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Colt Mk 12
20 mm Mk 12 cannon of RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk 1984.jpg
Mk 12 cannon of a RNZAF Douglas A-4K Skyhawk.
Type Autocannon
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1950s – present
Wars Vietnam War, Falklands War, Gulf War
Weight 46.0 kg (101.4 lb)

Cartridge 20×110mm USN
Caliber 20 mm (0.787 in)
Action Gas-operated reloading
Rate of fire 1,000 rpm
Muzzle velocity 1,010 m/s (3,300 ft/s)

The Colt-Browning Mk 12 was a 20 mm cannon widely used by the United States Navy after World War II.


The Mk 12 was an advanced derivative of the wartime Hispano HS 404 that had been used on a variety of American and British fighter aircraft during World War II. It used a lighter projectile with a bigger charge for better muzzle velocity and higher rate of fire at the cost of hitting power. It entered U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps service in the mid-1950s, replacing the Navy's earlier M3 cannon.

In service, the Mk 12 proved less than satisfactory. Although its muzzle velocity and rate of fire were acceptable, it was inaccurate and frequently unreliable. Pilots of the F-8 Crusader over North Vietnam, in particular, appreciated the presence of the cannon, but jams and stoppages were common, especially following hard dogfighting maneuvers.

Nevertheless, the Mk 12 was standard cannon armament on gun-armed Navy and Marine Corps fighters from the early 1950s to the early 1960s, including the F4D Skyray, F3H Demon, A-4 Skyhawk, F-8 Crusader , F-11 Tiger and early Navy versions of the A-7 Corsair II.

International customers of the A-4 Skyhawk, F-8 Crusader, and the A-7 Corsair II also used the Mk 12 cannon: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Portugal. The only exception were Israel and Singapore. The Israeli Air Force replaced the Mk 12 cannon with the 30 mm DEFA cannon in its Skyhawks, the Republic of Singapore Air Force fitted the 30 mm ADEN cannon. Indonesia later bought some used A-4s from Israel.

As of 2013, the Mk 12 cannon is still in use in Skyhawks of the Argentine Air Force and the Brazilian Navy.

See also[]

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