WWII Ammunition comparisons.

Aircraft:
Spitfire L.F. Mk. IX & Mosquito FB VI
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Black-Witch
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Location: NW Hampshire

WWII Ammunition comparisons.

Post by Black-Witch »

Following the "Bracket" and "Sandwich" training yesterday (21-11-21) there was a brief discussion about the ammunition used by the Allies and axis aircraft.

Here is a brief summary of the excellent book "Flying Guns: World War II".

This book describes the history of aircraft guns, their ammunition and their installations in aircraft. It commences with a technical history covering the development of guns, their ammunition, and related issues such as mountings and sights. This is followed by chapters on aircraft installations covering all nations and an evaluation of their use in combat. Appendices include comprehensive tables of the gun installations of World War II combat aircraft with details and illustrations of the guns used and specifications of their ammunition. There has never before been a comprehensive description of World War II aircraft gun armament. This book has been written with the aim of being the definitive work on this subject, dealing with armament of all participating air forces. Every technical aspect has been covered: gun design in the full range of sizes from small-caliber machine guns to heavy cannon; ammunition types and their use; fixed, flexible and turreted installations and gun sights. Comparative drawings and specifications of service weapons are provided, plus illustrations and data concerning their ammunition.

Let's start with RCMG, Rifle Calibre Machine Guns.

Here is a picture of a RAF Browning .303" (7.7mm) and a Luftwaffe (LW) 7.92mm bullet, they are quite identical as individual rounds, They both had a rate of fire of around 1200 rpm. At the start of the battle of britain the RAF fighters were fitted with 8 of these guns, and the Bf109E's didn't initially have any pilot or fuel tank armour.

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The Bf109 however was fitted with 20mm cannons, initially the MGFF with 60 rounds for each of the 2 guns, these were not overly effective as they had a slow velocity and therefore the rounds "dropped" at longer ranges.

In 1941 the new LW Cannon appeared with a higher velocity, the MG151, initially in 15mm calibre,not only small calibre but only 1 was fitted in the nose of the 109F, this meant that most LW pilots were not destroying enemy fighters. The round and barrel were changed to 20mm. At the same time the RAF was using the 20mm Hispano. Below is a picture of the two 20mm rounds, the LW one is a MinenGeschoss AP Tracer round, the RAF one is the black and white AP round.
MinenGeschoss rounds were designed to self detonate after about 5 or 6 seconds.
The Hispano was slightly better, it had a higher velocity, meaning it was more accurate and that AP rounds had more kinetic energy. This is reflected by the size of the Hispano's larger cartridge.

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Strangely in DCS the Spitfire's 20mm Hispano's self detonate after 6 seconds, so appear to be German MG151's.

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The Americans had settled on the Browning .50" Calibre HMG (12.7mm) as a standard weapon for all their military forces, they were fitted to Bomber turrets, on top of Tanks, even on patrol boats. It is still in use today, a testament to its effectiveness.
The LW were also having to upgrade their 7.7mm MG's as they were facing 4 engine enemy bombers and RCMG's weren't up to the job. Their answer was the 13mm MG131.
The .50 was a better weapon as it had a higher velocity and a heavier round. In the picture below you can see a .50 round wrapped in 7.62mm rounds alongside a 13mm round and an empty case of a .50. these show the greater cartridge size of the American HMG.

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By the end of the war Hawker Tempests and Typhoons were fitted with four Hispano's, as was the Mosquito and Beaufighter, these were considered some of the best armed fighters of the war.
Later Fw190A's also had four 20mm MG151's fitted.

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As the LW faced more and more heavy bomber raids, they had to up their game again going to 30mm cannon rounds.
The Bf109G-6's onward had the option for one of these in the nose, the Me262 had four in the nose.
Here are the previously seen 20mm cannon rounds alongside the 30mm HE MinenGeschoss round of the MK108.

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Interestingly, at the end of the war Mauser were working on the next development of faster firing guns which was a powered rotating 30mm autocannon, this still had a single barrel but a multi-round breech which spun round. This was copied by the British as the Aden Cannon. This was fitted to the Hawker Hunter.

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The aggressive spirit, the offensive, is the chief thing everywhere in war, and the air is no exception.

Manfred Von Richthofen.

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Chris
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Joined: 23 Feb 2020, 21:12

Re: WWII Ammunition comparisons.

Post by Chris »

Thanks for this Lee, very informative... enjoyed it!
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