On several of my pages I've mentioned the .50 GAU-19/A Gatling machine gun, formerly known by the more catchy name of the GECAL 50. This weapon has a lot to recommend it as an armament for aircraft and light vehicles. The weapon even finds its way into the science fiction game HALO as the M41 LAAG (above). The manufacture's webpage has changed, and the new structure makes it difficult to link to the relevant sections, so instead I'm creating this page for quick reference. The GAU 19/A can be mounted on vehicles, boats, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. It weighs a shade more than the M2 Browning HMG but delivers 2½ to 3x the cyclic rate. Since it uses three barrels that are spun through the air this rate of fire can be sustained for a longer time. Cyclic rate of the GAU 19/A is given as 1300rpm, which is rather low for a gatlin- type weapon, but it should be remembered that this is still more than 20 rounds per second, and that each of these rounds is a .50 bullet capable of destroying light armour. I have a data table from an old copy of Janes which gives the cyclic rate of the GECAL 50 as being up to 8000rpm, so the weapon may be capable of higher rates of fire. Old articles on the GECAL 50 claim that the weapon can be self powered if there is no electrical supply and that the weapon had a 10 round burst mode. Such a burst would take less than half a second to fire ie, the last round would be on its way before the effects of recoil are felt. One would expect a very tight grouping useful for attacking point targets such as individuals. In this mode the weapon may use ammo more economically than a conventional machine gun with a lower rate of fire.
Jane's Infantry Weapons 2002-3 does not metion any self-powered capability but gives the weight of the weapon as 33.6kg (74lb) and cyclic rate as selectable between 1000rpm or 2000rpm. Time to spin up to full cyclic rate is given as 0.3sec and the weapon can fire 60 rounds in less than two seconds.
The data below is for the HMMWV mounted version.
Weight without Ammunition
409 Pounds Estimated (185.9 kg)
680 Pounds Estimated (354.5kg)
Rate of Fire
1,300 Shots Per Minute System
30,000 Mean Rounds Between Failure
Average Peak Recoil
600 Pounds at 1,300 Shots Per Minute
Electrical (DC System) Electronic Control Unit
Vehicle Batteries (24 VDC)
Field of Fire Elevation
± 40° (From Any Point on 360° Ring)
Available Sighting Systems
Ring and Post, Laser Designator, Optical, Holographic
Feedback Martin writes Just read with some interest your article on the Gecal 50, I worked on the design of this in the late 80's early 90's and often wondered what happened to it. Now I know. I must say I did have a lot of fun on that product, especially when mounted to Special Forces LSV's. I obviously prefered the 6 barrel version for sheer power, but understand the move to 3 barrels. What I don't understand is why they slowed it down so much as we used to run the 6 barrel at 12000rpm (rounds). I only wish I could share with you the videos of when we demonstrated it to the US secretary of defence. The guys needed some targets, one was a wall made from telegraph poles, the second was dodge 1 ton truck.. The third, which was the best, was a customised van bought from a guy on the base (bit like an A team van!). Like you say, for all these targets, being hit by 100 .50 calibre rounds every second ruined their day.