In Search of The Centrifugal Machine Gun: Bangerter’s Noiseless, Smokeless Gun

By Michael Laramie

The Sound of Silence

Friedrich Bangerter peeked out from behind a curtain at the crowd gathering in his spacious Brooklyn loft. The Swiss native and mechanical engineer quickly categorized the observers who had begun chatting among themselves. There were mechanical experts, reporters, a number of foreign representatives, and more importantly, what appeared to be a few members of the U.S. government. It was the exciting culmination of years of work, but even so Bangerter found himself reflecting on his recently departed friend, Dr. William Marsh, the president of Standard Meter Company, who had died a few weeks before in early 1908. Marsh had encouraged Friedrich when his efforts seemed to stall and financially backed him when they bore fruit.
Bangerter’s thoughts returned to the moment with a burst of laughter coming from a cluster of spectators. He checked his creation one last time and then exited the small wooden room appearing before the crowd of 20 or so. The conversations faded away as Bangerter stood before them. The Swiss inventor wanted to make a few remarks before starting the demonstration. First, no one would be allowed to inspect the weapon, and as such, it had been placed inside a small wooden enclosure built into the corner of the loft. A firing hole had been cut so even the barrel could not be seen. Second, his invention did not require conventional explosives nor did it use compressed air as some might think after witnessing the demonstration. In fact, it was far simpler, employing a principle that almost any technically inclined person would understand; hence the need for secrecy.

For safety reasons he had constructed a wooden partition from which his guests would be protected from any ricochets or flying debris. There were a few murmurs as the inventor asked everyone to position themselves behind the barrier and then excused himself and disappeared into the wooden enclosure. A whirling noise became apparent as Bangerter reappeared a few seconds later, and with a large scoop he began depositing several dozen ball bearings...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V23N3 (March 2019)
and was posted online on February 1, 2019


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