Caldwell machine gun
Country of origin


Production began


Weapon type

Hand-cranked "heavy machine gun"


.303 British



Magazine/Cylinder capacity

104 round pan magazines

Cyclic rate

Variable, reported to be 500 RPM

Maximum effective range

1000 meters

The Caldwell machine gun is a hand-cranked water-cooled firearm of Australian origin. [1][2][3][4][5]


Designed by Thomas Frederic Caldwell of Melbourne, Australia, who moved to the United Kingdom to bring his invention to the attention of the British Government. It was lighter than its contemporary, the Maxim gun, and was also said to be cheaper to build and produce and was even said to be "foolproof". It is unclear whether any were produced, or if it advanced past prototype stages.


This two-barreled crank-operated firearm looks similar to the Maxim gun, but includes a steam valve. The two barrels can fire either simultaneously or separately, with a variable rate of fire dependent on how fast the crank is operated, à la gatling guns of the time.


  • The "machine gun" title it was given in most publications is somewhat of a misnomer, as it is hand cranked and not fully-automatic as what is expected of machine guns, and as such is not regarded as a true machine gun in the current sense of the term; it would be classified as a semi-automatic firearm in the U.S. under the National Firearms Act.


  1. CALDWELL MACHINE GUN CO. The Argus, Saturday 20 March 1915, Page 21
  2. CALDWELL MACHINE GUN. Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLII, Issue 13645, 27 March 1915, Page 4

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