As I've seen in the movies, could a .50 caliber round shoot down a fighter jet?

  • $\begingroup$ Probably even a .22 could with a lucky hit in the right place. $\endgroup$ – Fred Larson Apr 18 '17 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Can a fighter jet be hit by guns? $\endgroup$ – kevin Apr 18 '17 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ I remember also a question, which has an answer with this picture, but can find it now. $\endgroup$ – mins Apr 19 '17 at 0:34

By .50 caliber, I believe you are referring to the .50 BMG cartridge. The answer is yes, you could shoot down a jet fighter using such a round and plenty of jet fighters, such as MiG-15s, have been felled using that round during the Korean War.

In some respects the .50 BMG is a superior round to modern cannon rounds for shooting down jet fighters. It's a small, fast round with good range, muzzle energy and penetration capability and can be fired at high rates, saturating sections of the sky with rounds, particularly useful for high off-angle snapshots in ACM.

In regards to penetration power, even a .22LR round could punch through the skin of a modern fighter. The structure has to be kept light for weight and performance reasons. Armor on fighters is almost unheard of, save for some plating on flight crew seats. One exception to this is ground attack aircraft such as the A-10 or SU-25 which do have armor around the cockpit to protect the pilot at low levels. The rest of the aircraft does not have armor and relies more on structural integrity and redundancy to protect the aircraft from ground fire.

  • $\begingroup$ not just BMG. The good old M1 HMG was and still is an effective weapon against low flying aircraft. As are .30 machine guns (though obviously they have shorter range). $\endgroup$ – jwenting Apr 19 '17 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ Never heard of such a round. There is the .50 Browning Machine Gun (12.7 x 99 mm NATO) originally developed for the Browning M2 heavy machine gun; $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Apr 19 '17 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ that's the one, the M2 HMG. I always get the M number wrong for that one for some reason... Of course there also is the older M1 (also called M1919 after the year of its introduction) Heavy Machine Gun, an older .30 weapon on which the M2 was based. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Apr 19 '17 at 12:59

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