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Wartime British Remotely Controlled Guns and Turrets

Discussions on all aspects of the The United Kingdom & its Empire and Commonwealth during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
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Wartime British Remotely Controlled Guns and Turrets

Postby Robert Hurst on 14 Apr 2003 13:15

Hi

Boulton Paul Aircraft

The Lancaster twin Cannon Barbette Defence System (1944)

In early 1942 the company received a development contract for a completely new defence system for the Avro Lancaster. It was decided to switch some Lancaster squadrons to daylight operations, and the new project was to consist of dorsal and ventral turrets controlled by a gunner in a sighting cockpit in the tail. Each turret, or barbette as they were officially called, was fitted with two 20 mm (0.78 in) Hispano guns, supplied with 200 rounds of ammunition. The control system was all-electric, the turret mechanisms being linked with a specially designed sighting system which compensated for range and deflection. It was then decided to install AGLT radar-assisted gunlaying, and this was incorporated into the gunner's control system, giving blind tracking facility.

The prototype barbettes were completed and despatched to RAE Farnborough in early 1944, where they were fitted to Lancaster (LL780G). Some trials took place, but it was thought that hostilities would probably be ended by the time the system was ready for operational use, and the project was terminated in autumn 1944.

The above text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol.1: RAF Guns and Turrets", by R Wallace Clarke.

Regards

Bob
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Postby Robert Hurst on 14 Apr 2003 13:44

Hi

The Boulton Paul Type F Lincoln Nose Turret

The Type F Lincoln nose turret was the last Boulton Paul turret too be mounted on squadron aircraft. Nose turrets on Bomber Command aircraft were seldom used in anger, and if an attack developed during the run in to the target, the turret could not be easily operated with the bomb aimer in his position.

When the Avro Lincoln was being designed it was decided to dispense with a manned turret and install a remotely controlled turret which could be operated by the bomb aimer from his position in the nose. The turret was self-contained, the usual Boulton Paul electro-hydraulic operating mechanism being installed at the rear of the turret body.

The sight and operating handles protruded down into the air bomber's compartment, in such a position that they did not interfer with the bombsight or selector switches. The bomb aimer could operate the guns, 12.7 mm (0.303 in) Brownings, to counter any head-on attack. Each gun was supplied with 275 rounds stored in boxes within the turret, outboard of the vertical members of the turret frame. The guns were mounted close together on the central chassis, with a recoil damper in front of each gun. The guns could be released by the operation of a single lever. The turret cupola was encased in sheet Duralumin, no transparent panels being required as the gunner sighted through the windows in the bomber aimer's position.

Details of the Boulton Paul Type F Turret

Position in aircraft: Nose
Power system: BP electro-hydraulic
Armament: two 12.7 mm (0.303 in ) Browning
Ammunition: 275 rounds per gun
Field of fire:
Rotation: 45 degrees
Elevation: 40 degrees
Weight: 205 kg (450 lb)
Gunsight: Mk IIIA free gun reflector sight

The following aircraft were fitted with the Boulton Paul Type F Nose Turret

Aircraft type: Avro Lincoln B.Mk I & B.Mk.II
Position: Nose
Guns: 2 x 12.7 mm (0.5 in) Browning
Traverse: 45 degrees
Elevation: 40 degrees
Depression: 40 degrees
Status: Series production

The above text and photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol.1: RAF Guns and Turrets", by R Wallace Clarke.

Regards

Bob
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Postby Robert Hurst on 14 Apr 2003 14:08

Hi

Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd

Vickers-Armstrongs Cannon Barbettes

In 1941 Vickers-Armstrongs considered replacing the usual tail turrets with a completely new form of defensive armament. Vickers Crayford designed a remotely controlled twin-Hispano mounting which was to be fitted into the rear of the engine nacelles.

the installation, designed by S Walsh, was intended for the Vickers Windsor bomber. The mountings would have given improved field of fire in elevation, and attacks from the low rear could have been easily countered. Firing to the beam would have been limited, but the Windsor was also to have a dorsal turret with twin 20 mm (0.78 in) guns.

The prototype barbettes were installed in the second prototype Warwick (L9704), the system being evaluated at Boscombe Down, where exhaustive trials found that control from the remote tail sighting enclosure left much to be desired.

Details of the VA Windsor Barbettes.

Aircraft: Vickers-Armstrongs Windsor
Armament: two 20 mm (0.78 in) Hispano Mk V
Control: Geared dc electric motors with remote controller in tail sighting turret.
Ammunition: 300 rounds per gun
Operating limits: 45 degrees to each beam. 50 degrees above and below horizontal.
Gun sighting: Vickers remote system using Amplidyne electric drive units synchronised with the gunner's control handle.

The above text and photo were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol.1: RAF Guns and Turrets", by R Wallace Clarke.

Regards

Bob
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Postby mikerock on 14 Apr 2003 17:20

The Boulton Paul Defiant night fighter also had remotely operated turrets, if I'm not mistaken.

Image

--Mike
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Postby Robert Hurst on 15 Apr 2003 13:25

Hi Mikerock

The Boulton Paul Defiant was fitted with the BP Type A Mk IID manned turret. A similar turret the Type A Mk IIR was fitted to the Blackburn Roc, two-seat fleet fighter, used by the Fleet Air Arm.

Details of these and all the other main manned turrets used by the RAF during the war will be put onto this site in the near future. I will also be including details of the US-made manned turrets used by the RAF in American-supplied Lend-Lease aircraft.

Regards

Bob
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Postby mikerock on 15 Apr 2003 17:36

Thank you for the clarification!

--Mike
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Postby Robert Hurst on 16 Apr 2003 13:25

Hi Mikerock

If you would like to know anything about the early development history of the Defiant turret, may I suggest that you take a look at my post with regard to early RAF gun turrets.

Regards

Bob
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Postby mikerock on 16 Apr 2003 16:10

I have been :)

I'm waiting for you to finish before I say anything though... lots of great information so far!

--Mike
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Postby Robert Hurst on 09 May 2003 14:59

Hi

The Boulton Paul Aircraft Company Ltd

The Avro Shackleton MR 1 Nose Turrets

The Air Staff of the post-war period realised that it was essential to provide a long-range anti-submarine aircraft , and after heavy losses from U-boat anti-aircraft fire in the Atlantic, heavy forward-firing armament was specified. The A V Roe Company submitted a variant of the Lincoln modified for maritime patrol work, which would be known as the Lincoln III.

Boulton Paul was asked to design a suitable nose mounting for two 20 mm (0.78 in) Hispano guns. The guns would have to be fitted to clear the radar scanner, mounted in the chin position. The company devised a powered installation giving a limited movement controlled by a sighting position in the glazed nose of the aircraft. The compact spherical mountings were fitted in barbettes either side of the nose, each armed with a 20 mm (0.78 in) Hispano Mk.5 gun with 300 rounds of ammunition. The guns were cocked with pneumatic chargng units, and both guns were controlled from a handle in the glazed nose section.

As was usual on these special mountings, the guns were sighted by the simple but effective Mk.IIA reflector sight, which although designed in 1936 remained in limited use until the 1970s. The 20 mm (0.78 in) rounds were fed from boxes in the fuselage, over the guns in flexible metal ducting, and taken into drum feed units on the guns.

The spherical mountings were enclosed in blister fairngs on each side of the nose. A mock-up of the mountings were built at Pendeford Lane, and found to operate successfully. However, the installation was modified whehn firing tests revealed excessive vibration. The installation was accepted for use on the Lincoln III, which was renamed as the Avro Shackleton MR.1* (See notes).

The above text and first two photos were taken from "British Aircraft Armament Vol.1: RAF Gun Turrets", by R Wallace Clarke. The last photo was taken from "Aircraft of the Royal Air Force since 1918", by Owen Thetford.

* Notes: After several years in service the nose of the aircraft was modified, the beam barbettes being deleted altogether. With this modification aircraft was then designated Shackleton MR.1A

In later versions of the Shackelton, the MR Mk.2, 2C & 3, a new longer, less bluff nose section was fitted, in which were housed two 20 mm (0.78 in) Hispano Mk.5 guns.

Regards

Bob
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