M3 (20 mm)

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This page is about the aircraft cannon M3 (20 mm). For other uses, see M3 (Disambiguation).


The Army-Navy Model 3, or AN/M3 for short, was a 20 mm aircraft-mounted autocannon used by both the US Army Air Forces (later the USAF) and US Navy. The cannon was based on the British Hispano Mk.V, itself a modification of the Swiss Hispano-Suiza H.S.404. Compared to its earlier cousin, the AN/M2, the AN/M3 had a faster rate of fire and used lubricated, percussion-primed ammunition that was less prone to jamming, which was a major problem on the Hispano Mk.II. Lubrication was provided by a pump that dropped semi-fluid lubricating oil (LSA) onto the rounds before firing. The gun had a gas-assisted blowback operation, with recoil being used to load the next round.

The US Navy extensively used the AN/M3 on fighters starting in late WW2 and until the 1950s, when they were replaced by more modern cannons and air-to-air missiles. The cannon was mounted, usually 2 to a wing, on planes such as the F4U-4B and later versions of the Corsair, the Grumman F8F-1B Bearcat, and the F9F Panther jet fighter.

Vehicles equipped with this weapon

Vehicles equipped with this weapon
Fighters  F4U-4B · F4U-4B VMF-214 · F4U-7 · F8F-1B · ▄F8F-1B
Twin-engine fighters  F7F-1 · F7F-3
Jet fighters  F2H-2 · F3D-1 · F9F-2 · F9F-5 · F9F-8
Attackers  AD-2 · AD-4 · ▄AD-4 · AU-1
Attack helicopters  H-34 (Suspended)

General info

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

Available shells

  • Default Belt: HEF-I/HEF-I/API-T
  • Universal: HEF-I/API-T
  • Ground Targets: API-T/API-T/HEF-I/Practice
  • Air Targets: HEF-I/API-T/HEF-I/HEF-I
  • Stealth: HEF-I/HEF-I/HEF-I/Practice

Comparison with analogues

  • MG 151/20 - Powerful Minengeschoss shells are superior to AN/M3 ammunition. However, the AN/M3 has a faster fire rate and about 30 m/s faster shell velocity, making ranged shots easier. The AN/M3 also has more hitting power and is more consistent than its German cousin.
  • Hispano Mk.V- As the AN/M3 is an American copy of the Hispano Mk V, these two weapons are almost completely identical. Historically, the AN/M3 was more prone to jamming than its British counterpart.
  • AN/M2- Superior in every way. The AN/M3 is more reliable and has a higher fire rate compared to its older brother.

Usage in battles

The high fire rate of this cannon makes it a great choice for engaging almost any enemy fighter or bomber. The only limitation is the pilot's skill and the speed and manoeuvrability of the plane it is mounted on. The HEF-SAPI (High Explosive Fragmentation - Semi Armor Piercing Incendiary) round can easily rip wings into shreds or set fuel tanks on fire. However, it is important to fire in short bursts, as the high fire rate will drain your ammunition. Though not as prone to jamming as the AN/M2 before it, the AN/M3 can still jam easily if the New 20mm Cannons modification is not yet unlocked.

Pros and cons


  • HEF-SAPI ammo is great for tearing up wings and other modules
  • High fire rate
  • Often 4 cannons are present on the aircraft, providing massive amounts of firepower
  • Stealth rounds have lots of HEI, HEF, and HEF-SAPI ammo, with the lack of tracers makes it hard for enemies to evade shots
  • Often very generous amount of ammunition, as common on US aircraft


  • Air Targets belt has no tracers (Air RB), making aiming hard
  • Prone to jamming, especially when stock
  • Tendency to "spark" and deal minimal damage, especially when hitting fuselages
  • Default belts are far inferior to the Air Targets and Stealth belts
  • Horrific stock accuracy


Examine the history of the creation and combat usage of this weapon. If the historical reference turns out to be too big, take it to a separate article, taking a link to an article about the vehicle and adding a block "/ History" (example: https://wiki.warthunder.com/(weapon-name)/History) and add a link to it here using the main template. Be sure to reference text and sources by using <ref>, as well as adding them at the end of the article.


An excellent addition to the article would be a video guide, as well as screenshots from the game and photos.

See also

External links

USA aircraft cannons
20 mm  AN/M2 · Browning-Colt Mk12 Mod 3 · FMC T-160
  M3 · M24A1 · M39A1 · M61 · M195 · M197 · Mk 11 · Mk 11 mod 5 · T31
30 mm  M230E-1 · XM140
37 mm  M4 · M10
40 mm  M129
75 mm  M10 · T13E1
20 mm  Hispano 404 (France) · Hispano Mk.II (Britain) · MG 151 (Germany) · Type 99 Model 1 (Japan)