Ball turret

Ball turret

Infobox Weapon|is_ranged=yes

name=Sperry Ball Turret
target= Aircraft
used_by= United States
wars=World War II

A ball turret was a particular form of aircraft gun turret mounted on aircraft during World War II. The most popular one was manufactured by the Sperry Corporation.


Sperry Ball Turret

The Sperry ball turret was used on both the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator as well as the Navy's Liberator, the PB4Y. The Sperry ball turret was very small in order to reduce drag, and was typically operated by the shortest man of the crew. The gunner "sat" in the turret with their back and head against the rear wall, their hips at the bottom, and their legs held in mid-air by two footrests on the front wall. This left them positioned with their eyes roughly level with the two .50 calibre machine guns which extended through the entire turret. The cocking handles were located too close to the gunner to operate easily, so a cable was attached to the handle through pulleys to a handle near the front of the turret. Small ammo boxes rested on the top of the turret and the remaining ammo belts were stowed in the already cramped turret by means of an elaborate feed chute system. A reflector sight was hung from the top of the turret, positioned roughly between the gunners feet.

On the B-17 the turret was close to the ground, but had enough clearance for takeoff and landing. However, the gunner did not enter the turret until well into the air, in case of landing gear failure. In the case of the B-24 the tricycle landing gear placed the turret too close to the ground, so a hoist was used to lift the turret into the airframe. There was no room inside for a parachute, which was left in the cabin above the turret.

Erco Ball Turret

The Erco Ball Turret is the bow installation in the Navy PB4Y-1 and PB4Y-2 airplanes. It serves a double purpose in taking care of any bow attacks on the Liberator besides being used for strafing in anti-submarine warfare. Inasmuch as this turret is of the ball type, the gunner moves with his guns and sight in elevation and azimuth as he moves his control handles. It is a relative of the Martin 250SH Bow Turret of the PBM-3 airplane and has many points of similarity in design and action.

Popular culture

A ball turret features in the poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner", by Randall Jarrell.

The father of T.S. Garp, the main protagonist in John Irving's fourth novel "The World According to Garp" (1978), is a severely injured ball turret gunner.

In the 2005 videogame the player is instructed to sit in the ball turret of the B-24 Liberator plane they are flying in the mission "Liberators."

In the 2003 videogame Secret Weapons Over Normandy, there's a mission in which the player has to shoot down Axis fighters from the B-17 Flying Fortress's ball turret.

See also

*List of firearms

External links


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