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Volunteers restore 'Gatling'-type cannon, ammo loader

Restoration volunteers (from left to right) Ed Kienle, Garry Guthrie and Lou Thole load cartridges into the GAU-8/A drum. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Restoration volunteers (from left to right) Ed Kienle, Garry Guthrie and Lou Thole load cartridges into the GAU-8/A drum. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Restoration volunteers (from left to right) Ed Kienle, Garry Guthrie and Lou Thole load cartridges into the GAU-8/A drum. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Restoration volunteers (from left to right) Ed Kienle, Garry Guthrie and Lou Thole load cartridges into the GAU-8/A drum. (U.S. Air Force photo)

GAU-8/A ammunition loading system. (U.S. Air Force photo)

GAU-8/A ammunition loading system. (U.S. Air Force photo)

GAU-8/A ammunition loading system, cannon and drum in the restoration hangar. (Photo courtesy of Garry Guthrie)

GAU-8/A ammunition loading system, cannon and drum in the restoration hangar. (Photo courtesy of Garry Guthrie)

DAYTON, Ohio -- When most people think about the museum's restoration shop, they envision people working on historic aircraft and perhaps an engine or two. Restoration volunteers Garry Guthrie and Ed Kienle are working on a different kind of project, with some help from fellow volunteers Tom H. Gardner, Francis Lymburner, Paul Reinman and Lou Thole.

The project is a GAU-8/A Avenger cannon, drum and ammo loader. Installed in the nose of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, this 30mm cannon is the most powerful gun ever fitted to a production aircraft. Firing 4,200 rounds per minute, the exceptionally potent "Gatling-type" cannon was designed to destroy tanks and hard targets.

"A 30mm Gatling gun isn't something you get to work on every day," Guthrie said. "It's been a really interesting project."

According to Guthrie, another volunteer -- Bert Pilutti, who passed away earlier this year -- had actually started the project about 10 years ago by restoring the ammo drum. The cannon itself had been on display near the museum's A-10. However, other parts were still needed, and those items were collected from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base a couple of months ago. Since then, the volunteers have been piecing them together and cleaning everything.

Museum officials are still determining how the weapon system will be displayed once restoration is complete.

Guthrie and the other volunteers are pleased that visitors will benefit from their work.

"The biggest reason for volunteering here is the satisfaction," Guthrie said. "It's so neat to go into the galleries and see something you had a hand in that's now on display in the museum."

Note: This article originally appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Friends Journal. To receive the Journal and other benefits, become a member of the Air Force Museum Foundation.

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