AC-130 Spectre Gunship

I would like to have been in the room when this concept was devised - hey how about putting air to ground artillery on these old transport planes we have lying around? The AC-130's first incarnation was the AC-47 in Vietnam, weaponry mounted on the fuselage of the old C-47 transport aircraft used in WWII. Capable of flying faster than helicopters and at high altitudes with excellent loiter time, the use of the pylon turn allowed the AC-47 to deliver continuous accurate fire to a single point on the ground. The first few designs were armed with 20mm cannons and 40mm Bofors and were used primarily as interdiction of supply along the Ho-Chi Min trail. With extended loiter time and constantly upgraded targeting and avionic systems the AC-47 became an absolutely devastating weapon, so much that a large bounty was levied on the head of any crewmember captured or killed.

In 1968 the C-130 Hercules airframe was selected as the upgrade for the AC-47, with the new designation of AC-130. At this point the 7.62mm MG was dropped in favour of 20mm Gatling guns and 40mm Bofors, allowing the AC-130 to fly at greater altitudes above NVA anti-aircraft fire. Over its history it has had many callsigns, including Spooky, Suprise Package and Thor. The current AC-130 versions mount a 105mm howitzer makes it absolutely unique among aircraft, and it is the largest gun mounted on any production aircraft in history. It is probably the most devastating and cost effective aircraft in the U.S. arsenal, and will be flying over many battlefields of the future.


David said...

When Puff The Magic Dragon first appeared in Viet Nam they used it with tracers. The Viet Cong thought that the Americans had a death ray.

The AC-130 is credited with the demise of the Communist insurgency in El Salvador in the 1980s. Crews flew the missions very much undercover as they blasted guerilla camps and concentrations.

Chase Morrison said...

I was not aware of that anecdote, it is somewhat funny to think of it that way.

The power of this aircraft is unprecedented in the way it can loiter over a target and produce sheer volume of firepower.

The ammo is cheap compared to a smart bomb, the parts and airframe are common and easily replaceable. Unfortunetly its excellent avionics and targeting system comes with a price tag in the hundreds of millions.

emily mainzer said...
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emily mainzer said...

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