Schräge Musik (literally "Strange" or "Slanted" music) is a term used to describe vertically-mounted upward-firing machine guns or autocannons that were fitted to German and Japanese night-fighters and bomber interceptors during WWII. This unique configuration proved highly effective in both the European and Pacific Fronts, and some select aircraft have this feature for you to try out in the game!
|Control name||Default binding||Description|
|"Schräge Musik" cannon activation||(unbound)||Toggles the view between centring on the Schräge Musik aiming reticle and conventional reticle. Also switches the trigger to only fire the Schräge Musik armament, if the Weapons selector is not enabled.|
Only one control is required for use of the Schräge Musik cannons. The
"Schräge Musik" cannon activation key switches the view to be centred on the reticle of either the conventional and Schräge Musik cannons. Making flight adjustments using the mouse from this unusual viewpoint can be difficult at first, so flying while in Schräge Musik mode may need to be practised. In addition, entering the mode will also enable the Schräge Musik cannons to be fired using the conventional armament keybinds. However, this does not apply if the weapons selector is enabled: in this case, all selected guns will be fired - including Schräge Musik, typically denoted "AG" (additional guns) - regardless of the current view.
Vehicles equipped with Schräge Musik cannons
- Bf 110 G-4 - 2 x 20 mm MG FF/M
- ▄Bf 110 G-4 - 2 x 20 mm MG FF/M
- Do 217 N-2 - 4 x 20 mm MG 151
- Ju 388 J - 2 x 20 mm MG 151
- Ki-45 tei - 2 x 20 mm Ho-5
- ␗Ki-45 hei/tei - 2 x 20 mm Ho-5
Even during WWI, various forces (particularly the British and French) were experimenting with different mountings of armament on their aircraft. The idea of the upward-firing gun found its first successes in 1916, being used to easily target the vulnerable undersides of German Zeppelin airships. This configuration was quickly found to also allow pilots to attack enemy aircraft from the blind spot below the tail, and the practice of mounting upwards-firing guns was continued in the RAF until the end of the war. However, during the interwar period, the development of a separate armed barbette, allowing highly flexible aiming angles and the addition of a gunner to decrease the load on the pilot, was found to surpass the original fixed upward gun mounting, and development ceased.
In 1941, Oberleutnant Rudolf Schoenert began experimenting with the upward positioning of guns, fitting vertical MG 17s to his Do 17 Z-10: the first instance of the "Schräge Musik" arrangement as it would come to be known. Though he had been working amidst general scepticism from his peers, gunnery trials quickly quashed any reluctance felt by senior officials, with the only real issue found being the introduction of parallax error in the reflector gunsight if the pilot's head moved. 3 Do 217 J night-fighters were approved to be fitted with twin 20 mm MG 151s mounted at 20° from the vertical for further testing. Meanwhile, Schoenert fitted a pair of oblique MG 151s to his own Bf 110, and achieved 18 kills with them between August and December 1943. From this point, there was no denying that Schräge Musik was significantly more effective for countering bombers than conventional attacks: it improved the firing solution, by increasing target visibility and enlarging their available silhouette; and also improved survivability of the interceptor, by allowing them to avoid the rear warning radars and heavy defenses in the tail, in favour of relatively undefended and invisible positions under the belly of the bomber.
At the same time, the Japanese also began trialling the Schräge Musik concept. In 1943, Commander Yasuna Kozono converted a Nakajima J1N1-C reconnaissance plane to equip two pairs of Type 99 cannons firing both upwards and downwards. On 21 May 1943, this aircraft shot down 2 B-17s around Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, and the IJN immediately placed orders for the type, now designated J1N1-S. Other aircraft variants continued to be experimented with throughout the war, including the Ki-45, Ki-46, and A6M5.