Military Wiki
Vickers S
Service history
Used by Royal Air Force
Wars Second World War
Production history
Produced 1942
Variants Mk 1, Mk 2
Weight 320 lb (134 kg)
Length 9 ft 9 inches (2.97 m)
Barrel length 1.70 m

Cartridge weight 4 lb
Calibre 40 mm
Rate of fire 100 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 1,870 ft/s with 3lb shot
Feed system 12-round drum
later 15 rounds

The Vickers Class "S" was a 40 mm (1.57 in) cannon used to arm British aircraft for attacking ground targets in the Second World War.


The Vickers Class "S" 40 mm (1.57 in) gun was developed in the late 1930s as an aircraft weapon. The ammunition was based on the 40x158R cartridge case of the naval 2 pdr Anti-aircraft gun (the "Pom-pom"). The weapon was a long-recoil design derived from the 37 mm 1½pdr "COW gun" from Coventry Ordnance Works.The gun was originally intended as a bomber defensive weapon and was tested as such in a turret fitted to a modified Vickers Wellington II. This was not adopted for service, but when the need to attack tanks from the air was identified, the "S" gun was chosen and special armour-piercing ammunition developed.[1]

Combat history

A Mark IID Hurricane of 6 Squadron at Shandur, Egypt (1942)

Two underwing guns, mounted one beneath each wing panel each in conformal underwing gun pods, were fitted to Hawker Hurricane IID fighters which were issued to No. 6 Squadron RAF. They served in North Africa from mid-1942 where they achieved considerable success; claims included 148 tanks hit, of which 47 were destroyed, plus nearly 200 other vehicles. However, they suffered heavy losses, mainly to ground fire (the Hurricanes were poorly protected) and also lacked effectiveness against the Tiger tank. In 1944, the aircraft served in the Far East, mainly firing HE ammunition against road and river transports.

Tests in the Far East showed a high level of accuracy, with an average of 25% of shots fired at tanks striking the target. Attacks with HE were twice as accurate as with AP, possibly because the ballistics were a closer match to the .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns used for sighting (the HE shell was lighter and was fired at a higher velocity). By comparison, the practice strike rate of the 60 pdr RPs (rocket projectiles) fired by fighter-bombers was only 5% against tank-sized targets.

See also


  1. Wallace, G.F. (1972). "10, The 40mm Guns". The Guns of the Royal Air Force 1939-1945. London: William Kimber. ISBN 0-7183-0362-8. 

External links

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