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Aerial cannon

Flying Sorcerer

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Thank you very much. Greatly enjoy your books BTW - just got the one on panic fighters!
 

elmayerle

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I can highly recommend Rapid Fire which Justo suggested. I have it and find it an excellent read and resource.
 

gatoraptor

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Whatever you do, do NOT get "Firepower" from Schiffer Publishing. Probably the worst aviation-related book that I ever owned (and not for long!).
 

Tony Williams

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Whatever you do, do NOT get "Firepower" from Schiffer Publishing. Probably the worst aviation-related book that I ever owned (and not for long!).
Yes. "Firepower" emerged shortly before my book "Rapid Fire" was published, so I sent off for a copy to check that it didn't make my book redundant. I needn't have worried. I did write a long review of it at the time, but it can be summed up in two words: "don't bother". It did have one good consequence, however: it prompted me to contact Emmanuel Gustin and suggest that we write a proper history of aircraft guns and their installations, which eventually emerged as the "Flying Guns" trilogy: WW1, WW2 and The Modern Era.

I am currently working on what started as an updated version of "Rapid Fire", and has become a rather lengthy study of automatic cannon and their ammunition, 20mm to 57mm calibre, including many experimental systems. It might emerge next year, if I can get around to finishing it....
 

Pasoleati

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I wish someone reprinted in good quality Chinn's Machine Gun.
 

Tony Williams

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Chinn is one of the basic essentials for anyone interested in machine guns and automatic cannon. However, it is patchy in its coverage (e.g. has a whole chapter on the 57mm Molins aircraft gun which only saw RAF service in small numbers, while scarcely mentioning the important USN 1.1 inch AA system), contains many errors and omissions, is badly out of date (no Russian guns mentioned beyond the 1950s), and says little about ammunition. I gather it is available on CD.

If you are interested in cannon ammo, an essential read is "Historical Development Summary of Automatic Cannon Caliber Ammunition: 20-30 Millimeter", by Dale Davis of the Munitions Division of the Air Force Armament Laboratory, published 1984 and covering the period 1952-1983. It only covers US developments and focuses on aircraft gun ammo, but it is incredibly detailed (lots of experimentals) and authoritative.
 

Pasoleati

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Availability of the Davis book? As for Chinn, e.g. the 20 mm ShVAK description in Chinn was far more detailed than either in Rapid Fire or Flying Guns 2. I was somewhat disappointed at the Flying Guns 2 for I had hoped substantially greater technical detail and discussion/analysis on reliability e.g. ShVAK vs. Hispano vs. MG 151. Likewise coverage of turrets and their mechanisms was inadequate.
 

Tony Williams

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Well, all five volumes of Chinn total nearly 3,000 pages, compared with just under 300 pages for Rapid Fire, and 350 pages for Flying Guns WW2 (the other two FG volumes total 400 pages, so that's 750 overall). So you would expect far more technical detail in Chinn. Furthermore, my books are as much about installations and use (especially in FG) as they are about the guns themselves - Chinn is weakest of all in this respect, saying little about installations, and that often wrong. There is also a lot more about ammunition in my books - a critical aspect of gun performance, but often ignored.

Chinn is actually the only source I know of for the technical detail of many of the guns he describes, but there would be no point in just copying all that - even if I could make the space available.

Comparative evaluations of different weapons, in terms of their performance and reliability, are extremely hard to come by. One of the few examples I know of concerns the WW2 20mm Hispano vs the .50" Browning aircraft guns (the Browning was three times better, at one failure every 4,500 rounds cf 1,500 for the Hispano). That's about it...

If you want detail on Russian guns then the go-to book, without any doubt, is Chris Koll's "Soviet Cannon" which deals in great detail with all Soviet automatic weapons and their ammunition, from 12.7 mm to 57 mm. It is the final word on that subject, and is absolutely superb.

I don't know about availability of the Davis book - I have only seen photocopies.
 

DWG

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Pasoleati

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Yes, but 65 euros for a computer file is exactly 65 euros too much. Either a real book or nothing.
 

Tony Williams

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Yes, but 65 euros for a computer file is exactly 65 euros too much. Either a real book or nothing.
Your loss.....

The real books very rarely appear for sale, because not many were printed and those who have a copy hang onto it. Expect to pay many multiples of 65 euros for any that escape captivity.
 

Pasoleati

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If it is not the paper I am paying for, then why not reprint the book? Today the cost of small print runs are considerably lower than 30 years ago.
 

CJGibson

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Please point me in the direction of this cheap printer. I haven't contracted the attack helicopter job yet.

Thanks

Chris
 

Pasoleati

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Chris, I read about these topics purely for pleasure, i.e. I don't need them as references for writing etc. And this means that to derive pleasure from reading the text platform must also be pleasing. And computer screen in any form is never pleasing. Neither is a stack of unbound papers. In other words, a pleasing text platform is only either a book or a magazine, nothing else fits the bill.

As for a particular printing house, one recent Finnish military history book in 200 mm x 270 mm format, 600 pages, weight over 2 kg, hardbound and a price of 40 euros was printed in Latvia by Jelgava Printing House.
 

Arjen

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How many books in that print run? 40 euros as retail price? What is the author's share? What is the publisher's share? How much for distribution?
 

Pasoleati

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40 euros retail. I can try to ask the author/publisher about the print run. He sells direct, via some distributors (they charge more) and via veterans' societies.
 

CJGibson

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Why not contact Mr Koll, pointing out that he can get his cannon book reprinted for next to nowt and suggest he does that.

Chris
 

Pasoleati

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Please define "next to nothing". If he could afford to 1st research the book and then have it printed as a proper book that obviously sold well enough to run out of print, then reprinting it should not be that difficult.
 

DanielStarseer

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I have always seen benefits to both sides: books have always been the "gentlemanly" way to enrich one's home library and ability to research favorite subjects, but digital print allows so many of these now to be taken along on long trips and read at your leisure anywhere in the world.
I'm not thankful enough that so many favorite printed tomes have migrated to digital format like Kindle: I wish more authors would take interest in doing such.... justifiably, at a fair price: we ARE still paying for their years of research (and for many authors, their livelihood),
or in the case of others, hopes that, via digital print, they will be encouraged to further revise future editions as newer and more accurate information becomes available.

One aspect of digital print that has both a plus and a minus, is in allowing zoom-in of many photos. Sometimes "too zoomed in" leads to blurred detail we wish we could see better, but nonetheless, digital print still allows it, while hard copy books are as-is. Maybe of us older gents recall years of perusing encyclopedias with a magnifying glass looking at favorite photos, which now (depending on original source material) can be more readily expanded.

So respect out to both digital and hard print authors: your works are greatly appreciated, regardless of the format.
 

marauder2048

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I would think the big advantage of digital versions would be that the authors could include all of the archival material
upon which they've (almost wholly) relied. And having English language translations of German, Russian, French etc.
archival material would be a huge boon.
 

Tony Williams

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I would think the big advantage of digital versions would be that the authors could include all of the archival material
upon which they've (almost wholly) relied. And having English language translations of German, Russian, French etc.
archival material would be a huge boon.

No doubt, but my mind boggles at the thought of including the vast quantities of archival material I've perused over the 20+ years of reading since Rapid Fire was published. Just listing it all would be a mammoth task (a major research project of its own), let alone including the content, let alone getting everything translated into English.
 

marauder2048

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I would think the big advantage of digital versions would be that the authors could include all of the archival material
upon which they've (almost wholly) relied. And having English language translations of German, Russian, French etc.
archival material would be a huge boon.

No doubt, but my mind boggles at the thought of including the vast quantities of archival material I've perused over the 20+ years of reading since Rapid Fire was published. Just listing it all would be a mammoth task (a major research project of its own), let alone including the content, let alone getting everything translated into English.

I seem to recall 'Rapid Fire' not having much in the way of footnotes or inline citations to begin with.
 

Tony Williams

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I seem to recall 'Rapid Fire' not having much in the way of footnotes or inline citations to begin with.
No footnotes, just five pages listing source material. Come to think of it, Chinn doesn't have much either - just a 2.5 page Bibliography in Volume 1 and nothing in the others, although he does include a huge list of patents in Vol 5.

I will probably include even less in the way of sources in my new cannon book - I will focus on listing the really worthwhile texts with a lot more info on specific subjects.

An author has to decide what the Sources are for. In an academic work, every item of information should be sourced, resulting in extensive footnotes, or end-notes, which can get in the way of reading the text. I don't write academic books, my target audience is not professional gun or ammo designers but non-specialists who want to find out more about the subject. Listing a huge number of sources doesn't help much, but pointers to further reading might be useful.
 

EwenS

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I would think the big advantage of digital versions would be that the authors could include all of the archival material
upon which they've (almost wholly) relied. And having English language translations of German, Russian, French etc.
archival material would be a huge boon.

No doubt, but my mind boggles at the thought of including the vast quantities of archival material I've perused over the 20+ years of reading since Rapid Fire was published. Just listing it all would be a mammoth task (a major research project of its own), let alone including the content, let alone getting everything translated into English.


Let alone the costs of said translation and costs of sorting any copyright issues before going to publication. And someone is grumbling about the cost of electronic versions already!
 

Pasoleati

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Footnotes/endnotes should be there. First, it allows the reader to ponder the veracity of the text. In some books the author states "according to some sources" /"according to other sources" without identifying any of those, thus denying the reader vital information.

Second, it generally shows that the author is confident enough of his research.

Third, I have never understood the claim of "getting in the way of reading". Usually such claims are made by people who really should stick to novels, not serious non-fiction.
 

marauder2048

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Footnotes/endnotes should be there. First, it allows the reader to ponder the veracity of the text. In some books the author states "according to some sources" /"according to other sources" without identifying any of those, thus denying the reader vital information.

Second, it generally shows that the author is confident enough of his research.

Third, I have never understood the claim of "getting in the way of reading". Usually such claims are made by people who really should stick to novels, not serious non-fiction.

100% agree. Heavy reliance on archival material means it's vitally import to identify where the author is drawing inferences
and inserting his own analysis vs. what's actually in the documents.

If you are using analytical or computational models for estimating or corroborating gun performance data that's different.
 

marauder2048

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I seem to recall 'Rapid Fire' not having much in the way of footnotes or inline citations to begin with.
No footnotes, just five pages listing source material. Come to think of it, Chinn doesn't have much either - just a 2.5 page Bibliography in Volume 1 and nothing in the others, although he does include a huge list of patents in Vol 5.

I will probably include even less in the way of sources in my new cannon book - I will focus on listing the really worthwhile texts with a lot more info on specific subjects.

An author has to decide what the Sources are for. In an academic work, every item of information should be sourced, resulting in extensive footnotes, or end-notes, which can get in the way of reading the text. I don't write academic books, my target audience is not professional gun or ammo designers but non-specialists who want to find out more about the subject. Listing a huge number of sources doesn't help much, but pointers to further reading might be useful.


I don't think I've even seen an author of a technical, archive dependent book defend it by self-labeling his book as unscholarly.
 
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