Gun camera footage from a Spitfire Mk I fighter of No. 609 Squadron RAF, showing its tracer ammunition hitting a German He III aircraft over Filton, Bristol, England, United Kingdom, 25 Sep 1940

Caption   Gun camera footage from a Spitfire Mk I fighter of No. 609 Squadron RAF, showing its tracer ammunition hitting a German He III aircraft over Filton, Bristol, England, United Kingdom, 25 Sep 1940 ww2dbase
Source    ww2dbaseImperial War Museum
Identification Code   4700-16 CH 1823
More on...   
He 111 Doppel-Blitz   Main article  Photos  
Battle of Britain   Main article  Photos  Maps  
Added By C. Peter Chen
Added Date 20 Jun 2010
Licensing  Crown Copyright / Public Domain. According to the Crown Copyright laws of the United Kingdom, copyright protection has expired for photographs created prior to 1 Jun 1957.



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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
30 Sep 2011 08:40:24 PM

EAT LEAD!

Flight Lt. J.H.C. McArthur of 609 Squardon getting hits on the He-111s starboard quarter

The Spitfire was armed w/eight .303 caliber
machine guns w/2400 rounds total that's 300 rounds per gun giving the pilot about 20 seconds of firing time. Make every round count short bursts.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
1 Oct 2011 06:49:37 PM

The Spitfire Mk.1, was armed w/eight .303 Browning machine guns w/300 rounds per gun
total load of 2400 rounds, that's about 20 seconds firing time.
Pilots had their Spit loaded w/ball ammo in four guns, w/AP ammo in two guns, and two guns w/incendiry. The last 20 or 25 rounds were tracer, to let the pilot know he was running out of ammo.

The pilot could correct his firing w/tracers
that would leave a visible path toward the target. At altitude all types of ammunition
ball, tracer and AP would leave a visible spiral twist as the bullets spins toward the target.
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
24 Sep 2016 03:18:58 PM

EAT LEAD! TALLY HO!

Flight Lt. J.H.C. McArthur of 609 Squadron getting hits on the He-111's starboard quarter, during the Battle of Britain 1940

SHOOTING GALLERY:

At times, air combat was fought in minutes or even in seconds. Short bursts were used against targets, to conserve ammo.

HARMONIZATION:

RAF pilots would sight their 8 x .303 machine guns into a deadly cone of bullets this is called harmonization so all the bullets are hitting the target in the smallest space possible to create the most damage.

SHORT BURSTS:

The Spitfire was armed with 8 x .303 machine guns with 300 rounds per gun, or 2400 rounds of ammo giving the pilot 20 seconds of firing time.

MIX AND MATCH:

RAF pilots would arm their
fighters with ball ammo in four guns, a/p ammo in two guns, two guns with incendiary ammo with the last 20 or 25 rounds loaded with tracer, to let the pilot know he was running out of ammo.

Other pilots would have the armorers mix the ammo with ball, a/p, incendiary and tracer...

DAMAGE CONTROL:

Aircraft aluminum is a soft metal, and bullets can penetrate the enemy aircraft's fuselage, wings and tail with little problem, sometimes going through the aircraft, without hitting crew or equipment, on the other hand those same bullets can hit control cables, fuel and oil lines, hitting the engines, causing fire or kill and wound the crew.
Gunner's aboard the He-111 were armed with hand held 7.92mm machine guns, that used a 75 round saddle drum magazine giving a firing time of 4.7 seconds and then reload not an east task to do during battle, not to mention jams or over heating.
Another danger was from bullets that ricochet around inside the aircraft after hitting vital equipment.

At altitude its cold and all bullets spin leaving a visible trail, besides tracer ammo...

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