It Existed: The Camel-Mounted Gatling Gun


High firepower on camel back. 1861-62 Getty Images

Nope, that's not a Photoshop job or an illustration for the latest alternate history book. During the mid 1850s, you really did find camel-mounted hand-cranked Gatling guns.

The innovation followed the Turkish zamburak tradition of camel-mounted weaponry -- first the crossbow, then power guns and eventually rapid-fire Gatling guns mounted on a swivel.

According to "Mughal Warfare: Indian Frontiers and Highroads to Empire 1500-1700," you didn't fire one of thee bad boys while the camel was still afoot. Instead, the zamburak soldier made the animal kneel, then fastened each leg with a cord to keep it from moving.

According to Bibliomania, the name "zamburak" liekly refers to the "twang" of a cross-bow at the moment of discharge, thus calling back to its pre-gunpowder roots.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.