tracer cartridges

Discussion in 'Weapons Systems Tech.' started by makismitsos, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. makismitsos

    makismitsos New Member

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    on modern aircrafts we have sophisticated aiming systems, that they are using by the machine guns in order to obtain a perfect accuracy. on that modern enviroment which is the need to keep using TRACER cartridges?
     
  2. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

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    no absolute need but an issue of supply line simplification. Let us say you are producing 7.62 mm NATO ammunition, you do not know if it will be used in an aircraft or an infantry squad machine gun where it is needed. It would cost more to set up belt packing machines for the non-tracer ammunition and complicate the logistics system. Likewise having an aircraft loader remove and replace every 5th round would be a waste of man hours.
     
  3. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Plus you need something to fall back on in case that advanced aiming system fails. Whatever can fail, will fail.
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    And also - no matter what 'aids' are available, ground or air, the person pressing the trigger still has an inherent need to see, even if only subliminal, where the rounds are falling.
     
  5. makismitsos

    makismitsos New Member

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    lets take for example the 30mm cartridges. They are produced in various types and one of them are tracers for combat use. what is the operational application for them on a modern aircraft? are they only to verify the correct way to the hostile aircraft? are they able to start a fire? or are they just using at present time, only to show to the enemy that they have the intention to proceed with their guns and shoot them

    ?
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    It is still a basic human need to see where the strikes are. No matter how good the (aircraft) sighting system, the basics are not that different from the gyro sights of WW2 - the sighting system does not control the flight path of the rounds.
    If the weapon operator, in this case the pilot, can see his strikes, or at least the path of the round in flight, corrections can be made if or when needed.
     
  7. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Also there may be a need for warning shots, nothing better than tracer
     
  8. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Tracers can also serve to direct fire at a given target, because it is visible to other combatants. The disadvantage is that they betray the gunner's position; the tracer path leads back to its source. To make it more difficult for an enemy to do this, most modern tracers have a delay element, which results in the trace becoming visible some distance from the muzzle. Its lethality is similar to conventional ammunition. However, the mass loss and the burning aspects can make the consequences of the impact slightly different. In addition, tracers can never be a totally reliable indicator of a gunner's aim, since all tracer rounds have different aerodynamics and even weight from ordinary rounds. Over long ranges, the stream of tracer rounds and the stream of ordinary rounds will diverge significantly, due to a tracer bullet's mass decreasing over time, because the tracer material in its base burns and vaporizes
    Besides guiding the shooter's direction of fire, tracer rounds can also be loaded at the end of a magazine to remind the shooter that the magazine is almost empty.
    Modern aircraft tend to rely on missiles, radar, or laser-guided sights to track the enemy, thereby making the use of tracers less essential.
    As to whether tracers can start fires, in July 2009, a large fire was started by tracing ammunition near Marseille, France, an area where shrub vegetation is very dry and flammable in the summer, and where normally this kind of ammunition should not be used
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Dead on Mike. One aspect of the airborne mix of API and tracer is that the pilots were aware that the ballistics of the tracer were inferior to the ball or APi and knew that if the tracer was slightly below that the API would be 'on'. A little know fact is that .50 cal HE rounds were experimented with in ETO - with not so good results. My father had a couple of load outs with two .50s loaded with HE and API during WWII and when he was running APG at Eglin they were experimenting with 60 Cal (15MM) M2 derivative as alternate to 20mm.
     
  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    #10 mikewint, Mar 21, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011
    All my experience is with .50 cal ground based, like the "Ma Duce" quad 50s at the FBs. Red tips, blue tips, ball, black tip, and the silver API rounds. When using ball the gunner would aim at the ground about 100-150ft out. the rounds would skip up and at 300-350 ft be about chest high.
     
  11. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    All correct.
    Any trained gunner/marksman/soldier/pilot etc knows at least the basics of the trajectory of various rounds, in whatever calibre, and therefore knows how to adjust aim etc.
    In the British army, for example, with basic infantry weapons (ie a rifle), each man in a section/platoon etc, carries at least three or four rounds of 'loose' tracer, purely for target indication when a section can not see, or identify, a target (or target area) following a 'GRIT' command.
    The call then would be "Watch my strike".
    Translated, this means that the commander would indicate the point by firing a tracer at the MPI, allowing a higher sight pattern for the difference in round weight/trajectory, which then shows where the 'rest of the rounds' need to go.
    And yes, tracers, even from rifle calibre ammo, very often cause fires. In the UK, a number of ranges are on heathland or, worse, peat, where fires can burn for a considerable time after even one or two strikes, if the round has not 'burned out'.
    As for 'ignition' time, there is 'long' tracer, 'short' tracer ( = when it ignites after leaving the muzzle), and 'day' tracer and 'night' tracer.
    What would we do without them - and they do make a pretty pattern, especially at night!
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Having said all this tracer shot for shotgun instruction is well nigh worthless as the tracer components are so much slower and more susceptible to taking their own random path..
     
  13. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    Some modern cannon dont use tracer at all, for example the GAU-8 Avenger for the A-10 Thunderbolt, there are no tracer ammunition made in the USA for that aircraft gun.
     
  14. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    When you're in a aircraft shooting a 30mm at a ground target, you have no problem seeing where the rounds are going.
     
  15. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, specially with that generous amount of alluminium powder so liked in US explosives. It really is glittering.
     
  16. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    a tracer every so many rounds also let you know that ALL of your guns were functioning as they should. it would also help you identify if you had a runaway gun(s) . the pilot would see the individual streams. the last 100 or 150 rounds were all tracers. when you saw them you knew you only had a couple of short bursts left. iirc i believe most later ac did have a counter for keeping track of rounds expended but it was not very accurate. drgondog would probably be able to say if that was so or not. also not all the guns ran out of ammo at the same time the outboard ran out first and then the middle and so on with the inboard 2 having the most ammo.
     
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