Royal Armouries

BOFORS 40mm Anti-aircraft gun


BOFORS 40mm Anti-aircraft gun, 1940. XIX.861

BOFORS 40mm Anti-aircraft gun, 1940. XIX.861

  • BOFORS 40mm Anti-aircraft gun, 1940. XIX.861

    BOFORS 40mm Anti-aircraft gun, 1940. XIX.861

Date: 1940 | Object number: XIX.861

BOFORS 40mm Anti-aircraft gun


Collection no. XIX.861
Date 1940
Calibre (mm) 40
Barrel length (m) 2.25
Weight (kg) 1,920
Projectile weight (kg) 1
Range (m) 5,000
Crew 6
Fire rate 120 per minute

Mobile, potent and available

With one of the most rapid rates of fire, this versatile light anti-aircraft gun was used on both land and sea for over 30 years and was particularly effective against low flying attack aircraft.

Whether operating in the North African desert campaign or on a convoy in the Atlantic Ocean, the Bofors’ firepower inevitably saved countless Allied lives during the Second World War.

The Bofors was one of the most widely used and best light anti-aircraft guns of the Second World War. It protected field armies, also being used against ground targets, and it was fitted on many warships. Its high rate of fire provided an excellent defence against fast-moving enemy aircraft.

This gun was made in Portugal under licence from the Swedish company Bofors. Recognizing its potential, other countries followed including Britain in 1937 where its performance was improved. Over 100,000 were made by the end of the war. Essentially a big machine gun, it was able to fire 120 rounds per minute. Fort Nelson was adapted to store Bofors ammunition from 1939.

It remained in service until the 1980s with both British and Argentine forces using it during the Falklands War. Incredibly, this gun is still used by the United States Air Force on the Lockheed AC-130 Gunship.

On the night of the 23rd March (1945) the barrage started the softening up of the positions on the far bank. Near to the Rhine, batteries of light guns such as 40 mm Bofors guns were firing on a flat trajectory straight across the river.

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