OV-10's gun pod

Speedy

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Hi
(sorry for my english)

This picture is from Squadron Signal publications "OV-10 Bronco In Action" (No.154)

[image gone - Admin]

What ist this white gunpod under central hardpoint? The description under the photo say that's GPU-2. I think it's a mistake, because AFAIK the GPU-2 is a pod with 3-barrel M197 Gatling gun and looks quite different. So what is this?

(If it isn't correct forum for this question - sorry, I don't khow where I can post this, there's no forum about aircraft armament projects, excluding missiles. I have also some question about cluster bombs - in which part of forum can I write it?)
 
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Apophenia

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Hi Speedy,

You are right, the GE M197 is a three-barreled version of the M61 Vulcan.

Since this is a Vietnam War-era photograph, I'm wondering if the pod might be the Hughes 20mm Mark 4. Does any know if this was a single-barreled weapon?
 

Speedy

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Hi
(sorry for my English)

AFAIK Mk.4 gunpod contain a very unusual gun, Hughes Mk.11 two-barrel revolver weapon. And looks different that this. Here's a China Lake photo (from Wikipedia):

Maybe it is non-US weapon? I try to find any similar European gun, but I can't. I know that USAF experimented with French 30 mm DEFA gun pod for A-37, but this gun also isn't very similar to DEFA.

It could be single-barrel revolver (the round part of pod would be drum cover), but also could be any single barrel weapon (the round part would be cover of ammo box or anything)...
 

Berekhat

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It's a doozy. I distinctly remember seeing this pod in a photo in a Vietnam book I have, and not thinking much of it, and other Bronco photos on the web have it as well, but only ever referenced as "20 mm gun pod"


Has about 10 pages of Bronco stuff. Page 8 has this:

"sometimes a 20mm pod (which KP had built at China Lake on his second tour there" referring to K.P. Rice, one of the designers.

As the original concept was for a lighter aircraft, it would make sense that a smaller gunpod would be a good idea. Also, the Marines were restricted in what loads they could carry, so perhaps they never got permission from the Airforce to use standard gunpods. One of the two other pics with this pod was a Moroccan Bronco, and these were all Ex-marine, yes? So, probably a Marines only gunpod used only on the Bronco, but no site, even http://www.ov-10bronco.net/OBA/ mentions it at all.
 

Sentinel Chicken

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I don't think the Marines were under any restrictions on what sort of weapons the Bronco could carry. The Army, however, did get the ire of the USAF by arming its OV-1 Mohawks during Vietnam.
 

REMOV

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Speedy said:
AFAIK Mk.4 gunpod contain a very unusual gun, Hughes Mk.11 two-barrel revolver weapon (...) Maybe it is non-US weapon? I try to find any similar European gun, but I can't.
Ekhm, Speedy, just take a look to the Chinn's "The Machine Gun" vol.3 parts 8/9 from p.160 ;)
 

Rickshaw

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Sentinel Chicken said:
I don't think the Marines were under any restrictions on what sort of weapons the Bronco could carry. The Army, however, did get the ire of the USAF by arming its OV-1 Mohawks during Vietnam.

IIRC, the army never operated the OV-10, it was purely a USAF/USMC machine, wasn't it?
 

Speedy

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Hi

rickshaw said:
IIRC, the army never operated the OV-10, it was purely a USAF/USMC machine, wasn't it?

Yes, in US military forces OV-10 was used by USAF, USMC and US Navy. US Army use OV-1 mentioned above.

According to gun pod, I send e-mail to Mr. K.P.Rice and this is his answer:

[quote author=K.P.Rice]
Speedy== True I built a gun pod for the OV10 but can't remember the designation. A single barrel with an A4 gun in it. Nof very streamlined, in fact blunt at the rear. Held about 200 rounds more or less.

You might try the public information officer at the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake CA Best KP[/quote]

(I think "A4 gun" mean "a gun taken from A4 Skyhawk" so it was Colt Mk.12; also original A4's ammo box contain 200 rounds)
 

GTX

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Speaking of Bronco guns, I recently stumbled across this proposal for a recoilless rifle armed variant:

ov-10-recoilless-rifle.jpg


Regards,

Greg
 

rdgreenwood

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I know I'm really late getting into this discussion, but that's because I hadn't seen the site before. The OV-10 was flown by the Navy carrying a Mk 4 Gun Pod, manufactured by Hughes Tool Co (later Hughes Helicopter). In the Mekong Delta, VAL-4 (VAL means "light attack") out of Binh Thuy, which is near Can Tho. The gun pod in the photo is definitely not a Mk 4. The Mk 4 was considerably longer, and bigger around and had a blast suppressor on the nose. (BTW the photo of the A4 with three Mk 4s was taken at China Lake before the blast suppressor was significantly changed, so I would date it around 1963 or earlier.) By the time the time the Mk 4 went into full-scale production, in the fall of 1965, its suppressor had been changed.

I was a Mk 4 tech rep for Hughes and served 18 months in RVN. I spent roughly a year with MAG-11 in DaNang and six months with MAG-13 in Chu Lai. I also spent two weeks with VAL-4 and got to fly one combat mission with them so I could see the gun pod in action.

For some reason--probably because the Mk 4 was a maintenance dog--the Mk 4 has completely disappeared from most records of aircraft armament. It was qualified for the A4, A6, A7, F4, and OV10, but was little used on the A6 (I don't think it ever saw combat on the A6) and the A7. I have lots of photos of F4 and OV10 installations it anyone is interested.
 

Tailspin Turtle

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Picture, 1000 words, etc. The caption that I wrote for this was: The Mk 4 gun pod was developed to augment strafing capability when desired. It contained a Mark 11 20mm gun that was self-powered and twin-barrelled. A maximum load of ammunition was 750 rounds, which could be fired at a maximum rate of almost 70 rounds per second. Development tests were completed in 1963. It appears to have been rarely used by carrier-based airplanes, reportedly because it was unreliable.
 

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rdgreenwood

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Wow! That photo's really old, probably from the first qualifying tests at China Lake. I say that because it has a blast suppressor on it that even I've never seen, and I thought I'd seen them all. I started to question if it really was a Mk 4, but the length and diameter remove any doubts; plus, the distance between the barrels is in keeping with the Mk 11's dimensions.

I think it's an overstatement to say the Mk 4 was "rarely used by carrier-based airplanes" as I was assigned to NAS Lemore (I can't remember if it's one "o" or two.) before going to Vietnam, and they used it from the carrier both in training and when deployed. I think they were CAG-15. As for the system being unreliable, I have to agree that there were problems, but I also know that with the proper maintenance it was a formidable weapon. The Marines certainly didn't have that many problems with the weapon; then again, the Marines have a tradition of taking what the Navy gives them and making it work.
 

Tailspin Turtle

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rdgreenwood said:
I think it's an overstatement to say the Mk 4 was "rarely used by carrier-based airplanes" as I was assigned to NAS Lemore (I can't remember if it's one "o" or two.) before going to Vietnam, and they used it from the carrier both in training and when deployed. I think they were CAG-15. As for the system being unreliable, I have to agree that there were problems, but I also know that with the proper maintenance it was a formidable weapon. The Marines certainly didn't have that many problems with the weapon; then again, the Marines have a tradition of taking what the Navy gives them and making it work.
I don't remember where I got that "fact" but it seemed plausible, since I've seen a lot of pictures of Vietnam deployed carrier aircraft and don't think I've seen the gun pod but once on an A-4 (http://www.skyhawk.org/5e/g151022/html/151176c.htm) although there are also reports of it being loaded from time to time on Phantoms. (http://www.tomcat-sunset.org/forums/index.php?topic=2816.45;wap2) However, I did read that the OV-10 crowd used it with greater frequency and enthusiasm. The pictures are probably from Hughes testing circa 1958.
 

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rdgreenwood

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I don't remember where I got that "fact" but it seemed plausible, since I've seen a lot of pictures of Vietnam deployed carrier aircraft and don't think I've seen the gun pod but once on an A-4 (http://www.skyhawk.org/5e/g151022/html/151176c.htm) although there are also reports of it being loaded from time to time on Phantoms. (http://www.tomcat-sunset.org/forums/index.php?topic=2816.45;wap2) However, I did read that the OV-10 crowd used it with greater frequency and enthusiasm. The pictures are probably from Hughes testing circa 1958.
I really don't want to get into a contentious discussion, and I'm over 40 years past any sense of needing to defend Hughes or the Mk4, but your "facts" are really skewed. What I'd like to do is set the record straight. The Mk4's story is an interesting one, a story that began in Nazi Germany and led to Vietnam, and I hate to see it slip through the cracks.

The A4 squadrons out of Lemore, at the time the Navy's primary A4 base, were heavy users of the Mk4. Sure there were reliability issues early on, but those were less of a problem after 1968. How much the gun was used off of the carrier is a complex question. First of all, the gun pod was most useful in close air support (CAS) missions. The ordnance loads typically flown off of the carrier were bombing missions or air-to-air missions. The gun pod wouldn't be that useful--remember an A4 also had two Mk12 20mm as internal guns--so the Mk4 would have been sitting on the c/l station where a MER could hold multiple bombs. It's also interesting to note that in the article you cite, the author says, "the Mk-4 gun pod seemed prone to jams, especially under high G's (F8's had same problem with their guns)." What he's taking about, and it's noteworthy that the F8's guns were the old reliable Mk12s, is a load being carried for air-to-air missions.

The Marines, on the other hand, flew many many CAS missions, so they were heavy users of the Mk4. A typical CAS load for an F4--both MAG11 and MAG13 were F4 groups--was a Mk4 on the centerline rack with napalm and/or CS on the outboard racks. The technique doesn't sound very nice from the perspective of 40 years, but at the time it was simple: drop the nape or CS on a suspected pocket of NVA or VC, then as soon as they started running go in with the gunpod. I spent a year and a half with the Marines in I Corps of RVN, and except for a few weeks when we were tracing through problems with ammo--the fuzes were coming off of HEI rounds and FODDING the radome of the F4s--we saw lots and lots of usage; we're talking hundreds of thousands of rounds fired. And while I wasn't working with MAG12, the A4 group in Chulai, the A4s would frequently carry multiple--usually two--gun pods, so their round count would be higher. I think a concise testimony to the Marines respect for the Mk4 was seen in the Spring of 1968, when one airplane belonging to VMFA-122 was rigged to carry and fire three Mk4s.

The use of the Mk4 on OV10s, however, was pretty much restricted to one squadron, VAL-4. The Black Ponies were working in the Mekong Delta and used the gun pod on their centerline station. Bear in mind that VAL-4 was land based, operating from Binh Thuy. Yes, they were enthusiastic, but VAL-4 was a real anomaly in many ways, so it's hard to equate their mission or attitude to any other Navy squadron. I worked with VAL-4 for a short time and flew one combat mission with them. They were hot-shots in every positive meaning of the expression, and I have tremendous respect for them and the way they approached their mission.

As for the photo, it could well be from 1958. What couldn't be seen in the earlier photo--the one I'm sure is from China Lake--are two important clues: the first is the doors of the pod. Production doors had louvres that were about 10 inches long, probably about 15 of them. The louvres ran perpendicular to the centerline of the pod. The ones in the photo are smaller. Second, and even more telling, is the--my memory of exact nomenclature is fading--barrel locking mechanism. If you look closely at the photo, you'll see the two barrels running to the gun, then they terminate at a very rectangular block. That rectangular block is a locking mechanism that both locked the barrels in place and worked as a cylinder for gases being vented from the "first-fire" barrel. The first-fire barrel (in the photo it's on the top, as the gun was loaded into the pod upside down) was vented and operated as a piston to cycle the gun. By the time the gun went into production, that very rectangular block had been reshaped and was more like a figure eight than a rectangle.
 

Speedy

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Recently I found some information about this gun pod. In this document The OV-10 Bronco (blackpony.org) on the page 40 is a small drawing and data. Unfortunately, quality of this picture is very low. I think the text is:

Length - 112,8 inches
Length with gun installed - 132,5 inches
Width (maximum) - 16,5 inches
Height - 15,0 inches
Weight:
Empty without gun - 242,0 lbs
Empty with gun - 320,0 lbs
Loaded with 250 rounds - 497,0 lbs

Am I right? Or maybe someone have this picture in better quality and could be correct these numbers?
 

Conspirator

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there are so many variations of the ov-10 not sure what year that would be could someone tell me what year this is/ i will be able to get better info frrom it. meybe even schematics.
 

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