Aircraft Weapons

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Aircraft Weapons

Know your guns!

Just like having the right tool for the job is the difference between failure and success, so is having the right weapon for the job is difference between victory and defeat!


Rifle Caliber Machinegun (RCMG, 7mm to 9mm)

At the beginning of WW2, still thinking of wooden WW1 aircraft, the standard airborne weapon was the 7mm to 9mm round used in Rifle Caliber Machine Gun, or "RCMG". While 20mm cannons do exist at this time, they were rare in aircraft because all the nations felt the RCMG was adequate, but surprisingly little tested. It did not take long to realize that RCMG was ineffective, and aircraft routinely made it back to safe territory despite being riddled with over a hundred impact hits. The RAF tried a 12 gun Hurricane, but that did not help much, and testing with RCMG and discovered that nearly half of RC bullets simply bounce off the metal skinned aircraft, so they rapidly upgraded to 20mm cannons. The Germans where ahead of the curve in equipping its fighters with cannons, but even they kept using RCMG till end of war when it all but vanished on allied aircraft.
Incendiary versions of RC munition was developed on all sides that proved lethal, as few aircraft early in the war had fire preventing self-sealing fuel tanks!
Strengths:
You have a LOT of rounds, they fly far, fast, and straight, and best of all they fire rapidly (up to twice as fast as a cannon)! You can pepper you target, reduce its speed, and scare the pilot into evasive maneuvers, slowing them down. And do not forget the lucky "Golden BB (shot)" kill hit.
Weaknesses:
Weak, weak, weak! You could expend your ENTIRE load to take down a bomber even with a high hit percentage!
Game experience:
It can be the ultimate frustration because nothing seems to happen, but it really does (slows target down)! "Dead 6" (straight from rear) attacks are less effective due to riccochet at steep angles of impact, side attacks are much more effective, and cockpit hits are the best. They are by far the best in dog fight because of the near straight line trajectory and instant hit, but again they do little damage. In most circumstances the small caliber guns in game effectiveness match real life combat results very closely! In the game they are often called "BB's"

Heavy Machinegun (HMG, 10mm to 15mm)

Surprisingly not used that much in the beginning of WW2 except by Japanese and Russians. Most forces either focused on RCMG or "bomber busting" cannons. The Americans where the first and only side that completely standardized on this size once early combat reports from Europe came in.
Strengths:
The loss in performance compared to RCMG are made up with substantial hitting power! You do not have the load quantity, but a few well aimed hits will reduce your targets speed, and scare the pilot into evasive maneuvers, slowing them down. If you get a good but short sustained burst, you will shred your target to bits!
Weaknesses:
While much better then RCMG, they still suffer from ricochet at skip angles and have no explosive power like cannons do. You have less on board, so you have to be careful on the trigger, but you deal a lot more damage per round than RCMG's do.
Game experience:
Point blank is where this gun is extremely deadly, but they can hit hard at range also, if you are an expert shot. You want to land a tight group on target, random hits are less effective. You have a much better chance at a pilot kill from the dead 6 position because pilot armor is not as effective against HMG's. They also have a very good chance of penetrating the rear and top of fuel tanks. In the game they are often called "Lazors". The 109G is only LW aircraft with 13mm HMG, RAF have none, but French FaF have 4 different aircraft with HMG's as all four are actually American sourced purchase order or lend lease aircraft.
MG151/15 15mm cannon
The Bf-109F-2 (starting 1.31.2) is equipped with the 15mm cannon, in the transition zone between HMG and Cannon. Explosive shells are weak to the point of ineffectual, however the heavier mass and higher velocity make the AP around effective with little on aircraft able to stop it. The higher vlocity, thus flatter trajectory, also lend to more hits on the target. In many ways, the MG151 acts like a HMG on steroids.

20mm Cannons

The term "cannon" is generally applied to any munition that is 20mm (or even 15mm) and larger. Much like cannons on old wooden ships, they were considered the gun needed in big sky battles between the bombers in aerial broadsides! It did not take long to realize that cannons would be effective against fighters too! While rarely would a single cannon hit take down a fighter, often between 3 and 5 would do the job. A bomber would need double this amount (but less could be effective depending on where you hit the aircraft) to cause critical damage, luck played a big role in air combat success.
Strengths:
Even 1 hit can cause powerful, crippling damage, several is a bad thing for most target aircraft.
Weaknesses:
Getting a hit! Completely opposite of an RCMG, you have less rounds, the guns are slower firing, the rounds travel at a slower speed in general, they have a more severe curved trajectory, and even heavy recoil can upset your aim if you are maneuvering at slower speeds. You can no longer "spray and pray" for a hit, so good aiming is very important. And do not expect 1 hit to be a kill although it can often put your target in a world of hurt).
Game experience:
A lot of pilots don't aim cannons well, and then when you hit do often there is too high an expectation to see the target go down in flames instantly. Once you realize this, and understand that 20mm hits just knocked 30kph off his top speed and the target probably lost maneuverability. You have the upper hand if you need to do a second pass, but do not think he is a sitting duck if he's still flying.

30mm Cannon

The German Mk.108 30mm cannon is the best 30mm cannon ever built in "GUN EFFICIENCY" (power-to-weight ratio and ammunition combination), and could sometimes exceed 40mm cannons for its destructive power. Rarely will a target survive with just one hit. The 109G is the only one with a 30mm cannon in the game currently.
Strengths:
1 hit, target down, in many little pieces (66% of time, bigger aircraft usually need 2).
Weaknesses:
Getting a hit! The rounds very slow velocity means you need to get point blank, that means the 'icon ring' should be filling your gunsight!
Game experience:
It is a thing of joy to hit aircraft with the 30mm cannon. This is the only air to air weapon in game that can deliver a "One-shot-kill", that is if you are accurate. Ranged shots? Forget it! Fortunately the 109G also has 2 HMG's.

Required Reading

I am not kidding when I say you have to read this if you want to learn about air to air gunnery! These sites will answer ALL your questions on why you are such a n000b shooting down enemy aircraft! Written by the leading experts in the field!

WORLD WAR 2 FIGHTER ARMAMENT EFFECTIVENESS © Anthony G. Williams & Emmanuel Gustin

Gun Tables of all the aircraft guns of WW2 © 1998-1999 Emmanuel Gustin (mirror site)

Hoof's Performance describes IN DETAIL how the weapons are modeled in this game and its performance figures. Basically this is the FAQ file for the game!

Luftwaffe Cannons & Machineguns, forum with little known facts and comments by experts in field.

Each sides weapons

All the machine gun and cannon weapons found in game, which side uses them, with wikipedia links

French

7.5 mm FN-Browning mle 38: RoF 1,100-1,500 RPM, 500 or 600-round belts, DB-7, H-75 frontal guns

7.5 mm MAC 34T: RoF 1,200-1,450 RPM, 100-round clips, DB-7 defensive guns

7.5 mm MAC 34M39: RoF 1,200-1,450 RPM, 500-round belts (~25 seconds of fire), D.520 wing guns

7.5 mm MAC mle 31 (aka "Reibel"): French tanks RoF 500-750(?) RPM, 150-round clips

.50 caliber (12.7mm) M2 Browning machine gun RoF 750~850 RPM, Belt fed, H81, H87, P-38/L-322, Bell 14

.30/.303 caliber (7.62/7.7mm)Browning Model 1919 machine gun RoF 400~600 RPM

20mm Hispano-Suiza HS.404 cannon RoF 700 RPM (slower then UK variant)

German

7.92mm MG-15 movable defensive gun. RoF 1000~1050 RPM, 75-round drum.

7.92mm MG-17 fixed mounting aircraft gun. RoF 1200 RPM (950 RPM firing though propeller), Belt fed (in game belting: AP/AP/AP/AP/Tracer).

13mm MG-131 fixed or flexible mounting machine gun RoF 900 RPM, belt fed

20mm MG-FF fixed (or flexible mounting) cannon. RoF 540 RPM, 60-round drum.

20mm MG-FF/M fixed (or flexible mounting) cannon firing more powerful "Mine" round. RoF 540 RPM, 60-round drum.

20mm MG-151/15 15mm cannon RoF 750 RPM, Muzzle velocity 960 m/s, belt fed (Bf 109 F-2 is only unit to carry this weapon)

20mm MG-151/20 20mm cannon RoF 750 RPM, Muzzle velocity 800 m/s, belt fed

30mm MK-108 cannon RoF 650 RPM, belt fed (Bf 109 G-6/U-4 is only unit to carry this weapon)

British

.303 caliber (7.7mm) Vickers K Machine gun RoF 950 RPM

.30/.303 caliber (7.62/7.7mm)Browning Model 1919 machine gun RoF 400~600 RPM

20mm Hispano-Suiza Mk.II cannon RoF 600 RPM, 60 round or 120 round drum fed magazine (additional ballistics info)




Aircraft Bombs

Bombing aircraft

Table of bomb carrying aircraft, how many, and what size (in weight). NOTE: Some aircraft have bombs as the alternate weapon, and need to press the Backspace key to select, thus the -B on the second column.

This chart is roughly organized by which aircraft has the largest bombload to least (NOTE: EXPLOSIVE POWER DEPENDS ON TYPE, NOT MASS).

Aircraft Qty Size(kg) Size(lb) Qty-B Size-B(kg) Size-B(lb)
Heinkel He-111H-2 8 250 551
Douglas DB-7 8 117* 257
Douglas Havoc Mk.I 8 113 250
Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV 2 227 500 8 18 40
Messerschmitt Bf.110F-B 2 250 550
Junkers Ju-87B Stuka 1 250 551 4 50 110
Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIC 2 227 500
Bell Model 14a / P-39D-1 Airacobra 1 225* 495
Bristol Blenheim Mk.IF 8 18 40

*This is the actual bomb weight, but is typically rounded to the nearest 100kg, thus they could be known as 100kg and 200kg respectively

Explosive power

Bomb damage strength average in Mega Joules (Energy), values used in game. You can also read about bombing targets to see their respective value.

Size(kg) Size(lb) Explosive Strength (Mj) User Platform
250 551 125kg Amatol/TNT - 60/40 564Mj Germany He-111, Bf-110F-B, Ju-87
225* 495 105kg MDN or DD 453Mj France Bell Model 14a (P-39D-1)
227 500 MC fill^ (see below) UK Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc
227 500 GP fill^ 68.4kg TNT 186Mj UK Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV
117* 257 50kg MDN or DD 225Mj France Douglas DB-7
113 250 GP fill^ 34kg TNT 146Mj UK Douglas Havoc Mk.I
50 110 23kg Amatol/TNT - 60/40 143Mj Germany Junkers Ju-87B Stuka
18 40 GP fill^ UK Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV & Mk. IF

*This is the actual bomb weight, but is typically rounded to the nearest 100kg, thus they could be known as 200kg and 100kg respectively ^ UK bombs have different fill types, the details in list below.

Terminology used to describe types:
GP - General Purpose CWR 30-35%
MC - Medium-Capacity CWR 40-50%
HC - High-Capacity CWR 75-80%
DP - Deep Penetration
AP - Armour Piercing
SAP - Semi-Armour Piercing
HE - High Explosive
I - Incendiary
SBC - Small Bomb Containers
TI - Target Indicator (airborne pyrotechnic stores)
PFF - Path Finder Force
RP - Rocket Projectile
A/S - Anti-Submarine
CWR - Charge-to-Weight Ratio
Nickels - Propaganda leaflets dropped by air.
White Bomb - attack with propaganda leaflets.
Gardening - Code-name for missions laying mines (known as cucumbers)



Back to Air force

Aircraft Bombs