb. 8. 1967 amen r423: 507/11 A M57178 .3 67/44/2455 A 324165 17640 1969 E. A. MEYER ETAL 3,427,923
STORAGE 0F LINKED AMMUNITION FOR CARTRIDGE FEED SYSTEMS Z of 2 Sheet Filed Feb w 2 mu 9 m W a United States Patent US. Cl. 89-33 13 Claims Int. Cl. F41d 9/02; F41c 25/10 ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A method of feeding cartridges to a rapid fire gun by linking the cartridges for hinge movement with respect to one another, accordion folding the linked cartridges to form a package, pushing the folded cartridge package into a feed channel wide enough to accommodate the package, and subsequently pulling the linked cartridges from the package to form a single file of cartridges at a gun feed station. Apparatus for accomplishing the method by moving a single file of cartridges between the nip of alternately notched, facing, power driven elements such as sprockets, the notches of two elements being staggered at the nip with respect to one another and of a depth and spacing to receive cartridges at the nip whereby successive cartridges are offset from one another, and the driven elements force the ofi'set cartridges into accordion folded condition. A second driven element station in the course of a long channel to act as a booster.
Background of the invention An article by Colonel Jim Crossman in the The American Rifleman of December 1966 at pages 46-49 outlines the problems with which the present invention is concerned. As that article points out, when, for example, the Vulcan millimeter gun is firing at its full firing rate of six thousand shots per minute, a cartridge belt feeding the gun has to be driven at about 800 feet per minute. In aircraft and other crowded environments, the ammunition must either be stored compactly close to the gun, which now commonly involves the use of a drum container, or the ammunition must be fed through a feed chute, often long, and through many twists and turns, from some other ammunition storage container, commonly a rectangular box. Particularly in the case of the long feed chute, a serious problem is excessive belt pull. If the span and the speed are great enough, the belt will break or the gun stall.
One of the objects of this invention is to provide a method of storing and retrieving ammunition and of feeding ammunition to a gun, which entails the use of less storage space, less strain on belted ammunition, slower rate of travel through the reaches of chute remote from the immediate gun feed station and the use of less power than ammunition storage and feed methods known heretofore.
Another object of this invention is to provide apparatus by which the method can be carried out effectively.
Other objects will become apparent to those skilled in the art in the light of the following description and accompanying drawings.
3,427,923 Patented Feb. 18, 1969 Summary of the invention In accordance with this invention, generally stated, a method of storing, retrieving, and conveying ammunition is provided which comprises confining cartridges which are all oriented in the same direction, in a staggered, accordion folded pattern for storage or conveyance, and rearranging the cartridges into a single file at or near the feed station for a gun. In the preferred embodiment of method of this invention, the method includes hingedly linking the cartridges for relative movement of successive cartridges about a hinge axis, moving the cartridges about said hinge axes in one direction and the other to form an accordion folded cartridge package, pushing said cartridge package into a feed channel wide enough to accommodate the package and subsequently pulling the linked cartridges from the package to form the single file of cartridges at the gun feed station.
The preferred embodiment of apparatus for carrying out the preferred embodiment of method of this invention, includes a pair of sprocket-like elements in edge to edge facing arrangement, geared together or otherwise synchronized, and provided with alternating notches, staggered across the nip between the sprockets and of a size and depth to receive, within the nip between the sprockets, a cartridge, so as to offset successive cartridges laterally of one another. For storage purposes, the sprockets are arranged in such a way that a single file of linked cartridges is fed into the nip of the sprockets, and emerges as an accordion folded package of cartridges in a channel or chute of a width to accommodate the folded package. In the preferred embodiment described, the package chute takes the form of a continuous helix within a drum type storage container. The drum type container is provided with a driving mechanism in the form of a drive shaft, with flutes to engage the noses of the cartridges, rotatably mounted within the drum and synchronized with the sprockets to aid the loading of the cartridges to the remote reaches of the helical channel. However, the initial loading force derives from the sprockets, which push the accordion folded package into the helical channel in the drum.
In unloading the drum, the drive shaft flutes serve to move the cartridges along the helical channel to the feed end of the drum, where the same sprockets may be utilized to convert the accordion folded package into a single file of cartridges and pull them from the package channel.
It has been discovered that the accordion folding of the linked cartridges has .several outstanding advantages. First, because it reduces the effective distance between successive contiguous cartridges, it reduces the fan radius of the ammunition strikingly. For example, it reduces the minimum normal nose fan radius of 7. 62 mm. linked Nato ammunition from 7.20 inches to 1.32 inches. In other words, utilizing the method and apparatus of this invention, one can use a drum of approximately one-half the diameter of the drums which are presently used.
There is also a reduction in the linear dimension of the accordion folded belt as compared with even a double layer of single file belted ammunition. Thus, rounds of 7.62 mm. standard linked Nato ammunition in a denble layer extends 29 inches in a straight line; 100 rounds of the same ammunition, accordion folded, occupies 26.25 inches. However, the reduction in fan radius and length is only one advantage. An even more important advantage is in the reduction in speed at which the package must travel in feeding a rapid-fire gun. It can be seen that if the accordion folded package can be moved as a package, it need be moved less than one-half as fast (in the example given of 7.62 mm. ammunition, in the ratio of 26.25 to 58) as a single file of the same linked cartridges to supply a given number of cartridges to a gun feed station. This represents a remarkable saving in power and substantially eliminates the problem of stalling and belt breakage resulting from the attenuation of the single file belt at high speeds.
Still another great advantage of the method and apparatus of this invention is that the package, because of the nature of the linkage, is flexible but stable, and can be pushed without exerting a lateral thrust against the sides of a channel or chute. If an attempt is made to push along a channel a single file of linked cartridges, unless the cartridges are so rigidly confined as to keep the links in perfect alignment, which is an impossible practical achievement, a slight cocking of successive cartridges produces a toggle efiect which forces the successive cartridges against opposite side walls of a channel in which they are confined. In the cartridge package of this invention, the cartridges butt against one another and the connecting links act as trusses to form a solid package which has no tendency to expand laterally.
Sprockets placed intermediate the ends of the reach of a long feed channel of this invention can be used as boosters.
Brief description of the drawing In the drawing, FIGURE 1 is a view in perspective, partly cut away, one of illustrative embodiment of ammunition system of this invention;
FIGURE 2 is a view in perspective of the system shown in FIGURE 1, with parts of a storage drum in phantom lines to show a portion of the interior of the storage drum, and with some parts omitted to show sprocket details;
FIGURE 3 is a top plan view, somewhat diagrammatic in character, of a different embodiment of system of this invention showing a linear feed and storage channel;
FIGURE 4 is a fragmentary view in perspective showing feed sprockets of this invention used as boosters; and
FIGURE 5 is a top plan view partly in phantom lines illustrating the minimum normal nose fan radius of conventional single file linked cartridges as compared with the minimum normal nose fan radius of an accordion folded cartridge package of this invention.
Description of the preferred embodiment Referring now to the drawing and particularly to FIG- URES 3 and 4 for one illustrative embodiment of method and apparatus of this invention, reference numeral 1 indicates a belt of conventionally linked ammunition, in the present illustrative embodiment, 7.62 mm. Nato ammunition using M-13 links. The belt of ammunition 1 is made up of cartridges 2 linked together by means of one-piece sheet metal links 3, each of which is made up of a pair of spaced tight fitting spring clip members 4 and a knuckle member 5. The knuckle member 5 extends sufl'iciently around a cart-ridge circumferentially to prevent the cartridges being dislodged accidentally laterally, but is sufficiently loose fitting to permit a considerable degree of freedom of the cartridge to move within its compass. The cartridge is prevented from falling out of the knuckle memleer by the fact that the clip members bound the knuckle member on either side. It is the looseness or play of the cartridge within the knuckle member which permits the belt of ammunition to be fanned and twisted. The pinpermits the belt to bend freely. The amount of the fan is dependent upon both the amount of play of the cartridge within the knuckle and upon the distance between successive cartridges, the latter limitation being imposed by the design of the links.
As shown somewhat diagrammatically in FIGURE 3, a single file of ammunition is fed through a single file channel 10 into the nip between facing sprockets 15 and 20. The sprockets 15 and are geared together in the same way as the sprockets shown in FIGURE 4, to keep them synchronized with one another. Each of the sprockets 15 and 20 has a plurality, in this case six, of notches 16 and 21 respectively in its periphery, and the sprockets 15 and 20 are coordinated in such a way that the notches are staggered across the nip, as shown clearly in FIGURE 3.
As the belt 1 with the cartridges 2 passes through the V nip of the sprockets 15 and 20, the cartridges are offset first in one direction and then the other, and pushed into a wider package channel 30 by the action of the sprockets, which are rotated by a power source not here shown. As can be seen clearly from FIGURE 3, the belt assumes an accordion folded configuration, forming a linked ammunition package 35, each of the cartridges abutting a cartridge which in the single file was one cartridge removed in the belt. This cartridge package 35 and the channel 30 constitute a cartridge magazine in which the pushing force developed by the sprockets 15 and 20 is transmitted through abutment of the cartridges in the abutted files. The intervening links between successive cartridges form a truss like structure, which precludes, under axially compressive force, any transverse expansion of the accordion fold package 35. As has been indicated, the representation in FIGURE 3 is somewhat diagrammatic. As shown more particularly in FIGURE 5, the abutment of the cartridges in the package 35 is not case to case but link to link. However, the cartridges are separated only by the thickness of the link metal, as distinguished from the span of the link in single file. The channel 30, as can be seen clearly in FIGURE 3, is wide enough to accommodate the cartridges in their abutted condition which permits the package to be pushed. At the same time, the drag of the channel surfaces ensures that the cartridges nest in abutment as long as they are being pushed.
In FIGURE 3, a second set of sprockets 36 and 40 is provided by way of illustration. These sprockets are also power driven and serve as power boosters along the channel 30.
Referring now to FIGURES 1 and 2 for another, illustrative, and preferred embodiment of the method and apparatus of this invention, reference numeral indicates a cylindrical storage drum into which belted ammunition 1 is fed for storage and from which it is removed for feeding to a rapid fire gun. The dmm 100 has, extending, radially inwardly from its cylindrical shell, a continuous helical channel 130, the bottom wall of which is defined by the inner surface of the cylindrical shell and side walls of which are defined by radially inwardly extending continuous side walls 131, terminating at the feed end in an open mouth, opening through a feed end drum closure 150.
A gear case 151 is bolted to the drum end closure 150. A flexible drive shaft 152, connected at one end to a power source, not here shown, is shown as entering the gear case 151 to drive gears not illustrated. One set of gears is arranged to drive a rotatably mounted fluted drive shaft, extending axially of the drum through the center of the drum, the flutes of which are oriented to receive the noses of the projectile components of the cartridges, and, during the loading processes, to move the package 35 through the length of the drum. Such fluted drive shafts are commonly used in storage drums with single file, linkless cartridges, and form no part of this invention.
The drive shaft 152 also drives, synchronously with the tie efiect of the cartridge case itself within the knuckle 5, 75 fluted drive shaft, a set of sprockets and mounted on shafts 117 and 122 respectively. At the bottom of the shafts 117 and 122 are timing gears 118 and 123 respec tively, which mesh to ensure synchronization of the sprockets 115 and 120. In the embodiment shown the shaft 122 is driven through the gear case 151 by the flexible drive shaft 152. The shaft 117 is driven through the gears 123 and 11 8, from the shaft 122.
In feeding the cartridges out of the drum, it is only necessary to reverse the direction of the rotation of the drive shaft 152 when the flutes of the drive shaft will act to move the package toward the sprockets 115 and 120, and the sprockets themselves will pull the cartridges into single file much as shown in FIGURES 1 and 2. Of course, if the configuration of the chute permits it, the cartridges can again be pushed by the sprockets 115 and 120 into an accordion folded package.
It can be seen that the loading process itself ensures that the stored package is ready for proper feeding into the gun. If there is any mislinking, it will show up in a jam in the sprockets when the bullets are being fed into the storage chamber and before they are fed to the gun. The same thing is true in the embodiment shown in FIGURES 3 and 4. In that embodiment, the feed to the gun can be either from the same end of the channels as the one which in FIGURE 3 is indicated as being the end at which the single file is fed into the nip of the sprockets 15 and 20, or from the opposite end, where a similar set of sprockets will act to restore the cartridges to single file. In either case, as the single file of cartridges goes through the nip of the sprockets 1-5 and 20 initially, any mislinking will manifest itself in a jam at the sprockets 15 and 20 before loading is completed.
The accordion folded linked package, has not only a much smaller fan radius, but it retains the same twist and bend characteristics as the single file belt, these being functions of the play permitted by the knuckle portion of the link, and not upon its orientation about the hinge axis. Accordingly, the accordion folded package can be pushed through the same twists and turns as a single file package can be pulled. Since the force required to push the package is transmitted from one cartridge or abutting link surfaceto another, the pushing force which the package will stand is limited only by the resistance to collapsing of the cartridge case reinforced by the steel link.
The method and apparatus of this invention are applicable to a large variety of belted ammunition; any caliber cartridge which is likely to be belted, and almost any type of belt, i.e., continuous belt and disintegrating belt, metal, cloth, plastic or paper. The ammunition sys tem of this invention, in fact, may make it feasible to use lightweight, inexpensive belting or link material, since in moving the package, the cartridges themselves transmit most of the compressive load. The term linking is used to embrace every type of belting or joining of successive cartridges in such a way that they hinge with respect to one another.
The apparatus may take various other forms. For example, instead of opposed sprockets, a pair of flexible belts of the segmented V-belt type, with the segments staggered across the nip between them, might be employed. The notched members may be driven by any suitable power source, including hand, the latter particularly in the storage operation, where mislinking of the cartridges will be manifest and correction can be made easily. Various other means for offsetting successive cartridges may be used, such as reciprocating plungers, single sprockets with flippers, and the like, but some pushing force must be supplied, either by the offsetting device itself or by an auxiliary device, because the package of this invention is designed to be pushed. At a gun feed station, while it is desirable as a matter of strict control to have a set of sprockets or the like to pull the belt into single file, it is entirely feasible in many applications to 6 permit the gun feed mechanism to pull the cartridges directly from the package as the package in a channel, approaches the gun. The storage containers can be of any desired shape or size.
Having thus described the invention, what is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:
1. The method of feeding cartridges to a rapid fire gun, said cartridges being hingedly linked in a belt for relative movement of successive cartridges about a hinge axis, comprising moving said cartridges about said hinge axes alternately in one direction and the other to form an accordion folded cartridge package of a multiplicity of cartridges in two files, each file conspiring alternate cartridges of said belt, in which linked cartridges of at least one file are in abutment, pushing said cartridge package into and along a feed channel wide enough to accommodate the package, the pushing force being transmitted through the abutment of the cartridges in the abutted file, and subsequently pulling the said linked cartridges from the package to form a single file of cartridges to feed said gun.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein successive cartridges in both files abut.
3. The method of forming a cartridge package comprised of a belt of linked cartridges successive of which are accordion folded about hinge axes substantially parallel to the long axes of the cartridges and loaded into a channel of a width to accommodate said accordion folded cartridges, said method comprising hingedly linking cartridges for relative movement of successive cartridges about a hinge substantially parallel to the long axes of said cartridges, feeding a single file of said linked cartridges between a pair of moving notched elements coordinated alternately to match a notch of one with an unnotched portion of the other, said notches being of a depth and spacing to receive a cartridge in the nip between said elements, whereby the cartridges are offset from one another as they pass through the said nip, and causing said offset cartridges to abut snugly, accordion fold fashion.
4. Apparatus for forming a cartridge package of successive linked cartridges comprising facing notched elements, said elements being movable relative to one another and coordinated alternately to match a notch of one with an unnotched portion of the other, said notches being of a depth and spacing to receive a cartridge in the nip between the elements whereby successive cartridges are offset from one another in successive notches; means for feeding a plurality of cartridges in single file between said elements, and means for causing said offset cartridges to nest accordion fold fashion.
5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the notched elements are in the form of sprockets.
6. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the means for causing the offset cartridges to nest comprise surfaces of a channel positioned to receive the offset cartridges from said elements and of a width to accommodate the accordion-folded cartridges.
7. The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the channel is long and a second pair of power driven notched elements is operatively positioned at a place in the channel remote from the first to act as a booster.
8. A cartridge magazine comprising an elongate channel, a belt of linked cartridges successive of which are accordion folded about hinge axes substantially parallel to the long axes of the cartridges to form a package of a multiplicity of cartridges in two files, each file comprising alternate cartridges of the belt, the cartridges of at least one file being in abutment, said channel being of sufficient width to accommodate said package, and means for pushing said accordion folded linked cartridges into and along said channel, said pushing force being transmitted through the abutment of the cartridges in the abutted file.
9. The cartridge magazine of claim 8 wherein the channel is non-linear.
10. The magazine of claim 9 wherein the non-linear channel takes the form of a helix.
11. The magazine of claim 10 wherein said accordion folded cartridges extend generally radially about the axis of said helical channel.
12. The magazine of claim 8 wherein said channel is of U-shape cross-section comprising a bottom wall of a width to accommodate said accordion folded cartridges and side walls extending therefrom, the long axes of said cartridges in said channel extending parallel to said side walls and the bases of said cartridges engaging said bottom wall.
13. The magazine of claim 12 wherein said channel is in the form of a helix, and said accordion folded car- References Cite v UNITED STATES PATENTS 10 BENJAMIN A. BORCHELT, Primary Examiner.
STEPHEN C. BENTLEY, Assistant Examiner. 1
US. Cl. X.R.
tridges extend generally radially about the axis of said 5 89 34 helical channel.