30 MM Anti-Balloon Projectile


I finally received the March/April IAA Journal and found it really interesting. The articles were awesome. One thing that blew me away was the picture and short description by Lew Curtis on the 30 MM Anti-balloon projectile on page 53. That is the wildest, coolest projectile I have seen in a long time. Totally ingenious design. I am sure it is beyond rare and not in many collections. Thank you Lew.


The Russians produced some interesting aircraft cannon ammo.

As well as the anti-balloon round, they make (in 23mm as well as 30mm) a kind of shrapnel, with a time-fuze which sets off a small charge behind the cargo of tungsten sub-projectiles. It’s like Oerlikon’s AHEAD, except that the time fuze acts at a set distance instead of being programmable at the muzzle. It’s used for ground attack.

Then there are IR and chaff decoy rounds. The idea (as Lew explained to me) was to defeat the US AAMs. Their fighters would wait until the US fighters fired their missiles, then fire a short burst of cannon fire (the first few rounds of their magazines being loaded with decoys). The missiles should home in on the decoys, while the fighters dove out of the way and released their own missiles. I don’t know if that’s ever been tried for real. I have one of the 23mm chaff rounds.

You’ll find loads of detail on Russian ammo 12.7-57mm on Chris Koll’s excellent site here: geocities.com/russianammo/index2.html?20076



deleted because of missunderstanding


No mix up: I said “As well as the anti-balloon round, they make (in 23mm as well as 30mm) a kind of shrapnel…”


As always, thank you Tony & EOD for incredible information and photos. Totally appreciate it allot. Some of those rounds are awesome. Talk about sweet sectioning. Either factory made or an extreme artist sectioned them.

I took a picture from the Lew’s article in the journal of the balloon projectile I was fascinated by. Totally unique looking. With this projectile, I assume the “Cutter Arms” stay attached to the main projectile body and not separate as individual sub-projectiles?



Ah, that 30mm anti-balloon projectile! :-)


Isn’t it awesome!


Seems we all missunderstood each other very well :)


Pictures rock! :-)


Absolutely, allways and everywhere!


That is a unique design. Is there only one example known?


Ref Tony’s earlier posting. I don’t know about flare projectiles, but the 23mm Chaff round was a standard production item by the Russians and by some of their allies. It was important because the Mig23 was fast but couldn’t turn very well. The USAF experience with the Mig 23-which the AF operated in an agressor role associated with the Red Flag training in Nevada as part of the recently declassified Constant Peg program where US pilots flew simulated combat against actual Soviet aircraft- is that it was fast, accelerated well, but was not a dogfighter and was only good for a single pass against F-15s and F-16s. In a head on engagement (most likely in the BIG war) it was important for the Mig 23 to be able to break the radar lockon from the approaching US fighters. The old AIM-7 Sparrow was a semi-active radar missile since it relied on the fighter radar to guide it to the target. The chaff projectiles put a cloud of chaff in front of the Soviet fighter and would cause the radars to loose the target (break lock) and the AIM-7 would loose the target. The Mig could then get in closer to engage. The Chaff projectiles were less effective against the AIM-120 since it carried it’s own radar and didn’t need the radar on the aircraft except to give the missile the general area of the target if it was launched at long range, beyond the range of it’s own radar. I suspect that the chaff projectiles were not terribly effective but they likely worked fairly well against the AIM-7 and more importantly, they gave the Mig pilots who lacked sophisticated ECM pods a measure of confidence when facing radar guided missiles.


Thanks for writing that piece on the Balloon projectile Lew. Totally beyond interesting! One of the coolest small caliber projectiles I have seen.


That projectile reminds me of the Vortex expanding broadheads for arrows/crossbow bolts. In the case of the Vortex, no locking mechanism is required because once the blades are free of the rubber ring, drag causes the blades to stay rearward. I wonder if the principle applies to that balloon-buster?
It is interesting to me, to see the similarities. Here is the Vortex, closed and open:

(Okay I can’t get into my Photobucket, so I can only give a link at this time).

vortexbroadheads.com/Catalog/vor … dheads.htm