37mm cannon as an air to air weapon

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by CobberKane, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    It is spring in the Antipodes, and a not-so-young man's mind turns to the upcomming vintage, Christmas festivities and why the Soviet Air Force persisted with the 37mm cannon in the P-39/P-63. Amongst the many complaints levelled at the Airocobra by allied pilots was the unreliability and drooping trajectory of the big cannon. I have read that Soviet pilots too preferred the 20mm equiped version of the Iron Dog - does the fact that they neither retrosectively fitted their fighters with an indigenous 20mm or used their procurement clout to require that Bell did so at the production stage suggest that the 37mm was a apractical air to air weapon in the right circumstances? Are there any surviving accounts of succesful use of the thirty-seven? Must have been pretty spectacular when it worked!
     
  2. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The M4 cannon was experiencing frequent stoppages during the 1st year of use IIRC. Once the bug(s) were fixed, it performed well, maybe better than US-produced 20mm?
    Contrary to the Allied, Soviets have plenty of LW bombers to kill, too, making a powerful cannon a good asset. I'm not sure the Soviets ever received the 20mm in their P-39s - that was the case for Airacobra's in RAF (and CW?) use, the USAF named such planes as P-400.

    Juha researched more about VVS in the ww2, let's wait for his input :)
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Soviets made some of the best 20mm cannon. Certainly better then anything made in WWII era USA. Did they attempt to install VYa-23 high velocity cannon (i.e. Il2 weapon)? That would give P-39 / P-63 some capability vs light armor as well as soft targets.
     
  4. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "...I'm not sure the Soviets ever received the 20mm in their P-39s ..."

    The first Cobras the Soviets were from the RAF - P-400s with with 20 mm canon. After that, all received were from US with Oldsmobile 37 canons. The US never supplied them with 37 mm AP rounds. The Soviets may very well have swapped out the Olds gun ... but I've never read of it.
     
  5. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I suspect that to be true. Velocity was too low for use against aircraft except heavy bombers but it could certainly shoot up Japanese small craft from a PT boat.
     
  7. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Look here Part 3
     
  8. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    IIRC they installed only their 20mm Berezin B-20 (and Berezin 12.7mm UBS in place of .5s) when 37mm M4s became unserviceable, mostly after WW2. They installed their own 37mm NS-37 cannon in e.g. LaGG-3-37, Yak-7-37 and Yak-9T and even 45mm NS-45 in their Yak-9K fighters.
     
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