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20/20 Hindsight - different armament?
|Aviation Discuss 20/20 Hindsight - different armament? in the World War II - Aviation forums; If it helps one P80 was tried with 4 x 20 instead of the 6 x .50 but it wasn't ...|
If it helps one P80 was tried with 4 x 20 instead of the 6 x .50 but it wasn't taken up. If anyone knows why it might be a valuble input into this debate.
I would bet that the 20 mm P-80 was tried after a whole bunch of .50 cal. planes were already flying and standardization was what the USAF was thinking. Just a guess but the military brass thinks in those strange ways.
Here's some more random thoughts on guns and pilots. We assume and make excuses for the "average" pilot's ability to hit targets with ordnance. As we know the Imperial Japanese Navy, Air Force and the Luftwaffe had towering requirements for pilots which exceeded more than just gunnery. The men accepted were few and they were the elite of the elite in all around perfection in aerial combat.
These men were shooters and could hit with any weapon given them. They made no excuse that their ordnance was too slow or too weak. They knew how to shoot and hit the target even alternating between weapons of different projectile velocities.
They weren't equal to newly graduated American pilots by 1944 who went on to fly 149 missions and score 2 kills. While the mass training of men that came out as "pretty good" pilots was enough by that time in the war, it was not comparable to IJN or Luftwaffe meistros that were trained in 1939 and were "excellent." The "average" pilots from those ranks were far above the American "average" of 1944.
Of course we know the loss of the elite cadre was devastating to the Germans and Japanese. They couldn't be easily or quickly replaced. Neither country envisioned a conflict where vast hordes of airmen would be required in a protracted struggle. The American system produced quantities that simply overwhelmed its foes.
Fifty calibers could kill at a mile and there were cases of that happening. There were gunnery virtuosos in the USAF. Being that I have long associated with aces I never heard "average" guys whining about real or perceived advantages the enemy had. Fifties were adequate weapons. 20 mms had more punch but magazines held fewer rounds. So were fifties better for the "average" pilot who could squander ammo to some extent? Perhaps. But not hitting with 400 rounds of .50 ammo is the same as not hitting with 150 rounds of 20 mm. If you can't hit with 50s, 20s aren't going to do you any good!
The truly great American aces had the "force" like Japanese and German aces did. They killed with fifties at up to 1/2 a mile away on a regular basis. Their planes had enough ordnance to make multiple kills. What else do you need if you have skill?
This was hammered home to me by 10 victory Korean War ace Hal Fischer. Remember the F-86's fifties had a faster firing rate than the WW 2 weapons. They carried 297 RPG. I was thinking that was not much ammo like most people here asked him about it.
Fischer grinned in amusement to my lame question. "More than enough. A one second burst was all that was needed," he nearly whispered. "And it doesn't take much to damage a turbine, he added.
When I asked if the 6 guns was sufficient his soft voice continued," Four would have been enough. It takes less rounds to kill a jet due to its fewer engine parts."
Another 10 kill ace Ralph Parr answered my question of the adequacy of fifties with, "sure 20 mms would have been great." Yet in the next sentence explained how he used the F-86F's A-4 lead computing gun sight to take out his seventh victim at a phenomenal 4,800 feet!!
Gunther Rall smiled when he explained how it was "quite easy really if you have the experience to alternate bewteen the MG FF and the MG 17 or 131," when I asked about velocity differentials.
It was an even sixty rounds per plane times six. That's all it took for Hans-Joachim Marseille to down six Tomahawks of the British Desert Air Force (DAF). What's more amazing is that the 20-millimeter nose cannon had jammed after only ten rounds were fired. The Star of Africa finished them all off with the pair of 7.9 mm MG 17s above the cowl!
So if .50s were so "average" why the heck did the military continue to arm planes with them? I can see that in WW 2 the industial-military complex was geared for the Brownings' production. This is like the many other weapons, vehicles or equipment produced- even if something demostrably better was found the alteration to production facilities might have been more than was deemed acceptable at the time. IE., don't rock the boat.
I think that goes back to the 20 mm vs the .50 calibered P-80. There was probably a USAF comment like "yeah we already produced 1,000 with fifty calibers and maintence and is set up for that on form # AP-34590 for ordnance procurement, bla, bla, bla."