air gunnery

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Mar 4, 2006
Can anyone tell me if use of mils (milliradians) in air gunnery ever became operative in WW2, and by whom (I mean what country)? Thanks and regards
Sorry to be 12 years late! But yes, the AAF and USN/MC calibrated their gunsights on mils. The typical Mk VIII fighter sight had 50 and 100-mil rings for gauging range and for computing deflection (lead) values.
I'm not sure that "computing" lead is quite the right term, things happening a little too fast, more in the same category as muscle memory tasks which are developed via practice. USN and USMC pre and wartime pilots were trained quite a bit in deflection shooting, which actually gives you a lot more aircraft to shoot at! Another issue related to sighting and marksmanship was the harmonization of the guns, especially if there were different calibers and dispersion from nose to wings. A very tight harmonization or nose mounted armament favored a good marksman, lesser souls relied on greater dispersion and spray and pray.
Excluding the Gyroscopic Gunsights Deployed in the Latter Stages of the War, which Gunsights by what Countries were the Best for Air-to-Air Combat?
Germany, France, Britain and Italy all had good sights with novel features and each had their minor good and bad points. In my opinion no country could really claim to run away with the title of 'best'.

US sights started off not so hot, but generally caught up as the war went on. I don't have much information on Japanese sights but from what little I do have they seem to be right up there with everyone else (when they finally made the switch from telescopic sights to reflector sights).

From what I understand the Russians lagged behind considerably. At least in practice -- if not in design and theory. I'm certainly no expert in that area.
Did the Japanese use telescopic sights ? I assumed the sights on planes like the nate and claude where collimating sights similar to the ww1 British aldis sight.
I'm sure that's how the Japanese sights essentially worked. I assume they were a development/refinement of the Aldis, Chretien and Oigee sights they used previously.

Contemporary sources (both English and Japanese) describe them as telescopic gunsights. Collimating and telescopic aren't mutually exclusive, are they?
I don't know.

I have a 1 power (no magnification) pistol scope that has crosshairs.
Target and crosshairs are both in focus at the same time. It certainly uses lenses front and and back (and inbetween?) and uses a 4-5in long tube.

Is it a telescope or a collimating sight?
With an aircraft size target at under 200yds range i wonder would magnifaction be a help or a hindrance .
I do know some ww1 pilots loved the aldis some loathed it to the point of removing it from their aircraft but the powers that be thought it worthy the money for the average pilot.
Be nice to find an English site that delved a little more deeply into inter war optical gunsights
... i wonder would magnifaction be a help or a hindrance.

From a March 1943 RAE paper on night sighting:

Magnification. It is everywhere recognised that since sharp vision is impossible at starlight brightness, magnification helps vision enormously. The extent of the improvement has been measured, as a matter of interest, by the aiming devices. The use of magnification is therefore a problem in flying.

Magnification has in the past been tried by pilots without any success. The devices have mainly been of too high a power and very limited eye freedom (8 m.m.) but the chief difficulty has been the unaccustomed movement of the object.

A unit magnification sight acts like an open tube and gives no relative movement of objects seen through and outside the tube when this is moved by vibration or otherwise. With magnification there is relative movement, which is twice as great with power 3 as with power 2, though the optical advantage is only 1.5 times as great.


If it is not considered possible for a pilot to learn in a reasonably short time to fly and aim with this sight, magnification may confidently be abandoned once for all for pilot. ...


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