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For the game, see Gunship (video game)

The term "gunship" is used in several contexts, all sharing the general idea of a light craft armed with heavy guns.

In navy

In navies, the term originally appeared in the mid-1800s as a less-common synonym for gunboat.

In military aviation

Aérospatiale Alouette III modified for gunship duty

A gunship in aviation may be in reference to an attack helicopter, such as a Mil Mi-24 or an AH-64 Apache.

Another application of the term for military aircraft is more specific, describing an aircraft that circles its target instead of performing strafing runs. Such aircraft have their armament on one side harmonized to fire at the apex of an imaginary cone formed by the aircraft and the ground when performing a banking turn. The AC-130 Spectre/Spooky and its predecessors the AC-47 and AC-119 are gunships designed to operate in this way. Early helicopter gunships also operated in this configuration, an example being the Aérospatiale Alouette III used during the South African Border War and Rhodesian Bush War. [1]

Such gunships with an operational profile that relies on flying in circles can only operate with the guarantee of air superiority.


  1. ^ Stringer, Kevin D. (2006). Military Organizations for Homeland Defense and Smaller-Scale Contingencies. Praeger Publishers. pp. 124. ISBN 0-275-99308-6.  

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