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Bofors 40mm L/60 Anti-aircraft Gun: Armed Forces Worldwide Cheered This Pom-Pom Replacement

By Jon Guttman 
Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: July 05, 2012 
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During World War II the Dutch-designed Bofors became the mainstay of anti-aircraft defense aboard U.S. Navy warships. (Illustration by Gregory Proch)
During World War II the Dutch-designed Bofors became the mainstay of anti-aircraft defense aboard U.S. Navy warships. (Illustration by Gregory Proch)

Having purchased Vickers 2-pounder pom-pom guns for its ships in 1922, the Swedish navy asked its own native Bofors for a more capable anti-aircraft weapon. In 1928 the weapons firm responded with a smaller version of a 57mm semiautomatic gun it had developed to engage torpedo boats. The gun entered production in late 1933 as the Akan M/32, known internationally as the 40mm L/60.

International orders and licensing requests flooded in. The Royal Netherlands Navy was first to install the anti-aircraft gun, aboard its light cruiser De Ruyter. In April 1935 Bofors introduced a towable carriage, leading to orders from the Belgian, Polish and Norwegian armies. In 1937 the British adopted a Bofors fitted with a flash hider as the QF (quick-firing) 40mm Mark I. The improved QF Mark III became the standard British light anti-aircraft weapon, 2,100 being built in Britain, Canada and Australia by the end of World War II.

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In the United States, Chrysler Corp. produced 60,000 guns and 120,000 barrels during the war. Emplaced on Dutch-designed Hazemeyer twin mounts, the Bofors became a mainstay of anti-aircraft defense aboard U.S. Navy warships. The Army mounted twin Bofors on its M-24 tank chassis, dubbing the new weapon the M19 gun motor carriage. Although Bofors later developed a lighter, higher-velocity AA weapon (the 40mm L/70), L/60s remain in use by armed forces worldwide.

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