Air Weapons: Gunships And Ancient 40mm Greek Treasure


January 31, 2013: Although the U.S. Air Force is replacing the 40mm cannon in its AC-130 gunships with 30mm autocannon and missiles, it was faced with the prospect of these M2A1 40mm weapons being retired earlier because the supply of spare parts had been exhausted. Then, a U.S. Army officer who had been a liaison officer to the Greek Army let the U.S. Air Force know that the Greeks had recently (2005) retired their half century old M2A1 anti-aircraft cannon and still held a supply of spare parts. These actually belonged to the U.S., as the M2A1s and the spares were given to the Greeks in the 1950s as foreign aid. An air force officer was sent to Greece, found and inspected the spares, and made arrangements to ship them back to the United States. All this cost less than $15,000. The parts consisted of 139 barrels, five breech rings, and several other spares that would cost, if manufactured today, over $14 million. This was sufficient to keep the air force M2A1s working until they reached the scheduled retirement over the next decade.

The M2A1 is based on the Swedish World War II Borfors design. Each M2A1 weighs a ton and has a 2.34 meter (7.25 foot) long barrel and fires 40mm rounds at 903 meters (2,800 feet) per second. Max range is 7,000 meters. On the AC-130 rounds are fired one at a time, but the M2A1 can fire 240 rounds a minute in automatic mode. The automatic loader holds seven rounds.  Each high-explosive 40mm round weighs 2.15 kg (4.75 pounds) and includes a 900 gram (two pound) projectile.


Article Archive

Air Weapons: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close