Born of revolution
Adopted in the distant 1984 single-barrel automatic aviation GSh-301 gun, according to the majority of not only domestic, but also foreign military experts, and is currently one of the best in the world. Developed by outstanding gunsmiths designers Vasily Gryazev and Arkady Shipunov, who received the unofficial name of “ballerina” in the troops for their lightness and high rate of fire, the GS-301 surpasses its competitors in accuracy, accuracy, and most importantly in terms of rate of fire.
At one time, the development of the “ballerina” looked like an adventure, the creators of the unique aircraft gun admit in their memoirs. However, even after 30 years of operation, this artillery system is also used in the newest Russian aviation complexes, in particular, on the upgraded Su-27CM, Su-35, fifth-generation fighter T-50 and front-line bomber Su-34.
The problems of rapid-fire small-caliber aircraft cannons (MAP) are well known (“More terrible than the“ Volcano ”). The first task of increasing the rate of fire, but not to the detriment of the accuracy and power of ammunition, was tried to be solved by German engineers during the Second World War. Even before the start of combat use of one of the world's first jet fighters, the Me-262 Schwalbe (Swallow), the Messerschmitt aircraft designers came to the conclusion that the artillery armament installed on the aircraft was four X-guns of the X-NUMX-mm Mk-30 — not always copes with the tasks assigned to him. The reason for this was the high speed of the Swallows, which exceeded 108 kilometers per hour. In some tactical air combat situations, when fighting against maneuverable targets, in order to open fire from the Mk-800, whose shells flew to the target too long and along an arcuate trajectory due to low muzzle velocity, the Luftwaffe pilots almost came close to the enemy, taking into account the speed factor, it took only one or two seconds to press the trigger. The designers of the legendary company Mauser, who developed the MG-108C aircraft gun with a so-called automatic revolver scheme, based on a drum with several chamber holders turning inside the casing, which alternately alternated with the barrel bore during the movement, suggested a way out of the situation. Simultaneously with the shot and turn of the drum, the sleeve is thrown out and the next cartridge is sent.
True, the German gunsmiths, in pursuit of high rate of fire, did not notice the contradiction hiding in the revolver scheme. On the one hand, by combining shot preparation operations that are performed not sequentially, but in parallel, a very high rate of fire is achieved. On the other - the only trunk quickly overheats. And this is the weak point of the system.
The designers of the Mauser did not manage to bring their product to mass production by the end of the war, and after the occupation of Germany, all the documentation for the new gun went to the allies and immediately attracted the attention of firms developing aircraft weapons.
The first who was able to bring first to the test, and then to mass production of the revolving system, were the American gunsmiths from the company "Springfield", who developed the XAP MAP M1950 in 39 year.
American engineers, faced with the problem of overheating of the barrel due to high rate of fire, were forced to abandon 30-mm ammunition in favor of lighter, but giving a smaller load 20-mm. Experienced M39, mounted on specially upgraded F-86 Saber fighter jets, were used at the end of the Korean War, showing, however, not only good accuracy and accuracy, but also rather low technical reliability and the inability to fire in long bursts. After fighting the Soviet MiG-15 M39, which took several years to fine-tune, they became part of the F-100 Super Saber, F-101 Voodoo, B-57 bombers, as well as the budget F-5 fighter aircraft, delivered to many countries of the world.
However, having failed to compete with the multi-barreled M-61 Vulkan, which uses an electric drive, the revolving gun quickly left the stage, giving way to products of the General Electric company.
An attempt to overcome the congenital disease of the revolving system was the double-barreled Mk.11 developed in the interests of the US Navy. According to the developers, an increase in the number of trunks should have solved the problem of overheating.
Despite the fact that the new artillery system under test reached a firing rate of more than 4000 rounds per minute and did not overheat, its dimensions were so large that it was impossible to place the gun on board.
The Mk.11 as part of the MK.4 suspended container was adopted by the US Navy and was used to strike ground targets during the Vietnam War. However, right after it, the whole system was written off.
Success was achieved by the French gunsmiths of the firm “Zhiat” (now “Nexter”), who developed the family of 30-mm aviation guns “Defa”. To arm the Tigr helicopters and the Rafale fighters, the Nexter engineers developed the 30М781 and 30М791 guns, the rate of which, according to the manufacturer, is 2500 rds / min.
Work on the new gun was delayed, and as the French honestly admit, with the rate of 2500 shots, new artillery systems can fire only a split second, after which the barrel becomes unusable. The high pace was achieved only on the test and is indicated solely for promotional purposes. The actual rate of fire of 30М781 and 30М791, according to some information, is from 1400 to 1500 rds / min.
Unlike their French competitors, the German designers of the firm Mauser (now part of the Rheinmetall Concern) chose the original 27 caliber millimeter ammunition for their BK-27 revolver gun. It took them only a year to develop a new cannon, which later became part of the armament not only of the Tornado family of fighters, but also of the Alpha Jet light attack aircraft, as well as of the German Navy ships.
Currently, the VK-27 is equipped with Swedish Gripen fighters, as well as Eurofighter Typhoon. According to some reports, the Rheynmetall product was of interest to American aircraft manufacturers from Lockheed Martin, who considered the German turret gun as one of the weapons of the latest fifth-generation fighter F-35 Lightning-2.
But the British 30-mm air cannon of the Aden company was less fortunate. The English engineers who started the project immediately after the war took almost nine years to develop, test and start mass production of their product. Introduced in 1955, the Aden cannon in various modifications was installed on almost all British combat aircraft, including AV-8A Harrier fighter jets purchased for the US Marine Corps.
True, the attempt of the British engineers to create a new aircraft gun, which received the Aden-25 working index under the 25-mm projectile, which was supposed to be part of the Harrier GR-7 and GR-9 armament, was not successful. The works were closed, both British "vertical-lines" were left without gun armament.
In tough competition
After the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union had a paradoxical situation when the Air Force was armed with a large number of small-caliber guns (NA-23, HP-23, AM-23, NA-37, etc.), which differed not only in the schemes of the automation, but also in caliber. But the most important thing is that each artillery system used its own unique ammunition, which was not suitable for other products.
Often on different series of the same aircraft installed different guns. For example, the first long-range Tu-4 bombers armed themselves with 20-mm B-20, later replaced by the NA-23.
The OKB-50, headed by the legendary Alexander Nudelman, who also appointed at least the legendary gunsmith Aaron Richter, who developed a revolver cannon under the name "16P" was named as the "weapon XNUMP", occupied the leading position in the field of small-caliber artillery systems for aviation.
261P worked not only on a revolving scheme, but to reduce the weight and dimensions of the gun, Richter proposed an original solution: the drum was charged not from behind, but from the front.
But it was precisely the priority that was set when developing that compactness and played a cruel joke with the new gun. Work on bringing it was delayed until the end of the 50-x. And only 7 August 1964, under the designation Р-23, the gun Aron Richter was adopted to arm the Tu-22 bomber.
The so-called rocketization had a great influence on the development of aviation small-caliber artillery in the USSR, which, as Arkady Shipunov writes in his memoirs, resulted in the fight against "cave themes", that is, a complete rejection of "traditional" artillery systems in favor of "progressive" missiles.
True, the experience of local wars and conflicts 60-s proved the fallacy of this approach, and the Soviet Air Force urgently needed new samples of small-caliber aircraft guns (MAP). But now the OKB-16 has a worthy competitor - Tula Instrument Engineering Design Bureau, which by this time was headed by Arkady Shipunov. A little later, Vasily Gryazev also moved to KBP from Klimovskiy TsNIITOCHMASH.
Understanding all the viciousness of the situation at that time in the artillery armament system, when virtually every carrier had its own unique small-caliber gun, the legendary gunsmiths for the first time in the world proposed and implemented the principles of a systematic approach to the development of small-caliber artillery weapons. “Arkady Georgievich and Vasily Petrovich headed and carried out the most complicated complex of works on creating a unified system of small-caliber artillery weapons for all types and types of aircraft. The very possibility of unification required a qualitatively higher scientific and technical level of development, when the solution of the entire set of combat tasks assigned to the artillery weapons became possible at minimum cost - the minimum nomenclature of cannon and ammunition samples.
It was found that the requirements for small-caliber artillery in the Air Force, Navy and Land Forces are quite close. The optimal parameters of the artillery armament samples were determined, starting with the caliber, the initial speed and ending with the ammunition, based on the limitations of the carriers. Were found the so-called optima. In particular, with the scientific and technical development of automatic guns achieved at KBP, the optimum caliber for them was the 30 caliber of millimeters, ”says Eduard Davydov, head of the theoretical department of artillery, grenade launcher and small arms of KBP.
In the middle of the 80-ies, work on creating a small-caliber weapons system for the types and types of aircraft was completed, and its implementation allowed not only to significantly reduce the fleet of small-caliber artillery weapons, but also to abandon a larger number of obsolete different types of ammunition.
However, for airplanes with super-rigid weight restrictions, the use of 23-mm MAP was allowed (chambered AM-23).
Fire, water and heavenly steel
As recognized in the Tula Instrument Design Bureau, the legendary gun GSH-301 would not have come into being if it were not for a tough competition with the OKB-16.
In December, the 1965 of the USSR adopted the double-barreled gun GSH-30, which not only was easy to use, but also provided a high rate of fire, being a fairly compact product. The Thirty of Vasily Gryazev and Arkady Shipunov became part of the armament of not only MiG-21, MiG-23 family fighters, but also Tu-22M bombers, Il-76 anti-submarine military aircraft, anti-submarine Tu-142, etc. designers have become laureates of the State Prize.
But at the beginning of the 70's, work began on fourth-generation fighter jets — Su-27 and MiG-29 — for which small-caliber automatic guns with much smaller weights and dimensions were required, which led to the opening of a new research project “Balance”, the implementation of which was originally planned instruct the OKB-16, which was headed by Alexander Nudelman. However, a little later, the Tula KBP was connected to the implementation of the research work “Balance”.
In this research, Aron Richter, on the basis of the previously adopted P-23, offered a compact turret gun. True, as was the case with its predecessor, the stumbling block was the specific ammunition with the reverse injection of the cartridge into the barrel chamber of the drum.
As it turned out, with the adopted loading parameters, it did not allow the projectile to provide the necessary muzzle velocity, which could only be obtained by increasing the barrel length by 400 millimeters. In this case, the "savings" achieved in the length of the breech of the gun, with an excess of inferior to the total loss along the length of weapons.
Even before the beginning of the SRD "Balance" in the KBP under the leadership of Vasily Gryazev, the first studies of the new lightweight 30-mm double-barreled aircraft gun had already appeared. However, as recognized in the KBP, in its weight and size parameters it is still inferior to the 23-mm product OKB-16.
But Tula designers were not going to give up - Shipunov and Gryazev decided not only to win the competition, but to create a unique lightweight compact aircraft cannon with no world analogues with a high rate of fire.
“In order to make a new gun, first of all, a revolution was needed in our brains. Prior to that, they were in the thrall of dogmas, grounded by theory and tested by many years of successful practice: “Only strict kinematic coordination of the operation of all mechanisms of automation. Then it will be reliable "," When filing, unaccented acceleration and braking of the cartridge should be provided. Then there will be high reloading rates, etc.
And with this gun, everything seemed to be "turned upside down." It seemed we went against the canons. But this is only at first glance, ”recalls one of the developers of GSH-301, Eduard Davydov.
Tula gunsmiths first of all abandoned the complex kinematic chains, which required a powerful receiver, on which the mechanisms were supposed to rest. They were replaced by "strict time coordination of all processes in the weapon," which required careful testing of the dynamics and stability of the functioning of automation in various conditions.
“Sending to GSH-301 throwing. The cartridge is traditionally served and reduced on the line of discharge. After that, with the help of a lever-spring rammer, it is smoothly accelerated and thrown into the chamber, but does not accompany the movement of this movement of the cartridge. He flies by inertia into the chamber, and only there it is already closed by the wedge bolt. Instead of complicated copy accelerators, there is a simple and easy lever, on the short arm of which there is a moderate speed allowed by the spring, and on the long arm there is an unscathed cartridge accelerated to high speed!
One of the main features of the new gun is that here the cartridge and its elements are used as links of automatics.
When it is lowered, the cartridge removes the lever rammer from his whisper.
The features of the mechanical properties of the materials of the cartridge itself are also used to implement its smooth braking at the end of dismounting without special braking mechanisms, ”explains Davydov.
After the shot you need to extract the sleeve. Usually this makes the shutter. But in the GSH-301, the liner is only strained by the extractors, and then it is thrown out of the chamber not by the massive detail of the gun, but by the residual pressure of the powder gases in the barrel as a kind of piston. The sleeve at the same time gains speed up to 100 meters per second.
After that, the sleeve falls on the so-called reflector and flies out of the gun. Since not every material can withstand the speed of the extracted sleeve, Tula gunsmiths used steel used for railroad arrows for it.
But the reflector also performs the function of separating, in principle, coaxial channels for extracting the spent cartridge and sending the cartridge. Pumping on the axis, it serves for the sequential formation of channels and for high-speed extraction of a spent cartridge case, filling the cartridge. Thanks to this decision, the cartridge begins to be sent even before the cartridge case left the automation. The scheme of the GSH-301 seems to be single-channel, but in fact here the operations of extraction and filling are partially combined in time, completes the analysis of the features of the work of the unique automation Edward Davydov.
Another know-how of the GSH-301 cannon was the use of the so-called heavenly steel, which contains niobium, giving the material a light blue tint. At maximum heat load, it is important to ensure not only the heat resistance, but also the survivability of the trunk. Heavenly steel has a unique thermal conductivity, due to which the excess heat goes deep into the wall, while the inner surface of the barrel does not overheat much. But this was not enough. Since overheating for the GSH-301 is dangerous by the fact that when the cartridge is placed in the chamber for quick opening of fire (without filling), gunpowder can ignite or the projectile explosives work, the developers have proposed a unique system of local cooling of the breech using ordinary water.
It takes most of the heat generated, boils, forming a steam-water mixture, which in turn is pushed along special external grooves of the barrel and in the form of superheated steam is released into the environment. According to the developers of the gun, water is enough to shoot the entire ammunition in any mode.
14 April 1984, the new gun, called the GSH-301 (index 9-A-4071), was put into service. The result of the work was a unique system weighing just 43,5 a kilogram and a length of one and a half meters, capable of releasing from 1500 to 1800 380-gram 30-mm shells in one minute.
During state tests, one of the commission members joked that the new gun weighs as much as the ballerina going to the stage should weigh. And from that moment on the GSH-301 stuck informal name "ballerina".
Currently, the GSH-301 is part of the weapons of the MiG-29, MiG-29K / KUB, Su-27, Su-30, Su-35, and Su-34 front-line bombers.
The unique GSH-301, apparently, will remain in service with Russian military aviation for a long time, as comparison with foreign models shows, no manufacturer offers such a combination of rate of fire, accuracy and accuracy with low mass and size on the modern market.
For comparison: the French “Dzhiat” 30М / М791, which appeared at the same time, installed on the Rafale fighter, with a length of almost 2,5, weighs three times as much - 120 kilograms. The German VK-27, installed on the European Typhoon, with an equal rate of fire with the GSH, loses not only in size (weight - 100 kilograms and length - almost 2,5 meters), but also in terms of ammunition power.
American gunsmith designers have long abandoned the revolving single-barrel guns, going to products with a barrel unit rotating with the help of an electric drive. For example, installed on the newest fighter of the fifth generation F-35 "Lightning-2" four-column 25-mm GAU-22, issuing more than 4000 shots per minute, with a length of more than two meters weighs 120 kilograms. In this case, you should not forget about the high requirements for the operation of the onboard power supply network of the fighter, from which the GAU-22 electric drive is powered.
So the gun GSH-301, developed by Arkady Shipunov and Vasily Gryazev, will long remain the best in the world in its class.
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