M42 Duster

Possibly the most successful short range anti-aircraft gun of the 20th century wass the Bofors 40mm gun. It’s been fired from ground mounts, trucks, armored vehicles, ships and even airplanes.

One of the more successful mountings was the marriage of a twin gun mount onto the chassis of the  M41 light tank, leading to the M42, commonly known as the Duster.


Now, US troops haven’t been under aerial attack much since World War II. But the Duster’s good rate of fire and explosive projectiles made it a popular direct fire support weapon in Vietnam.

The Duster was eventually replaced by the M163 Vulcan 20mm tracked vehicle.


3 thoughts on “M42 Duster”

  1. In 1987 I was an active duty evaluator for the 218th Separate Infantry Brigade (M), SCARNG. While going through the back wilds of FT Stewart I came across a large drop zone (METZ DZ if anyone knows) and a did a double take. There were 2 each M42s sitting in the woodline looking over the DZ! I went over to them and it turned out they were from an ADA battery of the Mass ARNG attached to the 218th SIB. The 218 SIB’s war mission was to conduct rear battle operations in the Vth Corps in Germany…in other words they would defend against air assaults from the WARSAW PACT. So the Dusters woul dhave been great against MI-8s and MI-24s…not so much MiG-23s.

  2. When I was still in the Naval Reserve in Nashville, we took a trip up to Ft. Campbell to see their dog and pony show (I had already been accepted to WOC Flight School and was looking forward to seeing what was most likely to be my first station after graduation). They had an M-163 set up for us.

    We also saw some pics of the stuff they looked for, a ZSU-23 among them (I think I’m remembering right here) which was akin to our old M-2 quad mount. Not much against high performance AC, but murder against something as slow as UH-1, or any other Army helo. The Dusters would be in the same category.

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