20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mark V (20 mm)
The 20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mark V is a rapid-firing anti-aircraft cannon that has been in service for over six decades. Developed in the 1940s by the Swiss company Oerlikon, this weapon system quickly gained popularity due to its high rate of fire, accuracy, and versatility. It was widely used by the Allied forces during World War II and has continued to serve in many navies around the world to this day.
Vehicles equipped with this weapon
|Vehicles equipped with this weapon|
|Motor torpedo boats||Fairmile D (617) · Fairmile D (697) · Fairmile D (5001)|
|Motor gun boats||Fairmile B (ML345) · Fairmile C (332) · Fairmile D (601) · Fairmile H LCS(L)(2) · MGB-75|
|Light cruisers||HMS Arethusa · USS Fargo|
|Heavy cruisers||HMS London · USS New Orleans · USS Des Moines|
The 20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mark V features a belt-fed mechanism that allows for rapid fire rates of up to 450 rounds per minute. Its lightweight and compact design made it ideal for use on various naval vessels, including destroyers, cruisers, and battleships.
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Comparison with analogues
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Usage in battles
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Pros and cons
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The story of the Oerlikon begins in World War I with German industrialist Reinhold Becker who developed the Becker Type 2 20 mm cannon which used an advanced primer ignition blowback action. It saw limited use during World War I, but at the end of the conflict, the Treaty of Versailles forbade further cannon production or development in Germany resulting in the design being sold to the Swiss firm SEMAG in 1919. In 1924, SEMAG went bankrupt and the design and staff was bought out by another Swiss arms company, Oerlikon. In the build-up that preceded World War II, the British Admiralty tested the Oerlikon gun in 1934 but rejected it. In 1937, they recognized that they needed a light anti-aircraft gun for armed merchant cruisers and smaller warships. In 1938, they ordered for a new Oerlikon variant with a better rate of fire and that would be easy to service and maintain for auxiliary crews. The changes were made and resulted in the Oerlikon Mark I getting adopted by the Royal Navy with a production license. The Mark II came about in 1940 when the Fall of France led to them producing the design under license due to the loss of access to Switzerland, but the location of the buffer springs was different and changes were made to make it suitable for mass production. The first ship to be commissioned with this model was the HMS Duke of York in November of 1941. About 55,000 guns were in service in the UK and Commonwealth navies by 1945. The Mark V was developed later by the Royal Canadian Navy. Available in both single and twin-mount configurations, the Mark V used a fabricated steel tripod pedestal mount and on twin-mounted guns, the traverse was powered by a motor and electro-hydraulic unit on lager ships such as the HMS London, while it was powered by the main engine itself on smaller coastal ships such as the Fairmile D (5001). The twin-mounted Mark Vs also had joysticks and gyro sights.
This design also saw service in the United States Navy. The first two models were Model 1934s purchased for evaluation in 1937, but like with the Royal Navy, they were initially rejected. However, by 1940, the growing threat of the war led the Navy to reconsider and seek a one-to-one replacement for the AN-M2 Browning machine gun in the anti-aircraft role. The Oerlikon thus entered widespread service by 1942 and would remain the main anti-aircraft gun of the US Navy until the introduction of the Bofors 40 mm by late 1943. Loved by its crews for its ease of maintenance and high rate of fire, the Oerlikon Mark 2 in US service claimed 32% of all Japanese aircraft downed by the navy between the United States' entry into the war in December 1941 to September of 1944. However, by September, the Japanese began engaging in kamikaze attack and the 20 mm Oerlikon was insufficient to stop these attacks leading to the Bofors being used to replace it. The Oerlikon remains in service today as a weapon for repelling boarders. In the US Navy, the Mark 5 was another fixed height pedestal mount and primarily built for shipping to the British. 916 were in US service and saw some use on Navy ships such as the USS New Orleans.
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|USA naval cannons|
|20 mm||20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mk.II · 20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mark V · 20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mark 24|
|25 mm||25 mm/87 Mk.38|
|28 mm||1.1 inch/75 Mk.1|
|40 mm||Bofors L/60 Mark 1 · Bofors L/60 Mark 2 · Bofors L/60 Mark 3|
|76 mm||3 inch/23 Mk.4 · 3-inch/50 Mk.10 · 3-inch/70 Mk.37 · 3-inch Mark 10 · 3 inch Mk.33 · 3-inch Mk.34|
|102 mm||4 inch/50 Mk.9|
|127 mm||5 inch/25 Mk.11 · 5 inch/25 Mk.13 AA · 5 inch/38 Mk.12 · 5-inch/50 Mk.5 · 5 inch/51 Mk.7 · 127 mm/54 Mark 18|
|152 mm||6 inch/47 Mk.16 · 6 inch/53 Mk.12|
|203 mm||8 inch/55 Mark 9 · 8 inch/55 Mark 12 · 8 inch/55 Mark 14 · 8 inch/55 Mark 16|
|305 mm||12-inch/45 Mk.5 · 12 inch/50 Mk.7 · 12 inch/50 Mk.8|
|356 mm||14 inch/45 Mk.8 · 14 inch/45 Mk.12|