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Bofors 40mm (Series)

Towed Anti-Aircraft Gun / Air Defense Gun

Sweden | 1932

"Introduced in 1932, the Swedish Bofors 40mm excelled in both land and naval roles as an air defense gun - it still sees service today."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/16/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Along with the Swiss 20mm Oerlikon, the Swedish 40mm Bofors became one of the most successful light anti-aircraft weapons of military history. It appeared just prior to World War 2 (1939-1945) and was mass-produced both in Sweden and around the world while being used across all major fronts of the conflict. While it originally emerged as a naval air defense gun, its storied history was expanded as a land-based air defense system where it was adopted through a large collection of operators. Variations of the base design were eventually witnessed and the type has gone on to serve with a plethora of customers ranging from Algeria to Yemen. The British and Americans both locally-produced the type as did Germany (through Norwegian factories). The Soviets took on stocks through Lend-Lease while Japanese forces reused captured Dutch examples in the Pacific Theater. Such was the success of the 40mm Bofors design that it still remains in service today (2014), having seen additional combat service through the many engagements of the Cold War years.

Origins of the storied 40mm Bofors line were seen in an early 1922 initiative by the Swedish Navy to replace its British Vickers 2-pounder anti-aircraft guns. The concern of AB Bofors was charged with design and development of a successor which led to a formal program start in 1928. The first form was made available in 1930 and thoroughly tested through the usual trials for a gun of this type. Early versions were adopted aboard Swedish Navy submarines. A Dutch order in 1934 introduced a twin-gun variant and, the following year, Bofors unveiled a land-based version sporting its own towable wheeled carriage frame for army use - its first customer became the Belgian Army. Formal adoption of this version by the Swedish Army came in 1936.

Due to the growing foreign need for such a gun, Bofors entered in many local-license production contracts with various would-be customers - as was the case with Britain, Finland, Hungary, Norway, Poland, and the United States. In the UK, the weapon was produced by Vickers and known as "Gun, AA, Mk I" with some modifications added to suit local requirements. The American form was the "40mm Gun M1" which remained largely faithful to the original Swedish offering. Polish versions were modified locally as the "40mm Armata Przeciwlotnicza wz. 36".

In practice, several qualities of the Swedish gun made for an excellent overall military product: the action proved reliable and fast while offering a useful rate-of-fire and high muzzle velocity when firing its 40mm projectile. The weapon could engage any and all aircraft of the period with lethal results. A quick-change barrel function allowed overheated barrels to be instantly replaced. The automatic firing action of the gun allowed for sustained fire rates so long as the trigger was pressed and ammunition supplies were properly managed (cassettes/clips were used for feeding the weapon). The mounting hardware of both the land- and naval-based gun versions allowed for a full 360-degree traversal of the gun while elevation angles spanned -5 to +90 degrees. Included optics supplied the necessary assistance when attempting to engage a high-flying, fast-moving aerial target.

Two primary versions ultimately emerged - the original L/60 and the improved, post-war L/70 of 1948. The latter was developed to increase operator hit chances through an increased range and rate-of-fire. The guns differed primarily in the 40mm projectile fired - 40x311mmR versus 40x364mmR respectively - which led to varying performance statistics between the two. The L/60 version held a rate-of-fire of 120 rounds-per-minute versus the L/70's 330 rounds-per-minute. Muzzle velocity between the two was 2,900 feet-per-second and 3,350 feet-per-second respectively. Maximum firing ranges were 23,500 feet to 41,000 feet respectively. The L/60 system weighed 4,670lbs against the L/70's 11,350lb weight.

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Production of the gun was seen all across Europe by the time of the start of World War 2 on September 1st, 1939. Local stocks of some countries were augmented by purchase of guns from other suppliers - the British inventory not only featured local Vickers-produced Bofors 40mm guns but also took on deliveries from Bofors guns built in Poland to shore up numbers.

During the war, the 40mm Bofors proved itself unlike any other weapon of the era - seeing operational service with both sides of the conflict across all of the major fronts in the war. Amazingly, Bofors of Sweden produced the gun from 1932 to 2000. German wartime production was handled through Norway at Kongsberg as the 4cm FlaK 28 (Bofors). The guns were held in such high regard that captured systems were quickly reconstituted for service against former owners. All of this was not to say that the Bofors 40mm did not excel in its naval role as an air defense gun for it did. It was equally featured across many warship types - from submarines to light-class vessels to heavier capital ships of the period. The guns were usually coupled to the smaller Swiss 20mm Oerlikons for a truly devastating, and effective, defensive aircraft net.

Its widespread mass production and ammunition availability also ensured it a healthy, long service life into the modern age. Indeed, Bofors 40mm guns were used in the many conflicts that followed World War 2 - the Indo-Pak Wars (1947, 1965, 1971, 1999), the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War (1982), and Gulf War (1991) among others - up to the more modern commitments seen today. The gun has also been adopted aboard gunship aircraft (as in the Lockheed AC-130 "Spectre") and tracked armored vehicles (like the Italian DARDO IFV and the Swedish CV90 IFV).

The 40mm Bofors product eventually fell under the United Defence Industries brand label from 2000 to 2006 until absorbed under the BAe Systems label from 2006 onwards. As such, it remains in production today (2014).

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Bofors 40mm Towed Anti-Aircraft Gun / Air Defense Gun.
None. This is a towed artillery piece.
Installed Power
6 miles
10 km
The physical qualities of the Bofors 40mm Towed Anti-Aircraft Gun / Air Defense Gun.
11,023 lb
5,000 kg | 5.5 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Bofors 40mm (Series) Towed Anti-Aircraft Gun / Air Defense Gun.
1 OR 2 x 40mm autocannon gun barrels
Dependent on ammunition carrier. 40x311mmR used in L/60 mark; 40x364mmR used in L/70 mark.
Nightvision - NONE.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Notable series variants as part of the Bofors 40mm (Series) family line.
Bofors 40mm - Base Series Designation
L/60 - Original form of 1932; firing 40x311mmR projectile.
L/70 - Model of 1948; firing 40x364mmR projectile; increased range and increased rate-of-fire.
Gun, AA, Mk I - UK guns locally-produced under license by Vickers
M1 Bofors L/60 - U.S. Army designation; local-license production by Chrysler.
4cm FlaK 28 (Bofors) - German wartime models produced through Kongsberg of Norway.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Bofors 40mm (Series). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 25,000 Units

Contractor(s): Bofors Defence - Sweden / United Defense - USA / BAe Systems AB - UK
National flag of Algeria National flag of Argentina National flag of Australia National flag of Austria National flag of Bahrain National flag of Bangladesh National flag of Belgium National flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina National flag of Brazil National flag of Canada National flag of Chile National flag of Croatia National flag of Cyprus National flag of Denmark National flag of the Dominican Republic National flag of Ecuador National flag of Egypt National flag of France National flag of Finland National flag of modern Germany National flag of Iceland National flag of India National flag of Indonesia National flag of Iraq National flag of Ireland National flag of Israel National flag of Italy National flag of the Kingdom of Italy National flag of modern Japan National flag of Jordan National flag of Latvia National flag of Lebanon National flag of Libya National flag of Lithuania National flag of Malaysia National flag of Mexico National flag of the Netherlands National flag of New Zealand National flag of Nigeria National flag of Norway National flag of Oman National flag of Pakistan National flag of Peru National flag of the Philippines National flag of Poland National flag of Portugal National flag of Qatar National flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National flag of Serbia National flag of Singapore National flag of South Africa National flag of South Korea National flag of Spain National flag of Sri Lanka National flag of Sudan National flag of Sweden National flag of Switzerland National flag of Taiwan National flag of Thailand National flag of Turkey National flag of the United Arab Emirates National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States National flag of Uruguay National flag of Vietnam National flag of Venezuela National flag of Yemen

[ Algeria; Argentina; Australia; Austria; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Belize; Brazil; Brunei; Burma; Canada; Chile; Croatia; Cyprus; Denmark; Djibouti; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; Finland; France; Germany; Guatemala; India; Indonesia; Iceland; Ireland; Iraq; Israel; Kingdom of Italy; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Lebanon; Libya; Latvia; Lithuania; Malaysia; Mexico; Malta; Netherlands; Nigeria; Norway; New Zealand; Oman; Pakistan; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Serbia; Singapore; Sudan; South Africa; South Korea; Spain; Sri Lanka; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan; Thailand; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Uruguay; South Vietnam; Vietnam; Venezuela; Yemen ]
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Image of the Bofors 40mm (Series)
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Image of the Bofors 40mm (Series)
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Image of the Bofors 40mm (Series)
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Image of the Bofors 40mm (Series)
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Image of the Bofors 40mm (Series)
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Image of the Bofors 40mm (Series)

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Bofors 40mm (Series) Towed Anti-Aircraft Gun / Air Defense Gun appears in the following collections:
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