The automatic gun is a projectile weapon with a caliber greater than a machine gun and firing rate greater than that of a cannon used by infantry units. The term cannon was used during World War II for the description of guns used in aircraft, where the predominant distinction was that they were explosive projectiles. After the war, similar weapons were used with no explosive charges missions against tanks, and the term ‘autocannon’ became widespread and become popular. As of today, typically distinguished by the incorporation of some automatic feeding methods and firing.

Overall his caliber is greater than a machine gun – 20 mm caliber or more. However, it is smaller than a field gun or other artillery pieces and features give greater rate of fire. Nevertheless, it is quite common to find naval autocannon 5 “or 127 mm caliber and a little more.

The original job was automatic cannon flak because aircraft (air targets) flew higher and higher speeds, which meant a problem for conventional artillery, unable to shoot at a rate sufficient to have a significant probability of impacting a plane in flight. The use of automatic cannon as air weapon has been standardized, especially after smaller machine guns became less effective against fast growing modern white. Ground forces were slower to adopt the automatic cannon. However, today there is an ever rising trend in that direction.


The precise definition of autocannon is often confusing, as there are other weapons that meet multiple criteria that define it. However, a useful definition would be that an automatic gun is a machine gun that fires explosive projectiles, while a massive machine gun fires bullets. Like the machine gun, the only automatic cannon can fire in bursts.

The gun, for example, are also arms employing an automatic mechanism to operate with limited human intervention. However, these weapons are often small and can be carried by its users, while automatic cannons need a gun carriage or bracing to absorb recoil. The automatic cannon projectiles are generally 20 mm or larger caliber and can be explosive. Moreover, the machine gun ammo usually has solid bullets are not explosive. Furthermore, automatic cannon typically has a greater range and penetration capability compared to machine guns.

Another weapon that is similar to automatic cannon is automatic grenade launcher. This usually is mounted on a tripod or an armored fighting vehicle, capable of firing explosive with high cadence. The main differences would be its small size and the use of lower velocity ammunition.

Larger caliber guns have been equipped with automatic charging mechanisms, so it technically can be considered as automatic cannons. Several modern tanks like the T-80 Russian and French Leclerc, autoloaders used to reduce the usual crew of four-commander, driver, gunner and loader-to three by eliminating the charger. These guns generally reach a rate similar to that of a human operator, which excludes them from the category of automatic-guns, although future developments like tanks Future Combat Systems series could have shot higher cadences. The self-propelled artillery also follows the same trend as the tanks: the PzH2000 German self-propelled howitzer is capable of firing 13 rounds per minute, but you can also shoot quickly 3 rounds in 9 seconds and 10 rounds in 56 seconds. To achieve these cadences, employs both an autoloader as two chargers.

The modern naval guns, as the Italian Oto Melara 76 mm and 5 “/ 54 Mark 45 (127 mm) U.S., are capable of shooting high cadence. These autoloaders used to recharge from a reservoir, allowing high cadence shot against surface or aerial targets. The naval autocannon entered service after the decline of heavy caliber naval guns and increasing use of missiles. A notable exception is the Russian naval cannon AK-130 twin-gauge 130/70 mm (5.1 “), used in most large Russian ships, whose rate of 10-40 rounds per minute per barrel is now day-caliber weapon fastest known.


Can employ a variety of ammunition: between normal projectiles include high explosive and dual purpose (HEDP) as well as various types of armor-piercing projectiles (AP), such as rigid compounds (PRCA) and kinetic borers (APDS ).

Although accommodates a great rate of fire, automatic cannon overheats if employed continued to fire and is limited to the amount of ammunition that can transport the vehicle or weapon system in which it is mounted. Both the American Bushmaster 25 mm as the British Rarden 30 mm have a relatively slow rate of fire too fast not to exhaust their ammunition. The rate of fire of a modern autocannon ranges from 90 rounds per minute in the British Rarden

and between 1700 and 1800 per minute in the case of Mauser BK-27.

Currently the rotary autocannon guns-have-multiple cadences of thousands of rounds per minute. These extremely high fire cadences are used especially in air defense and air-to-air combat, where the target is exposed for a short period, therefore the reaction time is minimal and weapons are usually fired in short bursts.


The first firearm that can be considered a machine gun was invented in the sixteenth century by Shirazi Fathullah a Persian polymath and mechanical engineer who worked for Akbar the Great in the Mughal Empire. Unlike the polybolos and repeating crossbows used in ancient Greece and China, respectively, rapid-fire machine Shirazi was a hand cannon with 17 cannon.

Another weapon that can technically be considered an automatic cannon is Puckle Canyon.

Invented by James Puckle early eighteenth century. This was a heavy cannon mounted on a tripod, with a drum that was nine bedrooms. He used a crank mounted on the back to turn the drum and align their bedrooms with the gun. Despite shooting and recharge faster than the musket used by a soldier average, failed to capture the interest of potential funders or the British Army.

But none of these were true automatic cannons and can be considered as multiple guns or gun s manual. Early models did not have automatic weapons wide use due to lack of interest and technical limitations, as its difficult maintenance and repair. It was not until the nineteenth century when the automatic weapons became feasible with the development of fulminant with metal cap and smokeless powder.

The first modern autocannon which made ​​use of all these developments was the Canyon British QF 1 pound, also called “pom-pom gun.” It was basically a large version of the Maxim gun, the first fully automatic machine gun that needed only squeeze your trigger to fire. The “pom-pom” explosive projectile fired a one pound at a rate of over two hundred rounds per minute, it was much faster than conventional artillery and had a longer range than the infantry rifle.

During the First World War, autocannon was mainly employed in the trenches and as anti-aircraft gun. The British hired guns “pom-pom” as part of its air defense system against German zeppelin bombing London, but were of little use, as their bullets did not penetrate or detonated upon impact with soft cover them. We attempted to use on board aircraft, but with limited success. The most effective naval cannon QF 2 pounds would be developed during the war to be used as anti-aircraft gun and defensive weapon short warships.

The automatic gun was used on a larger scale during the Second World War. In the interwar period, the design of fighter jets format evolved biplane to monoplane format. They started light alloys used for aircraft surfaces instead of canvas and the cabin was covered with glass. The consequent increase in the speed and durability of these reduced the window of opportunity to attack. The heavy anti-aircraft guns were unable to follow the rapid planes flying at low altitude, while the guns did not have sufficient range and firepower to knock them down. This need for high-speed cannon was notable at the beginning of the Second World War, especially against tactical aircraft flying at low altitude and allowed little or no warning, or those dive-attacking position. The lack of radar for weapons direction, and proximity fuses for shells, made ​​even more essential to shoot and project large quantities (numbers) of projectiles to increase the likelihood of an impact.

In 1944 and 1945, the problem became more acute, with the advent of Japanese kamikaze. Previously, if a bomber striking down a distance away from a boat, this posed no threat, its course was regularly into the water, or, if it was slightly damaged, invariably returned to their base. When a kamikaze was discovered, this course kept deliberately crash into the target (goal), then the energy of flak had to destroy it in the air, or at least divert your course so that fell into the sea. The above 20 mm Oerlikon cannons were not enough energy to accomplish this task (total destruction of white or divert its course), and the most competent Bofors 40 mm was quickly added to the arsenal ally.

The German Panzer II light tank, which was one of the most numerous tanks in service during the Invasion of Poland and the Battle of France, had as main armament one 20 mm automatic cannon. Despite being ineffective against the armor of other tanks even during the early stages of the war, was able to penetrate the rear armor at close range. The automatic guns were effective against unarmored vehicles and troops, being employed on armored cars against these targets. For example, the 575 Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion U.S. claims to have shot 2036 37 mm caliber bullets against ground targets with automatic cannons mounted on caterpillar trucks M15 for six months of fighting in northwest Europe in 1944-45.

Models of higher caliber, such as the 40 mm Vickers S, were mounted in aircraft for ground attack used as anti-tank weapon, a role for which they were effective due to the fact that the top of a tank has usually a thinner shielding.

On board the aircraft, autocannon eventually replaced the gun s s firing rifle cartridge. While machine guns hit key points needed an aircraft to take him down, as fuel tanks or cab, automatic cannon could hit anywhere and cause enough damage to knock out a plane. Towards the end of World War II, virtually all fighter aircraft armed with some type of automatic gun, the only exceptions being heavy-caliber machine guns greater than 12.7 mm.

The Luftwaffe conducted experiments and used limitedly his series Bordkanone caliber automatic cannon 37 mm, 50 mm and 75 mm, which were often installed in containers under the fuselage or wings. The barrel BK 37 37 mm anti-aircraft gun based on the 3.7 cm FlaK 43 employed by the Army, was often installed in containers under the wings (two per plane) of a small amount of dive bombers Ju 87G Stuka adapted Panzerknacker as tank killers.

The barrel 50 mm BK 5, based on the barrel 5 cm KwK 39 Panzer III tank was installed on board of one of the bombers Ju 88P heavy fighter adapted as (while the other two models employed Bordkanone others) and A-1/U4 board the Me 410, the version of attack Hornisse Me 410 heavy fighter. 300 units were built BK 5, rather than the other two versions.

The BK 7.5 75 mm, based on the semi PaK 40 antitank gun, but was installed aboard the heavy fighter Ju 88P-1 board and ground attack aircraft twin Hs 129 B-3.

The BK 7.5 was the largest autocannon ever installed aboard a plane, until the entry into service of the ground attack aircraft A-10 Thunderbolt II and rotary cannon GAU-8 Avenger in 1977.

After the war, both the Western powers and the Soviet Union adopted the automatic cannon for a wide variety of roles in air warfare, naval and land. Examples are the M242 automatic cannon 25 mm Bushmaster.

turret mounted on the M2/M3 Bradley, the Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft gun, the Mauser BK-27, which is used on all aircraft and aboard several ships of the Bundeswehr, the M61A1 20 mm used by the Navy and the Air Force of the United States, and the GAU-8 Avenger employee aboard the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

Another paper associated with autocannon is the Next Defense System of warships, which are used to destroy anti-ship missiles and low-flying aircraft. The race between air defense weapons and incoming weapons (aircraft and missiles) continues, and as the British Goalkeeper 30 mm and 20 mm Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) States are competent to deal subsonic antiship missiles s as the French Exocet, they are not fast enough to counter missiles traveling supersonic sea skimming the waves, as the Russian Moskit (NATO / NATO SS-N-22 SUNBURN). Close defense systems rely increasingly faster missiles, such as the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM). The Russian defense system Kashtan close-known by NATO as CSDA-N-1-, combining missile SA-N-11 with automatic guns GRISON “Kortik”.

The modern warships, however, still carry as the Bushmaster automatic cannon 25 mm.

as a defense against attacks by small, fast boats. Especially against attempts suicide type attack, such attacks could be certainly achievable and sometimes effective, considering the current low-altitude supersonic missiles traveling touching the sea and whose intercept is more an issue of missile type that generally anti-ship weapon.

Current Uses

Naval warfare

After World War II, the trend autocannon larger gauge continued for several reasons. First, it could take a missile from 5 “to bring down a high-speed anti-ship missile or a fighter plane. Second, introducing charging and automatic shooting, especially when the guns of the ships were radar controlled and operated from a control room, the requirements regarding crew size decreased.

Guns were experimented with several innovations to increase fire rates with the application of coastal bombardment. The automatic cannon up to 8 “/ 203 mm was tested, but was too backward for small vessels, which also could not carry enough ammunition.

Today’s trend is to standardize a naval autocannon caliber of 155 mm, and 155 mm/62 (6.1 “) Advanced Gun System (AGS).

The initial enthusiasm for this weapon, which should have been presented in the new Zumwalt class destroyers, was obscured when construction of that class was reduced to six or fewer ships, with two guns per boat mounts.

The company BAE Systems is the developer of the Ground Attack Missile Long Range LRLAP, which is undergoing testing. The July 18, 2005, Lockheed Martin received a contract valued at $ 120 million for testing and subsequent development of the system LRLAP for weapon system advanced “AGS” on the destroyer’s next generation Navy EU, designated as DD (X). The cost-plus-bonus requires LRLAP conclusion of the contract in order to provide, rapid and accurate, high volume, and long-range support for U.S. Marine Force in its operations on the coasts. The new contract requires further development and testing between the years 2006-2008 and the respective support certification testing between 2009-2010. More than 100 projectiles must be delivered and tested under the contract. Regular production of the system is expected to begin in 2011.

Air War

In the mid 1950s, the automatic 20 mm cannon had become a standard weapon for Western warplanes. The Soviets made ​​substantial use of 23 mm automatic cannons, and experimented with 37 mm cannon, but both sides (both the U.S. and the Soviet Union) generally found that the caliber of 20 mm was the most useful for ground attack and close air combat. For a time, American strategists believed that the air-to-air missile automatic cannon replace aircraft in aerial combat, and aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom II, in its early versions, were originally developed without internal automatic cannon . The experience of the Vietnam War, however, quickly showed the need for an air cannon at some fighting-air missiles. It did not take long for the F-4C USAF empezasen to carry external weapons containers SUU-16 or SUU-23 that carried a M61 Vulcan gatling cannon type 20 mm. The absence of the canyon was finally corrected with the following model F-4E.

With increasing speed of the aircraft automatic cannon came to have a much higher firing rate with new mechanical techniques such as canyons or rotating mechanisms driven by external power source. Some of these automatic guns could fire at a rate of fire as high as 6000 rounds per minute.

The availability of such machine gun guns high speed s, produced during the Vietnam War adaptation where several such weapons were mounted on the sides in transport aircraft and used for ground support in an area where there was no air defense threat. The technique has proven to be extremely useful and persists to this day in the AC-130H / U Spectre / Spooky II (Heavy Attack Aircraft).

Originally designed to fight the Warsaw Pact tanks that allegedly attack Western Europe, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, was designed and built around the GAU-8 Avenger cannon of 30 mm. Although there were large aircraft cannons, this was the most powerful cannon in terms of the kinetic energy of the projectile and the rate of fire built on an airplane. The A-10 was likewise scheduled to be extremely durable and not aesthetically appealing, in practice, never been known as Thunderbolt II, but as Warthog.

Today all aircraft under construction, no matter how technologically advanced, carrying a machine gun, usually 20 or 25 mm, with a very high rate of fire, and only enough ammunition for a few bursts of fire. In the future, a laser could replace the barrel as a weapon of direct fired air combat, but that is very different from a cannon replaced by a missile. A missile has a minimum of confrontation-shooting restrictions in very short distances and often constraints on the geometry of shot in clashes (angles in relation to the target that can be used).

Attack helicopters AH-64 Apache carrying a powerful automatic cannon 30 mm anti-tank capability. This has a rate of fire of 600-650 rounds / min, a maximum range of 4,000 meters, and an effective range of 1,500-1,700 meters. Use ammo M789 high explosive (HE) and dual purpose, and has a maximum capacity of 1,200 missiles. However, they rely mostly on AGM-114 missiles in combat against tanks and M230 automatic cannon is only used against unprotected or lightly armored targets, people, light vehicles and also for self-protection. The AGM-114 Hellfire is a laser-guided anti-tank missile and radar capable of destroying any armored vehicle known. Its range of use is of 500-8000 meters from the target. An Apache can load up to 16 missiles.

Land War

After World War II, there was a brief trend toward the development of automatic self-propelled guns, as the Soviet S-60 57 mm and U.S. Skysweeper 75 mm.

But since the early 1960s, these were being replaced by air missiles. The advent of portable antiaircraft missiles that could be carried by a soldier, further reduced the role of automatic self-propelled guns. Anyway, there were adaptations of aircraft cannons, and some cannons and missile systems for air defense combined timely strategic objectives.

Many infantry fighting vehicles like the M2 Bradley States, the LAV 25 and ASLAV (Piranha derivatives), the British Warrior, the Marder German or Spanish-Austrian ASCOD have as main armament automatic cannon 20 to 30 mm, eg M242 Bushmaster the Mauser Rarden or model. For long-distance fighting, these can be supplemented with anti-tank missiles as the BGM-71 TOW.

Automatic guns

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