I was flying a p-38j vs a ki-43 in campaign. I came from below and hit the Oscar at `150-100m with all of my guns. The plane exploded, and in the process half of my p-38 disappeared which sent me tumbling into the ocean.
Is their a minimum firing distance for the hispano 20mm cannon? Also what is a good distance to keep away from Japanese planes to keep from getting fragged if they should happen to explode?
You were just unlucky. That sort of thing can happen from time to time playing this game. Of course, it happened in the real world at times too. I've read about more than a few fighters that were damaged by parts of the aircraft they just shot. I've even read about an unlucky German pilot who bailed out and his body ended hitting the prop of a pursuing P-51.
Yep, it can happen. As for the hazards of flying under bombers, I've had one or two near misses with jetissoned bombs, and once actually collided (fatally) with a bailing-out crewman. And then there was the time on the Ubi coop when I got too close to a Fw 200 while attacking it in a Mosquito, and lost an engine in a collision. I mean 'lost it' quite literally, as it fell off entirely. There are screenshots somewhere in the Ubizoo coops thread, showing how I almost made it back to base, and ended up belly-landing on a beach...
If you want to really experience the unfortunate consequences of shooting from too close, there is always V1-chasing. A small target, and since you are more or less stuck with having to shoot from the dead six, the temptation is to get close to ensure you do damage (assuming you can actually keep up with it). A big mistake... One day, I'm going to actually deal with a V1 the smart-alec way, and tip it over wingtip-to-wingtip, but I've yet to master this, and my last attempt resulted in an overshoot, with a last-minute swerve to avoid ramming it from behind.
I once had a wing severed when flying below an IL2 that was dropping those little anti-personnel bomblets - lots of laughter on TS, as he was in the same formation as I was.
As for "get close and then get closer": it works well until you hit a fuel tank and get caught in the exploding vapour. Debris can be fairly lethal too - I've flown away minus the vertical stab a few times, stuff like that.
Interestingly, there was a short interview with an Me-110 pilot in the Bomber Boys documentary, concerning the Schrage-musik weapon. He told how he came up to within 150 metres from the belly of a Lancaster, fired the upwards-facing cannons and detonated the bombload......
The Lanc was destroyed of course, while his aircraft was badly damaged and he either bailed out or just about landed it, I can't remember which.
One of the more amusing real life anecdotes I read concerned a 109 pilot over the channel on the tail of a Hurricane. When the 109 heard guns firing and something hitting his plane he broke off the pursuit thinking the Hurri had some sort of secret Defiant style rear firing weaponry.
He later realized to his embarrassment the Hurri pilot in desperation had actually fired his forward firing guns and the 109 was being hit by empty 0.303 cartridges.