Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record

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Date of Manufacture:1957
Eminent Figure:
Catalog Number:SPAR 2194
Measurements:OL:330CM 130" BL:254CM 100" 6-BBLS

Object Description:

Manufactured by Springfield Armory, Springfield, Ma. - Resembling an extremely large Gatling Gun, and essentially a scaled up version of the Vulcan. 6 barrels all 100" long. Mounted on wheeled mount; it was designed as an anti-aircraft weapon. Weapon was developed at SPAR from 1956-1962. Six of these were apparently made and this is the first one designated the T250-X1.

No visible markings.

Weapon transferred to the Museum from Picatinny Arsenal on 19 October 1960.

Web Site photo shows the "Vigilante" being tested at Marconi Beach on Cape Cod. This area is now part of Cape Cod National Seashore.

1JAN56 - 30JUN56 - "Three different barrel designs were prepared for two models of the 20mm T171E3 Multi-Barreled Aircraft Weapon. Two of the designs were used for the extended housing and the mid-barrel clamp versions, and the third design to be used with either weapon a preliminary barrel design was prepared for a proposed 37mm light anti-aircraft weapon."
1JUL56 - 31DEC56 - "A feasibility study was made of a 37mm Gatling type weapon. Under the technical supervision of Watervliet Arsenal, the Springfield Armory version of the 37mm Gatling type weapon was selected for design and development at Springfield Armory based on the knowledge, know-how and experience accumulated through design and development of the 20mm T171 Gatling type weapon. Approximately 20% of a mock-up and component drawings of the 37mm version were completed."
1JAN57 - 30JUN57 - Drawings of the first engineering gun, T25E1, were approximately 80% completed. Fabrication was initiated with components approximately 60% completed. Consideration was being given to an electric and/or hydraulic drive and link feed system for the T250E1.
Link design was completed and sample links were being fabricated. It was anticipated that links would be tested in a link testing fixture which was under fabrication.
A ballistic testing fixture was designed and fabricated. Parameters investigated were: headspace, recoil, barrel vibration and projectile accuracy.
Calculations were made to estimate component weight, center of gravity, and moments of inertia."
1JUL57 - 31DEC57 - "Drawings of the first engineering gun T250X-1 have been completed except of main assembly drawing. Fabrication of components is approximately 95% completed.
Sample links have been fabricated and tested in the link testing fixture in 50-round belts at rate equal to maximum gun rate and acceleration time. These proved satisfactory. Link feed system is to be utilized in T250X-1 gun only.
Drawings of engineering gun T250X-2 have been initiated.
Calculations were made of T250X-2 gun to estimate component weight, center of gravity, moments of inertia and horsepower. These calculations considered shortening the ammunition case 1 1/2 inches."
1JAN58 - 30JUN58 - "Drawings and fabrication of the first engineering gun T250X-1 were completed. The initial firing at Quabbin Range was performed 21 February 1958.
The X-1 gun was scheduled to be endurance fired in 6-, 12-, 18-, 24- and 48-round bursts. During this period, improvements were incorporated into the gun to improve its function and to increase reliability.
Drawings of the X-2 gun T250-X1 were completed and the fabrication of components approximately 95% completed."
1JUL58 - 31DEC58 - "Firing of the first engineering gun T250X-1 was completed on 8 September 1958. Forty-eight round bursts were accomplished with this gun using an electric drive. A breadboard hydraulic gun drive for the T250X-1 was fabricated by Vickers and tested at the Armory. The T250X-1 gun and hydraulic gun drive was then forwarded to Camp Wellfleet for ammunition tests by Picatinny Arsenal.
The T250X-2 gun was fabricated and assembled the week of 25 August 1958. Due to delay of delivery of the mount from Watertown Arsenal and cradle-magazine gun drive package from Armour Research Foundation, firing of the X-2 gun was delayed until October 1958. Problems have been: insufficient power of gun drive to alFabrication and assembly of the T250 Pilot Number 1 gun were accomplished the last week of December 1958. Components for the T250 Pilot Number 2 gun were completed and ready for assembly. Fabrication of housing for Pilot Guns Numbers 3 and 4 was initiated....
The Analog Computer facility was used to determine the trunnion reaction forces of the Vigilante Model X2 where the firing rate and the recoil impulse were parameters. The study was extended to include frictional forces and the longitudinal components of the cam and land forces. The computer was also utilized in preliminary calculations for the design of a mount for the T175 weapon."
1JAN59 - 30JUN59 - "The Pilot No. 1 feed system was received at the Armory on 3 February 1959 at which time the T250X-2 gun was installed. Firing with the T250X-2 feed system was suspended since it did not provide sufficient power to allow firing of a 48 burst.
Firing tests were initiated with the T250X-2 gun and Pilot No. 1 feed system on 12 February 1959. Early tests indicated that the feed system could maintain a 48-round burst and with 11,688 gear ratio in gun drive transmission, an average rate of fire for 48 rounds was 600 rd/min below maximum required.
Since the maximum rate of fire was not obtained, two approaches were undertaken to increase the rate; first a design program was initiated to lighten the rotating mass of gun and, secondly, the accumulator pressure was increased. By using 2000 to 2100 PSI preload and 4000 PSI accumulator pressure, an average rate for 48 rounds of 400 rds/min below maximum was obtained.
On 24 March 1959, extensive damage was incurred by the T250X-2 gun and Pilot No. 1 feed system. Damage was caused by a misfired round debulleting and the firing of a second round in the chamber containing the debulleted projectile.
Due to the above average damage caused by a debulleted round, firing was suspended until 20 May 1959 at which time ammunition was received which was acceptable from a debulleting standpoint.
On 10 April 1959 Pilot No. 1 gun, non-firing, was forwarded to Sperry Utah Engineering Laboratory. The T250X-2 and Pilot No. 1 feed systems and all related components were shipped to Armour Research Foundation on 23 April 1959 for repair and modification.
The T250X-2 gun was rebuilt and outfitted with a three pawl ejector assembly and the following lightened components: barrels, connector block and bolt assemblies. Dry runs with this weapon indicated an increase in rate of fire could be achieved.
Pilot No. 2 gun, modified with lightened components and installed in feed system No. 4, could not be delivered to Sperry Utah Engineering Laboratory by 28 June 1959. This was due to limited supply of ammunition and open circuits encountered during burst firing.
Pilot No. 4 gun was completely assembled with the exception of the main bearing. Delivery of main bearings in June 1959 by manufactures has been delayed by fabrication difficulty. This delay will be reflected in the assembly date of Pilot No. 4, 5 and 6 guns.
Ammunition with loose and leaky primers as previously encountered was corrected by Picatinny Arsenal. However, with the modified cartridge case for overcoming debulleting, spilt cases and cracks in the rim of the case have been encountered....
37mm (Vigilante) barrels have been modified into a lightweight version for test purposes."
1JUL59 - 31DEC59 - "Tests were initiated 7 July 1959 on the Pilot No. 2 gun and Pilot No. 4 feed system. the gun contained lightweight components, 3 pawl ejector system, 12.49 gear ratio and bolt stabilizer cam. The bolt stabilizer was installed in this weapon since it proved necessary and successful on the Pilot No. 2 weapon to obtain higher rate and prevented damage to rollers, main cam and track covers.
The armament package was subjected to proof firing and limited function tests for a total of 230 rounds. During function tests, certain deficiencies were noted; namely, numerous misfires dOn 24 July 1959, the Armory forwarded to Armour Research Foundation the T250X-2 gun. The T250 Pilot No. 4 gun was forwarded to ARF on 18 September 1959.
Due to the number of misfires encountered with Pilot No. 2 and No. 3 guns, the Armory redesigned the firing pin assembly to lightened components and redesigned the firing contact by extending the housing to support the molding compound and prevent deflection of the contact blades.
A cable assembly was designed and fabricated which permitted the firing circuit on the weapon to be disconnected at the junction box on the feed system.
Firing of the gun indicated that the Armory prediction to increase rate by weight modification was accomplished.
Further weight reduction of the barrel was accomplished to the new weight of 72 pounds.
A design was completed which reduced the impacting force of the S.A. bolt assembly against the connector block by 50%.
Delivery of ten main bearings scheduled in June 1959 was not accomplished until August 1959 due to manufacturing difficulties and strike which occurred at contractor's plant."
1JAN60 - 30JUN60 - "The weapon ordnance drawings were revised to reflect the changes for incorporation of the Armor Research Foundation bolt design.
The Springfield Armory weapon design which reduced the impacting force of the bolt assembly against the connector block by 50% was submitted to the shop for modification of necessary components. All components were modified, main cam, rear housing and bolt assemblies; however, a cradle-magazine package and certain components required for assembly of weapon were not received from Watervliet Arsenal for initiation of tests.
The light barrel of 73 pounds was further reduced in weight to 63 pounds. One high pressure round was fired in the 63 pounds barrel after the bore was heated to 280 degrees F. at a point 26 inches from the breech (high pressure point in barrel). Barrel measurements, internal and external, did not change after firing. One high pressure round was fired in the 63 pound barrel after the entire barrel was heated to 320 degrees F. Barrel measurements, internal and external, did not change after firing."
1JAN61 -30JUN61 - "Action was taken by Professional Design Company to perform dimensional and functional check of the T250 weapon drawings."
1JUL61 - 31DEC61 - "Professional Design Company completed the dimensional and functional check of the T250 weapon drawings. A review of the drawings was initiated by the Armory prior to transmittal of drawings to Watervliet Arsenal."
1JAN62 - 30JUN62 - "The Armory performed final review of complete set of T250 weapon drawings. A complete set of original drawings and one set of microfilms were forwarded to Watervliet Arsenal. This completed the Armory's activity on this program."

Notes: "In 1955, the Army was searching for a new 37-mm anti-aircraft gun. The Armory designed a Gatling Gun of this caliber and presented the principle features to the Pentagon. The design was accepted and the development ordered. Since Watervliet Arsenal, at Watervliet, New York, had the mission for this size weapon, we held a meeting at Watervliet with their commanding officer to review the situation. It was agreed that Watervliet would manage the program, but they would pass development responsibility on to us at Springfield Armory, due to our experience in Gatling weapons.
The design effort was directed at Springfield Armory by Dr. Alexander Hammer. The weapon system was designated the Vigilante, and
This specimen was test fired at Marconi Station in 1961. Marconi Station is now part of Cape Cod National Seashore.

Rayle, Roy E. RANDOM SHOTS: EPISODES IN THE LIFE OF A WEAPONS DEVELOPER. Merriam Press. Burlington, Vt. 1997.

SA-TR7-1601 - CANNON, 37MM, ANTIAIRCRAFT GUN, VIGILANTE, T250X1 (U) - G. Bornheim, H. Coombs, 2 Nov 59. Confidential Report. Limited Distribution. The design and development of the 37mm Vigilante T250X1 are summarized. This weapon was designed primarily for antiaircraft applications. A detailed description of the characteristics features of this weapon is given. Test procedures are described and results are discussed. Report declassified.
SA-TR7-1602 - CANNON, 37MM, ANTIAIRCRAFT GUN, VIGILANTE, T250X2 - G. Bornheim, H. Coombs, 6 August 1958.

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