Left side view of A-12.7 heavy machine gun on display in museum.
Source: MKFI - © public domain
The A-12.7 is an early Cold War era heavy machine gun of Soviet origin. It was developed in the early 1950's to improve on the rate of fire of the widely used Berezin UB heavy machine gun. Initially The A-12.7 was intended to arm the Tu-4 bomber, but the more powerful NS-23 autocannon was chosen instead. In the end the A-12.7 was used to arm a wide variety of helicopters and training aircraft.
The A-12.7 is a large single barrel heavy machine gun. It is a gas operated weapon that uses an accelleration lever to increase the rate of fire. Ammunition is belt fed from either left or right side. An electrical trigger mechanism is employed. Stoppages are removed by a pneumatically operated charging mechanism.
The A-12.7 fires the 12.7x108mm round. Theoretically the A-12.7 may fire at 1.400 rpm. In practice this is reduced to 800 to 1.100 rpm in order to reduce barrel wear. With the reduced rate of fire the performance is similar to the Berezin UB over which the A-12.7 was intended to be an improvement.
The A-12.7 is used only on aircraft. Its weight and rate of fire make it very impractical for ground use. The A-12.7 was fitted onto Mi-24A attack helicopter, but replaced by the more powerful Yak-B on Mi-24D and subsequent models. Assault transport helicopters such as the Mi-4A, Mi-6A and Mi-8TV also feature the A-12.7 in a nose mount. MiG-15UTI, MiG-17UTI and MiG-19UTI feature the A-12.7, while a pod for the A-12.7 was used on the MiG-21U.
The most iconic use of the A-12.7 is on the Mi-24A (NATO: Hind-A) attack helicopter.
Here it is mounted in a NUV-1 nose mount and has 900 rounds ready to fire.
The A-12.7 was replaced on the Mi-24D with the four barrel Yak-B which has a higher rate of fire and is more reliable.
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