POTD: Aerial Door gunner in Übung Heli Dust – FN M3M (GAU-21)

    This is one of the best pictures I’ve seen in a while, perfect for TFB’s Photo Of The Day.

    In 2017 we did a similar one, the Aerial Door Gunning with .50 BMG.

    Übung means exercise in German, and the picture is from “Heli Dust”.

    The picture is taken out of a Sikorsky transport helicopter CH-53 on the military training area Oberlausitz (Germany) in February 2019.

    You can see a door gunner handling the FN M3M (GAU-21) in 50 BMG (12.7x99mm) NATO. (Thanks FN for pointing out that the M3M is only available for military sales…)

    FN M3M (GAU-21) Fact sheet:

    The FN® M3M (GAU-21) is a .50 caliber (12.7x99mm) single barrel rapid-fire machine gun suitable for rotary-wing aircraft applications providing defensive firepower ranging out to nearly 2000 meters. The FN M3M™ was designated by the U.S. Navy as the GAU-21 in 2004.

    The U.S. D.o.D. has authorized the use of the GAU-21 for all branches of service, and it is currently in operation on multiple rotary-wing platforms of the US Navy, US Marine Corps, and the US Air Force.

    An evolution of the M3 .50-caliber heavy machine gun, it produces a blistering 1,100 rounds per minute cyclic rate of fire through the use of open-bolt operation and a dual recoil buffer system.

    Operating independent of either electrical or hydraulic power sources, the FN M3M™/GAU-21’s unique soft mount system enhances weapon accuracy and minimizes the firing vibration transmitted to the airframe.

    FN Herstal has been awarded a sole-source U.S. Navy contract to produce the FN® M3M .50-caliber machine guns under the Gun, Aircraft, Unit-21 (GAU-21) designation for Navy and Marine Corps rotary-wing assault aircraft.

    Here’s some more action:

    Regardless of how many levels of air sickness you would get from this, it would be totally worth every vomit bag.

    All pictures from The German Bundeswehr, by Philipp Rabe.

    Another favorite is the Snipers on Unstable Platforms, check it out as well.