The BSA Adams-Wilmot machine gun, an example of an aircraft observer's gun.

An observer's gun or observation gun was a gun, typically a machine gun, that was designed to be mounted in the observer's position of an aircraft. These guns were most popular during the early 20th century, especially World War I, and were a common feature of military biplanes. The role of the observer was generally phased out with the advent of synchronized forward-firing machine guns, with most fighter aircraft switching to one-man crews by World War II.

Examples[edit | edit source]

  • Lewis gun - The Lewis gun was commonly adapted to an observation role during World War I, and had been experimented in this role even before the war.
  • Parabellum MG14 - The MG14 served as the standard observation gun for the German Air Force during World War I.
  • Villar Perosa - Although not originally designed for it, the Villar Perosa was briefly adapted to an observation role by the Italians during the early years of World War I.
  • Darne machine gun - The Darne gun was introduced as an observer's gun in the French Air Force during the late months of World War I.
  • Gast machine gun - The twin-barreled Gast gun was developed in 1917 for use as an aircraft gun, but entered production too late to see service during World War I.
  • Flieger-Doppelpistole - The Swiss Flieger-Doppelpistole was a conceptual copy of the Villar Perosa, designed for ground and aircraft use in 1919.
  • Adams-Wilmot - The British Adams-Wilmot machine gun was a competitor into RAF trials during the 1930s, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
  • LS-26/32 - The Finnish Lahti-Saloranta machine gun was heavily modified for an observation role in 1934 but was not adopted.
  • Hotchkiss observer's gun - The Hotchkiss observation gun was developed in the early 1930s and tested in Britain, but was considered unreliable.
  • BSA .5 - The BSA 5-inch machine gun was designed as a heavy-caliber weapon for aircraft and ship decks, but was never adopted.
  • Type 92 machine gun - The Japanese Type 92 was a straight copy of the Lewis gun, designed for aircraft and ships.
  • MG 15 - The German MG15 machine gun was adapted from the Swiss-Austrian S2-200 and was used by aircraft gunners during World War II.
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