By the beginning of World War II in the United States, only Navy warships had more or less adequate anti-aircraft protection. At the end of the 30s, the American army was in the process of technical re-equipment and re-equipment, and its anti-aircraft weapons corresponded to the realities of a decade ago.
The machine gun of the M1917 rifle caliber 7,62 × 63 mm (.30-06 Springfield) was the most common machine gun in the American army during the interwar period. It was developed after the entry of the USA into the First World War. This design of John Browning, created in collaboration with the company Colt, in 1917 was an analogue of the Maxim machine gun, characterized by similar characteristics, more simple design. In 1936, the machine gun was upgraded.
An improved version of the machine gun "Browning" received the designation МХNUMXА1917. The machine gun of this modification has an improved mechanism for feeding cartridges, an improved sight and a new tripod machine, which provides the possibility of firing at air targets. The anti-aircraft sight is entered into the complete set of accessories to a machine gun.
Machine guns of this type, due to water cooling, could fire intensively for a long time. In addition to the infantry tripod machine, they were mounted on armored vehicles, on anti-aircraft turrets. During the war years, within the framework of military assistance, M1917А1 was supplied to the allies in the anti-Hitler coalition and used throughout the war, including as anti-aircraft.
However, the machine gun machine M1917А1 did not satisfy the American military, primarily because of excessive mass (47 kg). As a result, a modification of the M1919 Browning machine gun in the M1919А4 version with the lightweight M2 tripod was adopted. It was this machine gun that became the main weapons American troops during the Second World War.
Machine gun М1919А4 structurally differed little from machine gun М1917А1. The main difference was the use of a massive air-cooling barrel encased in a perforated casing. Together with the machine gun, the M1919А4 machine gun weighed 25 kg, which was almost half the mass of the M1917А1 with the machine.
In addition to the infantry version of the machine gun on a tripod, there were many turret versions of these weapons, which were mounted on various vehicles and armored vehicles.
American tank crews practice shooting anti-aircraft machine guns at low-flying targets. The photo was taken at a training center located in the Mojave Desert, California, in preparation for the invasion of North Africa.
In addition to the American army, Browning M1919А4 was widely distributed in the armed forces of the allied countries. Together with the armored vehicles supplied by Lend-Lease, he was in considerable quantities in the USSR. At the same time, its role as an anti-aircraft weapon was not great; in this field, the large-caliber 12,7-mm Browning M2 machine gun proved to be much more effective.
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12,7-mm water-cooled anti-aircraft gun
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Anti-aircraft guns of twin machine guns M2, the barrels of which had liquid cooling, were widely spread. These installations were mounted on ships and vehicles. However, the use of this effective anti-aircraft weapon in the portable version was difficult due to excessive weight.
To provide the necessary intensity of fire in the air-cooled version, a heavier barrel was developed, and the machine gun was designated the Browning M2HB. Machine gun body weight dropped to 38 kg. The rate of fire was 450-600 shots / min.
During World War II, almost 2 million XXUMUM mm M2 machine guns were produced in the USA. To provide air defense to the ground forces, several variants of the towed and self-propelled twin and quad anti-aircraft machine guns were created. Machine guns were also installed on all types of warships, from the torpedo boat to the battleship. In the marine version, an anti-aircraft gun was equipped with a mirror sight, however, since the fire was fired with tracer ammunition, many shooters often did not use the sights, correcting the shooting at the routes of bullets.
American sailor at a paired 12,7-mm machine gun on a PT-type boat near the coast of New Guinea
Maxson LW Corporation became the main developer and manufacturer of ground-breaking forces for ground forces. After the release of the successful twin 12,7-mm M13 units, which were mounted on the MXXUMX half-track armored personnel carrier chassis, the military expressed a desire to get a more powerful quad unit.
In 1943, the production of the M45 Maxson Mount quad install began. The weight of the unit in a combat position was 1087 kg. The firing range of air targets is about 1000 m. The rate of fire is 2300 shots per minute.
The towed version received the designation M51; lightweight, on a biaxial trailer for paratroop units was known as the M55.
At the firing position to give the installation greater stability from each corner of the trailer on the ground special supports were lowered. The trailer also contained batteries for the power supply of the anti-aircraft gun and a charger for them. Guidance was carried out with the help of electric drives. The electric motors of the induction drives were powerful, capable of withstanding the greatest loads. Thanks to electric drives, the installation had a pointing speed of up to 60 degrees per second.
The most common type of ZSU in the US Army with Maxson Mount quadruple guns was the M16 based on the half-a-track M3 half-armored personnel carrier. Total released such 2877 machines.
Installations Maxson Mount are usually used to guard against attack aircraft of transport convoys or units on the march. In addition to direct assignment, quad-mounted large-caliber machine gun installations were a very powerful means of fighting manpower and lightly armored vehicles, earning an unofficial nickname among the American military, the "meat grinder."
On the basis of the M5 armored personnel carrier, which differed from the M3 only in certain units and assemblies, as well as in the production technology of the corps, the ZNU M17 was produced. The armament of which was the same quad installation Maxson Mount.
Soviet ZSU M17
Supplied under Lend-Lease in the USSR ZSU M17, which became the main means of mobile air defense tank and mechanized units of the Red Army, were highly valued among the troops. The combination of an armored chassis of increased cross-country ability and high firepower of four large-caliber Browning was obtained in our country on domestic models only in the post-war period.
At the final stage of the war, the Soviet ZNSU M17, with no air targets, was effectively used in street battles, firing at the upper floors of buildings and attics.
Heavy machine gun M2 proved to be a very effective means of repelling low-altitude attacks of enemy aircraft. He had high combat and service and operational characteristics for his time, which ensured his widest distribution in the US armed forces and allies in the anti-Hitler coalition. Although there were no explosives in the bullets used by the Browning machine guns, all the aircraft of that time were vulnerable to his fire.
At the end of the 30s, when the first armored airplanes began to appear, the US Navy began to search for more powerful weapons to replace the large-caliber Browning. American naval commanders became interested in the Oerlikon 20-mm Swiss automatic gun. After the comparative tests of 9 in November of 1940, the adoption of the Swiss Oerlikon was recommended.
Anti-aircraft guns manufactured in the United States were designated as 20 mm / 70 (0.79 ") FFS. They had a firing rate of up to 650 shots per minute. The weight of the gun was 62 kg. The power was supplied from 30-charging drum magazines.
As of December 7, 1941 was produced 379 automatic guns. In total, before the end of production in 1945, the industry released the Orelikon 124.735 anti-aircraft gun. These anti-aircraft guns in the United States were a purely naval system and were practically never used ashore.
Weapons turned out to be very popular in the fleet due to ease of maintenance and good rate of fire. By the end of the war, on the American ships all the free space was occupied with single and double-barreled installations of the Oerlikon. Ammunition 20-mm guns "Oerlikon" included shells of the following types:
- fragmentation (about 9 g of trotyl);
- tracer (4 g of TNT and luminous composition, the length of the route 1500 m);
- incendiary (4 g of trotyl and 3 g of white phosphorus);
- armor-piercing (4 g detonite);
- armor-piercing incendiary (equipped with white phosphorus).
The mass of the projectile, depending on the type, ranged from 124 to 130 grams. Initial speed: 835 — 870 m / s. Reach height - to 2500 m.
The 20-mm anti-aircraft guns were the “last line of defense” against Japanese kamikazes who had broken through the fighter barriers and the fire of more long-range anti-aircraft guns. On ships of the class of battleships and heavy aircraft carriers, by the end of the war the number of Erlikon trunks exceeded one hundred pieces. Although it must be said that by the end of the war the anti-aircraft guns "Oerlikon" had already ceased to meet the requirements of the time. The power of 20-mm projectiles was often not enough to stop the kamikaze coming to the last attack.
In limited numbers (total 110 machines) in the USA for air defense of the ground forces, the ZSU Т10 was launched, armed with the paired 20-mm cannon system Hispano-Suiza HS.404, which, in turn, was the British version of the Oerlikon.
The widespread use of ZSU T10 in the US military units was impeded by the non-standard 20-mm ammunition for the army and the lack of clear advantages over the quadruple 12,7-mm units. In addition, the production of Hispano cannons in the United States was limited. Virtually all of the industry-issued automata went to arm combat aircraft.
At the beginning of the 20-s, John Browning developed the 37-mm automatic cannon. After his death in 1926, the process of adopting this system was slowed down. Formally, the gun was put into service in the 1927 year, in fact it happened only in the 1938 year, after the development of a modernized mast.
37 mm anti-aircraft gun M1A2
The upgraded 37-mm anti-aircraft gun was named М1А2. The weight of the upgraded anti-aircraft installation in a combat position - 2778 kg. Technical rate of fire - 120 shots per minute. The weight of the fragmentation projectile is 595 g. The initial velocity of the projectile is 850 m / s. Firing range at air targets - 3200 m.
By itself, the 37-mm anti-aircraft gun did well. However, the effectiveness was spoiled by insufficiently powerful ammunition, because of which it was difficult to defeat planes flying at high speed. Just at this time, the British asked the Americans to use part of their production capacity for the release of the Bofors 40-mm anti-aircraft gun for the UK. Having tested them, the US military was convinced of the superiority of these anti-aircraft guns over the domestic system. However, for some time, the parallel production of Bofors and М1А2 continued in the assembly shops of the Colt company.
During the fighting, it turned out that anti-aircraft gunners in light installations practically do not use sights, preferring to direct an anti-aircraft installation at the time of firing at the routes of projectiles or bullets. In accordance with the findings, a Combination Mount M54 was created. To the left and right of the barrel, 37-mm anti-aircraft guns were set up on the Browning's 12,7-mm heavy machine gun. Since the ballistic characteristics of machine guns and guns were similar, the shooters were asked to use for targeting the machine gun bullets and only then introduce the gun.
This combined anti-aircraft gun on the BN3 BTR chassis, armed with an 37-mm automatic M1-2 gun and two 12,7-mm water-cooled machine guns, was designated the T28-X1. Was released in the number of 80 machines. It was followed by ZSU МХNUMX, which was distinguished by a circular armored cover for weapons. 15 machines released.
The ZSU, which received the designation МХNUMXА15, on the chassis of the armored personnel carrier М1А3 was almost the same as the М1, another sight was installed, changes were made to the design of the combined gun mount. It has a lower silhouette and a smaller mass than the M15. 15 machines released. About a hundred of these machines were supplied to the USSR.
The first acquaintance of the American military with the Swedish 40-mm anti-aircraft gun Bofors L60 took place on August 28 1940, during the test of two copies bought from Sweden and demonstration of the naval version of the gun on the Dutch sloop HNLMS Kinsbergen.
However, the Swedish version of the Bofors did not satisfy American sailors in terms of technical reliability, and it was declared unsuitable for mass production in the United States. American engineers have made many changes to the design of weapons and ammunition to adapt them to a truly mass production, and also replaced the air cooling scheme with water and added an electric drive to quickly turn the installation. The official designation of the American version of "Bofors" - 40 mm Automatic Gun.
A large number of one-, two-, four- and six-barreled anti-aircraft guns, including those with radar guidance, was developed for the US fleet. Production of 40-mm anti-aircraft installations for the US Navy was carried out at the enterprises of Chrysler Corporation. Where the 60.000 guns and 120.000 barrels were produced.
US Navy considered it the best anti-aircraft machine gun of World War II. 40-mm anti-aircraft guns were the most effective against Japanese kamikaze aircraft. As a rule, one direct hit by an 40-mm fragmentation projectile was enough to hit any Japanese aircraft used as a “flying bomb”.
The massive use of Bofors L60 by the US Army began in the 1942 year, after the American enterprises began manufacturing these guns in 1941 by order of the UK. Accelerate the launch of the production of anti-aircraft guns helped a set of technological documentation, transmitted by the British. In fact, a license to manufacture these tools in the United States was obtained from Bofors after the start of mass production.
In addition to towed options, several ZSU were created. In the US, Bofors was mounted on modified 2,5-ton chassis of GMC trucks CCKW-353. In addition to their direct duties, the installation could provide fire support and fight with light armored vehicles. Armor-piercing shells 40-mm guns could penetrate 50-mm homogeneous steel armor at a distance of 500 meters.
The experience of military operations showed the need to have a ZSU on a tank chassis to escort mechanized columns and object anti-aircraft defense. Tests of such a machine were carried out in the spring of 1944, at the Aberdeen tank test site. The new ZSU, which received the serial name M19, used the undercarriage of the light tank M24.
American 40-mm ZSU M19
The main weapon of the M19 was two 40-mm anti-aircraft guns installed in a "barbet" with a circular rotation. Shooting was carried out using electrostart. Control of the rotation of the turret and the swinging part of the guns - using an electro-hydraulic actuator with manual control. The initial speed of the anti-aircraft projectile was 874 m / s, the maximum range of anti-aircraft firing - 6900 m.
However, the completion of the machine was delayed. The first models ZSU M19 began to enter service only in 1945 year, and they practically did not participate in hostilities.