FMC T-160 (20 mm)

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The FMC T-160 was the preliminary version of what became the M39A1 (20 mm) (as found on the F-100D), first used on a very small number of F-86 Sabres for testing during a program known as "Project GunVal" in the early 1950s. After testing was completed, these aircraft were sent to Korea and deployed for field operations where they were highly successful, and it was decided to re-designate the T-160 as the M39 and begin serial production and installation into the new F-100 Super Sabre.

The T-160 cannon is a large step forward in terms of offensive armament compared to the Browning M3 (12.7 mm) present on earlier F-86 Sabre variants. Featuring a high rate of fire and exceptional muzzle velocity, the T-160 is a highly capable cannon against aircraft and will have little difficulty in downing even the most heavily defended targets. However, the T-160 leaves little room for error, which is largely brought on by the same characteristics that make it highly effective.

Vehicles equipped with this weapon

General info

Tell us about the tactical and technical characteristics of the cannon or machine gun.

Available ammunition

The FMC T-160 has a total of five available ammunition belts:

  • Default: HEF-I · HEF-I · API-T · AP-I

The Default belt is not optimal compared to the others because of even split of HE and AP shells, although with the characteristics of the T-160 cannon it is not a major detriment. It is still recommended that other belts are used once the modification is researched and purchased.

  • Universal: HEF-I · API-T · AP-I

Universal is always a good mix of both high explosive and armour-piercing shells, and is a good choice for most situations.

  • Air targets: HEF-I · HEF-I · HEF-I · API-T · AP-I

The Air Targets belt is an excellent choice as the T-160 is almost exclusively for use against aircraft. A large amount of HEF-I shells will allow for a better chance of breaking critical parts of an aircraft as well as setting fires.

  • Armoured targets: API-T · AP-I · AP-I

The Armored Targets belt is entirely composed of AP-I shells which can give good performance against more heavily protected enemies. These can provide a method of destroying light pillboxes as well as medium tanks, although considering the very low ammunition available for the T-160 cannons it is not recommended to attack ground targets unless absolutely necessary.

  • Stealth: HEF-I · HEF-I · HEF-I · AP-I

The Stealth belts are essentially the exact same as the Air Targets belt with the exception that no tracer shell is present. If skilled with the T-160 cannon, these belts can be devastating by concealing when the cannons are fired.

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
API-T 39 35 22 12 7 4
AP-I 39 35 22 12 7 4
HEF-I 5 4 3 2 2 2
Shell details
Ammunition Velocity
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
API-T 990 0.1 - - - 47° 60° 65°
AP-I 990 0.1 - - - 47° 56° 65°
HEF-I 990 0.1 0.2 0.1 16 79° 80° 81°

Comparison with analogues

  • M39A1 (20 mm): The FMC T-160 cannon is an early version of the M39 cannon, and in-game they perform identically. Learning how to use them effectively on the F-86F-2 will prove to be beneficial for flying the F-100D.
  • AN/M3 (20 mm): The FMC T-160 has a much higher rate of fire over the AN/M3 cannons (1,500 rpm v. 750 rpm) as well as having a higher muzzle velocity (1,030 m/s v. 853 m/s). This makes aiming easier with the T-160 as well as having a higher burst mass.
  • Browning-Colt Mk12 Mod 3 (20 mm): These perform similarly, although the T-160 still has an advantage with rate of fire (1500 v. 996). The T-160 also has better ammunition belts than the Browning-Colt Mk12 due to less AP shells and more HEF shells.
  • NR-23 (23 mm): The NR-23 has relatively high rate of fire at 900 rounds/minute and does have slightly more explosive power with the FI-T shells, but it has an abysmal muzzle velocity at 690 m/s so the T-160 can be much easier to use in comparison.
  • DEFA 552 (30 mm): The DEFA 552 has a comparable rate of fire at 1200 rounds/minute and has much more explosive mass than the T-160 shells, but it also has a much lower muzzle velocity of 810 m/s.

Usage in battles

The FMC T-160 is a highly effective weapon against nearly any opponent it can face, but it is also very demanding on the pilot. In battle, the T-160 will greatly reward those who put effort into learning how the cannon works and employing it in the most advantageous positions. Knowing when to open fire and when to hold back is the key to success, and failing to respect the T-160 can be frustrating as it is a very punishing weapon for mistakes.

The T-160 is best used at medium to closer ranges, at around 400 to 900 m distance to a target. The very high muzzle velocity of 1,030 m/s means that at these ranges there will be essentially no time at all for the target to avoid fire. If a target is unaware they can be wiped from the sky with the T-160 and not know what hit them. While engagements directly behind an aircraft can be beneficial, it can also be difficult to hit a target that is constantly evading. This is where the extreme trigger discipline will be required as the firing time for the T-160 can be measured in only a few seconds. The ammunition can easily be spent all in a single engagement so it is necessary to aim carefully.

Where the T-160 truly shines is in deflection shooting, as a target presents a larger area to hit and the high muzzle velocity makes it far easier to lead a target in a turn. Wings are quickly snapped off and entire airframes destroyed from quick bursts of the T-160 in a deflection shot, but aiming can be a challenge if new to the cannon. Experience will be the key to learning how to use the T-160 to its fullest potential and developing a sense for where the shells will land will be the determining factor in how successful a pilot is with the T-160.

Due to the very fast-paced nature of higher tier jet combat, the T-160 is an excellent cannon in this environment. Against other fighters, it can be effective in dealing damage quickly during high-speed passes and diving attacks. When split-second engagement windows appear, the T-160 can be used to good effect and take out enemies that would otherwise have evaded. The T-160 also can be used against heavily defended bombers, such as the Tu-4. A quick pass can easily cause fatal damage and start fires that will ultimately destroy the bomber while minimizing exposure to defensive armaments.

Pros and cons


  • Excellent damage which allows for critical damage or complete destruction of enemy aircraft in very short order
  • Very high rate of fire ensures the maximum amount of fire on a target, especially for small engagement windows common in jet combat
  • High muzzle velocity reduces the need to lead a target and makes deflection shots much easier
  • All shells are useful in combat; there are no "wasted slots" in ammunition belts (as compared to some belts for other 20 mm cannons, such as the Hispano Mk.V (20 mm)


  • Lower ammunition count compared to some other cannons (only 115 rounds per gun)
  • High rate of fire can be a detriment for pilots who are not careful with their aim and waste ammunition
  • Very high chance to overhead and jam if fired for an extended period of time; around 2 seconds without "New 20 mm cannon" modification
  • Can be challenging to adapt to a rate of fire/muzzle velocity is very different from earlier armaments, primarily Browning M3 (12.7 mm) and AN/M3 (20 mm)



The FMC T-160 has its origins in the German Mauser MG-213C, a gas-operated revolver cannon under development near the end of World War II. The Germans had realized that if they were to have superior firepower for fighter and interceptor aircraft, a new aerial cannon would need to be created that would have a substantial advantage in rate of fire and muzzle velocity. The MG-213C was never produced in large numbers and remained an experimental program with only a handful of examples made, but the Allied powers made efforts to recover any experimental weapons found. So it was that a single MG-213C fell into the hands of American engineers and made its way to the Armour Research Foundation (ARF)[1] The ARF was tasked with analyzing the MG-213C, understanding how it operated, restoring it to working condition, as well as developing new models of 20 mm cannon that incorporated lessons learned from the 213C. Work began in April 1946 and continued for several years until the end result of the program was the 20 mm T110, manufactured in late 1948 and into 1949 with testing performed later that year.[2]

The T110 was overall slightly lighter than the 213C and notably smaller, as the program had called for drastically reduced length and slightly reduced height and width.[3] The T110 underwent extensive testing, with different versions of parts being substituted in and out along with several modifications being applied. In the end, it was decided to cease development on the T110 and a new cannon was created based on the working mechanism of the T110, designated T130 which was chambered for the US .60 calibre shell (15.2 x 114 mm).[4] These were manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in 1951 and further testing and revisions were performed in later 1952, but these tests revealed that the .60 calibre shell was not capable of loading enough high explosive powder as was desired.[5] A new shell, the 60/20 short (what would be designated as the 20 x 102 mm) was chosen and the T130 design was re-chambered, and with it re-designated as the T160.

Installation and Testing

The T160 cannon would be tested extensively and it, along with other 20 mm cannons, would be entered into a new Air Force project known as "Gun-Val". Both domestic and foreign designs were submitted and installed on test mounts as well as aircraft to determine which would be the best option.[6] Four T160 cannons were mounted into an F-86F and subjected to rigorous testing in late 1952, recording the barrel life, projectile velocity, cyclic rate of the cannon, reliability, and accuracy with any failures being noted and examined. In the conclusion of the report, it was stated that the T160 "was generally reliable throughout the test program," with nearly 19,000 rounds fired and a stoppage rate of 3.52 per thousand rounds fired (and it is also noted that a value of 2.8 was considered acceptable in combat conditions).[7] After the initial testing phase of the Gun-Val project was completed, it was decided to fit a select few F-86 aircraft with the T160 and begin combat trials in Korea. From January to May 1953 a group of eight F-86F-2s were flown over Korea, assigned to the 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing.[8]

These aircraft would be flown into "MiG Alley" and on routine combat air patrol routes and engage what was found. 284 combat missions were flown with mission reports gathered each time to assess the performance of the new gun arrangement. At the end of the test, pilot summary reports were also requested. In total, six MiGs were counted as destroyed, 3 MiGs were "probably destroyed," and MiGs were damaged.[9] These results were considered exceptional, and the 22 of the 26 pilots who submitted reports requested that the 20 mm T-160 be used in future aircraft. [10] A large portion of the pilots requested that an increase in the length of fire be implemented as 4.5 seconds of fire was said to be too short.[11] A critical error that occurred 20 times during the test was the ingestion of gasses when firing the T160 guns at high altitudes (above 35,000 feet), which would lead to compressor stalls and engine malfunctions which led to one of the test aircraft being lost, which was deemed unacceptable for combat aircraft and given high priority to fix in any future aircraft.[12]

With the conclusion of the test, issues with the T160 were addressed and further development took place. At the end of 1953, it was already slated for use in new production aircraft, the F-86H, F-100, F-101, and was being considered for the F-105.[13] With the requested modifications and installation into the F-100 Super Sabre, the T160 was re-designated as the M39 cannon. Over 30,000 M39 cannons would be manufactured and are still in service today on the F-5E Tiger II.


See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the article about the variant of the cannon/machine gun;
  • references to approximate analogues by other nations and research trees.

External links

  • Chinn, George M. The Machine Gun: Development During World War II and Korean Conflict by the United States and their Allies, of Full Automatic Machine Gun Systems and High Rate of Fire Power Driven Cannon - Volume Three. Arlington: Department of the Navy, 1951. [ Link]
  • Chinn, George M. The Machine Gun: Development of Full Automatic Machine Gun Systems and High Rate of Fire Power Driven Cannon, and Automatic Grenade Launchers by the United States and their Allies, following World War II, Korean Police Action, and the Vietnam Conflict - Volume Five. (Arlington: Department of the Navy, 1987 [ Link]
  • AFAC Technical Report No. 53-42: Engineering Evaluation of Type T160 Gun and Installation in F-86 Aircraft, September 1953. [DTIC Link]
  • Air Proving Ground Command: Final Report on Combat Suitability Test of F-86F-2 Aircraft with T-160 Guns, August 1953. [DTIC Link]


  1. George M. Chinn, The Machine Gun: Development During World War II and Korean Conflict by the United States and their Allies, of Full Automatic Machine Gun Systems and High Rate of Fire Power Driven Cannon - Volume Three. (Arlington: Department of the Navy, 1951), pp. 44-45.
  2. Ibid., p. 47.
  3. Ibid., p. 60.
  4. Ibid., p. 43.
  5. George M. Chinn, The Machine Gun: Development of Full Automatic Machine Gun Systems and High Rate of Fire Power Driven Cannon, and Automatic Grenade Launchers by the United States and their Allies, following World War II, Korean Police Action, and the Vietnam Conflict - Volume Five. (Arlington: Department of the Navy, 1987), p. 401.
  6. Engineering Evaluation of Type T160 Gun and Installation in F-86 Aircraft, (Eglin AFB: Air Force Armament Center, 1953), p. 1.
  7. Ibid., p. 18.
  8. Combat Suitability Test of F-86F-2 Aircraft with T-160 Guns, (Eglin AFB: Air Proving Ground Command, 1953), p. 25.
  9. Ibid., pp. 49-53.
  10. Ibid., p. 181.
  11. Ibid., pp. 179-180.
  12. Ibid., p. 167.
  13. Ibid., p. i.

USA aircraft cannons
20 mm  AN/M2 · Browning-Colt Mk12 Mod 0 · Browning-Colt Mk12 Mod 3 · FMC T-160
  M3 · M24A1 · M39 · M39A1 · M39A2 · M39A3 · M61A1 · M195 · M197 · Mk 11 · Mk 11 mod 5 · T31
30 mm  M230E-1 · XM140 · GAU-8/A · GAU-13/A · LR30
37 mm  M4 · M9 · M10
40 mm  M75 · M129
75 mm  M10 · T13E1
20 mm  Hispano 404 (France) · Hispano Mk.II (Britain) · MG 151 (Germany) · Type 99 Model 1 (Japan)
30 mm  ADEN Mk.4 (Britain)