Dinger's Aviation Pages
British aircraft machine guns of WWII

Type
Weight
Rate of Fire
Muzzle Velocity
Feed Type
Browning .303
23 lb
1140 rpm
2840 fps
Belt
Browning .50
61 lb
750-800 rpm
2900 fps
Belt
Browning .50 Heavy
78 lb
1100 rpm
2900 fps
Belt
Lewis
26 lb
550 -1200 rpm*
2450 fps
Drum usually 96 rounds
Vickers K (VGO)
26 lb
800 - 1200 rpm Selectable
2400 fps
Drum usually 96 rounds


* The Lewis gun's rate of fire would "accelerate" the longer the trigger was pressed. The Lewis gun was prone to more stoppages than the Vickers K gun, and those stoppages were harder to clear. This made the Vickers K much more popular with air gunners. The Vickers K was in widespread use by the RAF early in the war and it would have been rare for a Lewis to have been used in combat by the RAF. Meanwhile the Fleet Air Arm still retained the Lewis gun early in the war, but Vickers K guns were "obtained" whenever possible.

Non- aircraft machine guns for comparison

Type
Weight
Rate of Fire
Muzzle Velocity
Feed Type
Bren .303
23 lb
500-520 rpm
2440 fps
30 round magazine
Vickers .303
33 lb without water
450 rpm
2440 fps
Belt
Vickers .50
63 lb without water
500-600 rpm
2540 fp
Belt
Besa 7.92mm
48 lb
450-750 rpm Selectable **
2,700 fps
Belt


** Depending on model. Early model model Besa guns could be switched between high or low rates of fire. The higher rate of file mode was deleted from later models.