Nose of Mosquito FB XVIII showing the big gun

Nose of Mosquito FB XVIII showing the big gun

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Mosquito Bomber/ Fighter-Bomber Units of World War 2, Martin Bowman. The first of three books looking at the RAF career of this most versatile of British aircraft of the Second World War, this volume looks at the squadrons that used the Mosquito as a daylight bomber, over occupied Europe and Germany, against shipping and over Burma. [see more]

Forgotten Tank and Guns of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s

I ordered a number of books from Amazon at the same time, and as they have become available, they have been delivered. The latest is David Lister's FORGOTTEN TANKS AND GUNS OF THE 1920s, 1930s AND 1940s.

The book feels like a collection of separate articles, and therefore lends itself more to being something one dips into rather than reads from cover to cover. That is not to say that it is not an interesting book to read it is . but it does not feel as if it has a narrative running though it.

  • Chapter 1: Lurking in the Jungle. which looks at the Japanese heavy tanks that were designed or that never went into series production.
  • Chapter 2: Battle Wing. which looks at the Carden-Baynes airborne light tank/glider and how British tanks were eventually delivered to the battlefield by glider.
  • Chapter 3: From the Sea, through the Blood to the Green fields beyond. which looks at various British amphibious armoured vehicle designs, including the AT-1, which to my untutored eye looked very like a Crusader tank turret atop the hull of a Buffalo amphibious tracked vehicle.
  • Chapter 4: You Disston my Tank?. which looks at various armoured tractors, including the Disston tanks supplied to Afghanistan.
  • Chapter 5: The Smoking Gun. which looks at the development of the British 'close support' tank concept.
  • Chapter 6: Hail Hydran!. which looks at the work of Lewis Motley, the chief designer of Motley products, who designed a tank destroyer based on a Universal Carrier chassis that was armed with four(!) 6-pounder gun barrels that were pre-loaded and discared after being fired AND the Motley rocket gun!
  • Chapter 7: The Cambridge Camal. which looks at the development of the Cambridge Projectile, a lightweight shell designed to be used in the Camal (Cambridge Aluminium) infantry gun.
  • Chapter 8: Schwimmpanzer 36
  • Chapter 9: Recoil Control. which looks at development of the the Galliot muzzle break, which was trialled in 1941 on 6-pounder anti-tank guns mounted on a Renault UE armoured carrier and a Lorraine 37L armoured carrier, and later fitted to a 32-pounder gun mounted in the nose of a de Havilland Mosquito FB XVIII (Tsetse) fighter-bomber!
  • Chapter 10: The Soldierless Tank. which looks at various British attempts to produce a radio-controlled tank.
  • Chapter 11: The Secret Life of the Infantry Tank. which looks at the various one-man tankettes designed and built by Giffard le Quesne Martel and the A11 Infantry Tank (Matilda Mk.1).
  • Chapter 12: The Tanks without a War. which looks at the fail postwar bureaucratic attempt to write a history of British tank development up to 1939. It includes an attempt to explain how the 'cruiser' tank concept came about, and the muddled thinking that led to some tanks being referred to as 'battlecruisers', 'heavy cruisers', 'cruisers', and 'light cruisers' . sometimes simultaneously! It also covers the background to the A6, A7, A8, A14, and A16 tanks designs, the attempts to find a suitable tank engine and air-cooled tank machine gun, a visit by British officers to Russia to observe tank exercises, and a hilarious (and failed) German project to help their soldiers understand British humour!


Bit of a spelling gaffe in the sentence following the ellipsis and just before the bullet list.

My mind was obviously wandering . do doubt because, at the time, I was sitting in our conservatory whilst the adult birds were feeding their young in our garden.


The Air Corps issued a specification for a medium bomber in March 1939 that was capable of carrying a payload of 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) over 1,200 mi (1,900 km) at 300 mph (480 km/h) [3] North American Aviation used its NA-40B design to develop the NA-62, which competed for the medium bomber contract. No YB-25 was available for prototype service tests. In September 1939, the Air Corps ordered the NA-62 into production as the B-25, along with the other new Air Corps medium bomber, the Martin B-26 Marauder "off the drawing board".

Early into B-25 production, NAA incorporated a significant redesign to the wing dihedral. The first nine aircraft had a constant-dihedral, meaning the wing had a consistent, upward angle from the fuselage to the wingtip. This design caused stability problems. "Flattening" the outer wing panels by giving them a slight anhedral angle just outboard of the engine nacelles nullified the problem and gave the B-25 its gull wing configuration. [4] Less noticeable changes during this period included an increase in the size of the tail fins and a decrease in their inward tilt at their tops.

NAA continued design and development in 1940 and 1941. Both the B-25A and B-25B series entered USAAF service. The B-25B was operational in 1942. Combat requirements led to further developments. Before the year was over, NAA was producing the B-25C and B-25D series at different plants. Also in 1942, the manufacturer began design work on the cannon-armed B-25G series. The NA-100 of 1943 and 1944 was an interim armament development at the Kansas City complex known as the B-25D2. Similar armament upgrades by U.S-based commercial modification centers involved about half of the B-25G series. Further development led to the B-25H, B-25J, and B-25J2. The gunship design concept dates to late 1942 and NAA sent a field technical representative to the SWPA. The factory-produced B-25G entered production during the NA-96 order followed by the redesigned B-25H gunship. The B-25J reverted to the bomber role, but it, too, could be outfitted as a strafer.

NAA manufactured the greatest number of aircraft in World War II, the first time a company had produced trainers, bombers, and fighters simultaneously (the AT-6/SNJ Texan/Harvard, B-25 Mitchell, and the P-51 Mustang). [5] It produced B-25s at both its Inglewood main plant and an additional 6,608 aircraft at its Kansas City, Kansas, plant at Fairfax Airport. [6] [7] [8]

After the war, the USAF placed a contract for the TB-25L trainer in 1952. This was a modification program by Hayes of Birmingham, Alabama. Its primary role was reciprocating engine pilot training. [9]

A development of the B-25 was the North American XB-28, designed as a high-altitude bomber. Two prototypes were built with the second prototype, the XB-28A, evaluated as a photo-reconnaissance platform, but the aircraft did not enter production. [10]

Asia-Pacific Edit

The majority of B-25s in American service were used in the war against Japan in Asia and the Pacific. The Mitchell fought from the Northern Pacific to the South Pacific and the Far East. These areas included the campaigns in the Aleutian Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, New Britain, China, Burma and the island hopping campaign in the Central Pacific. The aircraft's potential as a ground-attack aircraft emerged during the Pacific war. The jungle environment reduced the usefulness of medium-level bombing, and made low-level attack the best tactic. Using similar mast height level tactics and skip bombing, the B-25 proved itself to be a capable anti-shipping weapon and sank many enemy sea vessels of various types. An ever-increasing number of forward firing guns made the B-25 a formidable strafing aircraft for island warfare. The strafer versions were the B-25C1/D1, the B-25J1 and with the NAA strafer nose, the J2 subseries.

In Burma, the B-25 was often used to attack Japanese communication links, especially bridges in central Burma. It also helped supply the besieged troops at Imphal in 1944. The China Air Task Force, the Chinese American Composite Wing, the First Air Commando Group, the 341st Bomb Group, and eventually, the relocated 12th Bomb Group, all operated the B-25 in the China Burma India Theater. Many of these missions involved battle-field isolation, interdiction, and close air support.

Later in the war, as the USAAF acquired bases in other parts of the Pacific, the Mitchell could strike targets in Indochina, Formosa, and Kyushu, increasing the usefulness of the B-25. It was also used in some of the shortest raids of the Pacific War, striking from Saipan against Guam and Tinian. The 41st Bomb Group used it against Japanese-occupied islands that had been bypassed by the main campaign, such as happened in the Marshall Islands.

Middle East and Italy Edit

The first B-25s arrived in Egypt and were carrying out independent operations by October 1942. [11] Operations there against Axis airfields and motorized vehicle columns supported the ground actions of the Second Battle of El Alamein. Thereafter, the aircraft took part in the rest of the campaign in North Africa, the invasion of Sicily, and the advance up Italy. In the Strait of Messina to the Aegean Sea, the B-25 conducted sea sweeps as part of the coastal air forces. In Italy, the B-25 was used in the ground attack role, concentrating on attacks against road and rail links in Italy, Austria, and the Balkans. The B-25 had a longer range than the Douglas A-20 Havoc and Douglas A-26 Invader, allowing it to reach further into occupied Europe. The five bombardment groups – 20 squadrons – of the Ninth and Twelfth Air Forces that used the B-25 in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations were the only U.S. units to employ the B-25 in Europe. [12]

Europe Edit

The RAF received nearly 900 Mitchells, using them to replace Douglas Bostons, Lockheed Venturas, and Vickers Wellington bombers. The Mitchell entered active RAF service on 22 January 1943. At first, it was used to bomb targets in occupied Europe. After the Normandy invasion, the RAF and France used Mitchells in support of the Allies in Europe. Several squadrons moved to forward airbases on the continent. The USAAF did not use the B-25 in combat in the European theater of operations.


The B-25B first gained fame as the bomber used in the 18 April 1942 Doolittle Raid, in which 16 B-25Bs led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle attacked mainland Japan, four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The mission gave a much-needed lift in spirits to the Americans and alarmed the Japanese, who had believed their home islands to be inviolable by enemy forces. Although the amount of actual damage done was relatively minor, it forced the Japanese to divert troops for home defense for the remainder of the war.

The raiders took off from the carrier USS Hornet and successfully bombed Tokyo and four other Japanese cities without loss. Fifteen of the bombers subsequently crash-landed en route to recovery fields in eastern China. These losses were the result of the task force being spotted by a Japanese vessel, forcing the bombers to take off 170 mi (270 km) early, fuel exhaustion, stormy nighttime conditions with zero visibility, and lack of electronic homing aids at the recovery bases. Only one B-25 bomber landed intact, in Siberia, where its five-man crew was interned and the aircraft confiscated. Of the 80 aircrews, 69 survived their historic mission and eventually made it back to American lines.

Following a number of additional modifications, including the addition of Plexiglas dome for navigational sightings to replace the overhead window for the navigator and heavier nose armament, de-icing and anti-icing equipment, the B-25C entered USAAF operations. Through block 20, the B-25C and B-25D differed only in the location of manufacture: C series at Inglewood, California, and D series at Kansas City, Kansas. After block 20, some NA-96s began the transition to the G series, while some NA-87s acquired interim modifications eventually produced as the B-25D2 and ordered as the NA-100. NAA built a total of 3,915 B-25Cs and Ds during World War II.

Although the B-25 was originally designed to bomb from medium altitudes in level flight, it was used frequently in the Southwest Pacific theatre in treetop-level strafing and missions with parachute-retarded fragmentation bombs against Japanese airfields in New Guinea and the Philippines. These heavily armed Mitchells were field-modified at Townsville, Australia, under the direction of Major Paul I. "Pappy" Gunn and North American technical representative Jack Fox. These "commerce destroyers" were also used on strafing and skip bombing missions against Japanese shipping trying to resupply their armies.

Under the leadership of Lieutenant General George C. Kenney, Mitchells of the Far East Air Forces and its existing components, the Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces, devastated Japanese targets in the Southwest Pacific Theater during 1944 to 1945. The USAAF played a significant role in pushing the Japanese back to their home islands. The type operated with great effect in the Central Pacific, Alaska, North Africa, Mediterranean, and China-Burma-India theaters.

The USAAF Antisubmarine Command made great use of the B-25 in 1942 and 1943. Some of the earliest B-25 bomb groups also flew the Mitchell on coastal patrols after the Pearl Harbor attack, prior to the AAFAC organization. Many of the two dozen or so antisubmarine squadrons flew the B-25C, D, and G series in the American Theater antisubmarine campaign, often in the distinctive, white sea-search camouflage.

Combat developments Edit

Use as a gunship Edit

In anti-shipping operations, the USAAF had an urgent need for hard-hitting aircraft, and North American responded with the B-25G. In this series, the transparent nose and bombardier/navigator position was changed for a shorter, hatched nose with two fixed .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns and a manually loaded 75 mm (2.95 in) M4 cannon, [13] one of the largest weapons fitted to an aircraft, similar to the British 57 mm gun-armed Mosquito Mk. XVIII and the autoloading German 75 mm long-barrel Bordkanone BK 7,5 heavy-calibre ordnance fitted to both the Henschel Hs 129B-3 and Junkers Ju 88P-1. The B-25G's shorter nose placed the cannon breech behind the pilot, where it could be manually loaded and serviced by the navigator his crew station was moved to a position just behind the pilot. The navigator signaled the pilot when the gun was ready and the pilot fired the weapon using a button on his control wheel.

The Royal Air Force, U.S. Navy, and Soviet VVS each conducted trials with this series, but none adopted it. The G series comprised one prototype, five preproduction C conversions, 58 C series modifications, and 400 production aircraft for a total of 464 B-25Gs. In its final version, the G-12, an interim armament modification, eliminated the lower Bendix turret and added a starboard dual gun pack, waist guns, and a canopy for the tail gunner to improve the view when firing the single tail gun. In April 1945, the air depots in Hawaii refurbished about two dozen of these and included the eight-gun nose and rocket launchers in the upgrade. [ citation needed ]

The B-25H series continued the development of the gunship concept. NAA Inglewood produced 1000. The H had even more firepower. Most replaced the M4 gun with the lighter T13E1, [13] designed specifically for the aircraft, but 20-odd H-1 block aircraft completed by the Republic Aviation modification center at Evansville had the M4 and two-machine-gun nose armament. The 75 mm (2.95 in) gun fired at a muzzle velocity of 2,362 ft/s (720 m/s). Due to its low rate of fire (about four rounds could be fired in a single strafing run), relative ineffectiveness against ground targets, and the substantial recoil, the 75 mm gun was sometimes removed from both G and H models and replaced with two additional .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns as a field modification. [14] In the new FEAF, these were redesignated the G1 and H1 series, respectively.

The H series normally came from the factory mounting four fixed, forward-firing .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose four in a pair of under-cockpit conformal flank-mount gun pod packages (two guns per side) two more in the manned dorsal turret, relocated forward to a position just behind the cockpit (which became standard for the J-model) one each in a pair of new waist positions, introduced simultaneously with the forward-relocated dorsal turret and lastly, a pair of guns in a new tail-gunner's position. Company promotional material bragged that the B-25H could "bring to bear 10 machine guns coming and four going, in addition to the 75 mm cannon, eight rockets, and 3,000 lb (1,360 kg) of bombs." [15]

The H had a modified cockpit with single flight controls operated by the pilot. The co-pilot's station and controls were deleted, and instead had a smaller seat used by the navigator/cannoneer, The radio operator crew position was aft the bomb bay with access to the waist guns. [16] Factory production totals were 405 B-25Gs and 1,000 B-25Hs, with 248 of the latter being used by the Navy as PBJ-1Hs. [13] Elimination of the co-pilot saved weight, moving the dorsal turret forward counterbalanced in part the waist guns and the manned rear turret. [17]

Return to medium bomber Edit

Following the two gunship series, NAA again produced the medium bomber configuration with the B-25J series. It optimized the mix of the interim NA-100 and the H series, having both the bombardier's station and fixed guns of the D and the forward turret and refined armament of the H series. NAA also produced a strafer nose-first shipped to air depots as kits, then introduced on the production line in alternating blocks with the bombardier nose. The solid-metal "strafer" nose housed eight centerline Browning M2 .50 caliber machine guns. The remainder of the armament was as in the H-5. NAA also supplied kits to mount eight underwing 5 inches "high velocity airborne rockets" (HVAR) just outside the propeller arcs. These were mounted on zero-length launch rails, four to a wing.

The final, and the most built, series of the Mitchell, the B-25J, looked less like earlier series apart from the well-glazed bombardier's nose of nearly identical appearance to the earliest B-25 subtypes. [13] Instead, the J followed the overall configuration of the H series from the cockpit aft. It had the forward dorsal turret and other armament and airframe advancements. All J models included four .50 in (12.7 mm) light-barrel Browning AN/M2 guns in a pair of "fuselage packages", conformal gun pods each flanking the lower cockpit, each pod containing two Browning M2s. By 1945, however, combat squadrons removed these. The J series restored the co-pilot's seat and dual flight controls. The factory made available kits to the Air Depot system to create the strafer-nose B-25J-2. This configuration carried a total of 18 .50 in (12.7 mm) light-barrel AN/M2 Browning M2 machine guns: eight in the nose, four in the flank-mount conformal gun pod packages, two in the dorsal turret, one each in the pair of waist positions, and a pair in the tail – with 14 of the guns either aimed directly forward or aimed to fire directly forward for strafing missions. Some aircraft had eight 5-inch (130 mm) high-velocity aircraft rockets. [13] NAA introduced the J-2 into production in alternating blocks at the J-22. Total J series production was 4,318.

Flight characteristics Edit

The B-25 was a safe and forgiving aircraft to fly. [18] With one engine out, 60° banking turns into the dead engine were possible, and control could be easily maintained down to 145 mph (230 km/h). The pilot had to remember to maintain engine-out directional control at low speeds after takeoff with rudder if this maneuver were attempted with ailerons, the aircraft could snap out of control. The tricycle landing gear made for excellent visibility while taxiing. The only significant complaint about the B-25 was the extremely high noise level produced by its engines as a result, many pilots eventually suffered from varying degrees of hearing loss. [19]

The high noise level was due to design and space restrictions in the engine cowlings, which resulted in the exhaust "stacks" protruding directly from the cowling ring and partly covered by a small triangular fairing. This arrangement directed exhaust and noise directly at the pilot and crew compartments. [ citation needed ]

Durability Edit

The Mitchell was an exceptionally sturdy aircraft that could withstand tremendous punishment. One B-25C of the 321st Bomb Group was nicknamed "Patches" because its crew chief painted all the aircraft's flak hole patches with the bright yellow zinc chromate primer. By the end of the war, this aircraft had completed over 300 missions, had been belly-landed six times, and had over 400 patched holes. The airframe of "Patches" was so distorted from battle damage that straight-and-level flight required 8° of left aileron trim and 6° of right rudder, causing the aircraft to "crab" sideways across the sky. [20]

Postwar (USAF) use Edit

In 1947, legislation created an independent United States Air Force and by that time, the B-25 inventory numbered only a few hundred. Some B-25s continued in service into the 1950s in a variety of training, reconnaissance, and support roles. The principal use during this period was undergraduate training of multiengine aircraft pilots slated for reciprocating engine or turboprop cargo, aerial refueling, or reconnaissance aircraft. Others were assigned to units of the Air National Guard in training roles in support of Northrop F-89 Scorpion and Lockheed F-94 Starfire operations. [ citation needed ]

In its USAF tenure, many B-25s received the so-called "Hayes modification" and as a result, surviving B-25s often have exhaust systems with a semicollector ring that splits emissions into two different systems. The upper seven cylinders are collected by a ring, while the other cylinders remain directed to individual ports.

TB-25J-25-NC Mitchell, 44-30854, the last B-25 in the USAF inventory, assigned at March AFB, California, as of March 1960, [21] was flown to Eglin AFB, Florida, from Turner Air Force Base, Georgia, on 21 May 1960, the last flight by a USAF B-25, and presented by Brigadier General A. J. Russell, Commander of SAC's 822d Air Division at Turner AFB, to the Air Proving Ground Center Commander, Brigadier General Robert H. Warren, who in turn presented the bomber to Valparaiso, Florida, Mayor Randall Roberts on behalf of the Niceville-Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. Four of the original Tokyo Raiders were present for the ceremony, Colonel (later Major General) David Jones, Colonel Jack Simms, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Manske, and retired Master Sergeant Edwin W. Horton. [22] It was donated back to the Air Force Armament Museum c. 1974 and marked as Doolittle's 40-2344. [23]

U.S. Navy and USMC Edit

The U.S. Navy designation for the Mitchell was the PBJ-1 and apart from increased use of radar, it was configured like its Army Air Forces counterparts. Under the pre-1962 USN/USMC/USCG aircraft designation system, PBJ-1 stood for Patrol (P) Bomber (B) built by North American Aviation (J), first variant (-1) under the existing American naval aircraft designation system of the era. The PBJ had its origin in an inter-service agreement of mid-1942 between the Navy and the USAAF exchanging the Boeing Renton plant for the Kansas plant for B-29 Superfortress production. The Boeing XPBB Sea Ranger flying boat, competing for B-29 engines, was cancelled in exchange for part of the Kansas City Mitchell production. Other terms included the interservice transfer of 50 B-25Cs and 152 B-25Ds to the Navy. The bombers carried Navy bureau numbers (BuNos), beginning with BuNo 34998. The first PBJ-1 arrived in February 1943, and nearly all reached Marine Corps squadrons, beginning with Marine Bombing Squadron 413 (VMB-413). Following the AAFAC format, the Marine Mitchells had search radar in a retractable radome replacing the remotely operated ventral turret. Later D and J series had nose-mounted APS-3 radar and later still, J and H series mounted radar in the starboard wingtip. The large quantities of B-25H and J series became known as PBJ-1H and PBJ-1J, respectively. These aircraft often operated along with earlier PBJ series in Marine squadrons.

The PBJs were operated almost exclusively by the Marine Corps as land-based bombers. To operate them, the U.S. Marine Corps established a number of Marine bomber squadrons (VMB), beginning with VMB-413, in March 1943 at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. Eight VMB squadrons were flying PBJs by the end of 1943, forming the initial Marine medium bombardment group. Four more squadrons were in the process of formation in late 1945, but had not yet deployed by the time the war ended.

Operational use of the Marine Corps PBJ-1s began in March 1944. The Marine PBJs operated from the Philippines, Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa during the last few months of the Pacific war. Their primary mission was the long-range interdiction of enemy shipping trying to run the blockade, which was strangling Japan. The weapon of choice during these missions was usually the five-inch HVAR rocket, eight of which could be carried. Some VMB-612 intruder PBJ-1D and J series planes flew without top turrets to save weight and increase range on night patrols, especially towards the end of the war when air superiority existed. [24] [ original research? ]

During the war, the Navy tested the cannon-armed G series and conducted carrier trials with an H equipped with arresting gear. After World War II, some PBJs stationed at the Navy's then-rocket laboratory site in Inyokern, California, site of the present-day Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, tested various air-to-ground rockets and arrangements. One arrangement was a twin-barrel nose arrangement that could fire 10 spin-stabilized five-inch rockets in one salvo. [25]

Royal Air Force Edit

The Royal Air Force (RAF) was an early customer for the B-25 via Lend-Lease. The first Mitchells were given the service name Mitchell I by the RAF and were delivered in August 1941, to No. 111 Operational Training Unit based in the Bahamas. These bombers were used exclusively for training and familiarization and never achieved operational status. The B-25Cs and Ds were designated Mitchell II. Altogether, 167 B-25Cs and 371 B-25Ds were delivered to the RAF. The RAF tested the cannon-armed G series but did not adopt the series nor the follow-on H series.

By the end of 1942, the RAF had taken delivery of a total of 93 Mitchells, marks I and II. Some served with squadrons of No. 2 Group RAF, the RAF's tactical medium-bomber force. The first RAF operation with the Mitchell II took place on 22 January 1943, when six aircraft from No. 180 Squadron RAF attacked oil installations at Ghent. After the invasion of Europe (by which point 2 Group was part of Second Tactical Air Force), all four Mitchell squadrons moved to bases in France and Belgium (Melsbroek) to support Allied ground forces. The British Mitchell squadrons were joined by No. 342 (Lorraine) Squadron of the French Air Force in April 1945.

As part of its move from Bomber Command, No 305 (Polish) Squadron flew Mitchell IIs from September to December 1943 before converting to the de Havilland Mosquito. In addition to No. 2 Group, the B-25 was used by various second-line RAF units in the UK and abroad. In the Far East, No. 3 PRU, which consisted of Nos. 681 and 684 Squadrons, flew the Mitchell (primarily Mk IIs) on photographic reconnaissance sorties.

Royal Canadian Air Force Edit

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) used the B-25 Mitchell for training during the war. Postwar use had continued operations with most of 162 Mitchells received. The first B-25s had originally been diverted to Canada from RAF orders. These included one Mitchell I, 42 Mitchell IIs, and 19 Mitchell IIIs. No 13 (P) Squadron was formed unofficially at RCAF Rockcliffe in May 1944 and used Mitchell IIs on high-altitude aerial photography sorties. No. 5 Operational Training Unit at Boundary Bay, British Columbia and Abbotsford, British Columbia, operated the B-25D Mitchell in the training role together with B-24 Liberators for Heavy Conversion as part of the BCATP. The RCAF retained the Mitchell until October 1963. [26]

No 418 (Auxiliary) Squadron received its first Mitchell IIs in January 1947. It was followed by No 406 (auxiliary), which flew Mitchell IIs and IIIs from April 1947 to June 1958. No 418 operated a mix of IIs and IIIs until March 1958. No 12 Squadron of Air Transport Command also flew Mitchell IIIs along with other types from September 1956 to November 1960. In 1951, the RCAF received an additional 75 B-25Js from USAF stocks to make up for attrition and to equip various second-line units. [27]

Royal Australian Air Force Edit

The Australians received Mitchells by the spring of 1944. The joint Australian-Dutch No. 18 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron RAAF had more than enough Mitchells for one squadron, so the surplus went to re-equip the RAAF's No. 2 Squadron, replacing their Beauforts.

Dutch Air Force Edit

During World War II, the Mitchell served in fairly large numbers with the Air Force of the Dutch government-in-exile. They participated in combat in the East Indies, as well as on the European front. On 30 June 1941, the Netherlands Purchasing Commission, acting on behalf of the Dutch government-in-exile in London, signed a contract with North American Aviation for 162 B-25C aircraft. The bombers were to be delivered to the Netherlands East Indies to help deter any Japanese aggression into the region.

In February 1942, the British Overseas Airways Corporation agreed to ferry 20 Dutch B-25s from Florida to Australia travelling via Africa and India, and an additional 10 via the South Pacific route from California. During March, five of the bombers on the Dutch order had reached Bangalore, India, and 12 had reached Archerfield in Australia. The B-25s in Australia would be used as the nucleus of a new squadron, designated No. 18. This squadron was staffed jointly by Australian and Dutch aircrews plus a smattering of aircrews from other nations, and operated under Royal Australian Air Force command for the remainder of the war.

The B-25s of No. 18 Squadron were painted with the Dutch national insignia (at this time a rectangular Netherlands flag) and carried NEIAF serials. Discounting the ten "temporary" B-25s delivered to 18 Squadron in early 1942, a total of 150 Mitchells were taken on strength by the NEIAF, 19 in 1942, 16 in 1943, 87 in 1944, and 28 in 1945. They flew bombing raids against Japanese targets in the East Indies. In 1944, the more capable B-25J Mitchells replaced most of the earlier C and D models.

In June 1940, No. 320 Squadron RAF had been formed from personnel formerly serving with the Royal Dutch Naval Air Service, who had escaped to England after the German occupation of the Netherlands. Equipped with various British aircraft, No. 320 Squadron flew antisubmarine patrols, convoy escort missions, and performed air-sea rescue duties. They acquired the Mitchell II in September 1943, performing operations over Europe against gun emplacements, railway yards, bridges, troops, and other tactical targets. They moved to Belgium in October 1944, and transitioned to the Mitchell III in 1945. No. 320 Squadron was disbanded in August 1945. Following the war, B-25s were used by Dutch forces during the Indonesian National Revolution.

Soviet Air Force Edit

The USSR received a total of 862 B-25s (B, D, G, and J types) from the United States under Lend-Lease during World War II [28] via the Alaska–Siberia ALSIB ferry route. A total of 870 B-25s were sent to the Soviets, [29] meaning that some 8 aircraft were lost during transportation.

Other damaged B-25s arrived or crashed in the Far East of Russia, and one Doolittle Raid aircraft landed there short of fuel after attacking Japan. This lone airworthy Doolittle Raid aircraft to reach the Soviet Union was lost in a hangar fire in the early 1950s while undergoing routine maintenance. In general, the B-25 was operated as a ground-support and tactical daylight bomber (as similar Douglas A-20 Havocs were used). It saw action in fights from Stalingrad (with B/D models) to the German surrender during May 1945 (with G/J types).

The B-25s that remained in Soviet Air Force service after the war were assigned the NATO reporting name "Bank".

China Edit

Well over 100 B-25Cs and Ds were supplied to the Nationalist Chinese during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In addition, a total of 131 B-25Js were supplied to China under Lend-Lease.

The four squadrons of the 1st BG (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) of the 1st Medium Bomber Group were formed during the war. They formerly operated Russian-built Tupolev SB bombers, then transferred to the B-25. The 1st BG was under the command of Chinese-American Composite Wing while operating B-25s. Following the end of the war in the Pacific, these four bombardment squadrons were established to fight against the Communist insurgency that was rapidly spreading throughout the country. During the Chinese Civil War, Chinese Mitchells fought alongside de Havilland Mosquitos.

In December 1948, the Nationalists were forced to retreat to the island of Taiwan, taking many of their Mitchells with them. However, some B-25s were left behind and were pressed into service with the air force of the new People's Republic of China.

Brazilian Air Force Edit

During the war, the Força Aérea Brasileira received a few B-25s under Lend-Lease. Brazil declared war against the Axis powers in August 1942 and participated in the war against the U-boats in the southern Atlantic. The last Brazilian B-25 was finally declared surplus in 1970.

Free French Edit

The Royal Air Force issued at least 21 Mitchell IIIs to No 342 Squadron, which was made up primarily of Free French aircrews. Following the liberation of France, this squadron transferred to the newly formed French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) as GB I/20 Lorraine. The aircraft continued in operation after the war, with some being converted into fast VIP transports. They were struck off charge in June 1947.

Biafra Edit

In October 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War, Biafra bought two Mitchells. After a few bombings in November, they were put out of action in December. [30]

Nose of Mosquito FB XVIII showing the big gun - History

deHavilland DH 98 Mosquito

(Variants/Other Names: See History below)

de Havilland Mosquito at Oost Malle (Belgium) Air Show in August 1993.
Photo courtesy Marcel van Leeuwen.

History: The all-wood Mosquito bomber was designed with war in mind. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, the Mosquito was as fast as a fighter and could carry the payload of a medium bomber. Flying high and fast, it was believed it could perform the mission without defensive armament. In a display of incredible foresight, deHavilland constructed the airplane almost entirely out of balsa and plywood in case strategic metals became scarce. The Air Ministry originally wanted nothing to do with the aircraft, and rejected it as unsuitable because of its wooden construction.

When World War Two broke out the Air Ministry began to reconsider its position. With Germany ready to unleash her wolfpacks and the United States still restrained by the Neutrality Laws, construction materials became a strategic concern. On March 1, 1940, an order for 50 Mosquitos was placed, but it was soon postponed while the Allied armies replaced the material lost on the beaches at Dunkirk. The first prototype flew on November 25, 1940, and the Air Ministry officials who had been so skeptical were amazed to see the Mosquito performing climbing rolls on one engine, and dashing across the sky at speeds expected of fighters. Production of three prototypes for official consideration were built: the Mosquito PR.Mk I, a photo-reconnaissance plane, the Mosquito B.Mk IV, a medium bomber to replace the Blenheim, and the Mosquito NF.Mk II, a night fighter. The first operational flight of the PR.Mk I confirmed the Mosquito needed no armament when on a flight over Brest it outpaced three Luftwaffe Bf 109s and returned home.

The B.Mk IV entered combat in the early months of 1942, after a period of familiarization. The Mosquito was much faster than the Blenheim and required new tactics to hit its targets. The bomber crews were soon very impressed with the amount of damage the Mosquito could absorb. Its construction took full advantage of the flexibility of its wooden construction, the two sides being fully equipped with controls and wiring runs before being joined together.

The Mosquito NF Mk II had a heavy armament of four cannons and four machineguns. It carried the AI Mk IV radar. The Mosquito NF was the first night fighter to be stationed in the Mediterranean, fighting from Malta as day and night fighter. It was also used as a night intruder, performing its first intruder mission on December 30-31, 1942. Because of its high speed, crews needed some time to grow accustomed to the new machine. For this reason, de Havilland also produced a training version, the Mosquito T.Mk III, with dual controls. All versions had a crew of two, seated side-by-side. The last Mosquitos were withdrawn from RAF photo-reconnaissance units in 1961.

The Mosquito was also manufactured under license in Australia and Canada. In all, 7781 Mosquitos were built. Today, only three Mosquitos are considered to be airworthy.

Mossie Balsa Bomber Wooden Wonder Freeman's Folly (early nickname referring to Air Council member Sir Wilfred Freeman) Tsetse (Mk XVIII anti-shipping variant).

The Top 40 Biggest Moose Ever Taken

Moose are one of North America’s largest game animals, second only to the bison. So it’s no surprise that throughout moose hunting history, some gigantic bulls have been taken. There’s been no better record keeper of massive bullwinkles than the Boone and Crockett Club, which divides its book into Alaskan/Yukon moose and Canada moose. With B&C’s help, we’ve gathered the photos and stories of the 20 biggest bulls from each category.


When John Crouse and two friends flew into east-central Alaska, Crouse had made up his mind he would shoot just about any moose he saw. They were on a six-day hunt at the end of August and camped on a ridge when Crouse saw a glint of antler. That day there was the typical Alaska rain and fog, but there was enough visibility to spot this moose in his bed. Crouse waited for it to stand. When it did, the moose took two solid, well-placed shots from Crouse’s .270. That’s right: he killed a world-record moose with a .270. It took the three men an hour to get it in a position just to be butchered. It then took them two full days to pack it back to camp. When the pilot came to pick it up, the rack wouldn’t fit anywhere in or outside the plane. And get this: Crouse suggested they split the skull to fit the antlers inside. The pilot wouldn’t hear of it and sent for a bigger plane.

2. Alaska

Hunter: William G. Nelson
Score: 256 6/8
Year: 1997
Location: Beluga River, AK William Nelson, his son Brian and longtime hunting partner Dean were out to fill the freezer with some moose meat in the Beluga River drainage 30 miles west of Anchorage. It was the middle of November, 25 degrees and snowing hard when they left camp on snowshoes. William had shot his first moose in the area as a boy 40 years prior and knew the country well. The party stopped to glass the drainage when movement caught their attention. It was a moose, a big moose, whose palms were filled with snow. The bull was 250 yards away, but every time William put the scope on him, the massive antlers were covered the bull’s vitals. Finally, the old bull put his head down, William emptied his scope of snow and took the shot. The moose moved ever so slightly and disappeared from view. Dean snowshoed down and found the bull curled up dead with a shot through the lungs.

3. Alaska

Hunter: Kenneth Best
Score: 255
Year: 1978
Location: McGrath, AK No one, it seems, is ever looking for a world record moose they just find one and shoot it. At least that’s the case for the top three Alaskan/Yukon moose. When Kenneth Best and hunting partner Art Beatie left camp near McGrath, Alaska, they did so in a 12 ft raft with a 12 ft ceiling of gray, wet clouds hanging over the willows. After a couple hours of floating and some unsuccessful forays onto shore to call for moose, they rounded a bend a saw this monster moose on a sandbar. They floated to within 75 yards and the moose vanished. Both men hit the ground and spilt up. Best found the moose browsing not 40 ft away from him, just opposite a patch of willows. He filled his scope with brown fur and shot the bull in the shoulder. He followed-up with a shot in the neck and spent the rest of the day wrestling that massive rack through the willows to the boat.

4. Alaska

Hunter: Franz Kohlroser
Score: 254 5/8
Year: 2005
Location: Kvichak River, AK When you’re a guide and your client travels all the way from Austria, you want to get him on a bull. So when it came down to Franz Kohlroser’s last day of his hunt, guide Eric Lantzer was feeling the heat, despite the Alaskan cold, wind and rain. They were near the Kvichak River in southwest Alaska when after a spot of tea, Lantzer finally spotted a bull–a very good bull. The moose bedded down and the two closed the mile-long gap and stalked to within 76 yards. Lantzer gave two grunts, and the bull jumped from its bed. Franz fired twice and brought home a fine specimen for any Swiss Chalet.

5. Alaska

Hunter: Bert Klineburger
Score: 251
Year: 1961
Location: Mt. Susitna, AK

6. Alaska

Hunter: Dyton A. Gilliland
Score: 250 3/8
Year: 1947
Location: Kenai Pen., AK

Tied for 7, Alaska

Hunter: Josef Welle
Score: 249 6/8
Year: 1967
Location: Mother Goose Lake, AK

Tied for 7, Alaska

Hunter: David W. Boone
Score: 249 6/8
Year: 1996
Location: Pedro Bay, AK

9. Alaska

Hunter: Real Langlois
Score: 249 4/8
Year: 2008
Location: Earn Lake, YT I first saw Real Langlois at SHOT Show. He is not a very big man and the Vegas working girls he’d hired to hand out flyers towered over him in their stilettos. My eyes eventually made it to his TV screen where the video of him arrowing this massive bull at three yards played over and over again (See the video here). And I had to watch it again and again. He calls himself “Homme Panache”—that’s French for rack man. No, I don’t make this stuff up. He’s been a bowhunter for three decades, and he’s good at what he does. As for this bull, Langlois was in a boat on a lake in the Yukon in September. He spotted something unusual on the shore, grunted and saw this massive bull. He snuck onto shore, got the wind in his favor, rattled and flashed his wooden paddles. The bull had two cows and started to come in. Langlois had not one, but two cameramen by his side. The bull was a decade old and 1,600 pounds. He came straight in to the grunts, flashing his behemoth rack right in the mens’ faces. The bull turned when he was within spitting distance. In a move that takes a serious gut check, Langlois drew and fired at a mass of brown. Lucky for the crew, the bull bolted and bedded down one last time.

10. Alaska

Hunter: John R. Johnson
Score: 249 3/8
Year: 1995
Location: Tikchik Lake, AK This may not be the world’s record, but it certainly scores high for the best story. When Doug Johnson graduated from Eastern Oregon State College, his dad, John, celebrated by treating them both to a self-guided, 10-day moose and caribou hunt in Woodtikchik State Park. But when the weather turned calm and warm, the bugs emerged and pushed all the moose into the brush. The men finally took to the high country to glass any hidden bulls and found one 200 yards away. Both men had never hunted moose before and Alaska’s regs for non-residents can be about as annoying as any mosquito swarm on a warm day. So they waited and watched the moose to be absolutely certain it had three brow tines on each antler. When the moose bedded, both men saw the bull was legal. Suddenly, it jumped up, looked at the men, and Dad got in three body shots and one neck shot and put him down. They packed out 600 pounds of meat four miles back to camp over four days with junior packing out the massive rack.

11. Alaska

Hunter: Henry S. Budney
Score: 249 2/8
Year: 1967
Location: Alaska Range, AK

12. Alaska

Hunter: David B. Parent
Score: 249 1/8
Year: 1982
Location: Granite Mt., AK

13. Alaska

Hunter: Loren G. Hammer
Score: 248 7/8
Year: 1967
Location: Farewell Lake, AK

14. Alaska

Hunter: Bill Foster
Score: 248 5/8
Year: 1912
Location: Kenai Pen., AK

15. Alaska

Hunter: Myron A. Peterson
Score: 248 3/8
Year: 1988
Location: Natla River, NT

16. Alaska

Hunter: Bruce B. Hodson
Score: 248 1/8
Year: 1970
Location: Mulchatna River, AK

17. Alaska

Hunter: Mark S. Rose
Score: 247 7/8
Year: 2003
Location: Rapid Creek, AK

Tied 18, Alaska

Hunter: Vol S. Davis, Jr.
Score: 247 5/8
Year: 1984
Location: Bering River, AK Vol and his guide used a plane to glass 5,000 acres of swamp and mosquito larvae. In three days of “scouting” they lost count at 65 moose, but zeroed in on one massive bull. Three days of zig-zagging in the swamp on foot put the hurt on then 53-year-old Vol so they decided to head a little higher out of the muck. Vol’s guide would climb a tree and glass, climb a tree and glass–he did this for several hours until Vol saw his guide grin. They stalked in on three massive bulls standing antler to antler. The bulls stared at the men. It took three shots to the brisket from a .300 Weatherby Magnum to bring down the biggest of the trio. His two buddies scattered at the first shot, only to return as the men were admiring the dead moose. They stood rifles ready and one bull bluff charged, grunting in disapproval before it walked off.

Tied 18, Alaska

Hunter: Craig S. Spence
Score: 247 5/8
Year: Selawik Hills, AK
Year: 2008

20. Alaska

Hunter: Gale L. Galloway
Score: 247 4/8
Year: 1970
Location: Iliamna Lake, AK


#1 Canada
Hunter: Michael E. Laub
Score: 242
Year: 1980
Location: Grayling River, BC Michael Laub had always dreamed of a big game hunt in the great unknown for moose and grizzly bear, but he had a few things working against him. He’d never seen a moose before, he was afraid of flying and once he actually made it to the bush he had to sleep with the comforting notion that his rifle was snuggled in with him. He had hunted for moose in British Columbia for nine straight days and hadn’t seen so much as a rabbit, which could explain the itchy trigger finger once he did see his first-ever moose. The big bull was 350 yards away when Laub shot the first time. When the moose didn’t stick around, Laub and his guide took off after him on their horses. After riding, shooting and riding some more, Laub hit him in the hind quarter. They rode to within 25 feet and Laub shot him in the head.

2. Canada

Hunter: Doug E. Frank
Score: 240 6/8
Year: 2002
Location: Kinaskan Lake, BC This hunt almost never happened. Frank tweaked his knee playing softball a month before the hunt, but persevered only to discover rain and fog threatened to cancel all his flights north. But alas, he and his buddies made it in time to hunt. Riding into the base camp, the hunters had two bulls run right in front of them and then fought each other in the brush for a good half hour. Things were looking up. The next day produced some bulls, but not ones big enough to justify a shot. Then the guide glassed across a canyon from their spike camp and spotted a massive bull. Frank had a solid rest, but a shot of 500 yards has a lot of variables. One shot. Two shots. Then on the third shot the 1600-pound moose finally flinched. He was down for good. Upon field-dressing it, the men found three holes in a softball-sized group.

3. Canada

Hunter: Albertoni Ferruccio
Score: 240 2/8
Year: 1982
Location: Teslin River, BC When Feruccio came to the Cassiar Mountains in British Columbia, he was looking to do some serious hunting. He had a Mauser 375 H&H Magnum with 270-grain soft-points, tags for moose, caribou, grizzly, and wolf, with 21 days to fill them. A couple days into the hunt, the guide put him on a good moose, but Ferruccio didn’t feel comfortable with the shot, so he passed. The guide was miffed, and they moved on. Later, they found a pair of bulls 300 yards away. Feruccio picked out the big boy and with four shots, had himself the number three Canada moose to take back to Europe.

4. Canada

Hunter: Silas H. Witherbee
Score: 238 5/8
Year: 1914
Location: Bear Lake, QC

5. Canada

Hunter: Roger J. Ahern
Score: 229 2/8
Year: 1977
Location: Muncho Lake, BC

6. Canada

Hunter: Brenton Holland
Score: 228 6/8
Year: 1997
Location: MacEachern Lake, NS

7. Canada

Hunter: Frank A. Hanks
Score: 227 6/8
Year: 2004
Location: Kawdy Mt., BC For Christmas, Frank Hanks’ family decided to get him a moose hunt. Frank’s son Wade went along for good measure. Together with their .338 Win Mags, they had a 24-hour truck ride, a plane ride, a 2-hour Argo cruise and a 20-mile horseback ride to get to their destination. And when they got there, moose were coming out of every willow and swamp in sight. One day, they glassed more than a dozen moose and picked one out for a stalk. As they crept in, they bumped an even bigger bull and Frank shot him off-hand. The moose came at them, more scared than charging, and dad kept shooting until the moose crumpled 60 yards away. The rack was 60 inches wide and boasted 33 points. Not to be outdone, Wade took off after the first bull they saw. One shot put him down. It was nearly 60 inches with 23 points. It took 24 horses to pack both moose and their spike camp back to the main camp.

8. Canada

Hunter: Donald F. Blake
Score: 227 4/8
Year: 1985
Location: Cook Co., MN You read that right, we’re talking about Minnesota here. With only four percent of hunters pulling this moose tag, it’s a hunt not to take lightly. Donald Blake was trying hard for a week and a half in the 󈨙 season, and he threw every grunt and rattle he could find all to no avail. He was feeling a little bummed when he called in to check in with his wife. Unfortunately, she told him, Floyd, the family dog had died in the night. Things could only get rosier from here, right? He was hunting a clear-cut when a very big moose caught his attention. He ran after it, shooting his .30-06 at the animal. The moose took off, even though the bullet had hit the heart and gone through both lungs. He drove his truck to within 800 feet of the bull, but he still had a huge deadfall and creek between him and his truck. He started skinning the bull at 3 pm. By midnight, he passed out in the bed of his truck and awoke to timber wolves prowling 100 yards away. He boned the rest of the moose out, and on the last trip, his pack frame finally gave in and broke. He got a shoulder mount for the bull, but it wouldn’t fit through the door, so Blake put in a bigger door.

9. Canada

Hunter: Tim Harbridge
Score: 226 7/8
Year: 1978
Location: Whitecourt, AB

10. Canada

Hunter: Richard Petersen
Score: 226 6/8
Year: 1977
Location: Halfway River, BC

11. Canada

Hunter: Carl J. Buchanan
Score: 225
Year: 1960
Location: Driftwood River, AB

12. Canada

Hunter: Keith A. Grant
Score: 224 6/8
Year: 2008
Location: Tatshenshini River, BC Grant traveled to the Tatshenshini River in British Columbia for moose and mountain goat. He bagged a goat shortly after his feet hit the ground. He and his guide lounged around in camp after packing the goat out, and the next September morning was cold and still. They glassed up this bull the guide had seen two years prior, and they started grunting. The bull heard them and slowly took his time to come in. It was an hour before the guide and Grant wondered if they should pack it in, but then the moose parted the willows. Grant waited until he was 40 yards away and shot him twice. While they field-dressed it, two more bull moose stood watch.

13. Canada

Hunter: Roy M. Hornseth
Score: 224 1/8
Year: 1959
Location: Nipawin, SK

14. Canada

Hunter: Pierre A. Lachance
Score: 223 7/8
Year: 1985
Location: Buffalo Lake, MB

15. Canada

Hunter: Ray Olson
Score: 223 6/8
Year: 2008
Location: Cassiar Dist., BC

16. Canada

Hunter: N/A
Score: 223 5/8
Year: 1980
Location: Island Lake, MB

17. Canada

Hunter: Donald G. Allen
Score: 223
Year: 1995
Location: Stikine River, BC At the time, Allen was a guide in Montana and Idaho, so he knew his way around the woods. He drove two days from Montana to reach Dease Lake in British Columbia to hunt goats. When the weather turned too nasty for goats, Allen and his guide shifted gears to moose. On the horseback ride in to moose camp, the guide saw an antler across a lake. He got the bull to stand, and started yelling in his loudest whisper, “Shoot! Shoot!” Allen took the 350-yard shot across the lake and connected. They took the bull into town, and it caused quite a stir. When a big moose is shot in small-town Canada, you might as well have the Stanley Cup on display. They left the bull and took off again for goat, but they got snowed out. A record-book moose would have to do.

Tied for 18, Canada

Hunter: Manuel Dominguez
Score: 222
Year: 1947-no photo
Location: Clearwater River, AB

Tied for 18, Canada

Hunter: Picked Up
Score: 222
Year: 2006
Location: Eagle Creek, SK

Info: RAF Guns of WW II

Post by Robert Hurst » 24 Feb 2003, 13:47

The 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Vickers Gas-Operated Mk1 No.1

This gun had several official and unofficial titles. Its official service title was is shown above, Vickers called it the Class K but in the RAF and FAA it was usually referred to as the VGO.

In the mid-thirties, gunners in the open cockpits of RAF and FAA multi-seat aircraft were still armed with the Lewis gun, but it was becoming obvious that this would have to be replaced with a more up-to-date design. Trials had just been carried out for a fixed gun, which resulted in the selection of the Colt Browning, but it was decided that a second gun was needed for the free position of bomber aircraft, and also to provide a 'second string'. At Martlesham Heath in September 1935 six types of gun were submitted for what could have been highly lucrative production contracts. The final choice was narrowed down to between the French Darne and the Vickers Class K. The French Darne was a belt-fed, gas-operated gun which, because of its short bolt stroke had a cyclic rate of 1,700 rpm. The vickers was a sturdy drum-fed gun, ideal for pivoted mountings, and because it was a simpler design, it was easier to service. Owing to the disagreement among the evaluation experts, Air Vice Marshal Dowding decided to conduct air firing tests personally, and Vickers emerged the winner. The Crayford works were given an initial order for 3,000 guns, and the first 200 were delivered in 1937.

Design History and operation

Foreseeing the need for a light machine gun for infantry, Vickers had acquiired the rights to a design by the French lieutenant Andre Berthier in 1918. However, by 1934 the British Army selected the Bren gun instead, which was based on a Czech design. The Vickers weapon had been found light and easily manouevrable, but it was prone to component failure and had a rather slow rate of fire. Vickers decided to redesign it, and a team led by Percy Higson produced a better weapon with a cyclic rate of 1,050 rpm. As the Class K, it was then ready for the 1935 RAF trials, and was given a very favourable report by the two principal armament experts at Martlesham Heath, Major H.S.V. Thompson and Captain E.S.R. Adams.

The gun was cocked by pulling back a handle on the left side. The breech-block was retained at the rear of the receiver on a projection at the back of the piston rod. When the trigger was pressed, the rod was driven forward by the force of the main spring, carrying with it the breech-block, which pushed a cartridge from the magazine into the chamber. As the piston continued to move forward, the rear of the breech-block was engaged on a sloping projection on the rear of the piston, and was forced in front of a locking shoulder on the main body. The floating firing pin was then struck by a projection on the rear of the rod, firing the cartridge. The gas pressure impinged on the head of the piston housed beneath the barrel, driving it to the rear, compressing the main spring and unlocking and withdrawing the breech-block. The rearward movement of the block extracted the case and ejected it into a container at the side of the gun. A saftey catch was incorporated into the hand grip which rendered the gun safe when not in use. After final assembly at Crayford, the guns were proof-fired with ammunition containing 25 per cent more charge than normal. They were then tested for automatic fire, first in a horizontal position, then at an angle of 90 degrees.

The pistons in the early production guns tended to fail after firing 1,000 rounds or so, Higson was able to correct this and other small faults. The modified gun proved to be highly efficient, the minimum life of any component being 10,000 rounds - a great improvement over the Lewis gun, for which replacement parts had to be carried in the aircraft. The 47-round magazine was dropped in favour of a 100-round drum, which gave a more realistic ammunition supply. Higson stressed the modest recoil, the absence of external moving parts, and the fact that the gun could be dismantled in a few seconds with no other tools than an empty cartridge case and a pen-knife.

Initially, armourers had trouble tensioning the spring of the 100-round magazine, but limiting the load to 97 rounds overcame the problem. Stoppages did occur, the most frequent cause being defective ammunition and badly filled magazines. Lack of maintenance could lead to short or broken firing pins, defective extractors and broken springs. Perhaps the most disturbing experience was not a gun which stopped firing, but a gun which would not stop!

The gun proved so successful that a cable-operated version was specified for all turrets mounting a single gun and (in the case of Blenheims and Beauforts) twin guns. Vickers produced a belt fed fixed version, for which ammunition was supplied from 300 or 600 round tanks. Some early Blenheim 1 aircraft had the fixed version of this gun, but almost all were used on pivoted mountings and turrets. The Bristol Bombay nose and tail turrets each had a single gun, as did the front turrets of the Whitley, Sunderland and Lerwick flying-boats. When the gun was fired from these turrets the piston rods often broke. It was eventually found that the part of the gas cylinder outside the turret was chilled by the slipstream, whereas the section inside the turret soon reached a high temperature after a few bursts were fired, causing the piston to seize. The cylinder diameter was increased but, although this reduced the failure rate, gunners of No.5 Group (Wellingtons) were advised to carry spares for the side hatch guns. Being self-contained and needing no belt boxes, the gun was used in the nose position of all later Halifax bombers, and Sunderland and Beauforts used it as additional armament to power turrets. Pivoted guns were usually sighted by 51 mm (2 in) ring-and-bead sights, but Mk 111 reflector sites were also used on both free-mounted and turret installations.

Many army units used the VGO. The Long Range Desert Group of the 8th Army, as well as the SAS, found that it was far less liable to stoppages than the Bren, and it was also used by the Indian Army (Vickers Berthier or VB Mks 1, 2, 3 & 3B) instead of the Bren.

Details of the 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Vickers Gas-Operated

Calibre: 7.7 mm (0.303 in)
Weight: 9.5 kg (20.5 lb)
Muzzle Velocity: 732 m/sec (2,400 ft/sec)
Cyclic Rate: 950-1,100 rpm
Maximum Range: 914 m (1,000 yds)
Weight of Bullet (Mk VIII): 11.34 grams (0.4 oz)
Action: Gas-operated
Ammunition Feed: 47-(later 97-) round drum
Cooling: Air
Length: 1,016 mm (40 in)
Rifling: Five grooves, left hand.

The above text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol 2: RAF Guns and Gunsights", by R. Wallace Clark.

If anyone would like to comment about anything in this section, please feel free to do so.

Post by Robert Hurst » 24 Feb 2003, 17:17

7.7 mm (0.303 in) Browning - Pt 1

In 1933, at the request of the US Army Air Corps, two 7.62 mm (0.300 in) versions of the 12.7 mm (0.50 in )M2 were produced. The first was a pilot's gun, while the second, the M9/402, was designed as a pivoted observer's gun with a higher rate of fire and longer barrel length. Just after these guns had been produced, the RAF decided to hold competitive trials to select a modern automatic gun. The guns tested were the Vickers, Hotchkiss, Darne, Madsen and the Colt MG40 and MG40/2. The winner was the Colt 40/2, which proved the to have the best all round performance.

Once the gun had been selected, the Martlesham Heath gun section under Major Adams conducted Service trials. It was found that the cordite-filled 7.7 mm (0.303 in) cartridges used in Britain caused serious trouble (most countries used nitrocellulose propellent, which was less sensitive to heat than cordite). When a long burst was fired a round remained in the chamber, and the cordite then detonated. Major Adams redesigned the action to hold the breech-block to the rear with the chamber empty. The first trials of production guns from BSA showed a weakness in the feed. This meant a further extensive redesign, until the final gun was quite different from the MG40/2.

The Browning gun was the first in RAF use to have the facility of adjusting the barrel in relation to the breech-block. Some armourers adjusted the barrel too far forward, leaving too much of the case protruding from the barrel, so that the end of the round was blown off causing a 'separated case' stoppage. With experience this problem was overcome, and durng the Battle of Britain, if a fighter returned from a sortie with a separated case stoppage the armourer responsible was put on a charge. Trouble was also caused by excessive fouling of the muzzle attachment, the guns seizing after about 200 rounds. A sharp pen-knife seemed the best way to clear the hard residue. In 1940 BSA redesigned the muzzle attachment by adding cooling fins and chromium-plating the bore of the unit. This modification caused a hold-up to production at a vital period, but the gun could then fire 300 and more rounds without fouling. After the troubles were rectified, production at BSA, Vicker-Armstrongs and sub-contractors kept up with the demands of the Service (one Hurricane and Stirling needed 16 guns).

The text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol. 2: RAF Guns and Gunsights), by R Wallace Clarke.

Post by Robert Hurst » 24 Feb 2003, 17:39

7.7 mm (0.303 in) Browning - Pt 2

The Browning was a recoil-operated gun with safety features which ensured near trouble-free operation. The gun was fired when the rear sear was depressed. This was done by hand, or by pneumatic, hydraulic or electrical solenoid actuation, depending on the installation. With sufficient maintenance, malfunctions were minimal. The most usual stoppage was caused by rogue ammuntion or badly made-up belts, though the links would also sometimes jam in the ejection outlet. Turret gunners could clear stoppages with a hooked tool kept handy in the turret, and gunners also kept a looped wire or hooked metal cocking tool to clear the gun. Stoppages were reduced after special belt-making machines were introduced.

Very cold conditions could also lead to problems. Heaters were provided in fighter gun bays, but oil spillage in some power turrets made heaters a safety hazard. Anti-freeze oil helped, and one Bomber Group fixed a paper seal over the cartridge ejection slot to stop the fierce draught which could enter the aperture. The 'fire and safe' unit mounted on the side of the gun body was operated by a pneumatic actuator on the same pressure line as the sear release unit on fighter aircraft. Turret guns were fired by hydraulic units or electrical solenoids controlled by triggers or push buttons on the turret control handle. The guns were made safe by pressing a release pin at the back of the fire and safe unit.

Each gun was marked with its number and Mark designation. Marks 1 and 11 were almost identical, having the early muzzle attachment Mk11* guns were fitted with the BSA modified unit.

The Browning was rarely used as a free-mounted gun, except in Beaufighter TF Mk.Xs of Coastal Command, where the observer's cupola was so small that the ammunition drums of a Vickers could not be accommodated. Otherwise, when a free-mounted gun was needed, the Vickers K was used.

A total of 460,000 complete Brownings were manufactured in the UK with spares for another 100,000. Most of these were manufactured by BSA but an extensive sub-contract scheme was set up in 1941, BSA supplying key personnel and supervising the work. Series production started in 1938, when 3,809 were produced, and production figures rose until in 1942 16, 300 were completed. Production contracts were competed by the end of 1944, and in 1945 the lines were closed down.

Details of the 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Browning

Calibre: 7.7 mm (0.303 in)
Action: Recoil
Cyclic rate: 1,150 rpm
Weight: 9.9 kg (21 lb 14 oz)
Muzzle velocity: 811 m /sec (2,660 ft/sec)
Ammunition feed: Metal links
Cooling: Air
Rifling: Five grooves, left-hand twist, 1 turn/10 calibres
Length: 1,130 mm (3ft 8 in)
Weight of Bullet (Mk VIII): 11.34 grams (0.4 oz)
Maximum Range: 914 m (3,000 yds)

The above text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol 2: Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke.

Post by Robert Hurst » 25 Feb 2003, 17:09

Browning Ammunition Belts

Browning ammuntion belts were made up in the early war years by armourers using hand-wound belt-making machines. On some occasions the bullets were even inserted into the links by hand. The make-up of the belts varied with the unit: in most Bomber Command Groups one in five rounds was tracer, but AP and incendiary rounds were often included, especially in fighter units. When the Plessey electrically powered belt-making machine was introduced, the work of the armourer became a little less irksome. The bullets were fed into a hopper one end, and when the machine was switched on a continuous belt was produced from the other.

Identification of 7.7 mm (0.303 in) ammunition used in the Browning and Vickers K.

Service ammunition is identified in several ways, viz:

1. Labels on the container 2. A code stamped on the base of the cartridge case 3. Coloured dye on the annulus of the round (centre of the base) and 4. Colouring of the bullet tip (1939-1945)

The base marking gives the main details. These consist of: A. Code initials of manufacturer B. Year of manufacture C. Type of propellent (usually only Z for nitrocellulose) D. Mark of cartridge and E. Type of bullet. The annulus colour code is found in the centre of the base, and signifies the following: Black: Ball until 1918 Purple: Ball after 1918 Blue: Incendiary: Orange: Explosive, including PSA Red: Tracer.

During the 1939-45 war, station armourers needed a more instant way of identifying special ammunition. The method adopted was to colour the tips of the bullets, the code being as follows: Blue tip: some marks of incendiary White tip: air-to-air short-range day tracer Grey tip: air-to-air short-range night tracer Black tip: observation bullet No colour: ball.

Each manufacturer was given a code to be used on the head stamp on the base of the round. The main makers were: BE - ROF Blackpole (1939-45), CP - Crompton Parkinson, E - Eley, FN - Fabrique Nationale, K - Kynock (ICI) - at various factories (K2, K3, K4 & K5), RG - ROF Radway Green, RL and RG - Royal Laboratory Woolich, RW - Rudge Whitworth, SR - ROF Spennymore. Bullet types were also shown on the head stamps, as: AA - PSA or Pomeroy, B - Buckingham explosive, F - semi-armour piercing, G -SPG tracer, K - Brock incendiary, R - Explosive from 1918, T or G - Tracer, W - armour-piercing, Z - Nitrocellulose propellent after 1917. Ball ammunition was stamped VII with no letter.

The above text and photos were taken from " British Aircraft Armament Vol.2: RAF Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke.

Post by Robert Hurst » 25 Feb 2003, 17:32

As the war progressed, the RAF received many US warplanes, and the 'fifty caliber' Browning's fire power was appreciated by British aircrews.

Various UK manufacturers produced turrets armed with the gun in the last years of the war. The Spitfire F.Mk.IXE was also equipped with these weapons, and other British fighters were fitted with them experimentally.

The gun can initially be charged manually or, in turret guns, by hydraulic or pneumatic units. Turret guns are fired by relay-controlled solenoids, free guns by twin triggers at the rear in an E II cradle unit.

When the gun is fired, recoil carries the barrel, barrel extension and bolt backwards a short distance. This unlocks the bolt from the barrel extension and the bolt is thrown further to the rear against the main spring. The empty case is withdrawn by the bolt and the next round extracted from the belt. As the bolt travels forward, the case is ejected and the next round moves into the breech. The rearward motion of the barrel and extension is checked by the oil buffer and spring, which then drives them forward again. This locks the bolt to the firing pin to fire the new round. This cycle continues as long as the sear is depressed and
ammunition is available.

The rimless ammunition is unusual in that there is no copper driving band normally found on such weapons: in consequence, the armour-piercing rounds caused heavy barrel wear.

12.7 mm Browning Cartridge Identification

Ball: Gilded metal (copper-coloured)
Armour-Piercing: Black tip
Tracer: Red tip
Incendiary: Light blue tip
Dummy: Hole in case

Details of 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Browning

Calibre: 12.7 mm (0.50 in)
Action: Recoil
Cyclic rate:
(M2): 750/850 rpm
(M3): 1,200 rpm
Weight: 29 kg (64 lb)
Muzzle velocity: 838 m/sec (2,750 ft/sec)
Cooling: Air
Rifling: Eight grooves, right hand
Length: 1.42 m (4ft 8 in)
Weight of Bullet: 39.69 grams (1.4 oz)
Maximum Range: 6,583 m (7,200 yds)

Rolls-Royce 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Experimental Gun

The Rolls-Royce Design Department designed two heavy machine guns which had several new features. The first design was gas-operated, with a cyclic rate of 650 rpm, the other was to be recoil-operated. It was decided to concentrate on a recoil-operated weapon. Viale constructed the body and breech cover of RR50 aluminium alloy. The barrel was shorter than the Browning and this, combined with the alloy construction, reduced the weight. The gun fired from a locked breech. As the breech-block recoiled, a pair of accelerators carried back a wedge-shaped balance-piece and retracted the striker pin.

The gun was tested at the Proof and Experimental Establishment at Pendine Sands in March 1941. It was found that the short barrel caused an abnormally large flash, and a long flash eliminator was added. The trials revealed minor snags, and Rolls-Royce decided to redesign the gun for 0.55 in Boys anti-tank ammunition. This development was showing great promise when the company decided to cancel all armament work.

Details of the Rolls-Royce 12.7 mm (0.50 in) experimental gun.

Calibre: 12.7 mm (0.50 in)
Action: Recoil
Cyclic rate: 1,000 rpm
Weight: 22.2 kg (49 lb)
Muzzle velocity: 713 m/sec (2,340 ft/sec)
Ammunition feed: Disintegrating belt
Cooling: Air
Rifling: Four grooves, right-hand twist
length: 1,270 mm (50 in)

The text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol2: RAF Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke.

Attachments Top: 12.7 mm Rolls-Royce gun with long flash eliminator.

Bottom: Rolls-Royce recoil-operated gun. 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Rolls-Royce Experimental Gun.jpg (24.73 KiB) Viewed 13536 times Twin Turret Mounted 12.7 mm Colt-Browning M2.jpg (27.07 KiB) Viewed 13536 times 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Colt-Browning M2.jpg (29.7 KiB) Viewed 13537 times

Post by Robert Hurst » 26 Feb 2003, 17:30

20 mm Hispano Suiza Cannon - Pt 1

In 1930 the Swiss Oerlikon company designed a 20 mm (0.78 in) cannon to be mounted between the cylinder banks of geared vee type aero-engines, the engine absorbing the recoil forces. The gun fired through the propeller shaft as in the Hispano-Suiza WW1 mounting. In 1932 Hispano-Suiza purchased some Oerlikon guns for use in conjunction with their HS.12x aero-engine, but in spite of much development work the project was abandoned owing to problems with the gun. The company then decided to design a new 20 mm gun based on the action of the German Becker cannon of 1918, and after early design faults were sorted out the new gun, designated the Hispano-Suiza Type 404 'Moteur Canon', proved to be an outstanding success. A production contract was received from the French Government, and the first aircraft to be fitted was the new low-wing D.510 fighter, one Hispano being mounted in each wing outboard of the propeller disc. The performance of the gun was so good that the air arms of all major powers evaluated examples for possible licensed production. In 1935 the British Air Staff decided that sooner or later a heavy-calibre gun would have to be introduced to counter the introduction of armour in future aircraft. The Air Ministry Gun Section advised the adoption of the Hispano 'Moteur Canon' as no British design was available. Members of the Air Staff, accompanied by the Head of the Air Ministry gun section, Major H.S.V. Thompson, visited the Hispano works in Paris, and after a demonstration of the gun, convinced all present that the Hispano should be adopted by the RAF, and an order was placed for six guns. The Section had conducted a series of tests on a special gun during the previous year, and several features, including the positive locking of the breech when the round was fired, had convinced them that the weapon was superior to other weapons with blowback actions.

Briefly, the action sequences was as follows: As the breech-block was released by the sear it travelled forward, feeding a round into the chamber. The breech was then locked and the round fired. Diverted gas pressure then acted on the piston, mounted over the barrel this unlocked the breech, and gas thrust on the case forced the breech-block to the rear, the empty case being extracted from the chamber and ejected. A pneumatic recocking unit, operated from the aircraft's system, was built into the gun body. The gun was fitted with a recoil reducer and a heavy spring, damped front mounting unit. The firing sear was released by Bowden cable, pneumatic- or solenoid-operated unit under the rear of the gun body.

The above text and photos were taken from " British Aircraft Armament Vol 2: Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke.

Post by Robert Hurst » 27 Feb 2003, 13:25

20 mm Hispano Suiza Cannon - Pt 2

When the decision was taken to accept the gun as a possible standard weapon for RAF fighters, the Air Staff realised that it would have to be manufactured in the UK. As the only gun-producing companies were fully committed to other weapons, it followed that new production facilities would have to be provided. After initial reservations, the Hispano-Suiza company finally agreed to form a British subsidiary company to manufacture the gun in England. A factory was built at Grantham which was to be known as The British Manufacturing and Research Company (BMARC for short). All dimensions were metric, and engineers from France helped to train the operatives. The first guns were proof-fired in January 1938. Several faults were found, some due to the inexperienced workforce, but others due to problems with the design which had not shown up on the hand-built guns tested in Paris. The return spring was prone to breakage, the extractor spring had a very short life, and the breech-locking system needed redesigning. Whilst these problems were being investigated at the Chatellerault works of Hispano-Suiza, Captain E.S.R.Adams, Senior Technical Officer of the Directorate of Armament Development, and experts from BSA investigated all aspects of the project. It was agreed that it would be very difficult to manufacture the gun at a normal engineering works if the need arose, and the Air Staff set up a team to produce British drawings and simplify the manufacturing process. Hispano-Suiza did not take kindly to this development, but after close co-operation between Captain Adams and Hispano engineers it was agreed to proceed.

Most of the defects had been sorted out by early 1940. Meanwhile, Mr John North at Boulton Paul had made other improvements to the design, and prepared the gun for turret mounting. The Air Staff had originally planned to introduce the gun for the new fighters which were to succeed the Spifire and Hurricane, but when the Munich crisis occurred the Air Staff suddenly directed that the new fighters coming off the production line should be fitted with the new gun. It was soon realised that the Grantham factory would not be able to produce the vastly increased number of guns required, and top priority was given for four new factories. A second, 'shadow ' factory was built at Grantham, another run by BSA, was constructed at Newcastle-under-Lyme, a new purpose-built factory was specially erected at Poole, and part of the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield-Lock was turned over to Hispano production. The first guns were delivered from these factories in early 1941, but the Grantham factory was able to provide several hundred guns for Spitfire Mk.1Bs in 1940. These aircraft took part in Service trials, and No.19 Sqn. took part in operations against German raiders with spectacular results, but the gun's debut was marred by faults in the ammunition feed, and was withdrawn from squadron use.

The above text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol 2: Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke.

Post by Robert Hurst » 28 Feb 2003, 13:39

20 mm Hispano-Suiza Cannon Pt 3

Future development work was carried out at the BSA works, where the Air Ministry had set up a drawing office to produce the anglicised Hispano Mk II under the leadership of Captain Adams. The ammunition feed problem was mainly due to the use of a bulky 60-round drum, which could only be accommodated if the gun was mounted on its side. Just before the Germans overran the Hispano factory in Paris, Adams made a risky journey to the works and retrieved a newly designed belt-feed unit and a full set of working drawings. The production contract for the new feed units was given to the Molins Machine Company. This company progressively developed the feed unit until stoppages were brought down to an average of one very 1,500 rounds. The large 60-round magazines were still used on Beaufighter aircraft where the observer could change drums during operations. At last, RAF fighters were being armed with weapons second to none.

Most air forces opted for shell-firing guns in the 1930s because it was thought that explosive shells would destroy an aircraft with very few hits. This was not borne out by events in fact trials often showed that solid ball ammuntion did as much damage as explosive rounds, which tended to explode directly on contact with armour or airframes without penetrating them. The heavy ball projectiles penetrated both, and was the main type of ammunition used in the early war years. However, it was then realised that an ideal round would first penetrate an airframe and then ignite the fuel or oil inside it. Incendiary ammuntion tended to break up, but a composite explosive/incendiary shell was found to be very effective. Known as HE/I, this new round was however less effective against armour. In July 1942 the semi-armour piercing incendiary (SAP/I) was introduced, with a tungsten nose and a shell containing an incendiary composition. On impact, the tip penetrated the armour, and there was then a flash of flame which ignited anything inflammable within 305 mm (12 in) of it. From mid-1942 these two types of ammuntion replaced other types, belts being made up equally of HE/I and SAP/I.

Tremendous skill and responsibility was required by squadron armourers. Considerable technical knowledge was essential, and very few stoppages were attributed to poor maintenance or servicing. Many modifications were introduced at squadron level. The recoil distance of the Hispano was critical for trouble-free firing. After one round was fired into the stop butts, the recoil distance had to be 20 mm (0.78 in) when cold. This proved to be very difficult to measure, until an armourer discovered that, if a piece of Plasticine was pressed on to the end of the piston so that it came into contact with the front face of the feed unit after firing, the recoil could be measured by using calipers on the resulting indentation.

Until the end of 1941, the British development of the Hispano was led by Captain Adams. It was then thought necessary to promote the younger generation of armament engineers, and the Hispano was passed over to Mr G.F.Wallace, who had co-ordinated the development of the belt-feed mechanism. The weapon was still not ideal for wing installations, the main problem being the length of the barrel. The gun had been designed to fit the Hispano engine, with the breech behind the engine and the barrel projecting through the propeller hub. The long barrel gave increased muzzle velocity, but when installed in fighter wings, some 610 mm (24 in) projected in front of the leading edge. Also, in late 1941 the cannon turret projects had been belatedly revived, and the need for a shorter gun was urgent.

As a first step towards achieving this, Wallace shortened a Mk II by 305 mm (12 in) and test-fired it at the Poole Ordnance Factory. Other than a slight reduction in muzzle velocity, performance was not affected. A small batch of Mk IIs with shortened barrels was supplied to Boulton Paul, Bristol and Parnall for use on experimental turrets. Wallace then made more fundamental modifications, increasing the cyclic rate and reducing the weight of the gun. Although the faster speed imposed more stress on the working parts, it was found that few guns fired as many as 1,000 rounds before the aircraft was lost in action, taken out of service or written off in an accident. Though the specification called for a service life of 10,000 rounds, it was agreed that this could safely be reduced to 2,000 in the interests of performance, the speed being increased from 650 to 750 rpm. Reductiojn in weight was achieved mainly by deleting the intregal cocking cylinder. This gave the pilot a means of recharging the gun in the air, but was rarely used - with three other guns, the pilot was often unaware of the stoppage.

After these modifications the gun was faster, lighter and shorter and in May 1943 a batch of modified guns, known as the Mk V, were tested at Boscombe Down. It was found that the front gun mounting would not stand up to the increased recoil forces. The US Army Air Force had adopted the Hispano for the P.38 and other aircraft, and had fitted a very efficient front mounting made by the Edgewater Co. An anglicised version was designed and produced which solved the recoil problem, and the Hispano Mk V was accepted for use on RAF aircraft for the next 30 years. During the last year of the war aircraft of the 2nd Tactical Air Force alone fired 13,500,000 rounds of 20 mm ammunition at a stoppage rate of one per 1,500 rounds fired, mostly due to badly made-up belts.

Details of the 20 mm Hispano Suiza

Calibre: 20 mm (0.78 in)
Action: Gas-operated
Cyclic Rate:
(Mk II):650 rpm
(Mk V): 750 rpm
Maximum Range: 9,144 m (10,000 yds)
(Mk II): 49.4 kg (109 lb)
(Mk V): 38.1 kg (84 lb)
Length of Gun:
(Mk II): 2,514.6 mm (8ft 3.5 in)
(Mk V): 2,184.4 mm (7ft 2 in)
Muzzle Velocity:
(Mk II): 878 m/sec (2,880 ft/sec)
(Mk V): 838 m/sec (2,750 ft/sec)
Ammunition Feed:
(Mk II): 60-round drum/disintegrating links
(Mk V): Belt-feed (disintegrating links)
Cooling: Air
Rifling: Right Hand
(Mk II): Pneumatic Charger
(Mk V): By Ground Crew Only
Grooves: Nine at 7 degrees

Summary of Hispano-Suiza Aircraft Guns Made In The UK

Mk 1: First model, made to French drawings.
Mk II: Minor changes, made to British drawings.
Mk II*: Mk II with Mk III unlocking plates having no inertia blocks.
Mk III: Enfield designed, prototype only.
Mk IV: Mk II* with barrel shortened to 305 mm (12 in).
Mk V: Wallace modification: lighter, with special locking plates, short barrel, cyclic rate 750 rpm.
Mk 6(1): Modified to fit American cradle.
Mk 7: Electrically primed ammunition.
Mk 8*: Mk V modified to give 900 rpm.
Mk 9: Mk 8 with electrically primed ammunition:

1: Adoption of Arabic numbers

Ball: Black
Gun Functioning: White
Armour-Piercing: Black with white tip or white nose rings
Tracer: Black with stencilled red T in inverted circle
Semi-AP/High-Explosive/Incendiary: Red with red tip
Semi-AP/High-Explosive/Incendiary: Red lower body, buff upper body, white tip
High-Explosive: Buff
Incendiary: Red
High-Explosive/Incendiary: Green upper body, red lower body

Cartridge Headstamp Identification

BMARC: British Manufacturing and Research
GB: Greenwood and Batley
H: Halls Telephone Co. Ltd
K: ICI Birmingham (K3 and K2 indicate ICI Kynoch)
P&S: Plasters and Stampers
RC: Raleigh Cycle Co.
RG: Royal Ordnance Factory, Radway Green
RH: Raleigh Cycle Co.
ST: Royal Ordnance Factory, Steeton and Thorpe Arch
JES: Post-war drill/inspection

The above text photos were taken from"British Aircraft Armament Vol.2: Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke.

Post by Robert Hurst » 28 Feb 2003, 17:34

40 mm (1.57 in) Vickers S Gun - Pt 1

In 1936 the Air Staff decided to carry out a series of trials to find the minimum size of shell capable of destroying an aircraft with one hit. After various experiments it was found that any aircraft hit by a shell 40 mm (1.57 in) or over would probably not survive. So in 1938 a specification was issued for a 2 pdr gun suitable for aircraft. The obvious choice was Vickers-Armstrongs, but at a meeting at the Air Ministry E.W. (later Lord) Hives of Rolls-Royce announced that his company could produce such a weapon in 18 months, so both Rolls-Royce and Vickers-Armstrongs received development contracts.

The chief designer, at Crayford, Percy Higson, had foreseen the result of the projectile trials, and made sure by obtaining the conclusions long before they were officially announced. Thus by the end of 1938, only months after receiving the the order from the Air Ministry, Higson's gun was complete.

The gun used the long recoil system similar to the COW(1) gun. The new gun was smaller, had a much faster rate fo fire, and was fed by a magazine holding 15 of the big rounds. The gun fired the same 2 pdr shells as a much heavier naval gun also designed by Higson. In early 1939 Vickers submitted a scheme for mounting the gun in a large dorsal turret in a Wellington 'heavy fighter' with a predictor and a rangefinder. Such an aircraft it was claimed, could engage hostile formations at a range well beyond that of the fighters' defensive fire.

A prototype gun began testing in 1939, and suffered far fewer teething troubles than was usual with an entirely new gun. In early 1940 the gun was despatched to Woolich for Ordnance Board certification, where no faults occurred during extensive testing. A small production order soon followed for the gun, known at Vickers as the Class S. Vickers also went ahead at Brooklands with fitting the prototype Wellington Mk II (L4250) with the big mushroom-shaped 40 mm emplacement.

The company also submitted a fighter design to Specifcation F.22/39, mounting an S gun in the nose, the gunner having a sighting cupola similar to the turret. The S gun was also used in the Bristol B.16 nose turret installed in some Coastal Command Flying Fortress II aircraft for anti-submarine operations.

The text and photos were taken from "British Aiorcraft Armament Vol 2: Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke

Post by Robert Hurst » 01 Mar 2003, 13:55

40 mm (1.57 in) Vickers S Gun - Pt 2

After the fall of France in June 1940 it was obvious that some means would have to be devised to knock out German tanks. Ordnance experts suggested that, if a suitable armour-piercing projectile could be devised, the S gun might provide one answer. A warhead was produced which would penetrate the German Panzers frontal armour, and an S gun was tested in a Beaufighter. Vickers were given an immediate order for 100 more guns, and Hawker Aircraft were asked to make the necessary structural alterations to a Hurricane to take the weight and recoil shock of an S gun under each wing. A mounting was devised by Higson, the big magazine proving difficult to accommodate. In the meantime a Mustang (AM106) was used to test the mounting and devise the best method of attack (the Mustang might have been a more suitable aircraft to use than the lower performance Hurricane).

The trials carried out from Boscombe Down proved very successful, and the first two production guns were fitted to a modified Hurricane. Known as the Mk IID, it was flown to Boscombe Down for assessment in September 1941. Attacks were conducted against a Valentine tank at the Lulworth range. The AP shells penetrated both the front and turret armour, and the go-ahead was given for a Mk IID squadron to be sent to North Africa. As the guns were virtually hand-made, it was decided to air-test every gun fitted to the Hurricanes. In the first test the empty cases of both guns failed to eject and jammed. Why this should have happened after prolonged firing tests remained a mystery, until someone realised that hitherto Vickers-made shells had been used. The Kynoch shells used in these tests had a slightly softer brass case, so that when fired they expanded fractionally more than the Vickers, and their rims were torn off by the extractor. As an interim measure, the rounds were slightly oiled (usually a punishable offence in the RAF, but accepted in this case as a stop-gap solution).

The officer in charge of the project was Wg Cdr. 'Dru' Drury, who was the driving force behind the Mk IID programme. He nearly crashed during early trials, when the two guns were first fired: the recoil caused the aircraft to dip nose down. He recovered just in time, but this remained a problem, and was countered by easing the nose up slightly at the moment of firing. The first squadron, No.6, began training at Shanar in Egypt on 20 April 1942, Drury taking charge of the first period of training. The gun was aimed by the usual Mk II reflector sight, but two Brownings loaded with tracer ammunition were retained and they gace a good indication of the impact point.

The first operation took place on 7 June, when two tanks and a number of trucks were destroyed. The squadron was in continuous action from this time. In early August two DFCs were awarded to No.6 Sqn pilots, F/Lt. Hillier pressing home an attack so low that his tailpane struck the tank he had hit. A captured German tank commander described how his company of 12 PzKpw IV tanks were attacked by No.6 Sqn. Six tanks were knocked out, the other six managed to escape, though one of these had its turret pierced right through. On the other hand No.6 Sqn suffered a high casualty rate: the guns slowed the aircraft by 64 km/h (40 mph), and even the fighter version was no match for the more agile and powerful Bf109F. With the appearance of rocket projectiles, the Hurricane was withdrawn from service in North Africa, although a few were used on what were virtually suicide attacks on V1 launching sites. Most were despatched to the Far East, where they were very effectively used by No.20 Sqn in Burma.

As the Vickers S gun was originally designed for air-to-air firing, the first shells used were HE. Although based on a naval ptojectile, the length of the round was increased to obtain the maximum explosive charge. In September 1941 Vickers designed the armour-piercing shell, known as the armour-piercing Mk I. Weighing 1.13 kg (2.5 lb), it was a solid projectile with a tungsten nose which could penetrate 50 mm (1.97 in) armour, and was the ammunition used in North Africa. Vickers-Armstrongs later produced a 3 lb shell for the gun which gave an increased penetration of 9 per cent. This was the final round, with the Service title AP Mark V. HE ammunition was used in Burma, where most targets were 'soft skinned'.

Details of the 40 mm Vickers S gun

Calibre: 40 mm (1.57 in)
Action: Recoil
Cyclic Rate: 125 rpm
Weight: 134 kg (295 lb)
Weight of Ammunition (HE):
(AP Mk 1): 1.134 kg (2 1/2 lb)
(AP Mk 5): 1.3608 (5 lb)
Armour Penetration (AP Mk 1): 50 mm (1.97 in)
(AP Mk V): 55 mm (2.17 in)
Muzzle Velocity: 549 m/sec (1,800 ft/sec)
Ammunition Feed: 15-round spring-loaded drum
Cooling: Air
Effective Range: 2,286 m (2,500 yds)

The above text and photos were taken from "Brirish Aircraft Armament Vol2 Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke.

Post by Robert Hurst » 03 Mar 2003, 13:19

40 mm Vickers S Gun - Pt 3

This section is for showing colour photos of the Hawker Hurricane Mk IID.

The photos were taken from "The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II", by David Monday.

Post by Robert Hurst » 03 Mar 2003, 13:45

In September 1938, at a meeting called by the Air Staff to discus various aspects of aircraft armament manufacture and design, a member of the Air Staff asked how long it would take to produced a heavy-calibre aircraft gun. As related in the section dealing with the Vickers S gun, the General Manager of Rolls-Royce, Mr E.W.Hives, said that he could form a design team, and with engineering resources of his company, produce one in 18 months. The Air Staff decided to take him at his word and issued a development order for a 40 mm automatic gun. Accordingly, a gun design team was set up at the experimental works at Derby headed by Dr Mario Spirito Viale, a naturalised Italian who had previously been employed by Armstrong Siddeley Aircraft on engine design. The Air Ministry provided a 37 mm Coventry Ordnance Works gun of First World War vintage which it was thought could provide a design basis, but Viale had other ideas. He used the Degtyarev breech-locking system, modified to incorporate cams to force the locking struts apart. It was recoil-operated, the return of the barrel and breech-block being pneumatic. RR50 aluminium alloy was used for the gun cradle and parts of the recoil mechanism this proved very succesful. Rounds were clipped four at a time onto an aluminium charger plate which could be replenished whilst the gun was being fired, but this rather basic system gave trouble and was replaced by an eight-round hopper in later versions.

Design work started in late 1938, and in February 1939 Viale was granted patents for some of the new features of the design. The prototype was completed in December of that year, and was despatched to Woolwich for proof firing, mounted on a Victorian gun carriage which, strange as it may seem, provided an ideal mounting, being both steady and transportable. The initial test was completed without mishap, and work proceeded on the magazine-feed system, which was to prove troublesome during test firing at Melton Mowbray in April 1940. During trials it was found that stoppages were in part due to the First World War design of the 40 mm (2-pdr) naval ammunition used, which was unable to withstand the high pressures involved. The gun was returned to Derby where further modificaton work was undertaken.

Whilst this was in progress the company was informed that operational experience had shown that damage caused by enemy 37 mm anti-aircraft guns had been far less than expected, and it had been decided to treat the project with less urgency. However, the Admiralty meanwhile had found that the defensive guns on their motor gunboats were completely inadequate, and the Rolls-Royce gun seemed a possible answer to this situation. So great was the need that the Navy requested a gun for trials without the troublesome automatic feed, adapted for single-round firing. A gun was duly despatched to HMS Excellenct, and in July 1940 the Rolls-Royce 40 mm was introduced into service as the 2-pounder Mk XIV. Production was entrusted to the British United Shoe Machinery Co. of Leicester.

When early production guns were mounted on patrol craft, several fatal accidents occurred during gun drill. It was found that the action of the gun was so fast that when the round was fed into the chamber, some over-sensitive primers were set off before the action was locked, firing the round in an open breech a few inches from the gunlayer's head. Another cause for concern was that standards of maintenance on small craft could not approach those of RAF armouries, and the aluminium parts suffered from salt-water corrosion. The open breech problem was partially overcome by slowing down the action, and when a modified feed was introduced the Navy ordered a further batch of the weapons.

In the same month that the modified gun under went sea trials, the Air Staff issued a requirement for an airfield defence system using a mobile heavy-calibre gun. Mr W A Rowbotham of Rolls-Royce's Experimental Department mounted on of the guns on a 15-cwt Chevrolet truck, with hydraulic rotation and elevation control. When test firing commenced, the vehicle started to vibrate and rock violently, and when further improvements were specified, such as armour for the crew, the project was sidelined. Meanwhile, a second more urgent order had been issued for an airborne anti-armour weapon to be mounted in Hurricane aircraft, and competitive trials were to take place between the Rolls-Royce gun and the Vickers Type S 40 mm weapon. A modified version of the Rolls-Royce was prepared, and during the test firing Walter Hampton, who was in charge, upset the LMS Railway Company. The test gun was being fired in the usual manner - from behind a brick wall, using a lanyard tied to the firing mechanism, with the gun rigidly secured. A long burst was fired, and the shells all struck the same spot, the later shells hitting the mass of solid shot and ricocheting. A goods train at Sinfin Moor suddenly screeched to a halt and its driver came runnig across the fields to the butts. When he got to within shouting distance, he brandished a missile and screamed, 'how about this, then?' It had come through the roof of his cab and narrowly missed him and his fireman! Walter told him that if nobody claimed it within seven days he could keep it! A strong protest was sent to the company and Hampton was told to be more diplomatic in future.

Mr G N Wallace of the RAF Gun Section supervised the test firing of the 40 mm guns for the A&AEE at the Pendine Sands test facility, where the Vickers weapon was found to be much superior. The Rolls-Royce gun was found to be adversely affected by altitude and temperature, and would not fire in an attitude of 80 degrees depression as required in the specification. Wallace duly recommended the adoption of the Vickers gun, which was fitted to the Hurricane Mk IID and proved to be an excellent weapon against all but the heaviest tanks in the Western desert. When Vickers had difficulty in supplying the required number of weapons, Rolls-Royce were given a production order for 1,000 of their guns, to be manufactured at BUSM, but during acceptance trials two guns had breech explosions after which deliveries were stopped. It was found that the cause of the explosions was the failure of a case in the ejector slot, so the slot was modified and trials continued. Extensivie firing tests proved that the gun was now much improved. Considering the relatively short development period. Viale's team had been remarkably successful in bringing a gun incorporating many new and untried features to a standard where it was passed as fit for RAF service by the Boscombe Down evaluation team. However, production was limited to parts for 200 guns, after which production ceased at Leicester. No further orders were received for either the Rolls-Royce or the Vickers Type S, as the emergence of rocket weapons promised to give the RAF a weapon which, when fired left the host aircraft with no heavy firing mechanism.

Details of the 40 mm Rolls-Royce gun

Calibre: 40 mm (1.57 in)
Action: Recoil-operated
Cyclic Rate: 120 rpm
Weight: 148 kg (328 lb)
Muzzle Velocity: 744 m/sec (2,440 ft/sec)
Ammunition Feed: Eight-round hopper
Number of Grooves: 12
Length of Barrel: 2,030 mm (80 in)
Length Overall: 2,870 mm (113.5 in)

The text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol.2: Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke.

Post by Robert Hurst » 03 Mar 2003, 17:27

The 57 mm (6-pdr) Molins No.1 Gun - Pt 1

The swift advance of the Panzer units in May 1940 revealed a lack of mobility as well as firepower in the the British 40 mm (2-pdr) anti-tank guns then in use. The Army proposed to mount much more powerful 57 mm (6-pdr) guns on small vehicles operated by a single crewman. Tis meant that the gun would have to be fitted with an automatic feed system. The design of this mechanism was entrusted to the Molins company, which was already working on abelt-feed unit for the Hispano gun. They received a development order on 14 February 1942, and most of the work was done by Desmond Molins, assisted by a Frenchman, Felix Ruau.

The rounds were stored in groups of four or five. When one group was fired, an electrical mechanism moved the next group sideways into position over the breech, thus the heavy shells were fed into the gund without links. When fully loaded, the magazine held 22 rounds. It was found necessary to modify variuos parts of the gun to enable the recoil to operate the magazine, and the modified weapon was officially known as the Molins gun. In August 1942 the prototype was taken to the nearby Deptford Shooting Club firing range, and with the assistance of Ordnance Corps experts it was fired automatically for the first time. It was then despatched to Woolich for exhaustive testing. Although the trials were succesful, the project was terminated owing to the appearance of the PzKpw VI Tiger tank, which was impervious to 57 mm (6-pdr) shells.

In early 1943 the Air Staff was discussing the replacement of the 40 mm anti-tank gun currently mounted on Hurricane Mk IID aircraft. The Molins seemed to be a logical weapon for a larger aircraft, so a trials team under G.F. Wallace carried out ground firing tests. The gun was found to be trouble-free, the only possible problem being the ability of the feed to operate under the stress of manoeuvres. The head of the department, Captain Adams, sent a favourable report to Air Marshal Sir Ralph Sorley, the controller of Research and Development. J.E. Serby of the Ministry of Aircraft Production then wrote to R.E.Bishop of de Havilland Aircraft regarding the possibility of arming a Mosquito with the gun. He was to bear in mind that the recoil force would be 3.628 kg (8,000 lb), and the weight of the gun and ammunition together could be 981 kg (1,800 lb). Bishop replied that the Mosquito could easily accommodate the gun - indeed in 1942 a feasibility study had been carried out for mounting a 94 mm (3.7 in) anti-aircraft gun.

A prototype installation was designed at Hatfield, and when the huge gun arrived for installation, Rex King of de Havilland asked when the horses would be coming! The gun was duly fitted in a written-off Mosquito FB Mk VI to confirm the effect of the muzzle blast on the wooden fuselage, and on 29 April 1943 five rounds were fired at the Hatfield butts. The blast shook the ground and left many ears ringing, and a cloud of dust showed that the solid shot had hit the aiming point. No damage had been caused to the airframe other than a sheared fixing bolt. Two days later the gun was installed in another Mosquito FB Mk VI to find the best method of attaching the gun and the auto-feed unit. The weapon was mounted 102 mm (4 in) to the right of the aircraft's centre line, with the muzzle protruding 610 mm (24 in) under the nose at a slightly downward angle and the recoil spring faired under the barrel. On 8 May a new Mosquito FB Mk VI, (HJ732), was wheeled into the experimental bay for conversion into the prototype Mosquito FB Mk XVIII (soon to be dubbed Tsetse fly). The massive gun and all its asociated electrical and cockpit controls were installed in four weeks, helped in no small measure by the easily adapted wooden structure.

The peaceful morning of Sunday 8 June 1943 was shattered when all 22 rounds were fired from (HJ732) in a staccato thumping burst into the sand. After further firing tests had been carried out, the aircraft was air tested. Air Marshal Sorley arrived at Hatfield on the same day to confirm that the Mk XVIII would be flown to Boscombe Down next day. He also announced that 30 of the next batch of Mosquito FB Mk VIs would be delivered as FB Mk XVIIIs, initially to be used by Coastal Command against U-boats in the western approaches of the Bay of Biscay.

The text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol 2 Guns and Gunsights.

Post by Robert Hurst » 05 Mar 2003, 12:38

57 mm (6 pdr) Molins No.1 Gun - Pt 2

When firing commenced at Boscombe Down it was found that the feed unit would not operate if the 'G' forces exceeded 2.5. Hundreds of rounds were fired during attempts to overcome the problem, but without success. On 22 June the machine was flown back to Hatfield where the charger arm and other parts were strengthened to overcome both positive and negative 'G' forces. Meanwhile, the second Mk XVIII was fitted with 408 kg (900 lb) of armour protection around the nose, to give the crew some protection against the armament of the U-boats. While 30 conversion sets were produced at Hatfield, Desmond Molins supervised the modifications to the feed, and by the end of June (HJ732) was back at Boscombe Down. During August it was extensively tested at Boscombe and Exeter. After 400 rounds had been fired, the undersurface of the starboard flap was torn off by the muzzle blast, and the flaps were therefore strengthened.

It was decided to retain the two outer 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Brownings, with double firing time from enlarged ammunition tanks, to discourage anti-aircraft gunners during the final stages of an attack. The empty 57 mm (6 pdr) cases could not be ejected overboard as they might hit the tailplane, so they were retained in the fuselage, where they could produce a loud clanging noise during manoeuvres. It was decided to use the Mk IIIa reflector gunsight rather than the larger Mk II because it gave a better peripheral view and had a dimming screen which minimised reflections off the surface of the sea. Alignment of the 57 mm (6 pdr) and the Brownings was achieved by using a central graticule for the former and a higher dot for the latter. As the rounds converged at 366 m (400 yds), the Brownings came to be used as an additional sighting aid for the big gun. As the pilots gained experience, moored targets were constantly hit during shallow diving runs, and rounds which fell short often ricocheted into the target.

By October, three Mk XVIIIs had been delivered to Boscombe with long-range tanks and armour, and were soon cleared for operations. Five crews from No.618 Sqn were posted to Predannack to work up on the new aircraft, along with 30 ground staff and armourers who had been trained on the Molins gun, by now officially entitled the 'Airborne 57 mm (6 pdr) Class 'M' Gun. Predannack was the home of the Beaufighters of No.248 Sqn, which formed a composite unit with the 'Tsetse' Mosquitos ranging over the Bay of Biscay. The first operation took place on 24 October 1943. Mosquitos (HX902 and HX903) searched unsuccessfully for enemy
shipping. On 7 November a U-boat was caught on the surface. After being hit by several shells aft of the conning tower, it submerged amid a cloud of black smoke. In December No.248 Sqn was re-equipped with the Mosquito FB Mk VI, and as a more FB Mk XVIIIs arrived, the strike force began wreaking havoc on German shipping in the Bay. Information from the broken Ultra code enabled the Mosquitos to intercept the U-boats en-route both to and from the Atlantic. The following combat report is typical.

Fkying Mosquito (HP922) we broke cloud at the prescribed time and position. I immediately observed a submarine proceeding on the surface with an escorting minesweeper. Whilst making my approach an escoring Ju 88 appeared in the sights. I pressed the gun button and the Junkers disintegrated. I then attacked the submarine which was seen to be hit.

About this time Admiral Donitz issued the followig directive: 'Owing to the damage caused by enemy aircraft mounting heavy-calibre guns, surface passage to port will only take place during the hours of darkness.' After a gruelling patrol, a journey through minefields at night was not appreciated by the submariners.

In February 1944 No.618 Sqn moved to Penreath, from where throughout the summer the Tsetse Mosquitos used their guns to good effect. On D-day (6 June) the squadron flew sorties from 0445 to 2215 hours protecting Allied shipping. On 7 June Mosquito (MM425) hit a submarine with 12 57 mm rounds the U-boat dived amid a large patch of oil before one unfortunate crew member could get inside - he was last seen swimming in the general direction of America. By the end of August enemy activity in the Bay of Biscay lessened, and the squadron moved to Banff in Scotland. Attacks took place against German shipping and coastal installations in Norway, often up to six Mk XVIIIs leading the formation. The advent of more versatile rocket-firing Mosquitos restricted the production of the Mk XVIII to only 27, most of which served with No. 248 Sqn until the end of the war.

As with the early Hispano, it was found that AP projectiles were most effective, for they could penetrate a submarine's pressure hull and superstructure.

Details of the 57 mm (6 pdr) Molins Gun

Calibre: 57 mm (2.24 in)
Action: Recoil
Cyclic Rate: 60 rpm
Weight: 816 kg (1,800 lb)
Weight of Shell: 3.17 kg (7.1 lb)
Muzzle Velocity: 791 m/sec (2,600 ft/sec)
Ammunition Feed: Molins automatic feed
Magazine Capacity: 22 rounds plus one in breech
Sight: Mk IIIa dual graticule reflector
Length: 3.6 m (12 ft 5 in)
Height: 965 mm (38 in)

The above text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol.2: Guns and Gunsights", by R Wallace Clarke.

Mosquito from No.143 Squadron RAF attacks two moored ships in Sandefjord, Norway. 1945

A Mosquito NF Mark XIII. View looking into the cockpit through the starboard entry hatch in the nose.

RAF Museum Prints of the Royal Air Force in Action

Look through the RAF photographic archives and let the memories come flooding back

British Aviation Resource Center

This page is devoted to the history of those who served with the various British Air Arms during WWII.

DH Mosquito FB

British fighter-bomber and anti-shipping strike aircraft De Havilland Mosquito FB. History, development, service, specifications, pictures and 3D model. De Havilland Mosquito FB Type: Fighter-Bomber, anti-shipping strike aircraft, night fighter. History: In quite similar way that

De Havilland Mosquitoes and crew at a airfield.

WW2 in Color - post

1835 votes and 61023 views on Imgur: The magic of the Internet

Ground crew load the four 20mm Hispano Mk II cannons on a De Havilland Mosquito. As can be seen, the cannon's receivers protruded into the bomb bay on Mosquito FB variants.

RAF Marham (IATA: KNF, ICAO: EGYM) is a Royal Air Force station a military airbase, near the village of Marham in the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia.

Titanium Rain

Shown here is one of thirty-three Mosquitoes of the Banff Strike Wing with an escort of Mustangs, attacking U-2559 (Oberleutnant Zur See G.Bishcoff) on the surface in the Kattegat en-route from Kiel.


C 4758. The precision bombing raid by De Havilland Mosquito FB Mark VIs of No. 140 Wing No. 2 Group on the Gestapo Headquarters of Jutland Denmark at the University of Aarhus

De Havilland Mosquito B IV bomber, British RAF.


“ This dramatic picture shows all eight guns on a de Havilland Mosquito FB VI firing at the same time, giving a good idea of the impressive firepower concentrated in the nose of the.

De Havilland Mosquito cockpit.

Bundesarchive Photos 1933 - 1945..+ all fields of WWII - Page 385

Warrant Officer D Gosling (left) and Squadron Leader G H Hayhurst of No. 604 Squadron RAF, stand in front of their De Havilland Mosquito NF Mark XII in the snow at B51/Lille-Vendeville, France, before taking off on a night-fighter sortie.

A Mosquito FB Mk XVIII or "Tsetse" showing the four nose mounted .303 Browning machine guns a the Mollins 57mm auto cannon. The cannon was fitted to attack German U-boats and shipping.

de Havilland Mosquito (NF) cockpit

"Mosquito" Night Fighter. Thimble nose so middle to late war production.

un-edited-Not part of my personal collection

Perils of low level Mosquito bombing – World War II Today

When I awoke I was covered in branches and bits of aeroplane and there was a strong smell of petrol. I was amazed I had no injuries not even a scratch. I must have been flung out of the top of the cockpit as Iwas right in the front with the nose of the aircraft.


De Havillard Mosquito B IVs of No 139 (Jamaica) Squadron RAF Bomber Command, flying in formation - 10 February 1943

Category:Royal Air Force official photographers


C 4759. The precision bombing raid by De Havilland Mosquito FB Mark VIs of No. 140 Wing No. 2 Group on the Gestapo Headquarters of Jutland Denmark at the University of Aarhus


Bombing of The Gestapo headquarters in Shellhuset house, Copenhagen by the RAF, 1945 [600 × 451] #HistoryPorn #history #retro

Ground crew load a 4,000lbs Mark 1 "Cookie" bomb into a De Havilland DH.98 Mosquito B. The "Mossie" as it was affectionately know proved to be a very versatile aircraft serving as a tactical bomber, photo reconnaissance, night/day fighter, pathfinder, maritime strike aircraft and several other roles.

De Havilland Mosquito

de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito adalah sebuah pesawat pejuang buatan Britain yang digunakan di dalam Perang Dunia II. Ia dipanggil "Mossie" [3] oleh krewnya. Pesawat ini mendapat nama gelaran "Keajaiban Kayu" atau "Keganasan Kayu" di sebabkan kebanyakkan badan pesawat dibuat daripada papan lapis. Mosquito digunakan oleh Tentera Udara Diraja dan banyak lagi pasukan-pasukan udara lain di medan operasi di Eropah, Pasifik dan Mediterranean.

Asalnya, ia dibayangkan sebagai sebuah pesawat pengebom tidak bersenjata yang paling laju, Mosquito telah digunakan di dalam banyak lagi tugasan yang lain semasa perang udara, seperti pesawat pengebom waktu siang aras rendah dan sederhana, pengebom malam aras tinggi, pembuka jalan, pejuang siang atau malam, pejuang-pengebom, penceroboh, serangan maritim, dan pesawat pengawasan foto pantas yang melakukan pengawasan udara. Selain itu, ia juga digunakan oleh British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) sebagai sebuah pesawat pengangkut. Pesawat ini juga merupakan asas untuk pembangunan pesawat pejuang berat satu tempat duduk de Havilland Hornet.

De Havilland DH98 Mosquito FB Mk.VI

First flown in 1942, the Mosquito FB Mk.VI fighter-bomber was intended for ‘intruder’ strike missions, and became the most numerous and widely-used Mosquito variant. Based on the F Mk.II day fighter version without Air Interception radar, it retained the formidable armament of four Browning 0.303 in machine-guns in the nose and four Hispano 20 mm canon in the belly. But it was also given a bomb-bay behind the cannon, which enabled it to carry two 500 lb bombs internally (with fins cropped to fit) plus another two under the wings. Since it operated primarily at low altitude, the FB.VI was unpressurised, and retained single-stage supercharged Merlin engines. Targets for 2TAF (Second Tactical Air Force) FB.VI Mosquitos included power stations, communications centres and V-weapon sites, but operations also included one-off special raids e.g. on Amiens jail and several Gestapo HQs. Coastal Command FB.VIs used eight underwing 60 lb RPs in anti-shipping strikes. Despite problems with wood and glue in tropical conditions, FB.VI Mosquitoes also operated in the Far East Royal Navy trials with an FB.VI in 1944 achieved the first landing of a British twin-engined aircraft on the deck of an aircraft carrier (HMS Indefatigable), and led to the navalised torpedo-reconnaissance Sea Mosquito TR Mk.33.

Aircraft Specifications:

Power Unit: Two 1,460 hp Rolls Royce Merlin 21

Wing Span: 54 ft 2 in (16.5 m)

All-up Weight (A.U.W): 22,258 lb (10,096 kg)

Max Speed: 378 mph (608 kph)

On Display at the Museum:

The Museum’s FB.VI TA122 was one of the relatively small numbers of variants built at Hatfield. It was taken on charge at 44MU on 10th March 1945 and issued to 49 ARF. It was then passed 605 Squadron at Coxyde in Belgium on 3rd April soon moving to Volkel in Holland on 25th April where 605 was re-numbered 4 Squadron on 31st August, becoming part of the 140 Wing at Gutersloh in November 1946.In November 1948 it went to No.1 BR & SD pool and as reissued to 4 Squadron on 13th January 1949 at Whan and later Celle in Germany. The aircraft was finally struck off charge on 30th June 1950when it was reduced to spares. The fuselage was used by Deflt University for training before being moved to the Royal Netherlands Airforce base at Gilze-Rijen.

In November 1975 the fuselage was given to the Museum and finally delivered on 26th February 1978.

The wings of this aircraft are from TR 33 TW233 , recovered from Israel in 1980.

View More Aircraft & Engines

De Havilland DH87B Hornet Moth

The Museum’s exhibit was built at Hatfield in 1935 as the last of the DH87A type, and first flown by Geoffrey de Havilland himself. It was later converted to DH87B type with the rectangular wings. It saw wartime service as a communications aircraft. It was acquired in 1974 and restored by 1988. It has a simple vane-type Air Speed Indicator under the port upper-wing leading edge. But there is also a pitot-static head under the lower starboard wing.


TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award

The de Havilland Aircraft Museum has qualified for Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame from TripAdvisor because the Museum has earned a Certificate of Excellence every year for the past five years.
The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence was awarded to the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in recognition for Excellence in Hospitality.
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The recognition distinguishes the Museum from other attractions and gives visitors more reason to choose the de Havilland Aircraft Museum.

de Havilland Aircraft Museum, Salisbury Hall, London Colney, Hertfordshire, AL2 1BU

1. Spitfire Mk VB

Gameplay of how to most effectivlely use the Spitfire Mk VB

"Britain's iconic Spitfire was a highly adaptable platform, with many revisions to meet the shifting needs of the conflict. This revision features destroyer weapon loadouts optimized to eliminate enemy bombers." — In-game description

Spitfire Mk VB Stats

  • Type: Fighter
  • Faction: United Kingdom
  • Crew: 1
  • Primary weapon: 2x 20mm Hispano
  • Secondary Weapon:
    • 2x .50cal Machine Guns*
    • 4x .303 Machine Guns*
    • Emergency Repair
    • Field Repair*
    • Nitrous*
    • Flares
    • Smoke Screen*
    • 8x RP-3 Dumbfire Missiles*

    What makes the Spitfire Mk VB awesome

    • The Dumb fire Missiles turn this variant of the Spitfire into a surprisingly effective Ground Attack/Fighter hybrid.
    • Probably the best all-rounder in the game, the Mk VB is one of the few planes that can effectively engage aircraft, infantry, and tanks.
    • Equipping the Nitrous Specialization lets Pilots quickly escape from tail-gunner fire as well as other planes trying to find a flank.

    How to Get the Spitfire Mk VB

    Now that you've read this, the skies will be yours and yours alone. By now, you should be able to know what you need for each situation across all maps.