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ErikB

Swordfish TAGs and their Vickers MG's

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Hi all,

Did the TAGs (Telegraphist / Air Gunner) take their Vickers K MG's to and from the aircraft before and after missions or did the machine gun stay on the aircraft between missions?

Thanks in advance!

Erik.

Edited by ErikB

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It seems that I have been thick enough to post this in the AFV-section.... Sorry about that! I have reported my topic to the moderators, asking them to move it to the aircraft section.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Cheers,

Erik.

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It was normal for guns on RAF aircraft to be removed between missions for cleaning, servicing, and storage in a clean environment. I'd assume that this practice was carried out prewar when the FAA operated as a branch of the RAF, and the practice is likely to have continued into RN days. Certainly where it comes to storage for any length of time, in the open air on a carrier deck is highly unsuitable. Inside the hangar may have been considered another matter, but stripping and cleaning would still have been a regular happening.

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It was normal for guns on RAF aircraft to be removed between missions for cleaning, servicing, and storage in a clean environment. I'd assume that this practice was carried out prewar when the FAA operated as a branch of the RAF, and the practice is likely to have continued into RN days. Certainly where it comes to storage for any length of time, in the open air on a carrier deck is highly unsuitable. Inside the hangar may have been considered another matter, but stripping and cleaning would still have been a regular happening.

Thank you Graham! I suspected as much but indeed liked to have it corroborated! I'm searching the things together to build a Swordfish Mk.II of 860 (Dutch) Sqn. which operated from the MAC-Carriers. These aircraft wre stored almost exclusively on the flightdeck...

Cheers,

Erik.

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I very much doubt whether Swordfish operating off MAC ships would have carried VGO guns full stop. Unnecessary weight with no air threat.

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I very much doubt whether Swordfish operating off MAC ships would have carried VGO guns full stop. Unnecessary weight with no air threat.

But you could have a pop at a U boat if you caught one on the surface! It could keep the crew away from any AA Gun as you attacked.

Selwyn

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But you could have a pop at a U boat if you caught one on the surface! It could keep the crew away from any AA Gun as you attacked.

Selwyn

Not really. The attack is nose on from the Swordfish perspective. The forward firing gun would help suppress flak as they attacked. Unless I'm missing a trick, perfectly likely.

Tim

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Not really. The attack is nose on from the Swordfish perspective. The forward firing gun would help suppress flak as they attacked. Unless I'm missing a trick, perfectly likely.

Tim

Tim, while wholly correct one might flippantly add given the slow speed of the Swordfish after the attack flying away the TAG might well run out of ammo in suppression fire before it flew out of range again !

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Hi all,

Did the TAGs (Telegraphist / Air Gunner) take their Vickers K MG's to and from the aircraft before and after missions or did the machine gun stay on the aircraft between missions?

Thanks in advance!

Erik.

Hi Erik

I would think rather than the TAG's taking their VGO MG's in/out, the squadron armourers would do that.

If the aircraft and crew (s) did more than 1 sortie in a day, I would think the guns would stay with the aircraft, being replenished ammo wise or if the gun became u/s then changed between sorties.

Regards

Alan

Edited by LDSModeller

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Not really. The attack is nose on from the Swordfish perspective. The forward firing gun would help suppress flak as they attacked. Unless I'm missing a trick, perfectly likely.

Tim

And during your attack as you have dropped your store (and possibly may have missed) are now are flying past and away at low level, and lets face it, not at high speed from the U boat, what's "discouraging" the machine gunners on the conning tower from peppering your tail unit?

Or alternatively an attack by two swordfish, The TAG on one aircraft could suppress the U boat defensive fire whilst the other aircraft attacked?

Many different scenario's to need the gun if you think about it.

Selwyn

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Right, appropriately admonished for being inaccurate with my thinking. Mea culpa.

Tim

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Theoretical comment is all very well, but do the photos show the TAGs with guns on the MACs?

Edited by Graham Boak

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As far as I know the MAC Ship Swordfish had no guns fitted,....... the forward gun was definitely removed and I have never seen a Vickers K Gun fitted in the rear cockpit,...... the TAG was mainly a radio operator and look out.

LS432.jpg

fairey-swordfish.jpg

Cheers

Tony

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A bit off topic, but having just read Carey's book on the PB4Y-1 in GB (http://www.schifferbooks.com/u-s-navy-pb4y-1-b-24-liberator-squadrons-in-great-britain-during-world-war-ii-488.html), I was wondering how effective the Swordfish was? The PB4Y-1's could be considered marginal having only sunk 5 u-boats in 2 years, for loss of 10 aircrews to all causes. What was the kill to loss ratio for the Swordfish on MAC ships? Overall?

Tim

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As far as I know the MAC Ship Swordfish had no guns fitted,....... the forward gun was definitely removed and I have never seen a Vickers K Gun fitted in the rear cockpit,...... the TAG was mainly a radio operator and look out.

LS432.jpg

fairey-swordfish.jpg

Cheers

Tony

You are aware that the Fairey mounting and gun folded away into the rear fuselage?

Selwyn

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I am Selwyn,....I have a model of a MAC Ship Swordfish in RFI,.... where I have fitted the guns,...with the rear gun retracted! Only found out after finishing it about the guns being deleted!

Cheers

Tony

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And during your attack as you have dropped your store (and possibly may have missed) are now are flying past and away at low level, and lets face it, not at high speed from the U boat, what's "discouraging" the machine gunners on the conning tower from peppering your tail unit?

Or alternatively an attack by two swordfish, The TAG on one aircraft could suppress the U boat defensive fire whilst the other aircraft attacked?

Many different scenario's to need the gun if you think about it.

Selwyn

Hi, Selwyn,

I think the relatively short range of a .303 (not to speak about the ridiculously small firepower of a single drum-fed gun) would make the proposition of suppression fire unlikely. The exiting aircraft would leave the target out of range of her own gun rather quickly (the quickest the better). Though an airman is likely to "let go" with anything at his disposal during the attack/dash run (and there are testimonies of TAGs firing on Bismarck!) a deliberate concerted maneuver to supress Flak fire with such a weak firepower would be an unnecessary risk for little gain.

Fernando

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Hi, Selwyn,

I think the relatively short range of a .303 (not to speak about the ridiculously small firepower of a single drum-fed gun) would make the proposition of suppression fire unlikely. The exiting aircraft would leave the target out of range of her own gun rather quickly (the quickest the better). Though an airman is likely to "let go" with anything at his disposal during the attack/dash run (and there are testimonies of TAGs firing on Bismarck!) a deliberate concerted maneuver to supress Flak fire with such a weak firepower would be an unnecessary risk for little gain.

Fernando

Weak firepower??

A Vickers K with a adjustable rate of fire between 950 and 1,200 rounds per minute, firing a The Mark VIII cartridge that had a maximum range of approximately 4,500 yd (4,115 m) can hardly be classified as; "ridiculously small firepower of a single drum-fed gun." It would be more than adequate to suppress return any return fire.

But I suppose you think the guys in the Swordfish would be really happy to sit there and be shot at as they flew past the target!

Selwyn

(By the way the German MG 34 was reputedly to be the benchmark in machine gun firepower. The Vickers K was longer ranged and had a higher rate of fire than that gun!)

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Hi, Selwyn,

I think the relatively short range of a .303 (not to speak about the ridiculously small firepower of a single drum-fed gun) would make the proposition of suppression fire unlikely. The exiting aircraft would leave the target out of range of her own gun rather quickly (the quickest the better). Though an airman is likely to "let go" with anything at his disposal during the attack/dash run (and there are testimonies of TAGs firing on Bismarck!) a deliberate concerted maneuver to supress Flak fire with such a weak firepower would be an unnecessary risk for little gain.

Fernando

Hi Fernando

Would you like to stand (or even run about) on a firing range at 500m while I demonstrate that "ridiculously small firepower" of the Vickers K gun to you? ;-)

I think you'd get a surprise!

The life and career of one of Germany's greatest airman was terminated in the blink of an eye by a single .303 bullet fired at a moving target at quite long range.

Regards

Nick

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Didn`t the Vickers K Gun have a faster rate of fire than any other British machine gun?

Tony

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Hi Erik

I would think rather than the TAG's taking their VGO MG's in/out, the squadron armourers would do that.

If the aircraft and crew (s) did more than 1 sortie in a day, I would think the guns would stay with the aircraft, being replenished ammo wise or if the gun became u/s then changed between sorties.

Regards

Alan

I recall reading about an incident when a Swordfish rear gun let a shot go while the TAG was stowing it in the rear fuselage.

Seems Swordfish on Fleet Carriers were stowed in the hangar and the armourers did the job, as you say.

Claudio

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Would you like to stand (or even run about) on a firing range at 500m while I demonstrate that "ridiculously small firepower" of the Vickers K gun to you? ;-)

Equally, would you like to stand (or even run about) on a firing range at 500m firing at me with a VGO while I have been aiming a selection of multiple 37mm and 20mm cannon in your direction with seriously evil intent for the last 4000m*?

*Max range of 2cm MG C/30: 4400m. Source: German Naval Guns 1939-1945, Miroslaw Skwiot

Edited by Seahawk

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Equally, would you like to stand (or even run about) on a firing range at 500m firing at me with a VGO while I have been aiming a selection of multiple 37mm and 20mm cannon in your direction with seriously evil intent for the last 4000m*?

*Max range of 2cm MG C/30: 4400m. Source: German Naval Guns 1939-1945, Miroslaw Skwiot

Don't be silly. I haven't described any of those as "ridiculously small firepower" so wind your neck in.

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I'd be surprised if the normal armament wasn't carried. Having the gun on board would be a reassurance. As far as the VGO gun goes, the Fairey Hi speed gun mount allowed the gun to be retracted entirely hidden into the rear fuselage turtle deck. The VGO gun had a very high cyclic rate of fire at 950 to 1100 RPM. (the Browning .303 fixed gun was 1150 RPM). The safety of weapons is paramount. It would be the duty of the gunner to remove the magazine and clear the weapon if the VGO was to be left on board but I suggest that it would normally be removed to the armoury though it would be interesting to know what the standing orders decreed. Guns can be taken into an armoury but Ammo is not and it has it's own area.

John

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This topic sent me back to the bookshelves for a read of the chapter on this weapon in The Guns of the Royal Air Force 1939-1945 by GF Wallace. It seems to have proved a very satisfactory weapon and in some respects superior to the Browning for reliability and far easier to maintain. It's problem comes with its inability to be used in multi gun turrets. The author describes it as an excellent gun in itself and in some ways superior to the Browning and Hispano guns. He does not elaborate further to explain his comment as regards the Hispano.

That TAG's did engage U-boats is known. For example 13,April 1940 Second Battle of Narvik, Swordfish from HMS Warspite floatplane L9767 engaged U-64 inside Herjangs Fiord attacking with 250 lb bombs and LAC M.G.Pacey raking the conning tower. They sunk the first U boat by an aircraft in WW2. The pilot got a DSM, the Observer a DSC and the poor TAG nothing as usual.

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