Legality of arming an aircraft?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by HankB, Sep 26, 2021.

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  1. HankB

    HankB Member

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    I've seen some ads listing old warbirds for sale - "fully restored" except for the armament. A P-51D can go for a million dollars or more, so anyone who is seriously in the market for one has deep pockets - certainly deep enough to buy half a dozen .50 Brownings, pay the $200 on each for a tax stamp, and own them legally.

    Can our wealthy pilot then install them in his P-51D?

    If the answer is "No, there are laws against that" then that's the end of this thread. But I wonder - there ARE some people hunting hogs from helicopters, so maybe it's OK???

    If the answer is "Yes" then what restrictions would apply? I imagine flying across state lines with the NFA weapons installed would involve some additional legal requirements, but living in Texas, I wonder if our intrepid pilot could fly out over the Gulf of Mexico and do something like strafe whitecaps in some vacant area 100 miles offshore?

    (Just curious - I don't have a pilot's license, an airplane, deep pockets, or NFA hardware.)
     
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  2. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

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    There is a difference between armed men riding in a helicopter and actually mounting a weapon TO the helicopter itself, the latter is illegal.
     
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  3. JCooperfan1911

    JCooperfan1911 Member

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    I wish that weren’t so.

    Imagine performing a safe and legal strafing run against a herd of wild boars opening up with eight .50 calibers on a P47 Thunderbolt? That should put some bacon on the table!
     
  4. John_R

    John_R Member

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    There wouldn’t be much bacon left!
     
  5. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    Why? Assuming that the MGs are federally registered, and it's in a state that allows them, I don't see why you couldn't mount them to an aircraft. Maybe there's an FAA regulation that I'm not aware of?
     
  6. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

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    I think Dillon used to bring a little bird type helecopter to the Big Sandy MG shoot and make passes with one of their M134 Miniguns.

    Please remember, MG's are NOT illegal in many states, just highly regulated.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2021
  7. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    Virginia (along with six other states) has what is called the "Uniform Machine Gun Act." This creates a crime out of having a machine gun for an "offensive or aggressive purpose," and sets up a series of presumptions as to what constitutes an "offensive or aggressive purpose." For example, not registering the MG with the state, having it off your own premises, being found with empty or loaded ammunition in close proximity, etc. Most of these presumptions can be rebutted. Using it in a recognized reenactment or historical event would rebut the off-premises or ammunition presumptions (but not the registration presumption).

    This law can be a trap for the unwary.
     
  8. jonnyc

    jonnyc Member

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    Hmmm.....I always thought that's were Baco-Bits came from.
     
  9. IMAhobbyist

    IMAhobbyist Member

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    Recall an episode of Wild West Alaska featuring a pair of commercially made vintage strut mounted shotguns used to hunt in Alaska back in the day. They fabricated missing parts to bring them back to operational mode; IIRC they were unable to demonstrate them mounted to a bush plane due to FAA regulations according to Jim West, believe this pair ended up as museum pieces.
     
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  10. John_R

    John_R Member

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    There may or may not be an FAA regulation about mounting firearms or bombs on civil aircraft, but there is a regulation against dropping objects that create a hazard to people or property on the ground. Also against careless and reckless activity.
     
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  11. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    Super-duper illegal. I can't quote you the specific FAR (Federal Air Regulation) at the moment, but, for some reason, this came up in one of my A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) Technician classes, probably when we were discussing Form 337 for major alterations of aircraft. Not even law enforcement is allowed to arm an aircraft. In fact, the FBI prosecuted the owners of Security Aviation in 2004-6 for trying to arm a surplus Soviet L-29 (Mig trainer).

    In regards to warbirds, I can tell you that, at least one guy is out there with a North American T-6 Texan, painted up like a Japanese A6M ("Zero"), and he has installed a piece of pipe in the right wing leading edge gun port (where the old 30 cal would have gone) and connected it to a BBQ propane tank in the fuselage. He installed a BBQ grill igniter, controlled by the gun trigger on the control stick, so that it creates a popping sound and a muzzle blast. I've personally seen this myself. I suspect he had the plane certified as an Experimental Aircraft to be able to do that.
     
  12. Mauser lover

    Mauser lover Member

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    watching...

    Interested in hearing when someone finds the reg...
     
  13. usaral63

    usaral63 Member

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    I'd like to see chapter and verse relative to statuatory prohibition!
     
  14. John_R

    John_R Member

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    Restoring an antique Experimental aircraft to its original configuration doesn’t need a 337.

    I’m sure there a reg somewhere, it’s just never come up in normal aviation conversations.

    There are plenty of warbirds out there with .50 cals installed, but I guess with the firing pins and/or other parts removed.
     
  15. John_R

    John_R Member

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    1AFA3241-C024-4250-83E4-92A164786A86.jpeg Curtiss Helldiver on the airshow circuit in 2014
     
  16. deadin

    deadin Member

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    My wife worked for the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the U or W when they had a Douglas B-23 Dragon used to do aerosol research. (Cloud sampling). At one time they were asked to do some research in France and the French Gvmt required that the bomb bay doors be welded shut before it would be allowed into the country. (Something about no "warplanes" allowed, armed or not...This would have been in the 1970's or so.))
     
  17. mondocomputerman

    mondocomputerman Member

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    My friends T-6 has a place in the front right cockpit where a .30 can be mounted. Some T-6 were armed. I also wondered what he would have to go through legally to mount one there.
     
  18. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    No, it doesn't, and I didn't mean to infer that it did.
     
  19. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    Interesting. I was in Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-day. I saw a lot of WWII reenactors. Absolutely none of them had any sort of weapon on them-not even non-firing replicas. Not even so much as a bayonet. You could definitely tell you were not in the United States.
     
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  20. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    I think almost all of them were. They were trainers, s they must have been set up for "target practice." I know, too, that the 30 cal gun could be replaced with a camera for recon purposes.
     
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  21. HankB

    HankB Member

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    French WWII reenactors without even simulated weapons? I don't know why anyone would even go through the motions, but there's a joke in there somewhere, if it weren't so sad a situation.

    In any case, I did a little looking around on line, and came across this:

    https://www.bombercamp.org/

    For $$$ you get to pretend you're a crewman in a WWII era bomber, including loading & dropping bombs and firing the machine guns.

    From the included promotional videos at the link, I have doubts that they're real machine guns.
     
  22. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator Staff Member

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    A lot of banter but no references to actual, applicable law -- and that's what the OP was asking about.
     
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