M195 (20 mm)

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The 20 mm M195 is an American rotary cannon seen on the AH-1G attack helicopter. It was created as a shortened version of the M61 Vulcan specifically to be used on the AH-1G to give it a longer ranged gun option for enemy suppression.

Vehicles equipped with this weapon

General info

The 20 mm M195 cannon has a magazine of 950 rounds and fires at a rate of 750 to 800 rpm.

Available ammunition

  • Default: API-T · HEF-I · API-T
  • Air targets: HEF-I · HEF-I · HEF-I · API-T
  • Armoured targets: API-T · API-T · API-T · HEF-I

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
10 m 100 m 500 m 1,000 m 1,500 m 2,000 m
HEF-I 5 5 3 2 2 2
API-T 40 36 22 12 6 3
Shell details
Ammunition Velocity
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
HEF-I 1,030 0.1 0.2 0.1 16 79° 80° 81°
API-T 1,030 0.1 - - - 47° 60° 65°

Comparison with analogues

Compared to the 3-barreled 20 mm M197 cannon equipped on the AH-1F and AH-1Z, the M195 boasts a better resistance to overheating.

Usage in battles

The 20 mm cannon is mounted under the left pylon wing, and can't rotate like the nose-mounted miniguns. The cannon can be used up to 2 km, exceeding the effective range of the 7.62 mm M134 minigun (1.5 km).

Pros and cons


  • Having no tracers in the belt allows to keep your position hidden


  • Cannon mounted under the left pylon wing, can't rotate like nose-mounted miniguns


A front view of the M195 in the M35 armament system.

In late 1969, six General Electric M35 armament system was made available to AH-1 Cobra units in Vietnam.[1] The M35 armament system consisted of the 20 mm M195 rotary cannon, which was a modified M61A1 Vulcan rotary cannon with cut down barrels, a declutching feed, and ability to clear itself of live rounds after firing. The Vulcan cannon, which normally could reach rates of fire of 4,000-6,000 rounds per minute (RPM) in fighter jet mounts, was reduced to 750-800 RPM in the M195 to make the recoil manageable on a helicopter. However, the recoil was noted to still heavily vibrate the helicopter when firing.[2]

A AH-1G Cobra with a 20 mm M195 installed in the wing. Note the protruding fuselage area at the wing base area containing the ammunition box.

The M35 armament system was mounted on the inboard port wing of the AH-1 Cobra. The system could hold up to 950 rounds of 20 mm ammunition, which was stored in two ammunition box affixed and faired into both sides of the Cobra's fuselage.[3] A modification that needed to be done with the M35 installation was the addition of extra metal plates on the fuselage besides the M195's muzzle as the muzzle blast could damage the helicopter's internal components.[2] Controls were available for either the pilot or gunner to fire the M195,[3] which was aimed by the Cobra's M73 reflex sight.[4]

The weapon system was considered a successful addition to the Cobra's firepower, enabling pilots to engage anti-aircraft positions from a range farther than the installed 7.62 mm Minigun.[1][2] The M195 was type classified as Standard B with the US Army ordering several hundreds. More then 377 units were produced.[3]

A version of the 20 mm M61 Vulcan would be installed into later versions of the AH-1 as the 20 mm M197 in the M97 universal turret beginning in 1978.[5]



See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Peoples 1988, 9
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Peake et al. 2020
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Pike et al. 1999
  4. Integrated Logistics Support Center 2005
  5. Peoples 1988, 14
  • Integrated Logistics Support Center. 2005. "U.S. ARMY HELICOPTER WEAPON SYSTEMS (Page 1 of 2)". U.S. Army, TACOM Life Cycle Management Command

Integrated Logistics Support Center (ILSC). Last modified October 05, 2005. Archived website.

  • Peake, Michael and Lin Riniker. 2020. "20mm Automatic Cannon - M195." Centaurs in Vietnam. Last modified September 2020. Website (Archive).
  • Peoples, Kenneth. 1988. Aerofax Datagraph 4: Bell AH-1 Cobra Variants. Arlington, TX: Aerofax, Inc.
  • Pike, John and Robert Serman. 1999. "M195 20mm Automatic Gun." FAS Military Analysis Network. Last modified January 09, 1999. Website (Archive)

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)

Israel aircraft cannons
20 mm  GIAT M.621 (France) · Hispano Mk.II (Britain) · Hispano Mk.V (Britain) · M50 (France) · M61A1 (USA) · M195 (USA) · M197 (USA) · MG 151 (Germany) · Mk 11 mod 5 (USA)
30 mm  DEFA 551 (France) · DEFA 552 (France) · DEFA 552A (France) · DEFA 553 (France) · M230E-1 (USA)
40 mm  M129 (USA)