Aircraft weapons & ammo - Books

  • I only have these two books: 1) “Rapid Fire” by Anthony G. Williams; 2) “German aircraft guns WW I - WW II” by Edward J. Hoffschmidt. Can somebody recommend me another book(s) about the aircraft armament and the ammo used between 1914 - 1945 ??? Thanks in advance, Liviu 06/16/10



I highly recommend some other titles by Mr. Williams (and Emmanuel Gustin). The “Flying Guns” series is excellent. See here:



There is also a Book on Japanese Aircraft Armamment, published in the 1960s, in English.

I saw a copy in the Auckland Public Library, back in 1990 during a trip to NZ.
I can’t remember the title ( "old timer’s disease) but it had a lot of detail on the Guns and the Aircraft that carried them. Many of the photos of guns and aircraft came from the US Navy collection of Photos and examples of Guns also.
I did Photocopy one section, regarding the Type 89 Flexible ( 7,7SR T89) as I had just acquired one of these. (Guns)

Not much on the ammo though ( details of design and specs etc…Elks is the best for that.

Doc AV
AV Ballistics.


German Aircraft Guns WW1-WW11 by EJ HoffSchmidt covers machine guns up to cannons and has a chapter on ammunition. Lots of pictures and drawings plus some post-war US photos of the effects on aircraft wings under test conditions.

NATO dave


I’ve found Harry Woodman’s Early Aircraft Armament, covering the period of the first war, very useful. Jack


Uzbrojenie lotnictwa polskiego 1918-1939 (on Polish used guns)

Pushki dlya boevykh samoletov (on Russian guns, by Nudelman)

Fokker Vliegtuigbewapening / Aircraft Armament (by de Vries, G. / Martens, B.J.)

Flugzeugbewaffnung (on German guns, by Schliephake)

Flugzeugbewaffnung (on Swiss Guns, by Bürli)

Early Aircraft Armament (by Woodman)

Die Entwicklungsgeschichte der Mauser-Flugzeugbordwaffe MG / MK 213 C (by Schmidt)

Deutsche Geheimwaffen 1939-1945 (by Fritz Hahn)

Deutsche Flugzeugbewaffnung bis 1945 (by Griehl)

British Aircraft Armament Volume 1+2 (by Clarke)

Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung der österreichisch-ungarischen Flugzeuge (on Austro-Hungarian guns, by Steinböck)

Armament of British Aircraft 1909-1939 (by King)

I left away the books on more modern stuff.


Agreed that Ken Elks’ recently revised and considerably extended two-part work on Japanese ammo up to 40mm is the gold standard on this subject (only omitting a few 57mm and 75mm aircraft rounds). I don’t know any 1960s books on Japanese aircraft armament, although Rene Francillon’s classic work “Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War” includes an appendix on the guns. This is incomplete and not entirely accurate, however. By far the best published source on Japanese aircraft guns is Robert Mikesh’s “Japanese Aircraft Equipment: 1940-1945” since it has a whole chapter on guns by Ted Bradstreet, the most knowledgable western author on this subject, and he covers lots of experimentals and their ammo as well as service guns.

There’s an excellent German-language book on German aircraft guns, Schliephake’s “Die Bordwaffen der Luftwaffe von deb Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart” published in the 1970s. Hoffschmidt’s work which you have is a good summary, largely culled from Chinn (which itself is not error-free).

German aircraft gun ammo is thoroughly covered (mostly just by sectioned drawings) in Lippert’s “Deutsche Bordwaffen Munition Bis 1945” (privately published).

On RAF armament, Clarke’s two-volume work has already been mentioned - that’s very good, as is Wallace’s “Guns of the Royal Air Force 1939-1945” (he was involved at the time) although neither says much about ammo.

The “Flying Guns” trilogy which I wrote with Emmanuel Gustin was intended to provide a comprehensive overview of aircraft gun armament from the beginning to the present day, including guns, ammunition, installations and use (plus the more notable experimental equipment). It is necessarily not as detailed as some of the more focused titles listed above, but doesn’t leave much out. You can read about the books here:

Vol 1 (up to 1932): … index.html
Vol 2 (1933-45): … index.html
Vol 3 (1946+): … index.html


by George M. Chinn

You can find these books on the internet to download for a reasonable cost.



by George M. Chinn

You can find these books on the internet to download for a reasonable cost.[/quote]
These books are essential for any serious student of automatic weapons as they include much information not found elsewhere. However, as I mentioned above, they do contain errors and are very patchy in their coverage (e.g. an entire chapter on the 6 pr 7 cwt Molins aircraft gun, scarcely a single mention of the far more important 1.1 inch USN AA gun).

The first four volumes were written in the early 1950s, the fifth in the late 1980s - but that focused on US and (to a lesser extent) European guns so there is nothing about postwar Soviet developments.

There also isn’t a lot about ammo.


Tony: I’ve wondered for years if Chinn’s silence on the one point one isn’t one of those silences that are said to “speak volumes.” From what I understand of his career it seems like he might well have been involved in the job of trying to sort this beast out. Jack


Christian Koll’s SOVIET CANNON should be on the list. Covers 1922-1991, per the introduction.


Yes, quite right. That is a league ahead of any other book on its subject, and contains comprehensive and very detailed information about ammunition.


I wasn’t aware of that. It’s certainly a puzzling omission.