Virtual Museum - Ordnance and Armament

Ref. No. 800. RNZAF MCDONNELL DOUGLAS A-4 SKYHAWK CANNON BARREL AND MUZZLE BREAK.  Barrel  has mark “PAV 195” stamped on it.  Muzzle break measures 153mm long and 50mm in diameter.  Made of stainless steel (?) and stamped with number “28”, as well as inspection mark “U 197”. Has minor dents and has been used.  Probably from a crashed aircraft.  A muzzle break is an attachment on the end of the gun barrel that has ports (or holes in the sides, top and bottom) in order to deflect the propellant gasses behind the bullet out to the side or top of the rifle.  This deflection of gasses stabilises the barrel of the gun.

Photo: RNZAF Official. Although the RNZAF Skyhawks were never used for air-to-air combat, they were used on one occasion in the air-to-ground role.  On 30 March 1976, two RNZAF Skyhawks, flown by F/Lt Jim Jennings and F/Lt John Herron, were required to head off a Taiwanese squid boat (Kin Nan - see above), which had been caught fishing inside New Zealand’s territorial waters.  After the offending boat failed to stop for the naval patrol vessel HMNZS Taupo, Jennings fired warning shots into the sea in front of it.  The Taiwanese captain had no problem in understanding the message the Skyhawks delivered and stopped his vessel immediately.  This incident received world-wide media coverage and sent out a clear message that New Zealand was serious about protecting its borders and would use force if necessary.

Despite the majority of New Zealanders seeing a need to retain strike aircraft into the 21st Century, the New Zealand Labour government, in coalition with the Alliance Party, decided to scrap New Zealand’s air combat force in 2001.  As a result, Nos. 2, 14 and 75 Squadrons were disbanded on 13 December 2001.  The squadrons’ A-4 Skyhawk and Aermacchi MB339 aircraft were placed in storage and advertised for sale.  It was the end of an era for New Zealand's air combat force.

In 2005, four years after being advertised for sale, the Skyhawks and Aermacchis were sold to a private company in the USA, which will train US and selected foreign pilots. Given the excellent condition of the aircraft, and the fact that the A-4 was re-equipped to an F-16 standard, the purchaser was more than happy with the deal.  Their gain, New Zealand's loss.  The only aircraft now flying with the RNZAF that was originally designed with forward-firing guns is an Historic Flight Harvard based at Ohakea - a WWII training aircraft!

Ref. No. 762. RNZAF 20 MM A-4K SKYHAWK CARTRIDGE.  Case measures 110 mm, indicating this 20x110 case is United States Navy.  Case headstamp reads “20 MM – MK5. MOD.O RNO 8 65”. Projectile reads “20 MM MK 11 MOD 1 C 1-22 ZDP 10 72.”  Cartridge has no charge or fuse.  Projectile (not in case) measures 73 mm in length.

Ref. No. 758.  8 LB PRACTICE BOMB.  Circa 1930s.  Complete with brass primer and pin, this practice bomb has been chromed for display.  The pin below the nose would probably have been a "safety".  This would be removed prior to flight.  A smaller pin (not present and not  sure what this would be made of) would then hold the brass nose rod in place.  When released from an aircraft and hitting the ground, the impact would break the retaining pin and the brass nose piece and attached rod would then be forced inward, which would then presumeable puncture some sort of smoke cannister in the rear section, the smoke from which would come out the hollow tail section.  Anyway - that's my theory! The Canterbury Aero Club have a similar practice bomb incorporated into their bombing trophy. 

Ref. No. 820. NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMM. BOMB, PRACTICE, MK 106-5.  Markings on outside as follows: NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMM. BOMB, PRACTICE, MK 106-5, DTF 150568 WT: 4.75 LBS. DNMN09-80-C-0068/5N24 NSN: 1325-01-088-1055 ABBI-K-101-004 DODIC/NALC: E961. Painted blue with white lettering 550 mm. Used on Skyhawks by the RNZAF.  Apparently also known as a BDU 48 (10 lb High Drag Practice Bomb).  Item is inert.

Ref. No. 940. SKYHAWK LABS (LOW ALTITUDE RELEASE SYSTEM) CONTROL UNIT. Face plate has “LABS” and “CORC”. Label on instrument reads “Douglas Control Assy Corc & Labs 5824353-1 Serial No. DAC035.” Main switch allows for “loft” selection or O/S (over the shoulder) bombing. Two knobs allow selection of min and set range in feet. This unit was developed by Douglas for the dropping of nuclear bombs. The “AJB-3 LABS allowed for loft bombing and was designed to automatically release the nuclear ‘Shape’, tossing it high enough to permit the A-4 to escape the bomb’s blast.”

Ref. No. 420. MKI BOMB RACK. Circa 1940’s. Type used on Spitfires (shown in Airfix book). Engraved on side is IIIA/N2545 MKI* Ser. No. RDII. Electrical junction box on rack reads “Ref No. 5D/579. Plug has “5D/515”.

Ref. No. 1153. BRASS AIR MINISTRY CHART DIVIDERS WITH BOMBING ERROR AND WIND SPEED SCALE AND TIME OF FALL SCALE. Circa 1940s. Air Ministry Stores Reference No. 9/360. Made by Stanley, London. Has scale on one side with words “Bombing Error And Wind Speed Scale” with “Height in Thousands of Ft” on one side and “Conversion to 10,000 feet” and “Time of Fall Scale” on other with two scales with heights in thousands of feet

Ref. No. 1115. MK I LOW LEVEL BOMB SIGHT. Air Ministry. Ref. No. 9/1392. Bombsight Low Level Mk. 1. Serial No. 7111/40

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