Japanese 20mm Ho-5 Cannon

Photograph of Ho-5 cannon

U.S. Air Force. Via Mikesh (2004)


Ammunition type
20 x 94 HEI or AP
Projectile weight     
3.95 oz (AP)
112 g (AP)
Velocity 2460 feet per second
750 meters per second
Range 2950 feet
900 meters
Rate of fire     
850 rounds per minute
Gun weight
82 lbs
37 kg
Gun power

The Ho-5 (Type 2) cannon was an excellent weapon designed by scaling up the Type 1 machine gun. It was widely used as a fixed weapon on Army aircraft. It used a Browning short recoil action and was fed from a disintegrating belt. The design was kept as compact and lightweight as possible in hopes that it could replace Type 1 machine guns on existing aircraft. It was possibly the best 20mm aircraft of World War II when built by skilled laborers using adequate raw materials, but deteriorating quality control during production meant the cartridges had to be underloaded with gunpowder to avoid too great a strain on the weapon, which reduced muzzle velocity from the 820 meters per second possible with fully loaded cartridges.

The gun was used primarily as a fixed weapon, though a cradle-mounted flexible version similar to the cradle-mounted Type 1 was also produced (though little used.) Experiments with a true flexible version and a lightweight version were unsuccessful. Its Browning-type action synchronized so poorly that cowl mounts were often removed and replaced with Type 1 machine guns.

Photo Gallery

Gun and barrel

U.S. Air Force

Disassembled gun

U.S. Air Force

Disassembled gun

U.S. Navy


Francillon (1979)

Mikesh (2004)

Williams and Gustin (2003)

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