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Converting 0.50 inch Brownings from a P-40 wreck to use in a ground role?


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During WW2 some of men in my father's RAF unit found an abandoned P-40 Fighter and decided to convert a few of its 0.50 inch Brownings for use in a ground role, for a bit of extra protection etc. My dad is sure they did this but I was wondering how this could be done as MGs in the P-40 were fired electrically unlike those made for the Army. So is it feasible. From memory my dad says the conversion didn't need any electrical power to fire it. Your thoughts?

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The aircraft guns are fired electrically but that only uses a solenoid clamped around the buffer tube on the back plate. The solenoid works against the trigger, albeit a different trigger to a ground mount gun. It wouldn't be hard for an armourer to convert from one to the other.

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The .5" Browning used in aircraft was just one incarnation of the M2 Browning known as the M2AC. There was also a water cooled version used predominantly by the USA as a Anti Aircraft machine gun called the M2WC and then there was the Soldiers favourite, the M2HB or M2 Heavy Barrel (Called the Ma Deuce by G.I.s).


There were also differing versions of the AC version too, fixed or flexible. Then you could have different fixtures for each of those too, wing guns would have solenoid or pneumatic firing where as turret guns may have a number of variations. As they all share the M2 mechanics, it's quite easy to turn a M2AC into a ground gun.


A flexible M2AC from say the waist of a B17 could be ready to go straight away, but a wing gun would need modifying by adapting what was there, or if your friendly plumber had spare parts, he could fit it out with flexible parts or HB parts.


The most well known use of the AC in ground use must be the LRDG and SAS in the deserts of WW2.


This shows my official M2AC cutaway which I set up as a ground gun on a M3 tripod (Since converted back).




This one shows a M2AC and the official M2AC Cutaway.




This is my M2HB, note how they are basically the same, major difference between the AC and HB being the barrel.




And the parts break down.



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Many thanks Chris - so from your post and the previous it was true that the 0.50inch Brownings can be set up for ground use, however I wonder if it could still be cocked and fed with belt ammo quite easily? Would the cocking handle need to be fabricated as I can't picture how these guns would have been cocked in a P-40. Was it done electrically or manually by the ground crew before take-off?

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