Airspeed GWL RapidCast – AC-47 Spooky

2013-08-03 045

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here:  Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

The American Flight Museum brought its AC-47 out onto the ramp for the Gathering of Warbirds and Legends this weekend.  Ed Van Morlan talked to us at length about the aircraft and its mission.

2013-08-03 034

Ed broke out the gunsight and showed us where it’s installed for combat missions.  It’s used by the pilot to aim the two GE rotary miniguns on the left side, just aft of the wing.

2013-08-03 038

Here are the guns.  This is a pretty typical installation, which is to say inadequate for the power of the guns.  I’m told that it was not uncommon for the guns to come loose from their moorings in the floor of the aircraft.  The AC-47 was the proof of concept that eventually led to the AC-130 and more purpose-built weapons systems.

2013-08-03 043

Here are those guns, just aft of the left wing root.  It seems to me that the aircrew had a huge incentive to make sure that the guns were aimed reasonably well.  The stream of fire comes pretty darned close to the left aileron and/or wingtip.


About Steve Tupper

Stephen Force is the superhero alter ego of mild-mannered tech and aviation lawyer, commercial pilot (glider, with private privileges in ASEL, ASES, AMEL, IA, and DC-3 (SIC) type-rated), and Civil Air Patrol lieutenant colonel Steve Tupper. Steve writes, records, and brings you the inside story about everything that really matters in aviation. He's flown with the USAF Thunderbirds, he's and airshow performer and air boss, and he's one of only five pilots ever to earn a FAST card in the glider category. Follow Steve's ongoing quest to do all that is cool in aviation at or on Twitter as @StephenForce.


  1. Larry James says:

    Really interesting interview on an amazing machine that I came to know and truly appreciate as a young infantry platoon leader. Perhaps I misunderstood Mr. Van Morlan’s comments about RPGs but I can assure listeners to the podcast that RPGs were very much a part of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong arsenal.

    I’m pretty sure the aircrews flying Spooky were aware of their presence too.



Speak Your Mind