The Fire Hedgehog

Fire Hedgehog 1

During the WW2 Russian Army was using a “Fire Hedgehog” – the set of 88 Tommy-gun alike machine guns loaded into a plane. It was used at low attitude flights to effectively saw off hundreds of enemy soldiers. When the pilot got above some Nazi crowd the pilot of started fire, then the doors in the plane’s bottom were opened and this Fire Hedgehog was coming into play, eighty something non-stop firing machine guns could really look like the Hedgehog from Hell.

Fire Hedgehog 2

25 thoughts on “The Fire Hedgehog”

  1. Tommy-gun alike machine guns? Jesus, you people run a website about Russia, and you don’t recognize their most famous soviet sub machine gun? It’s a PPSH with a 7.62x25mm drum magazine. With a such a small caliber, they had to fly “really” low for it to be effective.

  2. They look like a whole lot of PPSh-41 Submachine guns roped together. The PPSh-41 was the standard Soviet infantryman’s weapon and was pretty good at close in fighting. Unfortunately the actual bullets themselves were weaker than a modern 9mm round, which meant that their weapons were useless at anything beyond short range. This was made up for by the large 71 round magazine, which meant that the average Soviet soldier had a lot of rounds to use if need be.

    Regarding this particular idea – it would’ve been better to have higher calibre machine guns being used. It would also have been difficult to aim (guns facing forward are preferred by pilots who want to strafe).

    • Do your research before saying anything out “loud”. PPSh-41 used the 7.62x25mm pistol round, loaded for use in machine guns (hot load) and was WAY more powerful than modern 9mm Parabellum round. This round, and other 7.62×25 rounds used today in Tokarev TT-type handguns will penetrate any type of body armor up to Level IIIA. The germans considered it a battlefield reward if they were given a captured PPSh-41 machine gun – those were the most reliable, accurate, and devastating machine guns in WWII.

      • First of all, the PPSh was not a “machine gun”, it was a “submachine gun”, due to the fact that it fired the Tokarev pistol cartridge, rather than full-charge rifle ammunition such as the 7.62x54R cartridge of the Mosin-Nagant rifle used by the USSR.

        Secondly, penetration != stopping power. The Tokarev cartridge had better armor penetration that other pistol cartridges of the day due to its high velocity and small diameter, but was not a particularly effective manstopper, especially compared to the .45 ACP cartridge used by the United States during the war.

        Finally, the PPSh SMG was anything but accurate; it was designed to be fired only in fully-automatic mode in order to simplify the manufacturing process, and was meant to be used as a “spray-and-pray” type weapon. It was quite controllable for short bursts due to the low recoil of the Tokarev cartridge.

        • I don’t think an 88 gun formation fired at once from a height into a crowd is really looking for accuracy anyways

          And it had sufficient firepower to penetrate cars, people, trucks, military tents and aircraft skins so it could wreak a lot of damage

  3. Obviously this site has been taken over by ignorant americans. All true Russians would know that the “tommy-gun alike” weapons are in fact glorious USSR PPSH41 SMG.

  4. Bah, is lies and capitalist propaganda.

    7.62×25 is deadly in the right hands, not those of amercan gangsters who rely on spray and pray.

    The cartridge is in principle a Soviet version of the 7.63×25 Mauser. They are very similar: in fact, some weapons can use both cartridges interchangeably, although this is not recommended.

    The Soviets produced a wide array of loadings for this cartridge for use in submachine guns. These include armor-piercing, tracer and incendiary rounds. This cartridge has excellent penetration and can easily defeat lighter ballistic vests (class I, IIA and II). Although most firearms chambered in this caliber were declared obsolete and removed from military inventories, some Police and Special Forces units in Russia and (mainly) in China still use it for its superior penetration, rather than the more popular 9 mm Makarov ammunition in current use.

    The 7.62 Tokarev is usually much more powerful than its Mauser counterpart and may damage any firearms chambered for 7.63 mm Mauser. The Czech version of this cartridge has 25% higher pressure loading with significantly more velocity and energy than other common loads and may present a danger to the user when fired from weapons not specifically designed to use it.

  5. I am in serious doubt the Tu-2 Sh was ever used in real combat – possibly in field testing, yes.
    There were many trials of unmanned weapons shooting up/down the aircraft performed during WWII, but none of them was successful enough to be passed over for a mass production (see e.g. “Schrage Musik” weaponry used on e.g. He-219).

  6. 7.25×25 is one of the better cartilages out there. Unlike that junk .45acp it usually goes through soft armor. The TT-33 is also chambered for it, which is really cheap. For two legged varmints it works great, otherwise FAL.

  7. Using a 9 mm machine gun means less than 100 m effective range. The dispersion would also be quite large thus reducing it’s effect against the enemy. 9 mm pistolround has low velocity hence the use of this caliber in built environment such as houses. It won’t penetrate walls as easily as 7.62 bullet would.

    SWAT, Finnish Karhu Team and many other special forces use Heckler & Koch MP5 for this reason.

    Using the machine gun from an aeroplane would be (in this context) merely a waste of ammunition.

  8. Ari – The hedgehog is designed to use against troops in the open. The more dispersion the better, since these troops will not be lined up in parade formation. I suspect that the outer rows of weapons will be aimed slightly to either side to create dispersion. Also the effective range refers to aimed fire. This is not aimed fire in the sense of infantrymen. The round does not suddenly lose lethality or destructiveness at 100 m.

    The USSR PPSH41 SMG, as shown in the photos, had a 71-round drum magazine. With 900 rd/min rate of fire, it could fire an uninterrupted burst of nearly five seconds, 6160 rounds for the lot if there were no malfunctions.

    At 200km/hr, a five second burst would saturate an area about 300 m long and perhaps 20 m wide, placing one bullet in each sq m on average. If the pilot was able to find a suitable target with concentrated troops, he could kill and wound many, and the rest would have to go to the field laundry.

    My history books are in storage, but I am pretty sure the fire hedgehog was used in combat. There is no mechanical reason it should not work.

    In the South Pacific, the field troops added up to twelve .50 caliber (1/2″) M-2 (Ma Deuce) heavy machineguns to the nose and leading edges of the wings of the B-25 Mitchell light bomber. Japanese shipping was attacked on the deck, using the 50s to suppress anti-aircraft fire. Bombs were released within yards of the target ship, and the bomber zoomed up over the masts as the bombs skipped along the water and struck the hull of the target.

    The Battle of the Bismarck Sea was one of the most lop-sided and devastating naval battles in history, and it was all done with Allied aircraft, including the Mitchells. Eight of eight Japanese transports were sunk, and four of eight Japanese destroyers. All of the Japanese cargo was destroyed, including weapons, fuel, and ammo, and about 6000 of 8000 Japanese infantry, plus the Japanese naval losses.

  9. This is like a very primitave “Metal Storm” concept like what America uses nowadays. You may have seen or heard footage of them in action on Fox news covering Iraq. They are the most awesome device since the gatling gun.

    • No, there is no “metal storm”. that was an aussie company who went out of business, not american. At least get some facts before spewing nothing.

  10. People seem to forget that in addition to bullet velocity you can also add some from the speed of the plane itself. Don’t forget that ulike firing up, firing down has benefits from gravity. Also, when approaching a large concentration of troops the pilot would bank then fire while banking. The spread would be increased between bullets. do the math for the parabolic curve and you could come up with a reasonable range to open up. I recall reading about russian WW2 fighter pilots (men AND women) who would use the prop to chew off the tail of kraut planes when out of ammo and deadstick a landing. you needed big balls to fly that gunship and the russians had plenty off that in the old days. no doubt this was used in combat.

  11. Actually, the link you reference says “PPsh-41 Energy in the muzzle: 693 joules” That’s ~511ft/lbs. That’s the same weapon shown in the pictures here… And I’m not talking about a ‘custom’ load, but rather the Soviet military ‘submachine gun’ loadings of the 7.62×25 for use with the heavier bolt and trunion/barrels found in their SMG’s. (It’s akin to +P+ 9mm for use in subguns here– not recommend for your pistol, but perfectly common for the military to supply it for the weapon it’s intended for…)

  12. This is an array of PPShs, called “pepeshkas”, and it was quite effective. Of course that the bomber fitted with this contraption had to make low strafing runs – ANY AIRPLANE of that era had to, even fighters or assault craft which were taking out infantry and armored convoys, they would fly at than 100 meters or less. The hail of bullets from this piece was probably as effective as a giant Claymore mine, just perfect to eliminate or incapacitate a large number of unarmored targets. A flying meat mincer!

    For your information – the US Navy tests something similar, as an anti-aircraft weapon to protect their naval units. It is an array of tubes, up to 60 or so, and each shoots a large metal slug into the air, or flechettes. The resulting wall of steel shards can take out a jet fighter or a helicopter with much ease, and from quite a distance.

  13. I think it was a great idea. The russians made millions of these sub machine guns.plenty to go around. If you think the cartridge is too weak ,would you have stood in the open when this plane flew over? I think not!!!


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