Bofors L/60 (40 mm)
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Vehicles equipped with this weapon
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|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
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| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
Comparison with analogues
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Usage in battles
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Pros and cons
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One of the most famous autocannons, the Bofors L/60, begins its story in 1922 when the Swedish Navy purchased World War I-era QF 2-pounder "pom-poms" from the British for their ships' anti-aircraft armament. However, the Swedish government was quick to seek a more capable replacement and signed a contract with Bofors in 1938. They began testing the following year, but they had problems making a reliable automatic mechanism and used zinc shells that would burn up and foul the action. In the summer of 1930 however, Bofors had two innovations that made the design practical. The first was a new mechanism that "flicked" spent casings and "threw" a fresh round into the chamber. The second was new metallurgy techniques and modern equipment from their now share-holder, Krupp. In November of 1931, the prototype had been completed and by 1933, the weapon entered production. While it passed acceptance trials, the Akan m/32, as it was known in Sweden, was not adopted by the Swedish Navy despite the intention of serving as a dual-purpose gun on submarines. The first customer for the Bofors 40 mm L/60 was the Dutch Navy who mounted it on their one-off cruiser, the HNLMS De Ruyter.
In 1937, the British first examined the weapons. A number of examples built in Poland were designated the QF 40 mm Mark I with a Mark I/2 coming out later after a minor change to the flash hider. After acquiring a license, they started converting the design to the imperial system from the metric system and they changed the parts to be more interchangeable from the hand-fitted parts of the original design.
Due to challenges with engaging high-speed aircraft, the Bofors L/60 was linked to an analogue computer, powered mounts, and the distinctive "pancake" sights creating the QF 40 mm Mark III, as the Mark II was the designation for the 2-pounder pom-poms. The Bofors became the standard light anti-aircraft gun serving alongside the heavy anti-aircraft OQF 3in 20cwt and the OQF 3-inch Howitzer Mk I. However, the first analog computer, the Kerrison Director, created logistical challenges due to needing fuel to operate and so it was replaced by the Stiffkey Sight which moved the pancake sight to offer lead correction. This modification created the "QF 40 mm Mark XII" which first saw use by Canadian units during the Battle of the Aleutian Islands. Not long after, a two-wheeled lighter carriage was developed to equip airborne units. During the Second Battle of El Alamein in North Africa, it was used in the specialized role of firing tracer rounds to mark safe paths through German minefields.
The British Army also experimented with self-propelled anti-aircraft units based on the Bofors L/60. One of the most notable examples is the Crusader AA Mk I which used a Bofors with a different breech called the QF 40 mm Mark VI. The most numerous self-propelled Bofors platform is the "Carrier, 30 cwt, SP, 4×4, 40 mm AA (Bofors)" based on the chassis of the Morris C8 "Quad" artillery tractor. SP Bofors and Crusaders AAs were built used during the Normandy Invasion of June 6th 1944 when supporting the British 3rd Infantry Division on Sword Beach and shooting down 17 German aircraft while protecting the Pegasus and Horsa Bridges. Due to the weakened state of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) in late 1944, the SP Bofors were mostly used against ground targets.
Along with the British Army, the RAF used the Bofors L/60 as part of the RAF Regiment. Formed in response to the Germans capturing British airfields during the Battle of Crete in 1942, the RAF Regiment provided security for Allied airfields during World War II. The RAF Regiment served in multiple campaigns including North Africa, Malta, Italy, the Balkans, the UK, and the Western Front. The most notable contributions of the Bofors serving in this capacity were defending England from V-1 Flying Bombs during Operation Diver, and the protection of Advanced Landing Grounds from the Normandy Landings until the Battle of the Bulge. After World War II, the L/60 would remain in service until the L/70 was adopted in 1957.
The United States was another notable user of the Bofors L/60 in both the Army and Navy. The US had acquired a license and worked to do a metric to imperial conversion and translate the instructions to English. This work was done by Chrysler who built 60,000 guns and 120,000 barrels during the war. In 1942, Bofors L/60s imported from Britain with the Kerrison Predictor began to replace the locally designed 37mm gun M1A2 in Army and Marine Corps service. In a single mount, it was designated as the 40 mm automatic cannon M1 used by the Army in Anti-Aircraft Artillery auto-weapons battalions issued with 32 guns in four batteries. Along with three British high explosive shells, there was the M81A1 armour-piercing shell for the gun. The Marine Corps Defense Battalions and Special Weapons Battalions had 12 or 16 guns respectively. The Army tested a self-propelled variant for the T65 prototype based on the chassis of the M5 Stuart. The prototype led to the variant known as the Dual Automatic Gun M2 creating the M19A1 and the M42 Duster. The L/60 remains in service in the United States on the AC-130 Gunship starting in the 1970s. It is one of the longest-serving and most-produced autocannons in history.
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|France tank cannons|
|25 mm||SA35 L/72|
|37 mm||SA18 L/21 · SA38 L/33|
|47 mm||SA34 L/30 · SA35 L/32 · SA37|
|75 mm||APX · APX Canon de 75 mm modèle 1897 · SA35 L/17 · SA44 · SA49 · SA50 L/57|
|90 mm||D.911 APX · CN90 F2 · CN90 F3 · CN90 F4 · D915 · DEFA F1 · SA45 · SA47|
|100 mm||SA47 L/58|
|105 mm||CN-105-F1 · Modele F2 · PzK M57|
|120 mm||GIAT CN120-25 G1 · GIAT CN120-26 F1 · SA46|
|155 mm||Schneider 155 C · L'Obusier de 155 Modèle 1950|
|15 mm||MG 151 (Germany)|
|20 mm||MG 151 (Germany)|
|37 mm||M6 (USA)|
|40 mm||Bofors L/60 · QF 2-pounder (Britain)|
|75 mm||KwK42 (Germany) · M3 (USA) · M6 (USA)|
|76 mm||M7 (USA)|
|90 mm||M3 (USA)|
|105 mm||M4 (USA)|
|Britain and USA anti-aircraft guns|
|20 mm||GAI C01 · M168 · Oerlikon Mk.II · Polsten|
|30 mm||HSS 831L|
|35 mm||GA-35 · Oerlikon KDA|
|40 mm||Bofors L/60 · Dual Automatic Gun M2 · M266|
|France anti-aircraft guns|
|13.2 mm||Hotchkiss Mle 1930|
|30 mm||HSS 831A|
|40 mm||Bofors L/60 · Mle. 1951 T1 (Bofors L/70)|