Why No Belly guns on Bombers?

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Linkagain
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Why No Belly guns on Bombers?

Post by Linkagain » 25 Jun 2021 21:58

The Uk Bombers were armed in front; on top, on the sides and in the tail.
But why no belly guns underneath?

John(txic)
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Re: Why No Belly guns on Bombers?

Post by John(txic) » 26 Jun 2021 08:08

Early Wellingtons did - but it was detrimental to the a/c's performance, and heavy to boot, so the idea was dropped. It was a bit like a dustbin lowered down from the mid-fuselage.

The Hampden had an under gun position though, but I am unsure as to its effectiveness. Some Lancasters also had a belly gun mounting, but sighting was a problem.

Maybe a ball turret, a la B-17/24 would have been a good idea on Halifaxes & Lancasters - but the downside is it would have cut down on bomb-load. The B-17/24 bomb load was pretty poor, I think - it's always a trade-off, isn't it?

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Hans1906
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Re: Why No Belly guns on Bombers?

Post by Hans1906 » 26 Jun 2021 13:19

Interesting topic,
Schräge Musik - also oblique night music - is the name for a German weapons technique at the time of World War II in which machine guns or machine cannons were installed in a night fighter at an angle pointing forward and upward. The "oblique music" was intended to be used to shoot down British night bombers, which had no downward-acting gun emplacement, without having to take any risks of their own.
Schräge Musik https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schräge_Musik

Bob Jubb - The German night fighter “Schrage Musik”



Hans

P.S. I remember german WW2 veterans talking about the "Schräge Musik" already from the early 1970s.
Almost nothing was av. at that time about all this, only rumors.
No books, no Internet, no YouTube, nothing at at all, long ago...
Es ist im Leben wichtig, viel zu wissen.
Manchmal ist es noch wichtiger, zu wissen, daß man nichts weiß.

EwenS
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Re: Why No Belly guns on Bombers?

Post by EwenS » 27 Jun 2021 12:14

There were quite a number of gun turrets for under-defence of RAF aircraft in WW2 but most did not prove very effective.

Bristol Beaufort under-defence mounting - single aft facing 0.303" MG aft facing in a perspex blister under the nose with limited elevation and traverse. Operated by the bomb aimer using a sighting periscope.
Bristol Type 13 intended for the aft part of gondola in the Bristol Buckingham, which did not enter service.
Boulton Paul K series in early Halifax MkI and Albemarle MkI. Two 0.303" guns with operation by gunner with a periscope.
Nash & Thompson FN17 under turret - manually retractable "dustbin" type turret with 2*0.303" MG fitted to the Whitley Mks.I-IV. Had to be heavily constructed to withstand the airflow and caused much drag.
Nash & Thompson Type 21a - a "dustbin" for the Manchester. Development of the above with hydraulic operation. Same issues. Getting into it was described as getting into a refrigerator with the lights out!
Nash & Thompson FN25 - another "dustbin" this time for the first batch of Wellington MkIa only. Deployment slowed the aircraft by 10mph. Poor visibility.
Nash & Thompson FN54 with 2x0.303" for under the nose of the Blenheim IV. Aiming by the navigator in the nose via a periscope.
Nash & Thompson FN60. Version of the above for the Blenheim V.
Nash & Thompson FN64. Development of the above for the Lancaster with hydraulic power. Fitted to early production aircraft and then re-introduced in a small number of squadrons in mid-1944 for a short period as Bomber Command moved to daylight operations.

In summary, anything that relied on periscope sighting by the gunner proved almost impossible to operate as finding and tracking the target was difficult due to the narrow field of view and the odd angles from which the gunner was seeing things. The same issue was experienced by the Americans with the Bendix turrets in early B-24 and B-25. The early "dustbins" were heavy and caused too much drag when lowered.

Later in the war these under-defence turrets were competing for under fuselage space with H2S radar blisters.

In 1944/45 some Lancasters and Halifaxes were fitted with a single manually operated 0.5" gun on a ring mount in the hole in the belly meant for under-defence turrets / H2S sets.

As the war went on, even the Americans began to dispense with the belly turrets in their aircraft, often in favour of hand held single or twin 0.5" guns on hand held mounts, to save weight.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Why No Belly guns on Bombers?

Post by Ironmachine » 28 Jun 2021 07:01

Also, have a look at this old thread:
The Royal Air force and Belly Guns viewtopic.php?t=68510

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Sheldrake
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Re: Why No Belly guns on Bombers?

Post by Sheldrake » 28 Jun 2021 09:30

I Suspect the RAF were slow to recognise the danger from oblique firing cannons as few victims survived, and Bomber Command's real defensive srategy was that of the herd, swamping defences with numbers. Oblique firing weapons was a good way of eliminating the problems of deflection shooting but required the target to be flying in a straight line. Violent defensive manouvres would defeat the attack or result in a collisison. The RAF did not need a ventral gun turret, just a good view of what was happening below the aircraft.

Tony Williams made this point in 2005 about the best British developed solution.

"Simpler ventral mounts, with a window in the bottom of the aircraft that offered a wider field of view, were more efficient. Such a mounting was developed by No.77 Squadron in the summer of 1944, the “Preston-Green” mounting for a single flexible Browning .50."

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Hans1906
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Re: Why No Belly guns on Bombers?

Post by Hans1906 » 28 Jun 2021 13:51

This movie/video is quite informative, stands a little bit apart from the rest of all the nonsene online:

"Schräge Musik": A story of hesitation and confusion




Hans
Es ist im Leben wichtig, viel zu wissen.
Manchmal ist es noch wichtiger, zu wissen, daß man nichts weiß.

Linkagain
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Re: Why No Belly guns on Bombers?

Post by Linkagain » 02 Sep 2021 19:18

The US did try the Veritcal Periscope Belly Gun but abandoned it for the reason it did not work; only latter was the Spreey turrent B-17 and B-24 belly guns installed...

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