B-29 REMOTE CONTROL GUNNERY SYSTEM

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Downwind.Maddl-Land, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. Downwind.Maddl-Land

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    OK, here’s a question ref the B-29’s gunnery system. Does anyone know why, alone among the gunners, the tail position couldn’t be allocated control of any of the other turrets?

    It seems strange that the most effective sighting position (ie the tail) couldn’t be allocated control of the lower rear turret, especially as the waist gunners could be allocated control of the tail guns. I can understand why the tail position might not be given the rear upper turret due to arc of fire constraints caused by the tailplane and fin – it probably wouldn’t be usable over a large degree of the tail gunner’s cone of engagement - but I would have thought that the lower rear turret would have provided a welcome addition to the tail gunner’s weight of fire.

    While on the subject, when the 20mm cannon was removed (Due to trajectory/reliability problems), why wasn’t it routinely replaced by another 0.5 calibre? I understand that this was done on some B-29Bs, so the engineering fix was available. Anyone with any knowledge or comment on the subject?
     
  2. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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  3. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    I believe it could; I don't have the book in front of me, but I read that the tail gunner could actually control all three turrets (upper rear turret, lower rear turret, and tail gun), if necessary. It just depended on where the attack(s) was coming from.

    Also, I believe the upper rear turret automatically stopped firing when it was aimed anywhere near the vertical stabilizer.
     
  4. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    Okay, I stand corrected; here is the book I was thinking of. According to the schematic, the tail gunner did not have control of the upper turret at any time, only the lower turret; which makes sense, because he probably wouldn't be able to utilize the upper turret most of the time anyway since the vertical stabilizer would be in the way. I will attach the picture as soon as I get my internet issues resolved!
     
  5. Downwind.Maddl-Land

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    I’m really annoyed with myself now! In the last couple of days I found a really impressive site on the B-29 that had a very good extract of the B-29 gunnery-training manual; it may have even been buried in this site somewhere when I first found it! I thought I had book-marked the site/thread but obviously didn't as I can’t find it now – nor can I find it as I trawl back through my browsing history – it is VERY frustrating!

    In the manual, there was a matrix type diagram showing who could control what turret and the author even stated words to the effect that ‘this extract should resolve all the different stories as who could do what, with what, and when’. Anyway, this matrix seemed to show that tail gunner could only fire his ‘own’ guns and this backed up by a very basic schematic in 2 other references that I have: B-29 Superfortress by John Pimlott and B-29 Superfortress at War by David Anderton. Both these authors state in their text that the tail gunner only had control of his own weapons, hence my question(s). However, I am quite prepared to be corrected - just after the facts, sir, just after the facts!
     
  6. Downwind.Maddl-Land

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    Found the wretched thing! :)
     

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  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ IP/Mech THE GREAT GAZOO
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    The tail gunner did not have a great line of fire and considering the B-29 fire control system was an optical system, it was probably felt it was not necessary to have the tail gunner control any other guns. Besides he's in the most vulnerable position of the aircraft basically segregated from the rest of the crew.
     
  8. fer-de-lance

    fer-de-lance Member

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    It should be remembered that the tail gun on the B-29B had an APG-15 gun control radar. This S-band conical scan set had the ability to automatically track targets and to provide continuous "range rate" to the fire controls. It would make sense to have this "blind fire" capability direct additional guns that can bear on the target. Looks like the left and right blisters do this coordinating rather than the tail gunner.
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The following link brings you to a great B29 website.

    Join the mailing list and pose your questions right to the airmen who actually used the things or repaired them.

    http://b-29.org/
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ IP/Mech THE GREAT GAZOO
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  11. Marshall_Stack

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    This might be a stupid question, but how is it determined who gets to control which guns? It would seem like everyone would want to control as many guns a possible (or maybe that's just me).
     
  12. Downwind.Maddl-Land

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    Arr - that's what the Central Fire Control gunner was for: he allocated additional turrets to those gunners that had targets from those that didn't, subject to the limitations of the system. Each sighting position had primary control of one turret and secondary control of another, and (from the table above) the waist sighting positions had tertiary control of another. Very clever and effective system for its day.

    I thought Syscom3 would pitch in with something useful - thanks!
     
  13. Marshall_Stack

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  14. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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  15. Downwind.Maddl-Land

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    My view is, from what I have read, that it was far, far and away better than the standard turrets of the day. Check out some of the links above for a better understanding. Don't forget this system was designed in '42/3 and used analogue computers to compute parallax, range, lead angle, slew/rate of change, windage and ballistics. Moreover, it provided the basis for the systems used on Bears, Badgers and Bisons too.
     
  16. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    It depended on what was going on at the time; every gunner had "primary" control of one turret, and "secondary" control of others. If there were no targets in their field of fire, they could turn control of their turret over to another gunner who might have targets in their area.

    Okay, finally uploaded the image; here it is:

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Marshall_Stack

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    Did MIG-15s in the Korean War make any differences in the use of the gunsighting computer? They are obviously faster but would that make a difference?
     
  18. Udet

    Udet Banned

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    I have serious doubts this indeed very advanced and expensive system worked the way it was designed to operate.

    The B-29s did never face over Japan the type of homeland defence the B-17s and B-24s of the 8th and 9th Air Forces did over Germany and central/east Europe.

    For some reason it reminds me of the AA control system on US Navy battleships in the PTO, which was another alleged marvel; it could possibly work when being attacked by only a fistful of enemy planes, but have one of those battleships attacked in the fashion of Yamato during her final sortie, and i am sure the wonder is of little help if any.
     
  19. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ IP/Mech THE GREAT GAZOO
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    I posted this earlier but I had an uncle who was a B-29 and B-50 radio operator. He flew during the Korean War in B-29s and later flew ferret missions in the B-50. He told me that he got to play with the turrets on occasion. From what he told me the Mig-15 was harder to track (his own worlds). He also spoke about some radar aiming device that would illuminate red when the target was sighted. It seems this wasn't installed in the B-29 turrets but only in the tail. After some discussion in this forum I was wondering if he got the B-29 and B-50 fire control system confused (I still believe they were very similar). Mind you this discussion was in the early 1990s, the last time I saw him alive. He died in early 2003.
     

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  20. Marshall_Stack

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    Although it might not be regarded as a "marvel", the radar controlled guns and proximity fuzed shells that the Navy used were better than other AA units.
     
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