The original SAW weapon saw active combat for just over six months, from April to October, 1854, on the Anatolian Peninsula during the Crimean War. While extremely effective at crowd control, with some of the most advanced technology of the day (one of the first hand-held, belt-fed, automatic weapons in history), it had a number of problems that led to its fall from favor.
First and foremost, was its weight. The steam-powered blade required both a water reservoir and a fuel bin in addition to its ‘regular’ armament. At over sixty pounds, it was difficult to haul, and unwieldy in close quarters. The battlefield environment of the Crimean also necessitated two additional soldiers per gun, one to carry the mandated six gallons of water in reserve, and another to carry the forty spare pounds of coal.
The second problem stemmed from its basic design. Self-inflicted blade injuries to the operator outnumbered those to intended targets. As French Marshal Jacques Leroy de Saint Arnaud put it, “Any young man should feel honored to lose a limb in the service of France and The Emperor.” But as Corporal Jean-Baptiste Emanuel rebutted so eloquently, “Va te faire foutre, trouduc!” The gun was retired.
The original SAW was designed by C. Simpson La Produzione e le Attrezzature da Sci Azienda (Gunsmith and Ski Equipment Co.) of Bologna, Italy for the French and Spanish armies. SAW (Spinning Anti-personnel Weapon) was the British designation for the gun. The Italian designation was ‘Filatura Cosa Pericolose’ (roughly translated ‘dangerous spinning thing’). The wood is from local olive trees, and as with all military weapons, used only the lightest and strongest metals. Cast iron was used extensively throughout, as well as zinc, copper, and lead.
The D&Y SAW Gun honors the European tradition and materials of the original Italian craftsmen, but with the benefits of modern technology. This D&Y has the silhouette of the original, but is far lighter. Steam is still included, but the blade is powered by lighter, quieter, and more reliable modern electric motor technology. The lighter composite materials and compact, self-contained technology, bring the overall weight down significantly, for easy carrying and maneuverability. Although some safety measures have been introduced, the SAW Gun is still not intended for use by amateurs.
Product photos by Jason Ganwich
This device is still in the shop and is continuing to be improved.