Interrupter Gear - Origins


Experimentation with gun synchronization had been underway in France and Germany before the First World War. August Euler applied for German Patent No. DRP 248.601 for a fixed forward mounting on an airplane for a machine gun in 1910.

However, the engineers involved received little support or encouragement from the military who disregarded the need for armed aircraft, believing them solely useful for reconnaissance. Swiss engineer Franz Schneider, working for Luftverkehrs Gesellschaft, designed and patented a synchronizer in 1913. French aircraft designer Raymond Saulnier built and patented a practical gun synchronizer in April 1914, having borrowed a machine gun from the army for testing. No design was developed to the point of being operational in the field, one significant problem being the inconsistency of ammunition propellant resulting in hang fire rounds.

Saulnier pursued a simpler method using armoured propeller blades. In December 1914, French pilot Roland Garros approached Saulnier to arrange for this device to be installed on his aeroplane but it was not until March 1915 that he took to the air with a forward-firing Hotchkiss 8 mm (.323 in) machine gun mounted on his Morane-Saulnier Type L. In addition to the armoured blades, Garros's mechanic, Jules Hue, attached deflector wedges to the blades. While this reduced the chance of a dangerous ricochet, the wedges diminished the propeller's efficiency.

On 1 April 1915, flying for MS26, Garros shot down his first German aircraft, killing both the crew. On 18 April 1915, having shot down three German aircraft, Garros' plane was forced down in German territory. Before he could burn his aircraft, he was captured and the gun and propeller were sent for evaluation by the Inspektion der Fliegertruppen (Idflieg) at Döberitz near Berlin.

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