Jump to content
Sturgeon's House

Recommended Posts

4 hours ago, Collimatrix said:


As far as I know, only the FW-190 had the automatic lean/rich adjustment for the throttle, it wasn't a feature of German aircraft generally.

Which is amusing, as the vast majority of German radial engines of that era, were the result of BMW licensing Pratt & Whitney designs.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 182
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

But if you try sometimes... Fighter aircraft became much better during the Second World War.  But, apart from the development of engines, it was not a straightforward matter of monotonous improveme

This is an interesting topic. Modern fighter aircraft have very little free space in them.  Almost every cubic centimeter inside is filled with something:   There are gigantic bays c

Link to download for Tempest V pilot's manual; https://www.dropbox.com/s/d00qe9vl3sdkdxj/TempestV PilotNotes.pdf?dl=0 And an R-2800 maintenance manual, which is a bit more comprehensive; https://

  • 2 years later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Content

    • By Beer
      There is a website which holds records about known aircraft crash sites in Czechia since 1918. Unfortunately it's all in Czech but with a decent translator you can dig a lot out of it (base data even without). It contains information about known circumstances of each crash site, its location and if possible also an information about artifacts found on the crash site. It can be particularly interesting for everyone interested in WW2 air war or for someone whose relatives were airmen who died somewhere over Czechoslovakia. 
      This is the link to the website.
      Particularly interesting sections are these:
      WW2 per type
      WW2 per date
      Unfortunately there is only one-way link between the map and the database and that is from the map to the database. 
      Of course not everything is in and with the time it's getting more and more difficult to search for what happened so long time a go... 
      One example of what you can find is this. Capt. Robert B. Holmes from 82th Fighter Squadron 78. Fighter Group 8. AF was shot down by FlaK on 16th April 1945 during an attack on Prague Ruzyně (Václav Havel Airport today) airport. He died in the cockpit of the plane and was burried in a near Ruzyně cemetery. His body was later moved by the US officials to a French US military cemetery and later back to USA per wish of the family. The fragments of his Mustang were found in a forest and neighbouring fields in the period of 2007 to 2012 including some rather large parts such as a piece of the wing with the US star still well visible on it. The people behind this website were later contacted by a man whose father was one of the first responders on the crash site (he was working on the field nearby). This family built a small memorial dedicated to Capt. Holmes on the crash site and they keep taking care of it. 
      There are some interesting records even after the WW2. For example this one. Two F-84F of the Luftwaffe crashed into a forest behind Czechoslovak frontier in 1959 due to navigation error in bad weather (both pilots managed to eject after first impact with the treetops). Long article (in Czech only) about this particularly interesting incident can be found here.  
      Is there something similar for other countries? 
    • By LostCosmonaut
      Compared to the most well known Japanese fighter of World War 2, the A6M “Zero”, the J2M Raiden (“Jack”) was both less famous and less numerous. More than 10,000 A6Ms were built, but barely more than 600 J2Ms were built. Still, the J2M is a noteworthy aircraft. Despite being operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), it was a strictly land-based aircraft. The Zero was designed with a lightweight structure, to give extreme range and maneuverability. While it had a comparatively large fuel tank, it was lightly armed, and had virtually no armor. While the J2M was also very lightly built, it was designed that way to meet a completely different set of requirements; those of a short-range interceptor. The J2M's design led to it being one of the fastest climbing piston-engine aircraft in World War 2, even though its four 20mm cannons made it much more heavily armed than most Japanese planes.

      Development of the J2M began in October 1938, under the direction of Jiro Hirokoshi, in response to the issuance of the 14-shi interceptor requirement (1). Hirokoshi had also designed the A6M, which first flew in April 1939. However, development was slow, and the J2M would not make its first flight until 20 March 1942, nearly 3 ½ years later (2). Initially, this was due to Mitsubishi's focus on the A6M, which was further along in development, and of vital importance to the IJN's carrier force. Additionally, the J2M was designed to use a more powerful engine than other Japanese fighters. The first aircraft, designated J2M1, was powered by an MK4C Kasei 13 radial engine, producing 1430 horsepower from 14 cylinders (3) (compare to 940 horsepower for the A6M2) and driving a three bladed propeller. The use of such a powerful engine was driven by the need for a high climb rate, in order to fulfill the requirements set forth in the 14-shi specification.
      The climb rate of an aircraft is driven by specific excess power; by climbing an aircraft is gaining potential energy, which requires power to generate. Specific Excess Power is given by the following equation;
      It is clear from this equation that weight and drag must be minimized, while thrust and airspeed are maximized. The J2M was designed using the most powerful engine then available, to maximize thrust. Moreover, the engine was fitted with a long cowling, with the propeller on an extension shaft, also to minimize drag. In a more radical departure from traditional Japanese fighter design (as exemplified by aircraft such as the A6M and Ki-43), the J2M had comparatively short, stubby wings, only 10.8 m wide on the J2M3 variant, with a relatively high wing loading of 1.59 kN/m2 (33.29 lb/ft2) (2). (It should be noted that this wing loading is still lower than contemporary American aircraft such as the F6F Hellcat. The small wings reduced drag, and also reduced weight. More weight was saved by limiting the J2M's internal fuel, the J2M3 had only 550 liters of internal fuel (2).
      Hirokoshi did add some weight back into the J2M's design. 8 millimeters of steel armor plate protected the pilot, a luxurious amount of protection compared to the Zero. And while the J2M1 was armed with the same armament as the A6M (two 7.7mm machine guns and two Type 99 Model 2 20mm cannons), later variants would be more heavily armed, with the 7.7mm machine guns deleted in favor of an additional pair of 20mm cannons. Doubtlessly, this was driven by Japanese wartime experience; 7.7mm rounds were insufficient to deal with strongly built Grumman fighters, let alone a target like the B-17.
      The first flight of the J2M Raiden was on March 20th, 1942. Immediately, several issues were identified. One design flaw pointed out quickly was that the cockpit design on the J2M1, coupled with the long cowling, severely restricted visibility. (This issue had been identified by an IJN pilot viewing a mockup of the J2M back in December 1940 (1).) The landing speed was also criticized for being too high; while the poor visibility over the nose exacerbated this issue, pilots transitioning from the Zero would be expected to criticize the handling of a stubby interceptor.

      Wrecked J2M in the Philippines in 1945. The cooling fan is highly visible.
      However, the biggest flaw the J2M1 had was poor reliability. The MK4C engine was not delivering the expected performance, and the propeller pitch control was unreliable, failing multiple times. (1) As a result, the J2M1 failed to meet the performance set forth in the 14-shi specification, achieving a top speed of only 577 kph, well short of the 600 kph required. Naturally, the climb rate suffered as well. Only a few J2M1s were built.
      The next version, the J2M2, had several improvements. The engine was updated to the MK4R-A (3); this engine featured a methanol injection system, enabling it to produce up to 1,800 horsepower for short periods. The propeller was switched for a four blade unit. The extension shaft in the J2M1 had proved unreliable, in the J2M2 the cowling was shortened slightly, and a cooling fan was fitted at the the front. These modifications made the MK4R-A more reliable than the previous engine, despite the increase in power.
      However, there were still problems; significant vibrations occurred at certain altitudes and speeds; stiffening the engine mounts and propeller blades reduced these issues, but they were never fully solved (1). Another significant design flaw was identified in the summer of 1943; the shock absorber on the tail wheel could jam the elevator controls when the tailwheel retracted, making the aircraft virtually uncontrollable. This design flaw led to the death of one IJN pilot, and nearly killed two more (1). Ultimately, the IJN would not put the J2M2 into service until December 1943, 21 months after the first flight of the J2M1. 155 J2M2s would be built by Mitsubishi (3).
      By the time the J2M2 was entering service, the J2M3 was well into testing. The J2M3 was the most common variant of the Raiden, 260 were produced at Mitsubishi's factories (3). It was also the first variant to feature an armament of four 20mm cannons (oddly, of two different types of cannon with significantly different ballistics (2); the 7.7mm machine guns were replace with two Type 99 Model 1 cannons). Naturally, the performance of the J2M3 suffered slightly with the heavier armament, but it still retained its excellent rate of climb. The Raiden's excellent rate of climb was what kept it from being cancelled as higher performance aircraft like the N1K1-J Shiden came into service.

      The J2M's was designed to achieve a high climb rate, necessary for its intended role as an interceptor. The designers were successful; the J2M3, even with four 20mm cannons, was capable of climbing at 4650 feet per minute (1420 feet per minute) (2). Many fighters of World War 2, such as the CW-21, were claimed to be capable of climbing 'a mile a minute', but the Raiden was one of the few piston-engine aircraft that came close to achieving that mark. In fact, the Raiden climbed nearly as fast as the F8F Bearcat, despite being nearly three years older. Additionally, the J2M could continue to climb at high speeds for long periods; the J2M2 needed roughly 10 minutes to reach 30000 feet (9100 meters) (4), and on emergency power (using the methanol injection system), could maintain a climb rate in excess of 3000 feet per minute up to about 20000 feet (about 6000 meters).


      Analysis in Source (2) shows that the J2M3 was superior in several ways to one of its most common opponents, the F6F Hellcat. Though the Hellcat was faster at lower altitudes, the Raiden was equal at 6000 meters (about 20000 feet), and above that rapidly gained superiority. Additionally, the Raiden, despite not being designed for maneuverability, still had a lower stall speed than the Hellcat, and could turn tighter. The J2M3 actually had a lower wing loading than the American plane, and had flaps that could be used in combat to expand the wing area at will. As shown in the (poorly scanned) graphs on page 39 of (2), the J2M possessed a superior instantaneous turn capability to the F6F at all speeds. However, at high speeds the sustained turn capability of the American plane was superior (page 41 of (2)).
      The main area the American plane had the advantage was at high speeds and low altitudes; with the more powerful R-2800, the F6F could more easily overcome drag than the J2M. The F6F, as well as most other American planes, were also more solidly built than the J2M. The J2M also remained plagued by reliability issues throughout its service life.
      In addition to the J2M2 and J2M3 which made up the majority of Raidens built, there were a few other variants. The J2M4 was fitted with a turbo-supercharger, allowing its engine to produce significantly more power at high altitudes (1). However, this arrangement was highly unreliable, and let to only two J2M4s being built. Some sources also report that the J2M4 had two obliquely firing 20mm Type 99 Model 2 cannons in the fuselage behind the pilot (3). The J2M5 used a three stage mechanical supercharger, which proved more reliable than the turbo-supercharger, and still gave significant performance increases at altitude. Production of the J2M5 began at Koza 21st Naval Air Depot in late 1944 (6), but ultimately only about 34 would be built (3). The J2M6 was developed before the J2M4 and J2M6, it had minor updates such as an improved bubble canopy, only one was built (3). Finally, there was the J2M7, which was planned to use the same engine as the J2M5, with the improvements of the J2M6 incorporated. Few, if any, of this variant were built (3).
      A total of 621 J2Ms were built, mostly by Mitsubishi, which produced 473 airframes (5). However, 128 aircraft (about 1/5th of total production), were built at the Koza 21st Naval Air Depot (6). In addition to the reliability issues which delayed the introduction of the J2M, production was also hindered by American bombing, especially in 1945. For example, Appendix G of (5) shows that 270 J2Ms were ordered in 1945, but only 116 were produced in reality. (Unfortunately, sources (5) and (6) do not distinguish between different variants in their production figures.)
      Though the J2M2 variant first flew in October 1942, initial production of the Raiden was very slow. In the whole of 1942, only 13 airframes were produced (5). This included the three J2M1 prototypes. 90 airframes were produced in 1943, a significant increase over the year before, but still far less than had been ordered (5), and negligible compared to the production of American types. Production was highest in the spring and summer of 1944 (5), before falling off in late 1944 and 1945.
      The initial J2M1 and J2M2 variants were armed with a pair of Type 97 7.7mm machine guns, and two Type 99 Model 2 20mm cannons. The Type 97 used a 7.7x56mm rimmed cartridge; a clone of the .303 British round (7). This was the same machine gun used on other IJN fighters such as the A5M and A6M. The Type 99 Model 2 20mm cannon was a clone of the Swiss Oerlikon FF L (7), and used a 20x101mm cartridge.
      The J2M3 and further variants replaced the Type 97 machine guns with a pair of Type 99 Model 1 20mm cannons. These cannons, derived from the Oerlikon FF, used a 20x72mm cartridge (7), firing a round with roughly the same weight as the one used in the Model 2 at much lower velocity (2000 feet per second vs. 2500 feet per second (3), some sources (7) report an even lower velocity for the Type 99). The advantage the Model 1 had was lightness; it weighed only 26 kilograms vs. 34 kilograms for the model 2. Personally, I am doubtful that saving 16 kilograms was worth the difficulty of trying to use two weapons with different ballistics at the same time. Some variants (J2M3a, J2M5a) had four Model 2 20mm cannons (3), but they seem to be in the minority.

      In addition to autocannons and machine guns, the J2M was also fitted with two hardpoints which small bombs or rockets could be attached to (3) (4). Given the Raiden's role as an interceptor, and the small capacity of the hardpoints (roughly 60 kilograms) (3), it is highly unlikely that the J2M was ever substantially used as a bomber. Instead, it is more likely that the hardpoints on the J2M were used as mounting points for large air to air rockets, to be used to break up bomber formations, or ensure the destruction of a large aircraft like the B-29 in one hit. The most likely candidate for the J2M's rocket armament was the Type 3 No. 6 Mark 27 Bomb (Rocket) Model 1. Weighing 145 pounds (65.8 kilograms) (8), the Mark 27 was filled with payload of 5.5 pounds of incendiary fragments; upon launch it would accelerate to high subsonic speeds, before detonating after a set time (8). It is also possible that the similar Type 3 No. 1 Mark 28 could have been used; this was similar to the Mark 27, but much smaller, with a total weight of only 19.8 pounds (9 kilograms).
      The first unit to use the J2M in combat was the 381st Kokutai (1). Forming in October 1943, the unit at first operated Zeros, though gradually it filled with J2M2s through 1944. Even at this point, there were still problems with the Raiden's reliability. On January 30th, a Japanese pilot died when his J2M simply disintegrated during a training flight. By March 1944, the unit had been dispatched to Balikpapan, in Borneo, to defend the vital oil fields and refineries there. But due to the issues with the J2M, it used only Zeros. The first Raidens did not arrive until September 1944 (1). Reportedly, it made its debut on September 30th, when a mixed group of J2Ms and A6Ms intercepted a formation of B-24s attacking the Balikpapan refineries. The J2Ms did well for a few days, until escorting P-47s and P-38s arrived. Some 381st Raidens were also used in defense of Manila, in the Phillipines, as the Americans retook the islands. (9) By 1945, all units were ordered to return to Japan to defend against B-29s and the coming invasion. The 381st's J2Ms never made it to Japan; some ended up in Singapore, where they were found by the British (1).

      least three units operated the J2M in defense of the home islands of Japan; the 302nd, 332nd, and 352nd Kokutai. The 302nd's attempted combat debut came on November 1st, 1944, when a lone F-13 (reconaissance B-29) overflew Tokyo (1). The J2Ms, along with some Zeros and other fighters, did not manage to intercept the high flying bomber. The first successful attack against the B-29s came on December 3rd, when the 302nd shot down three B-29s. Later that month the 332nd first engaged B-29s attacking the Mitsubishi plant on December 22nd, shooting down one. (1)
      The 352nd operated in Western Japan, against B-29s flying out of China in late 1944 and early 1945. At first, despite severe maintenace issues, they achieved some successes, such as on November 21st, when a formation of B-29s flying at 25,000 feet was intercepted. Three B-29s were shot down, and more damaged.

      In general, when the Raidens were able to get to high altitude and attack the B-29s from above, they were relatively successful. This was particularly true when the J2Ms were assigned to intercept B-29 raids over Kyushu, which were flown at altitudes as low as 16,000 feet (1). The J2M also had virtually no capability to intercept aircraft at night, which made them essentially useless against LeMay's incendiary raids on Japanese cities. Finally the arrival of P-51s in April 1945 put the Raidens at a severe disadvantage; the P-51 was equal to or superior to the J2M in almost all respects, and by 1945 the Americans had much better trained pilots and better maintained machines. The last combat usage of the Raiden was on the morning of August 15th. The 302nd's Raidens and several Zeros engaged several Hellcats from VF-88 engaged in strafing runs. Reportedly four Hellcats were shot down, for the loss of two Raidens and at least one Zero(1). Japan surrendered only hours later.

      At least five J2Ms survived the war, though only one intact Raiden exists today. Two of the J2Ms were captured near Manila on February 20th, 1945 (9) (10). One of them was used for testing; but only briefly. On its second flight in American hands, an oil line in the engine failed, forcing it to land. The aircraft was later destroyed in a ground collision with a B-25 (9). Two more were found by the British in Singapore (1), and were flown in early 1946 but ex-IJN personnel (under close British supervision). The last Raiden was captured in Japan in 1945, and transported to the US. At some point, it ended up in a park in Los Angeles, before being restored to static display at the Planes of Fame museum in California.

      F6F-5 vs. J2M3 Comparison
      Further reading:
      An additional two dozen Raiden photos: https://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/japan/aircrafts/j2m-raiden/
    • By OnlySlightlyCrazy
      The full title of this work is "Weaponeering - Conventional Weapon System Effectiveness" by Morris Driels, who teaches at the USN Postgraduate School, and the cover of the edition I have in hand can be seen below.

      The book aims to "describe and quantify the methods commonly used to predict the probably of successfully attacking ground targets using air-launched or ground-launched weapons", including "the various methodologies utilized in operational products used widely in the [US military]." Essentially, this boils down to a series of statistical methods to calculate Pk and Ph for various weapons and engagements. 

      The author gave the book to my mother, who was a coworker of his at the time, and is of the opinion that Driels is not as smart as he perceives himself to be. But, hey, it's worth a review for friends.

      I will unfortunately be quite busy in the next few days, but I have enough spare time tonight to begin a small review of a chapter. I aim to eventually get a full review of the piece done.

      Our dear friends @Collimatrix and @N-L-M requested specifically chapter 15 covering mines, and chapter 16 covering target acquisition.

      Chapter 15

      The mine section covers both land mines and sea mines, and is split roughly in twain along these lines.

      The land mine section begins with roughly a page of technical description of AT vs AP, M-Kill vs K-Kill, and lists common US FAmily of SCatterably Mines (FASCAM) systems. The section includes decent representative diagrams. The chapter then proceeds to discuss the specification and planning of minefields, beginning with the mean effective diameter of a mine. Driels discusses a simplified minefield method based on mine density, and then a detailed method.

      The simplified method expresses the effectiveness of the minefield as a density value. Diels derives for the release of unitary mines from aircraft

      NMines = Fractional coverage in range * fractional coverage in deflection * number of mines released per pass * reliability * number of passes

      and for cluster type

      NMines = FRange * FDefl * NDispensers * Reliability dispenser * NMines per Dispenser * Reliability Submunition * number of passes

      and then exploits the evident geometry to express the Area and Frontal densities. Most useful is the table of suggested minefield densities for Area Denial Artillery Munition and Remote Anti-Armor Mine System, giving the Area and Linear densities required to Disrupt, Turn, Fix, and Block an opponent. 

      Whereas the simplistic method expresses effectiveness as a density, the detailed model views the targets and mines individually, assuming the targets are driving directly through the minefield perpendicular to the width and that there is only one casualty and no sympathetic detonations per detonation. The model computes the expected number of targets destroyed by the minefield, beginning with the Mean Effective Diameter and the PEncounter based on distance from the mine. 

      Driels derives the number of mines encountered which will be encountered, not avoided, and will engage the target. I can't be arsed to type the equations in full, so here you go.

      The section concludes with an example calculation using the detailed mine method. Overall, this shows the strengths and weaknesses of the book fairly well - it is a reasonable derivation of open-source statistical methods for predicting Pk and Ph and the number of sorties required, but US-specific and limited in scope and depth. 

      The treatment of Sea Mines  begins by describing the various types and uses of said mines, importantly noting that they have both defensive and offensive uses, and that the presence of the threat of mines is equally important as the actual sinking which occurs. There are three classifications of sea mines, contact, influence, and controlled.

      Shallow water mines are treated trivially, considering them equivalent to land mines with Blast Diameter in the place of MED, and assuming that the mines cannot be avoided.

      Deep water mines are approached in a similar manner, with the desire to determine the number of mines needed to achieve the required probability of damage, and planning missions from there. Two features of sea mines must be considered, however - mine actuation by passing of the target, and mine damage to the target. The probability of activation is, unfortunately, dependent on the depth of the mine and distance, forming a series of stacked bowls as below.

      The mean value of PActivation is the statistical expectation of the curve. Because I don't feel like screencapping another equation, the Width of Seaway where an actuation can occur is qualitatively merely the area under the actuation curve calculated for a specific mine and target combo.

      The damage function is also of interest - because we require the mine to both actuate and damage the target, this limits our earlier area under the curve to that area integrated to the limits of the damage function. The selection of mine sensitivity plays a very large role in the effectiveness of our mines. A high setting will lead to many more actuations than damages, which can be indicated by the ratio of the actuation area and the damage area from earlier. Setting the actuation distance equal to the damage distance means that every actuation causes damage, but the probability of actuation is only around 42%. The compromise which selects some Areadamage / Areaactuation of around .8 to .93 is generally preferred. This gives us several useful terms -
      PA+D = Reliability * Areadamage / Widthminefield . The probability that the first ship to transit a minefield is referred to as the threat, or
      Threat T = 1 - (1 - PA+D)^NMines = 1 - (1 - Reliability * Areadamage / Widthminefield ) which can obviously be solved for NMines to get the desired number of mines for a desired threat level.

      Anti-submarine mines are an interesting subset of deep sea mines, as they turn the problem from two-dimensions to three. Driels accounts for this by replacing the mine damage width with the mine damage area, to no one's surprise. Driels claims that the probability of actuation and damage is 

      PA/D =  Damage Area / (Width * Depth of minefield). Despite my initial confusion, the reliability term safely reappears in the threat definition below.

      T = 1 - (1 - (Reliability * Area damage)/(Width * Depth of minefield))^NMines, with a solution for number of mines for given threat level fairly easily taken out as before.

      Lastly, there is a summary of topics for each chapter, though unfortunately they are qualitative descriptions. Including the final derived equations in this part would be a major benefit, but is overlooked. Ah well. They are quite good for review or refreshing the material.

      As before, this is a relatively interesting if shallow engagement with the statistical methods to calculate Pk and Ph and the number of sorties required. Going more into detail regarding selecting Threat values or common (unclass) parameters would be interesting, but is lacking. Assuming I don't slack off tomorrow, I should have most or all of the Target Acquisition chapter covered.
    • By Collimatrix
      At the end of January, 2018 and after many false starts, the Russian military formally announced the limited adoption of the AEK-971 and AEK-973 rifles.  These rifles feature an unusual counterbalanced breech mechanism which is intended to improve handling, especially during full auto fire.  While exotic outside of Russia, these counter-balanced rifles are not at all new.  In fact, the 2018 adoption of the AEK-971 represents the first success of a rifle concept that has been around for a some time.

      Earliest Origins

      Animated diagram of the AK-107/108
      Balanced action recoil systems (BARS) work by accelerating a mass in the opposite direction of the bolt carrier.  The countermass is of similar mass to the bolt carrier and synchronized to move in the opposite direction by a rack and pinion.  This cancels out some, but not all of the impulses associated with self-loading actions.  But more on that later.

      Long before Soviet small arms engineers began experimenting with BARS, a number of production weapons featured synchronized masses moving in opposite directions.  Generally speaking, any stabilization that these actions provided was an incidental benefit.  Rather, these designs were either attempts to get around patents, or very early developments in the history of autoloading weapons when the design best practices had not been standardized yet.  These designs featured a forward-moving gas trap that, of necessity, needed its motion converted into rearward motion by either a lever or rack and pinion.

      The French St. Etienne Machine Gun

      The Danish Bang rifle
      At around the same time, inventors started toying with the idea of using synchronized counter-masses deliberately to cancel out recoil impulses.  The earliest patent for such a design comes from 1908 from obscure firearms designer Ludwig Mertens:

      More information on these early developments is in this article on the matter by Max Popenker.
      Soviet designers began investigating the BARS concept in earnest in the early 1970s.  This is worth noting; these early BARS rifles were actually trialed against the AK-74.

      The AL-7 rifle, a BARS rifle from the early 1970s
      The Soviet military chose the more mechanically orthodox AK-74 as a stopgap measure in order to get a small-caliber, high-velocity rifle to the front lines as quickly as possible.  Of course, the thing about stopgap weapons is that they always end up hanging around longer than intended, and forty four years later Russian troops are still equipped with the AK-74.

      A small number of submachine gun prototypes with a BARS-like system were trialed, but not mass-produced.  The gas operated action of a rifle can be balanced with a fairly small synchronizer rack and pinion, but the blowback action of a submachine gun requires a fairly large and massive synchronizer gear or lever.  This is because in a gas operated rifle a second gas piston can be attached to the countermass, thereby unloading the synchronizer gear.

      There are three BARS designs of note from Russia:


      The AK-107 and AK-108 are BARS rifles in 5.45x39mm and 5.56x45mm respectively.  These rifles are products of the Kalashnikov design bureau and Izmash factory, now Kalashnikov Concern.  Internally they are very similar to an AK, only with the countermass and synchronizer unit situated above the bolt carrier group.


      Close up of synchronizer and dual return spring assemblies

      This is configuration is almost identical to the AL-7 design of the early 1970s.  Like the more conventional AK-100 series, the AK-107/AK-108 were offered for export during the late 1990s and early 2000s, but they failed to attract any customers.  The furniture is very similar to the AK-100 series, and indeed the only obvious external difference is the long tube protruding from the gas block and bridging the gap to the front sight.
      The AK-107 has re-emerged recently as the Saiga 107, a rifle clearly intended for competitive shooting events like 3-gun.


      The rival Kovrov design bureau was only slightly behind the Kalashnikov design bureau in exploring the BARS concept.  Their earliest prototype featuring the system, the SA-006 (also transliterated as CA-006) also dates from the early 1970s.

      Chief designer Sergey Koksharov refined this design into the AEK-971.  The chief refinement of his design over the first-generation balanced action prototypes from the early 1970s is that the countermass sits inside the bolt carrier, rather than being stacked on top of it.  This is a more compact installation of the mechanism, but otherwise accomplishes the same thing.


      Moving parts group of the AEK-971

      The early AEK-971 had a triangular metal buttstock and a Kalashnikov-style safety lever on the right side of the rifle.

      In this guise the rifle competed unsuccessfully with Nikonov's AN-94 design in the Abakan competition.  Considering that a relative handful of AN-94s were ever produced, this was perhaps not a terrible loss for the Kovrov design bureau.

      After the end of the Soviet Union, the AEK-971 design was picked up by the Degtyarev factory, itself a division of the state-owned Rostec.

      The Degtyarev factory would unsuccessfully try to make sales of the weapon for the next twenty four years.  In the meantime, they made some small refinements to the rifle.  The Kalashnikov-style safety lever was deleted and replaced with a thumb safety on the left side of the receiver.

      Later on the Degtyarev factory caught HK fever, and a very HK-esque sliding metal stock was added in addition to a very HK-esque rear sight.  The thumb safety lever was also made ambidextrous.  The handguard was changed a few times.

      Still, reception to the rifle was lukewarm.  The 2018 announcement that the rifle would be procured in limited numbers alongside more conventional AK rifles is not exactly a coup.  The numbers bought are likely to be very low.  A 5.56mm AEK-972 and 7.62x39mm AEK-973 also exist.  The newest version of the rifle has been referred to as A-545.

      AKB and AKB-1



      AKB, closeup of the receiver

      The AKB and AKB-1 are a pair of painfully obscure designs designed by Viktor Kalashnikov, Mikhail Kalashnikov's son.  The later AKB-1 is the more conservative of the two, while the AKB is quite wild.

      Both rifles use a more or less conventional AK type bolt carrier, but the AKB uses the barrel as the countermass.  That's right; the entire barrel shoots forward while the bolt carrier moves back!  This unusual arrangement also allowed for an extremely high cyclic rate of fire; 2000RPM.  Later on a burst limiter and rate of fire limiter were added.  The rifle would fire at the full 2000 RPM for two round bursts, but a mere 1000 RPM for full auto.

      The AKB-1 was a far more conventional design, but it still had a BARS.  In this design the countermass was nested inside the main bolt carrier, similar to the AEK-971.

      Not a great deal of information is available about these rifles, but @Hrachya H wrote an article on them which can be read here.

  • Create New...