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Old October 22, 2010, 12:46 PM   #29
carguychris
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Join Date: October 20, 2007
Location: Richardson, TX
Posts: 5,504
Quote:
Tracer rounds would torch the Zeros more often than not.
This has more to do with the fact that WWII Japanese combat aircraft lacked self-sealing fuel tanks; any of them would go up in flames if you hit them in the right spot with an incendiary round, regardless of caliber. Their aircraft also lacked armor; this was partially because Japanese engine and fuel technology was not up to par with the Americans and the Germans, making weight reduction their best option for increasing performance, and partially because of a cultural samurai-inspired attitude that it is honorable to die in combat and dishonorable to return from battle having been defeated.
Quote:
Actually, the 50BMG was developed for the B-17 Bomber, P-47, and P-51 Fighters to penetrate the armor, at 800 meters, of the German FW-190 Fighter.
As Scorch suggests, this is complete fiction. These aircraft entered service long after the round and the M-2 machine gun were developed; the P-47 and P-51 were designed after the war was well underway, although the P-47 was developed from the prewar P-43 Lancer, which was itself an upgraded Seversky P-35.

In fact, IIRC it took over a decade for the US to build a combat aircraft equipped with an M-2! This makes sense when you consider that most 1920s fighters were lightweight tube-and-fabric airplanes with only a few hundred horsepower; adding such a heavy weapons system would severely compromise their performance and range. Furthermore, they would be shooting at other tube-and-fabric airplanes, making rate of fire more important that sheer power; since these aircraft consist mostly of empty space, the key was to hit the engine, pilot, or fuel tanks. A .30cal or smaller round was adequate for this task because cockpit armor was too heavy for the aircraft of the period and the fuel tanks would not be self-sealing since the technology had not been developed yet.

Although the .50BMG/M-2 combo was great during WWII, it's telling that it was rapidly phased out following the war. Aircraft got a lot bigger, faster, and tougher, and 20mm or larger cannons became commonplace. The mainstay of USAF air power during the Korean War, the F-86 Sabre, had six .50BMG guns and was widely considered under-gunned by its pilots. The Soviet MiG-15 and the US Navy F2H Banshee and F9F Panther had cannons by this time.
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