Browning 0.30 M2 AN Machine Gun

This article deals with the Browning primarily as an aircraft and naval weapon. See the article on Small Arms for further discussion of the Browning as an infantry weapon.

Photograph of Browning 0.50 machine gun

Wikimedia Commons


7.62 mm
Ammunition type     
AP or incendiary in 100-round belts

Weight of projectile     

0.38 ounce
10.9 gram


2770 feet per second
845 meters per second
Rate of fire 1350 rounds per minute`
22 lbs
10 kg
Gun power

The Browning M1919 0.30 machine gun was a successful design when used in land warfare.  It used a closed-bolt short recoil action and ammunition was fed from 100-round belts. Both air-cooled and water-cooled versions were manufactured, and the water-cooled version could fire continuously for hours.  Those mounted on aircraft were invariably air-cooled since the slip stream provided a highly efficient flow of air.

The aircraft gun was copied during the 1930s, under license or otherwise, by a number of countries in several slightly different calibers. Of these, the most important was the 7.65mm version produced by the Fabrique Nationale in Belgium. FN was able to push the rate of fire to 1900 rounds per minute, but the barrel wear was excessive and the lower rate of fire was retained. The British produced a 0.303 caliber version that initially suffered from serious "cooking-off" problems with the sensitive British cordite. This problem was solved by switching to an open bolt arrangement, and by 1939 the British had a very reliable, if expensive and complicated, weapon, the Browning M2 AN.

However, the aircraft gun became increasingly ineffective as the war progressed, since its rifle-caliber round was not heavy enough to inflict substantial structural damage on modern aircraft or to penetrate aircraft armor. It was superceded by the Browning 0.50 machine gun by mid-1943.

Williams and Gustin (2003)

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