Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Story of Heinkel He111. Armament. Part 6. German Dzib -Compiler-




MG 15 in left beam mounting inside a Ju 52, and above it storage brackets for 12 MG 15 magazines, with one magazine mounted.

Guns

MG 15

he MG 15 was a German 7.92 mm machine gun designed specifically as a hand manipulated defensive gun for combat aircraft during the early 1930s. By 1941 it was replaced by other types and found new uses with ground troops.

History

The MG 15 was developed from the MG 30 which was designed by Rheinmetall using the locking system invented by Louis Stange in the mid to late 1920s. Though it shares the MG 15 designation with the earlier gun built by Bergmann, the MG 15nA (for neuer Art, meaning new model having been modified from an earlier design) has nothing in common with the World War II gun except the model number. The World War I gun used a tipping lock system while the WWII aircraft gun uses a rotating bolt/lockring. The World War II MG 15 was used in nearly all Luftwaffe aircraft with a flexible-mount defensive position.


Notwithstanding the debacle at Stalingrad, the Heinkel He 111 had a long and successful career, from its inception, allegedly as a civilian airliner, through the Spanish Civil War, the Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, and even after World War Two, in service with the air forces of Spain, Turkey, and other countries.
Pitomnik airstrip, in German Stalingrad pocket, early January, 1943. (2)



It was a modular design with various attachments that could be quickly attached or removed. Operation was easy and the bolt remained in the cocked position after expending the 75 round double drum (also called a "saddle drum") magazine, negating the need to re-cock once a fresh magazine was installed.
The MG 15 fires from an open bolt, meaning that the bolt stays back when the gun is ready to fire, and also making it nearly impossible for "through the propeller" synchronized forward firing on a fuselage mount. Pulling the trigger releases the bolt and allows it to go forward, stripping a round from the magazine. The bolt continues pushing the round into the chamber and locks up when the lockring rotates and locks the bolt and barrel extension together. At this point the trip lever releases the firing pin and the gun fires. Recoil pushes the barrel,lock and bolt backwards until the lockring hits a cam that rotates it unlocking the bolt and barrel. Inertia carries the bolt backwards until the base of the fired case hits the ejector flinging the empty out of the receiver. If the trigger is held down the cycle will continue. If the trigger is released the bolt will remain in the rearward position.
The 75 rounds of ammunition was evenly distributed in each side of the magazine with a central feed "tower" where the ammunition is fed to the bolt. Various methods where used to secure the magazines in the aircraft, while a carrier of 3 mags each were used on ground. Ammunition was fed by a spring forced spiral double-drum containing 75 rounds total (not 150 as is often mistaken). This combined with a firing rate of 1000+ rpm means it could empty the magazine in 4.5 seconds or less. Typical practice was to provide at least 10 reloads for each gun on the aircraft, not including the magazine on the gun.
Starting in late 1940 the MG 15 was replaced by the Mauser 7.92 mm MG 81, MG 81Z (twin-MG 81), MG 131 13 mm machine guns, or MG 151/20 20 mm cannons. Many MG 15s were modified for infantry use as heavier weapons replaced them on Luftwaffe aircraft. There are a number of pictures showing the guns, both aircraft and ground versions, with 25-round magazines from the MG 13 but the magazines don't actually work with the MG 15. Official numbers of conversions was about 17,648 by January 1, 1944, although additional conversions may have been done as well.
The MG 15 was used in the Japanese aircraft as the Type 98 flexible-mounted machine gun and as the Type 1 in the Imperial Japanese Navy. (83)
 

MG 15 equipped for infantry ops, but lacks the bipod.

Specifications

             Calibre: 7.9 +/- .04 mm
             Cartridge: 7.92×57mm Mauser
             Round weight: 35.5 grams (cartridge 24 grams, bullet 11.5 grams)
             Muzzle velocity: 755 metres per second (2,480 ft/s)
             Rate of fire: 1000 (possibly up to 1050) rpm
             Length : 1,078 millimetres (42.4 in) (without attachments)
             Barrel length: 600 millimetres (24 in)
             Weight unloaded with gunsight and cartridge bag: 8.1 kg (18 lb)
             Weight loaded with gunsight and cartridge bag: 12.4 kg (27 lb)
             75-round magazine unloaded: 2.27 kg (5.0 lb)
             75-round magazine loaded: 4.24 kg (9.3 lb)
             Weight of the 2-part loader: 0.72 kg (1.6 lb)


Debris of a downed Heinkel He 111 along with the barrel of an MG 15.

MG 81 machine gun

The MG 81 was a German belt fed 7.92 mm machine gun, used in flexible installations in World War II Luftwaffe aircraft, replacing the older drum magazine-fed MG 15.
The MG 81 was developed by Mauser as a derivative of their successful MG 34 infantry machine gun. Development focus was to reduce production cost and time and to optimize for use in aircraft. Developed in 1938/1939, it was in production from 1940 to 1945.
A special twin-mount MG 81Z (the Z suffix stands for Zwilling, meaning "twin") was introduced in 1942. It paired up two of the weapons on one mount to provide even more firepower with a maximum rate of fire of 3200 rounds/minute without requiring much more space than a standard machine gun.

MG 81 (upper) and MG 81Z (in box).

Applications

The MG 81Z was found in many unique installations in Luftwaffe combat aircraft, such as a pair of MG 81Z (for a total of four guns) installed in the hollow tail cone of the Dornier Do 217. Designated R19 (R for Rüstsatz) as a factory designed field conversion/upgrade kit, it allowed the pilot of the Do 217 to shoot at pursuers.
Another application was the Gießkanne (Watering can), an externally mounted pod with three gun pairs, making a total of six guns and their ammunition. Able to fire 9000 rounds per minute, this was attached to Junkers Ju 87 or Ju 88 in an underwing mount and used to strafe ground targets. (84).

Specifications

MG 81
             Weight: 6.5 kg
             Length: 915 mm (965 mm with flash hider)
             Muzzle velocity: 705 m/s (sS ammo), 760, 785 or 790 m/s, depending on ammo type
             Rate of fire: 1400–1600 rpm (sS ammo)
MG 81Z
             Weight: 12.9 kg
             Length: 915 mm (965 mm with flash hider)
             Muzzle velocity: 705 m/s (sS ammo), 760, 785 or 790 m/s, depending on ammo type
             Rate of fire: 2800–3200 rpm (sS ammo)

MG FF cannon (85) (86)

MG FF
The MG FF was a drum-fed, 20 mm aircraft autocannon, developed in 1936 by Ikaria Werke Berlin of Germany. It was a derivative of the Swiss Oerlikon FF F cannon, itself a development of the German World War I Becker 20 mm cannon, and was designed to be used in fixed or flexible mountings, as both an offensive and a defensive weapon. It saw widespread use in those roles by the German Luftwaffe, particularly during the early stages of World War II, although from 1941 onwards it was gradually replaced by the Mauser firm's 20 mm MG 151/20.
Compared to rival designs, such as the Hispano-Suiza HS.404 - which had been developed from the larger Oerlikon FF S - the MG FF had some disadvantages, such as low rate of fire and low muzzle velocity, as well as limited ammunition storage in its drums. On the other hand, it was much lighter and shorter. Wing installation on the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters was not easy, as the drum required substantial space, and as a consequence the ammunition storage was initially reduced to 60 shells per drum. An ammunition drum of 90-round nominal capacity was developed for the Fw 190 A-5, and retrofitted to some earlier variants. There were also experiments with belt feedings.
The MG FF was adapted to fire a new type of high-capacity, high-explosive mine shell, called Minengeschoss that featured a projectile with thinner walls that allowed increased explosive charge. This projectile was lighter and generated less recoil than earlier projectiles requiring a modification of the recoil mechanism. With this modification it could fire the new mine shell, but accidentally using the heavier MG FF ammo could damage the gun. The now-called MG FF/M was introduced with the Bf 109 E-4 and Bf 110 C-4 in Summer 1940.
The MG FF and FF/M saw widespread use in fighters such as the Bf 109 E-3 to F-1, Bf 110 C to F, and Fw 190 A-1 to A-5. The Fw 190 was typically fitted with an inboard pair of MG 151 and an outboard pair of MG FF, although the MG FF were sometimes removed in the field in order to save weight. The cannon was also fitted to bombers such as the Do 217, Ju 88, He 111, Do 17, as well as many other aircraft. Although the MG FF was often replaced with the 20 mm MG 151/20 from 1941 onwards, it saw a come-back in 1943 as the primary Schräge Musik gun in the Bf 110 night fighters, as it fit perfectly into the rear cockpit.
The MG FF fired a 134 g projectile with a muzzle velocity of some 600 m/s and a rate of fire of about 520 rounds per minute. The MG FF/M fired a 90 g HE/M (high explosive mine shell) projectile with a muzzle velocity of c. 700 m/s and a rate of fire of c. 540 rounds per minute. AP, HE and incendiary projectiles were also available (115 to 117 g projectiles, 585 m/s, c. 520 rpm) because the mine-shot was not capable of holding incendiary or tracer parts.
Technical data
             Weight: 26.3 kg
             Length: 1.37 m
             Muzzle velocity:
                     600 m/s (MG FF),
                     585 m/s (MG FF/M with AP or HE),
                     700 m/s (MG FF/M with mine shell)
             Rate of fire:
                     520 rpm (MG FF, FF/M with AP or HE),
                     540 rounds per minute (MG FF/M with mine shell)
             Round types:
                     armor-piercing (AP),
                     high-explosive (HE), incendiary, all with or without tracer,
                     high-explosive mine shell (HE(M)) (only MG FF/M)

MG FF/M as Schräge Musik in the Bf 110.

MG 131 machine gun

The MG 131 (shortened from German: Maschinengewehr 131, or "Machine gun 131") was a German 13 mm caliber machine gun developed in 1938 by Rheinmetall-Borsig and produced from 1940 to 1945. The MG 131 was designed for use at fixed, flexible or turreted, single or twin mountings in Luftwaffe aircraft during World War II.
It was one of the smallest, if not the smallest among the heavy machine guns, the weight was less than 60% of the M2 Browning or the Breda 12.7 mm. Despite this, the MG 131 was a rapid fire weapon with an elevated firepower for its mass. It was equipped with HE rounds. The nearer equivalent could have been the Ho-103. The other Axis main machine gun, the Breda 12.7 mm, was around 13 kg heavier and bigger, while slower by at least 150 rpm. The small size of the MG 131 meant the possibility to replace the 7.92 mm machine guns even in the small nose of the Luftwaffe fighters, which was commonplace from 1943 onwards. This weapon was a marked improvement as the greater armour protection Allied aircraft received rendered smaller calibers almost useless. This was especially true when it came to heavy Allied bombers.
It was installed in the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Me 410 Hornisse, Fw 190, Ju 88, Junkers Ju 388, He 111, He 177 Greif bomber, and many other aircraft. The Fernbedienbare Drehlafette FDL 131Z remotely controlled gun turret system, used as a forward-mount dorsal turret on the He 177A, used two MG 131s for dorsal defense, with the experimental Hecklafette HL 131V manned aircraft tail turret design, meant to be standardized on the never-built A-6 version of the He 177A, was also meant for standardization on many late-war prototype developments of German heavy bomber airframes such as the separately developed four engined He 177B and the 1943–44 Amerika Bomber design contender from Heinkel, the BMW 801E radial-powered Heinkel He 277, both airframes being intended to use the HL 131V tail turret unit mounting four MG 131s, two guns each mounted in each of a pair of rotating exterior elevation carriages on either side of the seated gunner, with horizontal traverse executed by the turret core's rotation. The design of the turret originated with the Borsig division of Rheinmetall-Borsig (the manufacturer of the guns themselves) and was a design with promise, using hydraulic drive to both elevate the turret through a 60º arc of both elevation and depression, with a capability for horizontal traverse of some 100º to either side, all at a top traverse angular speed of 60º per second. (87) The Hecklafette tail turret design was never produced beyond a small number of prototype and test examples from 1943 onwards, with few relics of their existence remaining.
The MG 131 fired electrically primed ammunition in order to sustain a high rate of fire when shooting through the propeller disc of a single-engined fighter. A pair of MG 131 machine guns was used as cowl armament on later models of the Bf 109G (which originally required one blister or Beule on each side of the fuselage, flanking the upper rear end of the engine, to house the larger breech of the new gun) and the Fw 190.

Maschinengewehr 131

Technical data
                     Weight : 16.6 kilograms (37 lb)
                     Length : 1.17 metres (3.8 ft)
                     Muzzle velocity : ~ 750 metres per second (2,500 ft/s)
                     Rate of fire : ~ 900 rounds per minute
                     13 mm API (Pzgr. L'Spur) - 710 m/s, projectile mass 38.5 grams (594 gr), muzzle energy 989 m/kg (88)
                     13 mm HE-T (Sprgr. L'Spur) - 710 m/s, projectile mass 34 grams (520 gr) (89)
                     13 mm HEI-T (Br. Sprgr. L/Spur) - 750 m/s, projectile mass 34 grams (520 gr) with 1.4 grams (22 gr) PETN + 0.3 grams (4.6 gr) thermite, muzzle energy 975 m/kg. (90)


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85.          Anthony G. Williams' "Cannon, Machine Guns and Ammunition"
86.          Emmanuel Gustin's WWII fighter gun performance tables
87.          "Kurzbeschreibung Focke-Wulf Ta 400 Fernkampfflugzeug - Heckstand" (PDF). cockpitinstrumente.de. Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau, Bremen. October 13, 1943. p. 11. Retrieved January 3,2016.
88.          Handbuch der Flugzeug Bordwaffenmunition 1936 - 1945 p.6
89.          MG 131 Waffen-Handbuch, Sept. 1941 p. 17
90.          Handbuch der Flugzeug Bordwaffenmunition 1936 - 1945 p.7