In 1928 Italy, thanks to the talents of one of her best automatic weapon designers, had available for aviation use a highly advanced 20-mm automatic cannon. Because of indecision more than anything else, the nation did not take advantage of the Scotti aircraft cannon and, by failing to do so, contributed greatly to the weakness of Italian tire power that was so evident throughout World War II.
Alfredo Scotti, the inventor of the system so named, exploited in full one principle of operation from pistol to cannon. His weapons were all gas operated. The gas piston was used only to unlock the piece, while a high residual pressure remained in the bote to furnish the energy to complete the cycle. The origination of this combination gas and blow-back system made him famous and it was widely copied by other gun designers. Scotti was strictly an inventor and in no instance did he ever manufacture weapons of his own creation. Being an Italian subject by birth, Scotti always made the provision, when patent rights were assigned, that Italy had the right to produce the weapons for her own defense.
The Italian motor plant, Isotta-Fraschini, in most cases was the facility chosen for the production of the weapons. This company made the first of these guns for test by the Italian Government. The air force, however, had just bad an experience with another type of aircraft cannon that resulted in a miserable failure, and that branch of the service was left hostile to anv ma chine gun larger than rifle caliber for installation in fighter planes. At the instant of the appearance of the first Scotti cannon, all interest was centered on the development of a 12.7-mm machine gun employing an explosive bullet that had been perfected by Italian ballistic engineers.
All through the thirties practically no encouragement was given the producers of any aviation cannon to refine or improve their guns. Later, however, when it was ruled that an explosive 12.7 mm bullet was a violation of international law, and those responsible for the procurement of aircraft armament realized that they were left without an adequate weapon as a defense against bombers, it was practically too late to undertake the development of a larger gun. Shortly afterwards, Italy was engaged in war.
O il first and a project on its refinement for aircraft use been initiated, no doubt it would have been one of the most reliable 20-mm cannon of World War II. In physical appearance it greatly resembled the Ocrlikon, in which factory the first guns of this type were produced under license. In 1032 Scotti sold his patent rights to the Zurich-Oerlikon Co. of Switzerland, which made a limited number for the commercial trade, used principally by small countries both in Kurope and South America, which had need for a reliable aircraft cannon that did not involve too much cash outlay.
It was described by its promoters as ideal for both aircraft installation and antitank work.
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Scctti 20-mm Automatic Aircraft Caiino:i.
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