Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum  

Go Back   Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum > Discussion > The Second World War in General

The Second World War in General Please use this forum to discuss other World War Two related subjects not covered by the main categories.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 7th August 2010, 23:13
Johnny .45 Johnny .45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: In the Great State of Vermont.
Posts: 32
Johnny .45 is on a distinguished road
Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

I'm curious about a few things regarding tracer ammunition in WWII planes.
1.) Did WWII planes use tracers? Was there a certain service that did, others didn't? You can see them in guncam videos at times, but I'm still unclear if they were used by all combatants, or all the time, or what. I know they didn't use them in night-fighters, to avoid damaging night vision and pinpointing the attacking fighters location. I'd always assumed that most planes used tracer ammo, but I just read something the other day about RAF BoB pilots...how "when the pilots saw tracers coming out of their guns they knew they were into the last 20 or so bullets"
That suggests to me that the rest of the ammo DIDN'T have tracers. Or that ALL of the last 20 rounds were tracers, but that seems like a dumb idea...if I'm down to my last rounds, they'd better be at LEAST API-T rounds, not just plain tracer ammo that would hardly scratch a plane.

2.) Did cannon shells have tracers, or just MG bullets? I've seen shell-type lists that include shells marked as tracers (HE-T, AP-T, HEI-T, API-T, etc.), but I've also heard that in some planes (the Zero was one, I think) that kept their MG's for the tracers, so they'd have an idea where the cannon shells were hitting. I know that the Hurricane Mk IID with 40mm Vickers guns kept a single .303 Browning in each wing, exactly for that purpose. But what about smaller types, like 20mm?

3.) For those types that did have tracers (I'm PRETTY sure that US fighters used tracer ammo, but not positive), what would a typical loadout be? I know that infantry MG's will use a mix, like 1 round in 5 is a tracer, or 1 round in 10. I'd always assumed that the RAF used tracer ammo in the .303-armed Spitfires, etc, but I just found out the other day that they actually didn't mix AP, Incendiary and ball ammo in the magazines, they just loaded one gun with AP, one with incediary, and two with ball ammo (or something like that). So, did they mix tracer ammo in with it? Or was there a single gun dedicated to tracers? Or did the original British incendiaries double as tracer rounds? I know that the early types ignited on firing, and I guess the burning chemical could make a tracer-like glow, but how about after they went to the kind that ignited on impact? It supposedly made a flash and report when it hit, but that's not quite as good as a tracer, I wouldn't think.

I'm sure there's other stuff I'm not thinking of, but I have to go now. I'm sure I'll remember while I'm in the store and it's too late! That's just one of the little details that has bugged me on and off for a while...in the movies you always see the planes shooting at each other with long tracer streams coming out of the guns, and I never knew whether that was really accurate, or just to give a better visual effect.
And if fixed-gun fighters didn't use/need tracers, then did flexible-mounted guns use them? That'd make it a lot easier to hit a Bf 109 making a pass on my B-17, if my .50cal had tracer ammo loaded. They didn't have gyro-sights, so it would make it very difficult to pull any kind of deflection without some reference to where the bullets are actually going.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 9th August 2010, 22:18
Johnny .45 Johnny .45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: In the Great State of Vermont.
Posts: 32
Johnny .45 is on a distinguished road
Re: Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

LOL...so, either no-one knows the answer, or that was just such an incredibly dumb question that everyone is just going to pretend I never asked it...
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 9th August 2010, 22:56
Pilot's Avatar
Pilot Pilot is offline
Alter Hase
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Srbija
Posts: 1,517
Pilot is an unknown quantity at this point
Re: Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

Not dumb question... maybe too much specific. Using of tracer ammunition is regulated by tactical manuals, to regret I have no anymore any of them. As I know it is used in belt or drum where is every fourth bullet tracer type. This is used in every condition, day or light and general purpose is to help to find quick path to target. As I know it is controlled by unit officer prior the missions.

Every armament could use it, does not depend of the position, fixed or flexible. Off course- lack of supply could mean no tracer...

Cheers
__________________
Srecko Bradic
Owner: www.letletlet-warplanes.com
Owner: www.letletlet-warplanes.com/forum
Owner: www.sreckobradic.com
Owner: www.warplanes-zine.com
Email: srecko.warplane@gmail.com
Skype: sreckobradic
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/LetLet...s/308234397758
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10th August 2010, 21:33
Johnny .45 Johnny .45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: In the Great State of Vermont.
Posts: 32
Johnny .45 is on a distinguished road
Re: Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

Yeah, thanks. I guess it is a pretty complex topic; I'm just glad to glean whatever little scraps anyone knows about things. Like I was reading today how when the Luftwaffe created the new drawn-steel "mine-shells" (Minengeschoss) for the MG FF, they had to modify the gun into the MG FF/M because the original's action wouldn't cycle with the lower-recoil thin-walled ammo. Because the mine-shells couldn't hold tracers, they designed new, lighter AP-I shells and mixed them in with the mine-shells shells, to act as tracers.

For all but the first year of the war, the British and Americans used "De Wilde" incendiaries (although slightly different versions)...originally based on a Belgian design. In RAF service, it was designated "B.Mk VI", and it replaced/supplemented the earlier "Buckingham" tracer ammo.
The "Buckingham" wasn't entirely phased-out, since there were still considerable stocks of ammunition left, and it was a "true" tracer, as it illuminated all through it's flight. The bullet was hollow and had an open base; this cavity was filled with a chemical incendiary compound, and doubled as tracer- and incendiary-filling.
The "De Wilde" round, in comparison, did NOT have a hollow base, and the incendiary material was designed to ignite on impact with the target. Although this meant that the round was useless as a "true" tracer (it didn't light up in flight), the impact and violent combustion of the materials inside left a flash and report, which made it quite obvious whether the rounds were hitting or not.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 14th August 2010, 23:47
grvreijn grvreijn is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 48
grvreijn is on a distinguished road
Re: Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

I´m not the specialist on this but tracers were definitily used. Including on 20mm. Many original guncam fims exist on which clearly tracers can be spotted.

1. I think I read somewhere RAF added additional tracers or only tracers in the last 10-20 rounds indicating to the pilot he was running out of ammo. The rest of the amo also did contain tracers.

2 20mm definitly also had tracers. Not sure about larger types of ammo.

3. I was not around in WW2 but was a infantery MGunner much later. With us every 5th round was a tracer. A tracer is glowing all the time otherwise it does not serve its need.

I´m convinced flex mounted guns also used tracers. I agree that it would otherwise be impossible or pure luck for a waist-gunner to hit a passing enemy fighter.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 15th August 2010, 22:30
Johnny .45 Johnny .45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: In the Great State of Vermont.
Posts: 32
Johnny .45 is on a distinguished road
Re: Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

I think you're right about flexible guns almost always using tracer ammo, especially ones without any gyroscopic sight...otherwise it'd be almost impossible to hit a target.
And I think that "Pilot" is also right about particular units being the ones who decided whether to use tracer ammo. I just read something the other day (although I can't remember WHERE I read it) about how generally, tracers in fixed guns "served little purpose other than to alert the enemy that he was under attack". I'll have to figure out where I read that quote...my memory can be pretty terrible sometimes!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 18th August 2010, 11:21
Greg B Greg B is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 9
Greg B is on a distinguished road
Re: Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

Obviously the 1940 BoB Spitfires and Hurricanes never had cannon just machine guns, it was introduced on later versions. They did use tracer though to help with aiming, they said that in the heat of battle once engaged with the enemy it could help them lead their fire into the path of an aircraft, a bit like firing a shotgun at a moving target ?? The German 109s though did have cannon during the BoB, they would wait until they saw their tracer hitting home and then engage their cannons causing huge damage. Hope this helps....
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 19th August 2010, 13:09
gedburke3 gedburke3 is online now
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 170
gedburke3 is on a distinguished road
Re: Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

Hi Greg,
There were a few aircraft, both Hurricanes and Spitfires that were cannon armed during the Battle of Britain.
I know that 19 squadron with Spitfires and 151 Squadron with Hurricanes both had a few cannon armed aircraft. This was in the early stages of cannon development for these aircraft and both squadrons experienced difficulties with them.
Hope this helps
Gerry
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 19th August 2010, 14:06
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
Alter Hase
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Lancashire, UK
Posts: 1,237
Graham Boak is an unknown quantity at this point
Re: Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

I rather agree with the suggestions that the main values of tracer were found as a guide to running out of ammunition, and as a scare tactic for free gunners.

Gunners may not have had gyro sights, but then neither did anyone else before 1944! They did have gunsights, quite sophisticated pieces of machinery.

The suggestion of using tracer as an aiming guide seems a bit unrealistic. They might well show you where you were shooting at, but given the duration of flight and target movements (which would not static be for the benefit of the attacking fighter), there would remain the problem of where to aim NOW. It is certainly not a good idea to just hold the trigger down and hose the sky in the hope that the enemy might fly into it. Successful pilots used short bursts not all their ammunition in one string. Tracer might be a crutch for less skillful shots, but not a terribly reliable one.

There's the linked problem of mixed armaments - the trajectory of the two weapons were generally different. Unless ideally placed in range and position, if his mgs were hitting the target the cannon generally weren't. There remains the problem of delays as described above.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 28th October 2010, 11:02
hanshauprich hanshauprich is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 249
hanshauprich is on a distinguished road
Re: Tracer ammunition in aerial weapons?

Bomber Command Ammuition 0.303-in.
Between January 1942 and May 1944 the operational sequence for belting
0.303-in. ammunition was as follows:

7 A.P., 2 incend., 1 tracer (day or night)

On the 26th May 1944, provision was made to alter the current sequence, should the necessity arise, to enable a quick turn-round of aircraft for day/night operations, to be effectec:

Rear Top left: all 70% A.P., 30% Incend., no Tracer
Top right: 1st 500 rounds like above
Reminder 50% A.P., 20% Incend., 30% Tracer (Night)

Bottom left: All 60% A.P., 20% Incend., 20% Tracer (Night)
Bottom right: All like above

Mid-Upper and front: Both 1st 300 rounds, 60% A.P., 20% Incend.,
20% Tracer (Night)
Reminder 60% A.P., 20% Incend. 20% Tracer (Day).
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
What colour was Luftwaffe tracer? Boomerang Luftwaffe and Axis Air Forces 2 13th June 2006 18:46
Hitler's Miracle Weapons, Volume 2 edwest Books and Magazines 8 17th May 2005 18:11
A question RE: Late War automatic AA weapons NickM Allied and Soviet Air Forces 7 4th March 2005 21:38
anyone have the Rechlin 190A4 test chart? ring Luftwaffe and Axis Air Forces 3 9th January 2005 03:46
A question RE: Late War Soviet automatic AA weapons NickM Allied and Soviet Air Forces 6 29th December 2004 10:32


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 10:14.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©2004 - 2007, 12oclockhigh.net