Most successful gun positions on B-17 and B-24?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jerry W. Loper, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. Jerry W. Loper

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    B-17G gun positions: 2 cheek guns, 2 chin turret guns, 2 dorsal turret guns, 1 radio compartment gun, 2 waist guns, 2 ball turret guns, and 2 tail guns.

    B-24J gun positions: similar to B-17 but without the cheek guns and radio compartment gun.

    Out of these defensive positions, which shot down the most enemy fighters?
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  3. model299

    model299 Member

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    It would seem from that list that top turret and tail gunners had the most success.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Did anyone besides the USAAC employ manned waist guns? They strike me as a lot of additional weight (gun + ammo + gunner) for little additional protection. Not to mention some loss of aerodynamic efficiency from having a hole in the fuselage side with a gun barrel sticking out.
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The British used them on Wellingtons at least. He 111s used them. I am sure a few others did too.
     
  6. windswords

    windswords Member

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    #6 windswords, Jun 7, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2012
    Several Japanese planes such as the G4M and the H6k and H8K used them as well.

    As for the gun positions on the 17 and 24 the power turrets will usually yield better kill scores because they are a stable gun platform compared to free swinging manual guns and because they often had reflector type gun sights.
     
  7. model299

    model299 Member

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    Plus, they sported doubled up fifties as apposed to the waist position's one. Double the firepower.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    More firepower is nice but putting what you have on target is what counts. B-17 waist gunners were wearing oxygen masks and bulky clothing to keep warm. They are standing on a moving aircraft firing a MG which is also mounted to that moving aircraft. Field of vision isn't good and you've got a 180 mph wind blowing through the fuselage opening.

    Not even John Rambo could accurately fire a machinegun under those circumstances.
     
  9. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Has to be the tail gunner. Low or no deflection shot and no vertical stabiliser to get in the way. Also more time to hit target becuse of closure rate. The reason the USN taught their pilots full deflection shooting ws so that they could stay away from the tail cone shooting.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Bouncing from astern is normally the preferred way to attack an enemy aircraft. So I suspect the tail gunner gets more then his fair share of targets.

    On the flip side, enemy fighter aircraft shoot back. So the tail turret requires protective armor if the gunner is to survive.
     
  11. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    Worth remembering, too, that one-on-one was fairly rare, so the fighter pilot could find himself the target of half a dozen rear turrets from a properly set up box formation. It's generally said that this was the main reason for the Luftwaffe switching to head-on attacks.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    A B-17 box under attack is spraying thousands of poorly aimed .50cal rounds per minute. I wonder how many hit other bombers in this box or nearby bomber boxes?
     
  13. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    Also how many friendly fighters were hit or shot down?
     
  14. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The friendly fighters didn't have a habit of flying through the formations, the way a attacker would. They kept their distance.
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #15 tyrodtom, Jun 10, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2012
    When the box formations were properly kept. Every aircraft had a clear field of fire directly above, below, behind, and ahead. So every turret gunner was pretty well clear to fire almost any fighter they could see. The waist gunners on some of the aircraft would have pretty restricted fields of fire, but since they were the less effective position anyway, so what.
    I don't think many gunners, even under combat stress is going to continue firing at a target when they see that fire is going to hit one of the other aircraft in the formation. When you consider they've been in this formation for hours, and that formation mate has been in the same ralitive position the whole time.

    Of course every formation wasn't kept perfect, aircraft did get out of position, and gunners did make mistakes.
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    .50cal BMG rounds travel a long way. I think they would retain enough energy to pierce aircraft aluminum 3 miles away.
     
  17. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Some of us seem to think these gunners were idiots.

    Look at the diagrams of bomber boxes, and then access how likely friendly fire accidents were. To prevent such incidents, but still provide for mutual support was why they were layed out the way they were.
     
  18. Dcazz7606

    Dcazz7606 Member

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    IMO if the waist positions were not there the enemy fighters would have found a way to exploit this weakness with beam attacks.
     
  19. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The top turret or ball turret could cover the same area, but they'd probably be looking for fighters closer to the center of their coverage area, and a fighter slipping in from the side might not be seen in time.

    Late in the war, they started leaving the waist gunners home, and fairing over the hole.
    The ball turret and top turret are both big drag producers too. Plus BIG weight penalties. The tail turret is probably the only turret that didn't have big time drag.
     
  20. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Friendly fire WWII [Archive] - Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
    This is the type of incident I would expect when you've got hundreds of aircraft spraying .50cal MG bullets. Only it would be much worse during combat as bomber gunners don't have time to aim carefully or ensure there isn't a friendly aircraft 2 miles beyond the attacking enemy fighter aircraft.
     
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