Discussion:
Why .50 cal machine guns in USA WW2 Fighters?
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l***@hotmail.com
2016-03-01 16:16:06 UTC
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I have a question for the group. Why did the US military use .50 cal guns
on all of their fighters and bombers in World War II when there were 20
Millimeter machine cannon available. I know that the P-39 had a .37 mm
cannon that fired through its propeller hub and that the P-38 had a 20 mm
cannon in its nose. But the P-39 was not an effective fighter and was
palmed off on the Russians and the P-38 also had 4 .50 browning machine
guns in it's nose. I even remember reading about a P-38 being fitted with
a 75 mm single shot cannon that the pilot had to load between his legs.
The P-51, -47, F4U, F6F, etc all used up to 8 .50 cal machine guns. As
well as the B-17's, B-24's, etc on the Bomber force. I believe even the
early B- 47's and B-52's had .50's in their tails and they weren't built
until well after the war.
Was the .50 cal the only thing we had available? The Japanese used 20 mm
cannon on their fighters and I believe the ME-109 also had cannon on it?
Thanks in advance.
Larry Ries
Aircraft autocannons were not used because the inter-war period Army had a limited budget and systems had to have ammunition commonality. The .30-caliber was used for anti-infantry ground attack or anti-aircraft use and the .50-caliber was used for anti-vehicle or anti-tank ground attack use. In 1943 the .30-caliber was declared obsolete in the anti-aircraft role and was discontinued. 20mm cannons entered use in 1943, but American-made versions tended to jam because American engineers had trouble mathematically converting the plans from metric to inch. When jets entered service in the 1950s the autocannon replaced the machinegun because bullets were too slow and would shot their own plane.
m***@gmail.com
2017-10-09 21:18:25 UTC
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Go tell the Russians and the hundreds of Nazis they shot down that the P39 wasn't an effective fighter. Just because the US and UK didn't want to figure out how to make it work didn't mean it wasn't a good airplane.
Diogenes
2017-10-10 02:45:35 UTC
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Post by m***@gmail.com
Go tell the Russians and the hundreds of Nazis they shot down that the P39 wasn't an effective fighter. Just because the US and UK didn't want to figure out how to make it work didn't mean it wasn't a good airplane.
For a great book on the P39 Airacobra read "Nanette" by Edwards Park.
Lt. Park flew the P39 in combat and named his plane Nanette. He swears
that "she" had a personality and could be sweet, cooperative, nasty or
bitchy depending upon her mood. By the time you finish the book he
will have you convinced that Nanette was a living entitiy.

----
Diogenes

The wars are long, the peace is frail
The madmen come again . . . .

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