Tail gunner worth?

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules


Senior Master Sergeant
Dec 19, 2006
What do the Stuka, Douglas Devastator, and Kate have in common?
They were slaughtered wholesale by fighters. How effective were single engine tail gunners against fighter aircraft?

Other then the time Saburo Sakai misstook a TBF for a Hellcat, tailgunners haven't had much glory to exult. were they a waste of life and resources?
certainly an interesting question, in bombers they had their merits but in dive bombers and attack aircraft they can be questioned, few had proper turrets so it was a case of sprey and prey, which rarely works, other than putting the attacker off they did little more than slow aircraft down considderably...........
Certainly the tail gunner in single engine aircraft had an effect. The attacker would have to adjust it's tactics but i've always thought of "the stinger" as a minor annoyance that could be easily dealt with. Nobody every hears about famous rear gunners or rear gunner aces. It seems like a death sentence. They seem like more of a relic from slow moving WW1 aircraft, not the slash and dive of ww2.
I would'nt consider it a minor thing, From what Ive read that the rear gunner played a major part in the IL-2 Stormovik. It was first created without a rear gunner but after heavy losses it was changed. I would think that just having a second pair of eye's could be helpfull.

It still had to make for a harder target because something was shooting back at you or just knowing something is shooting at you then a aircraft with nothing.

Remember the old saying for a fighter pilot.

Its the one you dont see that gets you. Not to mention the golden BB (more to flak but sure it could play a part in this aspect as well). It only takes one well placed shot to bring down a plane.

Micdrow :lol:
yes, gunner for scouts is:
1.rear hemisphere observer
2.reccomendations to pilot which evasive is needed
3.far from zero chance to kill interceptor or at least to make him change his mind.
formation of 9 il-2 cannot considered as sitting ducks with their 9x12.7mm UB. often formation even can proceed a straight flight counting on concentrated fire of their gunners.

a bright example is attack of sakae to formation of 4 avengers, resulting in almost killing zero and ace.
Ju 87D-5 Nacht radio op/gunners were a Godsend for the pilot during the low level attacks in the spring of 1945. have many interviews of P-61 crews of the 422nd and especially the 425th nfs who crept up on the slow movers and ready to give them a squirt when they immediately banked and hit the deck through the low ground haze and fog to save their rears.
Whether the gunner was effective at shooting down enemy aircraft to me is not the point. The extra set of eyes at the rear of the aircraft is what made them important. The Stukas and other dive bombers did not get shot down because the gunner was worthless but because they could not tangle with the fighters.

Having that rear set of eyes is important in combat aviation and has been from the beginning to modern times. Trust me on this one, I know first hand.
not during 44-45 with the Ost front Geschwader and newer types of 2cm and 3cm ammo. Some pretty impressive scores against Il-2's
well on any plane that has a rear gunner the attacking pilot always takes into consideraton that "hey there is a guy back there with a gun that's bad." it's psychological effect i think even if the rear gunner wasn't effective
take in consideration this .......... German night fighters trying to shoot down ancient Soviet single engines in the Ost. As you try to slow down not to overshoot, stall and then get popped by the rear gunner with his pop gun
Im guessing on this but if enough research is done Im sure that there has to be at least one ace out there as a tail gunner with 5 or more confirmed kills. I do think for the most part we all agree having a second set of eyes are for the best though.

And there has been many many instances where the attacking pilot comes into attack posistion, and in the excitement forgets all about the pop gun....

Uncle Swede took several rounds for doing this same thing with VF-10... Imagine the amount of adrenaline thats pumping through ur body as u bounce 4 Judys or Stukas....
But take into account how many rear gunners died sittiing in that unarmoured death box....

Diffenently agree with you on that. I wouldnt want to be sitting in an airplane, say a stuka and have a P-51 or a P-47 with six 50 cal's or a eight with the P-47 shooting at me and my only offense was a pair of pop guns and very little armor protection.
Insane scores were run up by the Luftwaffe boys on IL-2s.... Hit em in the oil resevoir and they're done...
quite a tiny target (50cm of 16.60m span) for nervous situation, eh?
some unique aces could manage that and even describe it in memoirs, but it's hard to believe this trick was used "en mass".

Users who are viewing this thread