Airborne Awesomosity

The Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-6-30: A Destructive Force

Last week, while I was off watching rally cars drive by, The Professor took on the role of weapons-obsessed hooligan, and did a mighty fine job. The GAU-8 Avenger is one of those once-in-a-lifetime weapons that makes you stop, drool, and work out a mounting system for the roof rack on your Jeep. Or is it?

That up there is not a GAU-8. In fact, it’s not even American. While us here in the land of baseball and apple pie were building a jet plane around a canon, the Soviets were building a canon in search of an airplane. It’s known as the Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-6-30. It is a 6-barrel gatling gun with a hydraulic drive (unlike the GAU-8’s electric drive) and capable of firing 390 g 30×165 mm rounds between 4,000 and 6,000 rounds per minute. It’s almost as good as the Amerikanski gun.

The GSh-6-30, though, is much deadlier. Especially if you are flying a MiG-27 Flogger with one attached. Unlike the holy union of the GAU-8 and the A-10, the GSh-6-30 and the MiG-27 seem to have an abusive, forced marriage only a sadist could love. You see, the MiG-27 is basically an improvement on the MiG-23 and could essentially be considered a variant of that aircraft. The first MiG-27 was equipped with the GSh-6-30 in a gondola mounted to the bottom of the fuselage because that’s where it would fit. Firing it, even for the very short amount of time a pilot could, meant a moment of violence. Not just on the recipient of the 30×165 mm round, but on the aircraft itself. The vibration and recoil caused by the gun was so severe that it caused one aircraft to lose its canopy, one aircraft to lose its instrument panel, three aircraft had their front landing gear doors torn or jammed, multiple avionics failures, the routine failure of the landing lights, and fatigue cracks in the fuel tanks.

Pulling that trigger could mean the death of the target, and the death of the pilot. Sort of a Russian roulette at 10,000 feet.

[Image Credit: VargaA]

  • fodder650

    There are many aircraft I can point out that had guns mounted after the fact like the Mig27 but the best example that comes to mind is the F4 Phantom getting the gun after the fact. This is the gun pod they put onto the bottom of the F4 after the pilots learned that a missile only fighter isn't the greatest idea. If you look at the front you will see the gun sticking out.

    <img src="; width=600 />

    The next picture shows a lot more. Note the 4 50's in the B25's nose where the bombadier used to sit. Now look on the side and you will see the gun pods bolted to the cheeks of the plane. Which I remember riding the pilots said vibrated very badly and made you think the plane was going to tear itself apart. Then note the other canon on the front there. Which I believe is a 75mm artillery gun like they used on the A20 for anti-shipping

    <img src="; width=600 />

  • The Professor

    I find the GSh-6-30 somewhat puzzling. Was that the best the Soviets could do with that gun? I mean, the thing vibrates so badly in operation that it severely damages the damned aircraft. That's not much use as a weapon. Didn't they try to correct the balance? Or did they try, couldn't get it sorted, and said "Aw, fuckit. It shoots bullets. That's good enough."? I always thought that they had better engineers than that. I wonder what the real story is?
    But having said that, I'd love to see a cockpit video of a Soviet pilot shooting the gun in flight, with good sound and subtitles for what the pilot's reaction is. Also what kind of shape the plane returned in. What fell off this time?