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Thread: Question: Ball turrets in WWII heavey bombers.

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    Default Question: Ball turrets in WWII heavey bombers.

    I have always been curious to this question...why do some heavy WWII bombers not have a bottom ball turret? Im refering to such bombers as the B-24 and some of the British ones. Seems to me that the lack of gun protection would invite attack from underneath. Thanks for yalls insight!

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    B-24's did have them.



    As seen on this photo, they retracked the turret.

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    http://farrells.people.cofc.edu/Farr...et_gunner.html

    How many of you guys read this poem in English lit, as I did?

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    Bush Lawyer, that's me! TheKiwi's Avatar
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    In the case of the British bombers, it was mostly felt that the extra drag they caused made them not worth it. I do seem to remember reading that one of the Canadian RAF Bomber Command squadrons kept theirs and had lower loss rates than their turretless compatriots. Certainly the German night-fighters were aware of the vulnerability of British Bombers to being attacked from below, some even had vertically firing canon fitted to take advantage of this.

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    Plus the extra weight and its positioning on the belly restricted the amount of space you had for bombs. Or vice versa.

    Belly turrets only really started coming into use in the late 30s, they were new technology and only really fitted on the largest bombers that were also new technology. There were a few early prototypes, the Ju-52 bomber variant had a retractable...well, it was a bucket the gunner stood in and not really practical.

    My theory is that the British and Germans had their hands full producing known types, only the US had the luxury of time and space in the extra 2 years and the love of gadgets to try developing one and even then they weren't the most practical design, even the shortest gunner spent his time curled up with his knees in his ears and spent most of the trip inside the fuselage, only entering his turret at the last possible moment..

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    Senior Member nemowork's Avatar
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    As a piece of trivia, its usually reckoned the ball turret gunner had the most high casualty rate in the airforce.

    They certainly ran risks and the constant fear of being trapped in the turret was very real, lots of men died because they couldn't reach their parachute which the small space meant was originally stored inside the fuselage or the real stuff of nightmares, being trapped in the turret as the planes landing gear gives way and you get crushed under the plane at speed and...you get the picture, it might have been rare but even the rumour of that one probably scared people.

    In fact the ball turret gunner was one of the safest people, German fighters tended to aim for either the rear gunner or the pilot so their shots travelled down the fuselage and caused the most devastation, the turret gunner was under the line of fire. Casualties tended to be highest among pilots since they were either the first attacked or the last to leave on bail out.

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    Senior Member Mofreaka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nemowork View Post
    As a piece of trivia, its usually reckoned the ball turret gunner had the most high casualty rate in the airforce.

    They certainly ran risks and the constant fear of being trapped in the turret was very real, lots of men died because they couldn't reach their parachute which the small space meant was originally stored inside the fuselage or the real stuff of nightmares, being trapped in the turret as the planes landing gear gives way and you get crushed under the plane at speed and...you get the picture, it might have been rare but even the rumour of that one probably scared people.

    In fact the ball turret gunner was one of the safest people, German fighters tended to aim for either the rear gunner or the pilot so their shots travelled down the fuselage and caused the most devastation, the turret gunner was under the line of fire. Casualties tended to be highest among pilots since they were either the first attacked or the last to leave on bail out.
    Yea, but ****, getting crushed by the airplane? Ahjibableejiballejiballee

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    Senior Member SoSo's Avatar
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    Ahjibableejiballejiballee

    Very well said, I couldn't have put it any better. I imagine most gunners got to ride in the ball because they had the misfortune to be the smallest member of the aircrew, not because they volunteered for it.

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    Thanks for the info! As for the B24 I can swear I saw some variants without a bottom ball turret but as mentioned, it may have just been retracted.

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    No Texan, I think you got it right. Seems to me the B-24D, the early one, had neither the nose turret, nor the ball turret; these were added in later versions.

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    By the way, B-24 Liberators didnt all have Belly Turrets.

    The B-24D introduced Belly turrets withe Non Manned periscopic sighted Bendix Turret like those of the early B-25 Mitchell and the B-17E Fortress. at the 287th Unit it reverted to an open hatch and tunnelgun firing downwards and to the rear.

    The Late D models (somehwere around 1,000th unit)then were fitted with Manned Sperry Ball Turrets for the rest of Production.



    Oh forgot to add B-24 Sperry Turrets were retractable for clearence in take off and Landing. Fortress turrets werent.


    Besides the obvious dangers of being squashed and not being able to bail out, the gunner also had the recievers of both fifty's next to his head during firing

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheKiwi View Post
    In the case of the British bombers, it was mostly felt that the extra drag they caused made them not worth it. I do seem to remember reading that one of the Canadian RAF Bomber Command squadrons kept theirs and had lower loss rates than their turretless compatriots. Certainly the German night-fighters were aware of the vulnerability of British Bombers to being attacked from below, some even had vertically firing canon fitted to take advantage of this.
    Certain Canadian Halifax Sqdns had belly turrets with .50 brownings instead of the H2S fairing, and their tail turrets had a pair of .50's instead of the more usual 4X .303's

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    Senior Member Euroamerican's Avatar
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    I can't recall any photos or descriptions of any Lancasters having belly guns, but all the other heavy had at least some models that had belly gun installations.



    Early B24s had hand-aimed and then later the remotely controlled "solid turrets". Later they had retractable ball turrets. They sometimes did not carry them later in the SEAC in the and South Pacific.

    Early B17s had ventral blisters with hand-aimed guns and then solid turrets. They then switched to the Sperry ball turret. It seems the British removed the belly turret frequently, and it was also removed for radar installations, even in some US pathfinder aircraft, later in the war.

    B29s had two remotely controlled solid belly turrets.

    B32s had a manned ball turret.

    Some Wellingtons had a retractable "dustbin" turret. Like the guy said earlier, they supposedly were pretty worthless.

    I have seen a couple of photos and diagrams showing hand-aimed guns in the bellies of Sterlings.

    The only Halifax belly guns I've read about were "solid" ones.

    As an aside, I found some photos recently of Lancasters fitted with radar-aimed manned tail turrets.

    I know they were only medium bombers, but the B25 had hand-aimed and solid turrets in a few models. I've seen photos of B26s with hand-aimed bottom/quarter guns. The A-26 (later B-26) had a solid belly turret.

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    Junior sized package member Toddy1's Avatar
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    I think the biggest problem was not so much being pinged by a Jerry night fighter, more of a concern getting blown to pieces by the flak runs.

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    Junior sized package member Toddy1's Avatar
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    Attachment 142975

    Still I wouldn't have wanted that job for anything else in the world, I would have much preferred being told to lead a Pinky straight onto a German Airfield in Tunisia and then have to hot tail it back out across the desert

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