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How far does a 50. cal bullet have to fly before it impacts with no effect?

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I was flying a P-51 online and shot at a plane that was roughly 350m away. I saw multiple impacts, but he kept flying.  I managed to also get multiple impacts on him again as he ran away.  He was about 600m on that shot. I aimed above him and the bullets dropped onto him. I saw at least 6 black puffs of impact visual effect, but he kept flying. I checked the sortie log after the map was done and saw that my first shot only gave .01% damage and the second volley didn't register at all.

I guess I have to assume that at a certain distance the impact is enough to shatter the bullets but not penetrate the target airplane's skin.....

I was using 300m as my convergence setting. It seems that if I don't get the shots onto the target as exactly the convergence I set, the chances of doing any damage are minimal, even if the range is off by +/= 50m.  

 

  

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While distance to target is a factor, i think if you hit vital parts of the plane such as the engine or pilot you would have seen much higher damage numbers. As an experiment try shooting a plane really close but only on tips of the wings and such. I bet you'll see that .01% again.

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If you are sure the second volley indeed scored hits (i.e. that visual effects were not something else, and that those hits were indeed caused by you and not somebody else), then it sounds to me like net packet loss. Do you see the same behavior offline (with murky world if internet removed from equation)?

 

.50 cals are very potent weapon - and if they connect, they should always cause damage. However, hitting non-essential parts of the target might not be enough to bring them down immediately. I've scored kills with .50 cals at distances greater than 600 m, so I'm quite sure there is no distance threshold where they would become benign.

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600m definitely is no distance for the .50cal guns. But a few single hits will cause no real damage, if they don't hit anything vital. That hits from closer distance have more effect, however you see the same puffs as from larger distance, is because of the way it is visually modelled in game and the fact, that several hits at a small area won't create several puffs, but melt to on, so you won't see the difference.

The 0% damage might (apart of the mentioned possibility, that the hits were lost in the deep dark spaces of the internet) mean, that your hits don't have any effect on the aircraft, because of the point they hit it. A few small holes in the wing or the fuselage, has certainly less than 1% effect on the aircraft.

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According to uk law 2000 yards.

In joke at my rifle club. 1830m is the legal clearance distance off the back of a shooting range in the event of an overshoot etc. So the joke is that when the round reaches 2000 yards (1830m) it simply falls out of the sky.

 

In 2009 in afghanistan, corporal of horse craig harrison, of the blues and royals (a cavalry regiment of all things) used a .50 cal rifle to hit a two targets 2707 yards away (2475m) 

What the penetration is like at that range who knows but if you can kill two humans...

 

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those .50 cals are deadly.  The p-51 is one of the only planes that i don't take unlimited ammo in the career mode due to the fact that with one belt of ammo (no extended belts) you can score up to 10-15 kills before needing to turn home, though you do need to aim for the vital parts of the plane.  Try to aim for the cockpit and engine as one tap of the trigger usually kills the pilot/kills the engine/both. 

1 minute ago, Melonfish said:

According to uk law 2000 yards.

In joke at my rifle club. 1830m is the legal clearance distance off the back of a shooting range in the event of an overshoot etc. So the joke is that when the round reaches 2000 yards (1830m) it simply falls out of the sky.

 

In 2009 in afghanistan, corporal of horse craig harrison, of the blues and royals (a cavalry regiment of all things) used a .50 cal rifle to hit a two targets 2707 yards away (2475m) 

What the penetration is like at that range who knows but if you can kill two humans...

 

LMAO that's crazy. But who am I to argue with the laws of british bullet physics which indicate that bullets drop out of the air after 2000 yards.  I think this was molded in the newest ghost recon game (if you have seen the bullet drop in that you know what I'm talking about).  I know my local area has a 2 mile rule which is well over 2000 yards which is odd considering the far more relaxed gun regulations here.

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The plane I shot at was straight and level.  I dove in the first time and hit four or five times on the wings and rear fuselage from a 45 degree angle.  After he figured out what was happening, he stayed straight in a less than 5 degree dive (262, after all...).  The next shot, the one at 600m that didn't register, was evenly distributed  hits on the topside of the wings all landing between the two engines. 

 

I am going to chalk it up to packet loss.  Even if the plane didn't go down, the damage should have still registered in the server log. It's just weird I get worse ping to a server in North America (where I live)  than I get to servers on the other side of the world.  

 

3 hours ago, Melonfish said:

 

In 2009 in afghanistan, corporal of horse craig harrison, of the blues and royals (a cavalry regiment of all things) used a .50 cal rifle to hit a two targets 2707 yards away (2475m) 

What the penetration is like at that range who knows but if you can kill two humans...

 

 

IIRC, that shot actually hit a wall that the targets were hiding behind that was either made of cinder block or concrete.  The bullet exploded the wall material into the guys hiding behind it, killing them. That is one thing the .50 does quite well. It doesn't even have to be an explosive round. 

 

 

4 hours ago, Yogiflight said:

600m definitely is no distance for the .50cal guns. But a few single hits will cause no real damage, if they don't hit anything vital. That hits from closer distance have more effect, however you see the same puffs as from larger distance, is because of the way it is visually modelled in game and the fact, that several hits at a small area won't create several puffs, but melt to on, so you won't see the difference.

The 0% damage might (apart of the mentioned possibility, that the hits were lost in the deep dark spaces of the internet) mean, that your hits don't have any effect on the aircraft, because of the point they hit it. A few small holes in the wing or the fuselage, has certainly less than 1% effect on the aircraft.

 

I know there are extra conditions that apply to aerial gunnery that cause bullets to lose energy slightly faster than ground fire, but this statement is just wrong.

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3 hours ago, Melonfish said:

In 2009 in afghanistan, corporal of horse craig harrison, of the blues and royals (a cavalry regiment of all things) used a .50 cal rifle to hit a two targets 2707 yards away (2475m) 

What the penetration is like at that range who knows but if you can kill two humans...

 

 

Craig Harrison used a .338 caliber cartrigde for his AI-AWM sniper rifle to kill two men at a distance of 2,475 meters.

It was a Canadion sniper who had a .50 caliber TAC-50 sniper rifle to hit the target at 3,450 meters (!).

 

Besides that, the length of the cartridge and composition of the gunpowder must have been different of the long distance sniper rifle compared to the .50 guns on a WWII P-51.

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This happens quite a bit with German 20mm Ive found. Several times Ive watched 2-3 cannon rounds land directly on an enemy plane's nose followed by absolutely 0 engine damage. Since I'm mainly an SP player I try not to make a big deal out of it and since this game is so amazing in so many other aspects I just tend to tuck my chin and press on but over all I think there are some scenarios in game where damage just doesn't get calculated.

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35 minutes ago, Mobile_BBQ said:

I know there are extra conditions that apply to aerial gunnery that cause bullets to lose energy slightly faster than ground fire,

Yes that is right

35 minutes ago, Mobile_BBQ said:

but this statement is just wrong

What does my statement have to do with the first part of your sentence? I just wanted to say, that some holes somewhere in the wings or the fuselage don't have very much effect on how the aircraft flies. The difference when you hit from shorter distance is, even though you might see exactly the same picture, some black puffs of smoke, you most likely have hit the aircraft with many more bullets, because on shorter distance you have less spread and your convergence setting might fit better to the distance you shot at the aircraft. And therefore the effect on the aircraft will be higher.

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2 minutes ago, Yogiflight said:

Yes that is right

What does my statement have to do with the first part of your sentence? I just wanted to say, that some holes somewhere in the wings or the fuselage don't have very much effect on how the aircraft flies. The difference when you hit from shorter distance is, even though you might see exactly the same picture, some black puffs of smoke, you most likely have hit the aircraft with many more bullets, because on shorter distance you have less spread and your convergence setting might fit better to the distance you shot at the aircraft. And therefore the effect on the aircraft will be higher.

 

"600m is definitely no distance for the .50 cal".  🤣

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11 minutes ago, HerrBree said:

This happens quite a bit with German 20mm Ive found. Several times Ive watched 2-3 cannon rounds land directly on an enemy plane's nose followed by absolutely 0 engine damage. Since I'm mainly an SP player I try not to make a big deal out of it and since this game is so amazing in so many other aspects I just tend to tuck my chin and press on but over all I think there are some scenarios in game where damage just doesn't get calculated.

 

No, if that happens in SP it just means that you caused damage you did not see, insufficient to cause fire, obvious black smoke etc.  Damage is assessed according to a RNG: you have just been unlucky, like tossing tails three times in a row. This will happen very often if you play a lot. 

6 minutes ago, Mobile_BBQ said:

 

"600m is definitely no distance for the .50 cal".  🤣

 

Possible misunderstanding here?  I took that to mean that the 50 cal is still effective at 600m - which it should be, it will still have ~+80% of it's velocity at that range, more at altitude.

 

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6 minutes ago, unreasonable said:

 

No, if that happens in SP it just means that you caused damage you did not see, insufficient to cause fire, obvious black smoke etc.  Damage is assessed according to a RNG: you have just been unlucky, like tossing tails three times in a row. This will happen very often if you play a lot. 

Especially as damaging the parts outside of the engine block doesn't seem to be modelled. Only when you hit the engine cowling with an AP round, which will impact the engine, you might be able to cause an effect on it.

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30 minutes ago, Uufflakke said:

 

 

Besides that, the length of the cartridge and composition of the gunpowder must have been different of the long distance sniper rifle compared to the .50 guns on a WWII P-51.

 

While there more than likely have been improvements over time... The .50cal mini-ball - a muzzle loader - was known to accidentally hit and kill people over a mile away from American Civil War battlefields.  

 

I'm pretty sure that the .50 cals on the P-51 are similar, if not the same, as the ones mounted on top of today's convoy vehicles. Perhaps not as specialized as a sniper rifle, but probably the preferred way to attack an enemy position. 

Edited by Mobile_BBQ

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I shoot 50BMG out of rifles so I have some experience with the cartridge. I've also fired a few different 20mm, 25mm, 75mm and a few mortars (it pays to have friends and work for people that have Type 7 FFL 😉). I can tell you that you should be absolutely assured that the 50BMG cartridge contains nowhere near the damage potential of a cannon shell, irrespective of range. It is a serious cartridge in a rifle used against people or materials, but against large objects such as a plane or vehicles the placement of the hit is extremely vital. Pilot, fuel tanks, radiators, cylinder heads, etc are what i would imagine need to be hit to cause a real detriment. 

3 minutes ago, Mobile_BBQ said:

 

While there more than likely have been improvements over time... The .50cal mini-ball - a muzzle loader - was known to accidentally hit and kill people over a mile away from American Civil War battlefields.  

 

I'm pretty sure that the .50 cals on the P-51 are similar, if not the same, as the ones mounted on top of today's convoy vehicles. Perhaps not as specialized as a sniper rifle, but probably the preferred way to attack an enemy position. 

 

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6 minutes ago, Yogiflight said:

Especially as damaging the parts outside of the engine block doesn't seem to be modelled. Only when you hit the engine cowling with an AP round, which will impact the engine, you might be able to cause an effect on it.

 

No this is quite wrong.  I have tested LAA firing HE shells at aircraft for longer than I care to admit and I can state categorically that HE hits to the engine area or prop disc can cause engines to stop and/or engine fires. In fact for the P-47, unless there has been a DM update I did not notice, I can quantify this: a 20mm flak hit to the prop/engine area will cause the loss of the plane in 43% of hits.

Edited by unreasonable
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4 minutes ago, unreasonable said:

 

No this is quite wrong.  I have tested LAA firing HE shells at aircraft for longer than I care to admit and I can state categorically that HE hits to the engine area or prop disc can cause engines to stop and/or engine fires. In fact for the P-47, unless there has been a DM update I did not notice, I can quantify this: a 20mm flak hit to the prop/engine area will cause the loss of the plane in 43% of hits.

Good to know. Thanks for clarification.

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4 hours ago, Melonfish said:

What the penetration is like at that range who knows but if you can kill two humans..

 

Well the human body being the softest of targets, even a slowed down round is liable to make plenty damage. But as far as accuracy is concernd, pfewww, what a shot!

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26 minutes ago, III./JG7-MarkWilhelmsson said:

I shoot 50BMG out of rifles so I have some experience with the cartridge. I've also fired a few different 20mm, 25mm, 75mm and a few mortars (it pays to have friends and work for people that have Type 7 FFL 😉). I can tell you that you should be absolutely assured that the 50BMG cartridge contains nowhere near the damage potential of a cannon shell, irrespective of range. It is a serious cartridge in a rifle used against people or materials, but against large objects such as a plane or vehicles the placement of the hit is extremely vital. Pilot, fuel tanks, radiators, cylinder heads, etc are what i would imagine need to be hit to cause a real detriment. 

 

 

I get that it's not a cannon round.  The volume of hits I saw on the target should have at least forced him to have to RTB. I'm chalking it up to ping. Although I've been getting the impression lately that it's not just the game or packets that's making things like this happen...

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Shot placement is what matters and volume of fire. If only a few rounds hit non vital parts nothing serious will happen to the aircraft. An aircraft can certainly be brought down with a single .50 hit but only if it hits something vital like part of the engine or the pilot. Part of the reason the .50 is deadly in aerial combat is the amount of lead going down range, you got 100s of rounds per second flying towards the target, even if they don't hit vitals they will do some damage.

Don't expect a handful of rounds to do enough damage to bring an aircraft down unless you hit something vital. The less vital the hits the more rounds you'll need on target to bring it down.

 

As far as the lethality of the .50 ges, 600m is nothing even the .22LR remains lethal at 100s of yds if not more. .50 will remain lethal for 1000s of yds.

What matters is shot placement.

 

.50BMG compared to a .22LR. (50BMG on far left, .22 on far right.)

Rifle_cartridge_comparison.jpg

 

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It was most likely packet loss

I don’t think this game does ricochets if you were shooting at a flat angle and the .50s were glancing/deflecting, especially if you saw the “puffs”. War thunder had the same problem back when I played it were you could see large caliber rounds (mk103/108, 37mms, ect) “sparkle” upon hit which caused no damage, which iirc was caused by packet loss.  

 

Against aircraft in a tail chase 700m is gonna be the max range where you can effectively do damage. Head to head closure rates will let you open up at 1.3km. 

 

I see see people bring up 2000m shots irl against human targets but the guns in your wing are not a precision rifle shooting mk211 .50. 

 

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1 hour ago, Uufflakke said:

 

Besides that, the length of the cartridge and composition of the gunpowder must have been different of the long distance sniper rifle compared to the .50 guns on a WWII P-51.

Nope, pretty much the same round as when it first was invented, only thing that is different is powder composition due to the advancement in gunpowder since ww2.

(one of the reasons you shouldn't shoot new rounds in old guns, the powder is different and can cause damage to the firearm or to yourself. Dependant on the gun of course)

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10 minutes ago, Legioneod said:

Shot placement is what matters and volume of fire. If only a few rounds hit non vital parts nothing serious will happen to the aircraft. An aircraft can certainly be brought down with a single .50 hit but only if it hits something vital like part of the engine or the pilot. Part of the reason the .50 is deadly in aerial combat is the amount of lead going down range, you got 100s of rounds per second flying towards the target, even if they don't hit vitals they will do some damage.

Don't expect a handful of rounds to do enough damage to bring an aircraft down unless you hit something vital. The less vital the hits the more rounds you'll need on target to bring it down.

 

As far as the lethality of the .50 ges, 600m is nothing even the .22LR remains lethal at 100s of yds if not more. .50 will remain lethal for 1000s of yds.

What matters is shot placement.

 

.50BMG compared to a .22LR. (50BMG on far left, .22 on far right.)

Rifle_cartridge_comparison.jpg

 

 

Related image

Here we see the .50 cal round the Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun fired in relation to the rest of the armament used during WWII

Edited by JG7_X-Man
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I had a 109 that I put 56 hits into it from 50 cal on a p51 mission on Combat box.

I had him at my convergent at 300 and had strikes all over the fuselage cockpit and wings

He kept flying until I made another pass and Pked him.

it seems we have to get more hits on with 50 cals than other calibers, even though we have 6 fiftys

A one second burst should put enough rounds on target to get the kill  

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46 minutes ago, 69th_Panp said:

it seems we have to get more hits on with 50 cals than other calibers,

Seems being the important word here. 

 

46 minutes ago, 69th_Panp said:

A one second burst should put enough rounds on target to get the kill

If you hit it, at convergence, for the entire of that second. It's a weirdly long time... 

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2 hours ago, [_FLAPS_]Diggun said:

Seems being the important word here. 

 

If you hit it, at convergence, for the entire of that second. It's a weirdly long time... 

Not really 

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5 hours ago, Hajo_Garlic said:

It was most likely packet loss

I don’t think this game does ricochets if you were shooting at a flat angle and the .50s were glancing/deflecting, especially if you saw the “puffs”. 

 

 

Ricochet is modeled. Haven't you been strafing and seen your tracers bouncing off the target and ground? I've seen my MG bullets from an early 109 bouncing off of an IL2 (was out of cannon ammo)

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I’ve shot down a number of 109s and 190s at beyond 500 yards using the K-14 gunsight with a good tracking shot and a 1-2 second burst.  When you get a good burst ON TARGET, 6 x .50 will shred a fighter.  If you’re only landing one or two stray bullets here and there, you can easily waste a full ammo load on a single target.  Remember that the Mustang is directionally unstable ... if the ball isn’t centered you are almost certainly going to miss.

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I think the operative concept here are the differences between effective and max range of a the .50 cal. and convergence.

 

Back story: What we have here is another difference in ideology when it comes to weaponry. 

  

The US went with the machine gun because of its high rate of fire. The idea being the more rounds sent down range, the higher the probability of destruction of the aircraft. With the USAAF and USN starting the war in the PTO, the .50 cal was more than adequate to bring down the IJA/IJN zeros with their lightly armored designs and lacking self-sealing fuel tanks. However, the German build 109s and 190s over North Africa/Europe were a tad different and it took more rounds to bring them down. This means more time on target.

 

The RAF started out down the same path too with the .303 round but swiftly changed to the machine gun/cannon combination to all cannon solution because the lethality of higher caliber armament was clearly evident by the damage RAF aircraft were sustaining at the hands of the Luftwaffe.

 

The luftwaffe went with a combination of projectile weight and rate of fire (MG 151/20 was the primary weapon and the MG 17/MG 131 as secondary) 

 

The same is evident in the VVS with I-16 being retrofitted with 20mms to augment the .303s it had and so on.

 

Mathematically:

Lethality (F) can be calculated: F = W x V (where W = Weight of Fire in lbs/min and V = Muzzle Velocity in ft/sec)

The .50 cal M2 comes to 6.4 vs the 20mm M2 of 15.9.

Using numbers from Robert L. Shaws's Fighter Combat Tactics and Maneuvering (...someone here commented I don't do enough research - my wife got a laugh out of that by the way)

Thus:

The P-51D had a had a lethality of ≈38.4 (6x0.50 cal)

The Bf 109G (20mm) had a had a lethality of ≈28.7 (1x 20mm + 2x13mm)

 

What do these numbers mean to this conversation: In combat, If a P-51 has a Bf 109G-6 (20mm) in it's crosshairs within its correct convergence, the Bf 109G-6 should be damaged 1.3 times more than whatever the P-51D sustained the  Bf 109G-6. However, if Bf 109G-6 were to land a single hit of 20mm, it would cause 2.5 times more damage to the P-51D for every round that hit the Bf 109G-6. Note the main reason the Luftwaffe (Werner Mölders wanted a nose firing cannon to eliminate the need to worry about convergence for this exact reason).

 

So Mobile_BBQ, you were seeing the rounds hit, but they were probably doing minimal damage (mainly because the bandit was outside your convergence distance). If it were the other way around, a single 20mm hit would have caused more significant damage to your aircraft.

 

It is my opinion that if the USAAF had been fighting the Luftwaffe in '40 - '42 (early) the deficiencies of the .50 cal would have been evident much sooner. However, the USAAF had numbers - an advantage that was enough to overcome the inadequacies of the .50 cal round. Just like how on average it took three M4 Sherman tanks to kill one German Panzer III/IV tank - the solution, just produce more Sherman until a replacement came.

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combatbox.net/en/sortie/log/280406/?tour=16

 

This is the exact sortie. It happened exactly as I said.  First shot had multiple hits at 300m - the convergence I was using.  The second shot was around 600m with multiple hits and didn't register at all.  At a set convergence of 300m, 600m would be the range where the bullet spread would be exactly the same as if the convergence was set to straight ahead.  That's exactly the impacts that I saw.  Like I said, even if it wasn't enough to get the kill, it should have been enough to force him to go land.  I still have to chalk it up to ping.

 

If the 50.cal was so inadequate, I doubt that the F-86 would have been as effective at killing MiGs during the Korean War.  Considering the higher average speeds those planes flew at compared to WW2 prop planes, I'm sure that many of those kill shots were taken at longer ranges than what we have currently in-game.  Sure, getting can't-miss close was possible, and desirable, but was probably also easily countered by a competent pilot who was aware of the enemy. It surely wasn't as fast or easy to simply turn back onto an in-close firing solution once spoiled as it would be in a prop plane vs. prop plane encounter.  

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37 minutes ago, Mobile_BBQ said:

If the 50.cal was so inadequate, I doubt that the F-86 would have been as effective at killing MiGs during the Korean War. 

 

It of course wasn't inadequate, and did the job until the modern 20mm cannons arrived.

P-51B/C's were tearing up 109's with 4x.50 cals, never-mind when 6 arrived on the D and 8 on the Jugs.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, III./JG7-MarkWilhelmsson said:

 

Ricochet is modeled. Haven't you been strafing and seen your tracers bouncing off the target and ground? I've seen my MG bullets from an early 109 bouncing off of an IL2 (was out of cannon ammo)

Yes, but I never noticed projectiles ricocheting off aircraft.  

Guess I should have expected it to be modeled given it is when ground attacking and with tank crew, but I wasn’t sure.

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32 minutes ago, Gambit21 said:

 

It of course wasn't inadequate, and did the job until the modern 20mm cannons arrived.

P-51B/C's were tearing up 109's with 4x.50 cals, never-mind when 6 arrived on the D and 8 on the Jugs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was responding to X-Man's post above mine.  I just didn't quote his post.   

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Just now, Mobile_BBQ said:

 

I was responding to X-Man's post above mine.  I just didn't quote his post.   

 

I know.

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1 hour ago, Mobile_BBQ said:

...If the 50.cal was so inadequate, I doubt that the F-86 would have been as effective at killing MiGs during the Korean War. 

Granted the 20mm/30mm rounds today are only similar in relative dimension to the one used in WWII, there is a reason a single cannon is used today.

which mean the German weapon engineers got it right!

 

Back to your story

Quote

First shot had multiple hits at 300m - the convergence I was using.

 

At this point all six guns were trained on the fighter for however long it was in your sights. Cool, nothing to dispute there. Here is where you get the max lethality for your guns 

 

Quote

At a set convergence of 300m, 600m would be the range where the bullet spread would be exactly the same as if the convergence was set to straight ahead

 

Here is where I politely disagree with you and suggest your expectations did not match the outcome because your expectations were flawed. The error lies with your understanding of what convergence means. 

 

Graph:

GRAPH #2 Shows what happens to the horizontal trajectory of your rounds. If we assume the guns below were set to 300M, the max lethal spot on the graph would be between 1000 and 1200 feet area. Further out, dispersion starts to occur, just like in close ranges. Notice at 2000 ft, there are no rounds hitting the target in your line of sight. GRAPH #1 is better read from right to left showing the arc of your rounds (vertical trajectory). GRAPH #3 is a visual of what's happening in the vertical and horizontal. 

So you see at 600M, which is where 2000ft is, you are getting sporating hits at the wing tip at best (i.e nothing to force a landing in my opinion).

 

Explanation:

The wing guns in fighters were typically not bore-sighted to point straight ahead; instead they were aimed slightly inward so that the projectiles met at one or more areas several hundred yards or metres in front of the fighter's nose. The intent was either to spread the fire of multiple weapons to increase the chance of a hit, called "pattern harmonisation", or to concentrate the fire to deliver greater damage at one point, called "point harmonisation".

A drawback of harmonisation was that guns worked effectively in a limited zone, so targets closer or farther away from the zone were not damaged as much, or were completely missed. The rounds would diverge further apart after passing through the convergence point.

 

Image result for gun convergence P-51D

 

 

 

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I once hit a Yak with my Ju87 37mm from over 1km, the bullet bounced off. 😂

Edited by MeoW.Scharfi

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5 hours ago, JG7_X-Man said:

I think the operative concept here are the differences between effective and max range of a the .50 cal. and convergence.

 

Back story: What we have here is another difference in ideology when it comes to weaponry. 

  

The US went with the machine gun because of its high rate of fire. The idea being the more rounds sent down range, the higher the probability of destruction of the aircraft. With the USAAF and USN starting the war in the PTO, the .50 cal was more than adequate to bring down the IJA/IJN zeros with their lightly armored designs and lacking self-sealing fuel tanks. However, the German build 109s and 190s over North Africa/Europe were a tad different and it took more rounds to bring them down. This means more time on target.

 

The RAF started out down the same path too with the .303 round but swiftly changed to the machine gun/cannon combination to all cannon solution because the lethality of higher caliber armament was clearly evident by the damage RAF aircraft were sustaining at the hands of the Luftwaffe.

 

The luftwaffe went with a combination of projectile weight and rate of fire (MG 151/20 was the primary weapon and the MG 17/MG 131 as secondary) 

 

The same is evident in the VVS with I-16 being retrofitted with 20mms to augment the .303s it had and so on.

 

Mathematically:

Lethality (F) can be calculated: F = W x V (where W = Weight of Fire in lbs/min and V = Muzzle Velocity in ft/sec)

The .50 cal M2 comes to 6.4 vs the 20mm M2 of 15.9.

Using numbers from Robert L. Shaws's Fighter Combat Tactics and Maneuvering (...someone here commented I don't do enough research - my wife got a laugh out of that by the way)

Thus:

The P-51D had a had a lethality of ≈38.4 (6x0.50 cal)

The Bf 109G (20mm) had a had a lethality of ≈28.7 (1x 20mm + 2x13mm)

 

What do these numbers mean to this conversation: In combat, If a P-51 has a Bf 109G-6 (20mm) in it's crosshairs within its correct convergence, the Bf 109G-6 should be damaged 1.3 times more than whatever the P-51D sustained the  Bf 109G-6. However, if Bf 109G-6 were to land a single hit of 20mm, it would cause 2.5 times more damage to the P-51D for every round that hit the Bf 109G-6. Note the main reason the Luftwaffe (Werner Mölders wanted a nose firing cannon to eliminate the need to worry about convergence for this exact reason).

 

So Mobile_BBQ, you were seeing the rounds hit, but they were probably doing minimal damage (mainly because the bandit was outside your convergence distance). If it were the other way around, a single 20mm hit would have caused more significant damage to your aircraft.

 

It is my opinion that if the USAAF had been fighting the Luftwaffe in '40 - '42 (early) the deficiencies of the .50 cal would have been evident much sooner. However, the USAAF had numbers - an advantage that was enough to overcome the inadequacies of the .50 cal round. Just like how on average it took three M4 Sherman tanks to kill one German Panzer III/IV tank - the solution, just produce more Sherman until a replacement came.

 

Good post, agree 95%,  but if the 109 has mineshells in every other 20mm slot, it will have almost exactly the same total energy per second in it's output as the 6 .50 cals.  Since you do not explicitly state how you are including the CE of HE shells in your lethality formula, I cannot say exactly why we get a different result. With a generic HE shell I get a 1.2 advantage for the P-51D.  If there is anything wrong with this table I will correct it.

 

 

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I think the US did understand the shortcomings of the 50 cal early, as they attempted to build Hispanos under licence, but they made such a pig's ear of it for so long (not invented here), so they had little choice.  If the RAF had 50 cals on it's planes during the BoB it would certainly have shot down a few more planes, but they would still have found wrecks of He111s perforated with holes, most of which had no effect.    

 

 

Edited by unreasonable
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From the people i have talked to who flew the p-51s said it really didn't take much to take down the 109s or 190s.  These were Tuskegee airmen so they did have much more training than the average airmen meaning that they were a bit more accurate, but from the accounts that i had heard all it took was "one or two squirts" to take them down.  (for those of you who don't know what that means a few taps of the trigger less than a second long)  It was all about precision.  This was the case for all combat.  I remember watching an interview with Erich Hartman talking about how he tried to get as close as possible which meant ammo was not wasted and all bullets hit vital parts of the aircraft.  But from looking at the wonderful description given by JG7_X-Man when being accurate the p-51 had more legality given that the bullets hit. 

 

Also when looking at the training manuals and videos, the p51 was really designed to make its shots at around 300 yards and to mostly be a harassing aircraft meant to get the fighters off of the bombers, which doesn't always mean killing, but scaring them away.  A lot of the times being the fighter when escorting the bomber meant endurance which it has.  It has enough ammo to last a while having external tanks and having the better performance at the altitude of the bombers.  So long as the bombers got on target, the generals were happy. 

 

One thing I will say is that i think the OP's issue is packet loss because i have seen this happen as well, but only in multiplayer.  In single player the 50 cals do a ton of damage, but in multiplayer even when fighting the bots that some servers have, the 50s don't seem to do as much damage as they should which to me suggests that the 50s aren't the problem. but rather the server.

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3 hours ago, zdog0331 said:

from the accounts that i had heard all it took was "one or two squirts" to take them down. 

 

It only took one or two squirts for a pilot/gunner to think he'd shot something down.

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