This article needs attention from an expert in Military history.September 2012)(
|Place of origin||Germany|
|Wars|| World War II |
Portuguese Colonial War
Rhodesian Bush War
|Manufacturer||Waffenfabrik Mauser AG|
|Rate of fire||680 to 740 rpm|
|Muzzle velocity||850 m/s|
|Place of origin||Nazi Germany|
|Used by||See users|
|Wars|| World War II |
Rhodesian Bush War
|Manufacturer||Waffenfabrik Mauser AG|
|Rate of fire||600–750 rpm|
|Muzzle velocity||700 metres per second (2,300 ft/s) to 785 metres per second (2,580 ft/s)|
The MG 151 (MG 151/15) was a German 15 mm aircraft-mounted autocannon produced by Waffenfabrik Mauser during World War II. Its 20mm variant, the 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, was widely used on German Luftwaffe fighters, night fighters, fighter-bombers, bombers and ground-attack aircraft. Salvaged guns saw post-war use by other nations.
The pre-war German doctrine for arming single-engine fighter aircraft mirrored that of the French. This doctrine favoured a powerful autocannon mounted between the cylinder banks of a V engine and firing through the propeller hub, known as a moteur-canon in French (from its first use with the Hispano-Suiza HS.8C engine in World War I, on the SPAD S.XII) and by the cognate Motorkanone in German by the 1930s. The weapon preferred by the French in this role was the most powerful 20mm Oerlikon of the time, namely the FFS model, but this proved too big for German engines. Mauser was given the task of developing a gun that would fit, with a minimum sacrifice in performance. (As a stop-gap measure, the MG FF cannon was developed and put in widespread use, but its performance was lackluster.)
Production of the MG 151 in its original 15 mm calibre format began in 1940. After combat evaluation of the 15 mm cartridge as the main armament of early Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2 fighters, the cannon was redesigned as the 20 mm MG 151/20 in 1941 to fire a 20 mm cartridge. Combat experience showed that a more powerful explosive shell was preferable to a higher projectile velocity. The MG 151/20 cartridge was created by expanding the neck of the cartridge to hold the larger explosive shell used in the MG FF cannon, and shortening the length of the cartridge case holding the longer 20 mm shell to match the overall length of the original 15 mm cartridge. These measures simplified conversion of the 15 mm to the 20 mm MG 151/20, requiring only a change of barrel and other small modifications. A disadvantage of the simplified conversion was reduction of projectile muzzle velocity from 850 metres per second (2,800 ft/s) for the 15 mm shell to 700 metres per second (2,300 ft/s) for the larger and heavier 20 mm shell. With an AP projectile the new 20 mm cartridge could penetrate only around 10–12 mm of armor at 300 m and at 60 degrees, compared to 18 mm penetration for its 15 mm predecessor in the same conditions but this was not seen as a significant limitation. The 20 mm version thus became the standard inboard cannon from the Bf 109F-4 series. The 20 mm MG 151/20 offered more predictable trajectory, longer range and higher impact velocity than the 580 metres per second (1,900 ft/s) cartridge of the earlier MG FF cannon. The MG FF was retained for flexible, wing and upward firing Schräge Musik mounts to the end of the war.
The German preference for explosion rather than armor penetration was taken further with the development of the mine shell, first introduced for the MG FF (in the Bf 109 E-4) and later introduced for the MG 151/20. Even this improvement in explosive power turned out to be unsatisfactory against the four-engine bombers that German fighters were up against in the second part of the war. By German calculations, it took about 15–20 hits with the MG 151/20 to down a heavy bomber but this was reduced to just 3–4 hits for a 30 mm shell, from the shattering effects of the hexogen explosive in the shells used for both the long-barreled MK 103 and shorter barreled MK 108 cannon. Only 4–5 hits with 20 mm calibre cannon were needed for frontal attacks on four-engined bombers but such attacks were difficult to execute. The 30 mm MK 108 cannon thus replaced the MG 151/20 as the standard, engine-mount Motorkanone centre-line armament starting with the Bf 109 K-4 and was also retrofitted to some of the G-series.
Eight hundred MG 151/20 exported to Japan aboard the Italian submarine Comandante Cappellini in August 1943 were used to equip 388 Japanese Kawasaki Ki-61-I Hei fighters. mm MG 151/20 was also fitted on the Macchi C.205, the Fiat G.55 and Reggiane Re.2005 of the Regia Aeronautica and IAR 81B and 81C of the Romanian Royal Air Force.The 20
An unknown number of cannons were converted for usage in the ground use role in early 1945, predominantly within Volkssturm units serving in the Posen area. Its effectiveness in this role are unknown but is photographed on parade in Posen November 1944 with the Wartheland Volksstrum units.
After World War II, numbers of ex-Luftwaffe MG 151/20 cannon were removed from inventory and from scrapped aircraft and used by various nations in their own aircraft. The French Air Force (AdA) and French Army aviation arm (ALAT) used MG 151/20 cannon as fixed and flexible armament in various aircraft, including helicopters. The AdA and ALAT jointly developed a rubber-insulated flexible mount for the MG 151/20 for use as a door gun, which was later used in combat in Algeria aboard several FAF/ALAT H-21C assault transport helicopters and on Sikorsky HSS-1 Pirate gunship helicopters.French Matra MG 151 20mm cannons were used by Portugal and Rhodesia fitted to their Alouette III helicopters, while Denel designed its own variant for the South African Air Force.
Two versions of the 20 mm MG 151 were built. Early guns used a percussion priming system, and later E-models used electrical priming. Some rounds were available with a timer self-destruct and/or tracer (or glowtracer). There were also different types of high-explosive shell fillings with either standard PETN, a mixture called HA41 (RDX and aluminium), and a compressed version where more explosives were compressed into same space using large pressures (XM).
|German Designation||US Abbreviation||Projectile Weight [g]||Bursting charge [g]||Muzzle Velocity [m/s]||Description|
|Brandsprenggranatpatrone 151 mit L'spur ohne Zerleger||HEI-T||113||2.3 g HE (PETN) + |
2.1 g incendiary (Elektron)
|705||Nose fuze, tracer, no self-destruct|
|Brandgranatpatrone 151||incendiary||117||6.6 to 7.3 g incendiary (BaNO3+Al+Mg)||?||Nose fuze|
|Minengeschosspatrone 151 ohne L'Spur||HE||95||18.6 g HE (PETN)||805||Nose fuze, no tracer|
|Minengeschosspatrone X 151 ohne L'Spur||HE||104||25 g HE (Ha-41)||705||Nose fuze, no tracer|
|Panzergranatpatrone 151 mit L'spur ohne Zerleger||AP-T||117||none (bakelite filling in cavity)||705||No fuze, tracer, no self-destruct.|
Penetration 13mm steel at 60-degree impact, 100m range.
|Panzersprenggranatpatrone 151||APHE||115||4 g HE (PETN)||?||Detonation after 5mm steel penetration.|
|Panzerbrandgranatpatrone (Phosphor) 151 ohne Zerleger||API||115||3.6 g incendiary (WP)||720||No fuze, no self-destruct.|
Penetration 3 to 15mm of steel.
|Panzerbrandgranatpatrone (Elektron) 151 ohne Zerleger||API||117||6.2 g incendiary (Elektron)||695||Optimized for strafing unarmoured ships. No self-destruct. Penetration 15 mm of steel at 75-degree impact angle, 100 m range.|
Fuze functions after 4 mm steel penetration.
During World War II the US Army produced the .60-caliber T17, a reverse-engineered copy of the German MG151 chambered for an experimental anti-tank rifle round. A speculative order of 5,000 T17 guns was placed but only around 300 of them were built. However none saw service despite the availability of 6 million rounds of .60 caliber ammunition. 134 lb (61 kg) and had a rate of fire of only 600 rounds per minute. Further refinements led to the T39 and T51 versions, but these also did not enter service.Almost one million rounds were fired during the T17 testing program. The main US version produced, the T17E3, was made by Frigidaire; it weighed
A cartridge originally based on an armor-piercing round designed in 1939 for use with the experimental T1 and T1E1 anti-tank rifles. It was cancelled in 1944 when it became clear that modern tanks had armor too thick to penetrate with a heavy rifle cartridge. Developments showed that shaped-charged rifle grenades and rocket launchers were the future of infantry anti-tank weapons and the anti-tank rifle concept was abandoned.
Much like the British attempts to turn their stocks of obsolete .55 Boys anti-tank cartridges into a native-designed heavy machinegun cartridge, the .60-caliber cartridge was repurposed as an auto-cannon cartridge to succeed the older .50 Browning. The ammunition and the T17 cannon were produced from 1942 to 1946 but never proved a substantial improvement over the .50 Browning and the M2HB and M3 heavy machineguns. The cartridge was later shortened and necked-up to produce the 20x102mm Vulcan autocannon round.
The M61 Vulcan is a hydraulically, electrically or pneumatically driven, six-barrel, air-cooled, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary cannon which fires 20 mm rounds at an extremely high rate. The M61 and its derivatives have been the principal cannon armament of United States military fixed-wing aircraft for sixty years.
Armor-piercing ammunition is a type of projectile designed to penetrate either body armor or vehicle armor.
A recoilless rifle, recoilless launcher or recoilless gun, sometimes abbreviated "RR" or "RCL" is a type of lightweight artillery system or man-portable launcher that is designed to eject some form of countermass such as propellant gas from the rear of the weapon at the moment of firing, creating forward thrust that counteracts most of the weapon's recoil. This allows for the elimination of much of the heavy and bulky recoil-counteracting equipment of a conventional cannon as well as a thinner-walled barrel, and thus the launch of a relatively large projectile from a platform that would not be capable of handling the weight or recoil of a conventional gun of the same size. Technically, only devices that use spin-stabilized projectiles fired from a rifled barrel are recoilless rifles, while smoothbore variants are recoilless guns. This distinction is often lost, and both are often called recoilless rifles.
An autocannon, automatic cannon or machine cannon is a fully automatic gun that is capable of rapid-firing large-caliber armour-piercing, explosive or incendiary shells, as opposed to the smaller-caliber kinetic projectiles (bullets) fired by a machine gun. Autocannons have a longer effective range and greater terminal performance than machine guns, due to the use of larger/heavier munitions, but are usually smaller than tank guns, howitzers, field guns or other artillery. When used on its own, the word "autocannon" typically indicates a non-rotary weapon with a single barrel. When multiple rotating barrels are involved, such a weapon is referred to as a "rotary autocannon" or simply "rotary cannon".
The R4M rocket, nicknamed the Hurricane due to its distinctive smoke trail when fired, was an anti-aircraft rocket. It was developed by the German Luftwaffe during World War II.
The MK 108 was a 30 mm caliber autocannon manufactured in Germany during World War II by Rheinmetall‑Borsig for use in aircraft.
The HS.404 is an autocannon originally designed and produced by Spanish/French company Hispano-Suiza in the mid-1930s. It was widely used as an aircraft, naval and land-based weapon by French, British, American and other military services, particularly during World War II. The cannon is also referred to as Birkigt type 404, after its designer Marc Birkigt and later versions based on British development are known as 20 mm Hispano.
Blowback is a system of operation for self-loading firearms that obtains energy from the motion of the cartridge case as it is pushed to the rear by expanding gas created by the ignition of the propellant charge.
A gun pod is a detachable pod or pack containing machine guns, autocannons or rotary cannons and ancillaries, mounted externally on a vehicle such as a military aircraft which may or may not also have its own guns.
The MG FF was a drum-fed, blowback-operated, 20 mm aircraft autocannon, developed in 1936 by Ikaria Werke Berlin of Germany. It was a derivative of the Swiss Oerlikon FF F cannon, with the Oerlikon FF design itself a development of the Imperial German World War I Becker 20 mm cannon, and was designed to be used in space-limited, fixed mountings such as inside aircraft wings, although it saw use as both an offensive and a defensive weapon, in both fixed and flexible format. It saw widespread use in those roles by the German Luftwaffe, particularly during the early stages of World War II, although from 1941 onwards it was gradually replaced by the Mauser firm's 20 mm MG 151/20, which was lighter, and had both a higher rate of fire and muzzle velocity.
A rotary cannon, rotary autocannon, rotary gun or Gatling cannon, is any large-caliber multiple-barreled automatic firearm that uses in a Gatling-type rotating barrel assembly to deliver a sustained saturational direct fire at much greater rates of fire than single-barreled autocannons of the same caliber. The loading, firing and ejection functions are performed simultaneously in different barrels as the whole assembly rotates, and the rotation also permits the barrels some time to cool. The rotating barrels on nearly all modern Gatling-type guns are powered by an external force such as an electric motor, although internally powered gas-operated versions have also been developed.
The Type 97 automatic cannon is a 20-millimeter (0.79 in) Japanese anti-tank rifle that began development in the 1930s. It was used by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Soviet–Japanese border conflicts and the Pacific War. Ever-greater thicknesses of armour on tanks rendered the Type 97 obsolete by about 1942.
The Oerlikon 20 mm cannon is a series of autocannons, based on an original German Becker Type M2 20 mm cannon design that appeared very early in World War I. It was widely produced by Oerlikon Contraves and others, with various models employed by both Allied and Axis forces during World War II, and many versions are still in use today.
The 20 mm caliber is a common firearm bore diameter, typically used to distinguish smaller-caliber weapons, commonly called "guns", from larger-caliber "cannons". All 20 mm cartridges have an outside projectile (bullet) diameter and barrel bore diameter of 0.787 inches (20.0 mm). These projectiles are typically 75 to 127 mm (3–5 in) long, cartridge cases are typically 75 to 152 mm (3–6 in) long, and most are shells, with an explosive payload and detonating fuze.
The 14.5×114mm is a heavy machine gun and anti-materiel rifle cartridge used by the Soviet Union, the former Warsaw Pact, modern Russia, and other countries.
The Rheinmetall-Borsig MK 103 was a German 30 mm caliber autocannon that was mounted in German combat aircraft during World War II. Intended to be a dual purpose weapon for anti-tank and air-to-air fighting, it was developed from the MK 101. Compared to the MK 101 it was faster firing, and was originally intended to develop a higher muzzle velocity than the MK 101. Unlike the MK 101, the MK 103 used a belt feed, allowing it to potentially carry a larger ammunition load. The MK 103 used electrically-primed rather than percussion-primed ammunition. The operating mechanism differed from the recoil-operated MK 101 in that it used a combination of gas and recoil operation. After firing, gas pressure served to unlock the breech, while barrel recoil was used to cycle the action.
25 mm automatic air defense gun M1940 (72-K) was a Soviet 25 mm caliber anti-aircraft gun used during the Great Patriotic War. The gun was developed from the end of 1939 to the beginning of 1940 at 8th Kalinin Artillery Plant under the guidance of its Chief Designer Mikhail Loginov, supervised by Lev Loktev. The cannon was given the factory code 72-K before being accepted into service by the Red Army as the 25 mm automatic air defense gun M1940.
The Nudelman-Suranov NS-45 was an enlarged version of the Soviet Nudelman-Suranov NS-37 aircraft autocannon. It was evaluated for service on 44 Yakovlev Yak-9K aircraft during World War II, but proved to stress the airframes too much. The NS-45 was also mounted on the prototype Tupolev Tu-1 night fighter after the end of World War II.
A mine shell, historically also called high capacity shell (HC), is a military shell type characterized by thin shell walls and a correspondingly high payload of explosives. The shell type was originally developed during the mid to late 1800s against fortresses prior to rebar but got a new role during World War II against air targets as reinforced fortresses had made the original use of the type obsolete around World War I.
The high–low system, also referred to as the high–low pressure system, the high–low propulsion system, and the high–low projection system, is a design of cannon and anti-tank launcher using a smaller high-pressure chamber for storing the propellant. It enables a much larger projectile to be launched without the heavy equipment typically required for large caliber weapons. When the propellant is ignited, the higher pressure gases are bled out through vents at reduced pressure to a much larger low pressure chamber to push the projectile forward. The high-low system allows the weight of the weapon and its ammunition to be significantly reduced. Manufacturing cost and production time are drastically lower than for standard cannon or other small-arm weapon systems firing a projectile of the same size and weight. It has a far more efficient use of the propellant, unlike earlier recoilless weapons, where most of the propellant is expended to the rear of the weapon to counter the recoil of the projectile being fired.
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