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Oerlikon 20mm Antiaircraft Cannon

The Oerlikon Cannon: The legendary 20mm Kamikaze killer

Clark Gable in Soldier of Fortune had a 20mm Oerlikon on his junk Chicago. It was quite the weapon. As we see in the video, there's a lot to handling one. I think the movie sold it short. 

You are a 19-year old US sailor in the Pacific in 1944 and you hear the characteristic drone of an approaching radial engine fighter aircraft cuts through the thick heat of the salt air. You look up and see the red ‘meatball’ markings on the wings and your heart sinks as you realize it’s one of ‘theirs’ and, more importantly, it’s a racing strait towards you at over 300-miles per hour. Luckily, you have a mother-freaking gorgeous 20mm Oerlikon pressed against your shoulders and the most advanced gun sight of its day to help make sure the kamikaze doesn’t run right down your throat

In its final version, pitched in the late 1930s to the British and US Navies (as well as to the Germans and Japanese), the Oerlikon had been upgraded to the 20x110RB round at up to 450-rounds per minute. This huge 7-inch long, half-pound round used a 400-grain charge of IMR 4831 smokeless powder to propel a 2,000-grain projectile at 2,800 feet (850 meters) per second through a 55-inch long 9-groove barrel. For comparisons, this round is about three times as heavy as the .50 BMG round fired by the M2 heavy machine gun. Produced in no less than 11 different loadings it could reach out to one mile away.


Posted by George Freund on May 26, 2018 at 6:30 PM 765 Views