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Ball Turret Gunners of WWII

Started by ROCKET , Oct 20 2008 11:53 AM

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#1 ROCKET

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 11:53 AM

Just wanted to share some cool pics of ball turret gunners from the 388th Bomb Group. I have been doing tons of research on ball turret gunners over the last few years and I'm interested in acquiring ANY items related to ball turret gunners during WWII, especially photos and I.D.'d medals.

John

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g10/jpeters_photos/ETRydell.jpg

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g10/jpeters_photos/ballturret.jpg

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g10/jpeters_photos/FJHajjar.jpg

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g10/jpeters_photos/HKunselman.jpg

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g10/jpeters_photos/MWPeters.jpg

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g10/jpeters_photos/RERatley.jpg

Edited by ROCKET, 20 October 2008 - 12:16 PM.


#2 ww2vault

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 12:08 PM

Being a ball turret gunner would have been a scary but exciting job. Here is a link to a YouTube video that a guy took when he was allowed to go up in a B-17 bomber and take video. If you ever wanted to know what it was like to be in one, this video gives you some what of an idea.

.:.

- Jeff

#3 R Michael

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 04:06 PM

I love the shot of the one with the inscription!

Mike

#4 FightenIrish35

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 04:09 PM

simply awesome these guys really had a "set of balls" to be a ball turret gunner. You gotta respect that.

#5 Lee Ragan

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 08:06 AM

That last one doesn't look like he is old enough to shave!
Those are some really neat photos. Thanks for sharing with us! http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

#6 Bugme

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 08:41 AM

THAT is a very neat video! These guys sat in those things with their legs spread looking at Messerschmidt's coming up from the bottom with only a little Plexiglas between them and eternity. It had to be pure adrenalin mixed with pure horror!

#7 tbirdismypride

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 03:38 PM

Simply incredible photos!! THanks for sharing them http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

#8 Bluehawk

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 04:02 PM

What was the height & weight limit for one of these gunners?

#9 ROCKET

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 04:11 PM

What was the height & weight limit for one of these gunners?


I don't know of any height or weight restriction for ball turret gunners. Most ball turret gunners were chosen because of their short height. However, I have read accounts of some ball turret gunners as tall as 6 feet which would make for a very tight and uncomfortable ride.

Ball turret gunners did not carry their chest pack chutes inside the turret with them due to cramped conditions. The chutes were instead stowed outside the turret inside the aircraft. Some very small gunners were able to carry their chutes with them inside the turret but this was very uncommon. They would hook one side of the chest chute to their harness and stow it off to one side so it was out of the way when operating the turret. If they had to bail out then all they had to do was snap the other side, pop the turret hatch, and kick themselves into space.

Here's a cool youtube video showing a restored ball turret firing live .50 ammo.

http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

John

#10 ROCKET

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 04:21 PM

Here's a cool cut-away drawing and article of a ball turret which first appeared in Life magazine in 1943. It shows the detail of the interior ammo cans with the .50 cal belted ammo draped over the baffles. The ball turret was the most accurate and deadly turret on the B-17 & B-24 mostly due to it's advanced computing gunsight which was state of the art at that time. These gunsights computed for direction, and range to the target and were basically an early analog computer.

John

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g10/jpeters_photos/BallTurret_1-24-1944.jpg

#11 ww2vault

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 04:25 PM

Cool video John. http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif Makes you want to be a spectator up in the sky when a flight of B-17's comes under attack by German Messerschmidt's, it sure would be one awe-inspiring aerial conflict.

Also, in relation to bluehawks post, the guy who shot the video footage from the video link I posted above, said he was six foot four inches and weighed 285 pounds. Though I am sure it wasn't to comfortable of a ride for him.... :lol:

- Jeff

Edited by ww2vault, 21 October 2008 - 04:26 PM.


#12 Bluehawk

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 04:29 PM

Wow... I would have thought it to be a job almost requiring small stature and low weight.

Thanks for the info.

#13 FightenIrish35

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 04:48 PM

i jsut watched that video! and i got air sick just looking at it lol

#14 ROCKET

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 06:23 PM

Here's a pic of an extremely rare artifact...the data plate from an A-2 Lower Ball Turret made by Emerson Electric Mfg. in St. Louis.

Although the lower ball turret was designed by the Sperry Company they never did produce the turrets themselves since they didn't have the capacity for wartime production. The turrets were made under license by the Emerson Electric Co. in St. Louis as well as the Briggs Mfg Co. located in Detroit.

John

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g10/jpeters_photos/btplate.jpg

#15 doyler

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 06:37 PM

Wow... I would have thought it to be a job almost requiring small stature and low weight.

Thanks for the info.


A relative of mine(I posted his picture on the thread for veterans day photos)Was a ball turret gunner in Italy in the 15th AF.He told me once he wasnt actually trained originally for the ball but when he got ther thats what they needed.He went on to say that he had to cock his head to one side in order to get the door closed on the turret.Bob was a little to tall but thats where he was put.

RON

Edited by doyler, 15 November 2008 - 06:38 PM.


#16 ROCKET

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 06:54 PM

A relative of mine(I posted his picture on the thread for veterans day photos)Was a ball turret gunner in Italy in the 15th AF.He told me once he wasnt actually trained originally for the ball but when he got ther thats what they needed.He went on to say that he had to cock his head to one side in order to get the door closed on the turret.Bob was a little to tall but thats where he was put.

RON


Ron,

Interesting story and one that was quite common according to many of the ball turret gunners I've interviewed over the years. Some units were so desperate for replacement gunners that they would have ball turret gunners fill-in as tail gunners or waist gunners and vice-versa. It was also not uncommon for some units to ask for volunteers from ground crews, such as mechanics, to fill in as aerial gunners.

It was only common sense to assign the shortest guy on the crew as the ball turret gunner, which is what most crews did. However, I have heard of a few ball turret gunners being 5'-10'' or taller. The taller the gunner the harder it was for him to aim properly through the computing gunsight located above him and between his legs, which were propped up.

John

#17 ROCKET

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 12:04 PM

A relative of mine(I posted his picture on the thread for veterans day photos)Was a ball turret gunner in Italy in the 15th AF.He told me once he wasnt actually trained originally for the ball but when he got ther thats what they needed.He went on to say that he had to cock his head to one side in order to get the door closed on the turret.Bob was a little to tall but thats where he was put.

RON


Ron,

Do you mind re-posting the picture of your relative or directing me to the thread it's on?

John

#18 1st AAA Group

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 04:21 PM

Rocket are any of the person's in the photos named? One of my late Uncles served in the 388th as a R/o on a B-17G.

Edited by 1st AAA Group, 17 November 2008 - 04:24 PM.


#19 ROCKET

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 06:47 AM

Rocket are any of the person's in the photos named? One of my late Uncles served in the 388th as a R/o on a B-17G.


I'd have to look them up and see. Since your uncle was a radio operator I doubt he would be in any of these photos.

John

#20 ROCKET

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 07:42 AM

Rocket are any of the person's in the photos named? One of my late Uncles served in the 388th as a R/o on a B-17G.


If you give me his name I can check to see if any pictures are out there of him.

John


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