Additional InformationCanadian war artist Donald Cameron Mackay's painting depicts a gun crew firing on enemy aircraft using a 20mm Oerlikon cannon.
The Swiss-designed Oerlikon, widely used by both Allied and Axis forces during the Second World War, had a higher rate of fire than the 2-pounder pom-poms and had more stopping power than the lighter machine-guns fitted to Royal Canadian Navy's ships. While used as anti-aircraft weapons, as seen here, on a wide range of ships, Oerlikons also proved effective in engagements against surfaced German submarines, keeping enemy crews below decks and away from their own guns.
CaptionAnti-Aircraft Gun and Crew in Action Painted by Donald C. Mackay around 1943
Additional InformationSlow-moving warships are highly vulnerable to attack from fast-moving aircraft, especially when sailing close to land.
In this work by war artist Donald C. Mackay, Canadian sailors fire a 20mm Oerlikon cannon at German aircraft during the Second World War. During the 1990-1991 war against Iraq, Canadian vessels sought additional air defence weapons, including 40mm Bofors, before deploying to the Persian Gulf.
CaptionDonald Cameron MacKay (1906-1979)
Additional InformationA native of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Donald MacKay attended a number of art schools in Canada, England, and France. He later became a professor at the Northern Vocational School in Toronto and a special lecturer in the Department of Fine Art at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The Royal Canadian Navy appointed him a lieutenant when he enlisted on 5 September 1939. He was an official war artist from July 1943 to July 1944. During that time, he painted in Halifax and on Newfoundland's east coast. He was demobilized in September 1945. In 1951, he was named Director of the Nova Scotia College of Art.