Alternate B-24 belly turret?

Discussion in 'Technical Requests' started by Feu, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    Hi. New member, first post.(actually 2nd, I think I posted this for my 1st one under the wrong heading).
    I know that in the Pacific theater some B-24s were armed with a shallow plexigass dish type turret that the gunner presumably fired standing up instead of the retractable ball turret. You can usually tell which B-24s had them by the cut out windows at the sides of the lower fuselage where the ball turret usually was. Does anyone have any close-up detailed pictures of this type turret (interior and exterior)?
     
  2. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    #2 Feu, Dec 1, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012
    Here is an example of a 90th BG B-24 with the type of turret I am requesting info about:

    90th_Bomb_Group_B-24J_1944.jpg
     
  3. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    Here is the only other picture I can find. If it were printed lighter it would be more visible.

    Consolidated B-24 Liberator | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    I Know what I describe exists. I am almost positive I did see a plc in a book years ago. I believe it was a weight-saving measure.
     
  4. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    I don't remember ever hearing of something like that in the ball turret position, but there was a light-weight, mostly Plexiglas tail turret that was used. Maybe that's what you're thinking of. I have pictures of them somewhere if you need them.
     
  5. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Far as I know, early B-24s just had a 'tunnel' gun position, with those small windows along the side. These were retained at first, when the ball turret was later fitted. Note that the ball turret was t retractable, which gives the appearance of a small blister when in the retracted position.
     
  6. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    The tunnel gun position was aft of the waste gun position. The gun there was eliminated when the ball turrets were installed in the later B-24Ds and it became just a hatch, or "The camera hatch" as My dad called it. He was a bomb strike photographer in 24s and that's where he mounted his camera. He also used that hatch when he had to bail out.
     
  7. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    No no. I'm quite sure. I believe it may have been unique to 5th Air Force B-24s maybe even specifically 90thBG. I'm not thinking of the tunnel gun nor the light weight tail turret. They even removed tail turrets completely and replaced them with flexible twin 50's again to save weight. I have photographic evidence of all those examples but I KNOW I saw exactly 1 picture of what I have described. It may have been in osprey's "B-24 Liberator Units of the Pacific " but I think more probably in Roger Freeman's "B-24 Liberator at War" which I no longer own. In the Osprey book I do think there are numerous pics of Libs with the side observation windows on the lower fuselage in FRONT of the waist gun positions as apposed to the one's by the camera hatch/tunnel gun.
    This was definitely a late-war thing.
     
  8. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    The windows in question. Both the camera hatch and the one's where the ball turret would usually be.
    FORM1-A1.JPG
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I suppose it was a possible field mod to save weight but such a defensive position with a pintle mounted M2 would have been even more worthless that the B-17 .50 used by the radio operator. The only conceivable 'makable' shot would be at a climbing fighter from 5-7 O'clock low - or shooting in trail on a low level attack.

    To get any visability at all the Gunner would have to be on his knees - and who among the crew would be the Gunner? Radio Operator?
     
  10. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #10 Airframes, Dec 2, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
    I've looked through Roger Freeman's book, and the Osprey books, as well as 'The Mighty 8th', and other references on the B-24 in both the ETO and MTO, including crew manuals. All show the same development progression regarding turrets and gun positions.
    The early models of the B-24 had flexible mounted guns in the tail position, which were deployed, via sliding doors which enclosed the otherwise open tail, when in use. These were all later replaced in later models by two types of turret in US service, and by the Boulton Paul turret in RAF service.
    The early arrangement for 'belly' guns was with a single or twin gun, flexible mounted, in the 'tunnel' which, as Glenn correctly stated, later became the camera/escape hatch, which is clearly shown in the B-24 crew manual. This gun position was replaced in later models with the Sperry ball turret which, when not in use, retracted into the fuselage, with the gun barrels 'sitting' in semi-recessed tunnels facing aft.
    Those aircraft which carried 'Mickey' bombing radar, had the radar dome fitted in the ball turret housing, replacing the turret, and this protruded when in use, and could be retracted in a similar fashion to the turret.
    In the last photo you posted, of '229', and the colour shot of '721', these are either the B-24 H or 'J', which have have the ball turret retracted - the shallow depression immediately beneath the twin side windows is the 'ring' of the aperture where the turret retracts.
    Although it's possible there was a local field modification covering the ball turret aperture, after removal of the turret for whatever reason, I've not found any evidence of this as a production feature, especially on later-production aircraft, where turrets have been fitted in nose, upper fuselage, belly and tail.
    The photo here shows the ball turret from inside the aircraft , with the suspension yoke, gimble and retraction mechanism visible.
     

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  11. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    Well, firstly, thank you very much for taking the time to research this for me.
    It could most certainly have been a field mod and, again, only in the 5th AF, but the windows in these pics (and numerous photos in the units of the pacific book. I have never seen this feature on ETO Libs nor MTO Libs, I don't think) are clearly below the level of the flooring around the retracted Ball turret so what possible purpose could they have served?
     
  12. Feu

    Feu New Member

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  13. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    I would guess the same member that would've been in the ball.
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    The windows I would guess were just 'left overs' from the original design. The two photos you posted definitely show the standard ball turret in the retracted position, and not a clear, or other type, of fairing.
    Before ball turrets were fitted, when the 'tunnel' gun was still in use, those windows would have been at the original walk-way level; this is below the level of the raised decking around the internal fittings of the turret.
    There is a good, clear photo showing this, and the 'tunnel' gun in use, in the forum's photo gallery.
     
  15. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    #15 Feu, Dec 2, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  16. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Ah. So a 'local' modification, via Hawai Air Depot (or via Australian MUs), and not a production fitting. I still haven't found any pics to help you though, and it's possible there are few, if any, around, seeing as it was a (relatively) rare mod. I'll keep looking though, as I have a couple of possibilities, although my areas of interest are mainly centered on the ETO.
     
  17. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Nothing in the "In action" series? I find they usually pick-up on these little differences.
     
  18. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    Thought I'd bump this (hopefully that's allowed) since there are other active B-24/ball-turret threads active now and maybe it'll come up.
     
  19. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Maybe these will help, took them quiet a few years ago :)
     

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  20. Feu

    Feu New Member

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    Thanks Micdrow, great pics. Not what I'm looking for but can't get enough detail shots.
     
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