Brrrrrrrrrrrrt - yes, if you already recognize this gunfire, you know something special is coming. It is the sound of a hydraulically-driven, six-barrelled, 20mm Vulcan minigun that can fire up to 3,000 rounds per minute! We present to you the M163 Vulcan SPAAG.
The M163 VADS (Vulcan Air Defence system) is a self propelled anti-aircraft gun used by the US Army that was based on the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier. It was a fast, lightly armored, amphibious (can reach up to 4 mph, but only forward), nimble platform that could carry up to 13 personnel to the battle - including crew. The M163 was put in service in 1969 and while it’s no longer produced (671 vehicles were built), it was never decommissioned. M163 VADS was powered by a GM 6V53 diesel engine with a maximum of 212 horsepower. With its low weight of 12.5 tons, it was capable of reaching 40 mph (64 km/h). The SPAAG itself was operated by a four-men crew.
Its primary and only weapon was the powerful 20mm M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon with a maximum rate of fire of 3,000 rounds per minute (that is incredible 50 rounds per second!). It uses an automatic feed system and thanks to its high muzzle velocity provides flat trajectory. The maximum range of the cannon is just over 3 miles (5 km) and its elevation angle range from +80 to -5. The M163 standardly carried 2 100 pieces of ammunition. While the vehicle uses a small radar for range calculation, its weapon was not radar guided and was dependant on an optical lead-calculating sight operated by the gunner.
In the game, the M163 Vulcan VADS will be one of the most effective close-range SPAAGs to choose from. Its moderate armor (up to 45 mm) can protect you very well from heavy machine-gun fire including small-caliber cannons. Against well-armed opponents you should rather use your high mobility and relocate often, the vehicle has a relatively high profile. While the M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon is surely a hell-of-a-weapon, it should primarily be used against low-flying aircraft. It uses small-diameter 20mm shells and cannot compete with other high-caliber SPAAGs in terms of maximum effective range.
If you hit your target however, nothing can save it from destruction and imminent doom that 3,000 rounds per minute provides. Comparing this gun to chainsaw would be an insult. One M163 VADS can effectively cover a group of friendly heavy tanks against attack from above. In War Thunder, the VADS will be designated purely for anti-air defense. It will, however, be able to protect itself from other SPAAGs and light, reconnaissance tanks.
We can’t wait to implement this fabulous anti-aircraft gun in the game. It has a specific playstyle and its unique weapon will definitely be utilized by many minigun-lovers. You can expect it at the top of the American SPAAG lineup. Are you ready?