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Thread: RAF Bombers-lack of machine guns?

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    Default RAF Bombers-lack of machine guns?

    World War II RAF bombers-why were machine guns placed only on the top and rear-especially when ME-110's night fighters found the weak spot below the wings into fuselage? Also were there any experimental bomber aircraft which carried heavy machine guns then .303?

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    Hampdens always did. Otherwise, attempts to produce a ventral turret failed: examples can be seen on early Wellingtons, Halifaxes and Lancasters. Visibility for the gunner was a major problem, drag and weight also being unsatisfactory. For most of the war the trade-off would be in favour of additional payload and one less crewman, and later the benefits of H2S for guidance. However, throughout the war a few aircraft carried these - for some reason they are seen on Mk.II Lancasters with bulged bombbays, and late in the war Johnen was shot at by a ventral turret on a Stirling. Canadian Halifaxes carried Preston-Green ventral positions with a 0.5 gun, until superseded by the H2S radar in the same position.

    The upward-firing guns only became prominent on Luftwaffe fighters late in the war, so it is a bit harsh to criticise early trends in bomber defences on the basis of that. Once they did appear in some numbers, it took some time to be recognised as a significant problem.

    The RAF wished to go from multiple 0.303 guns to 20mm cannon. There was a lot of development work done, but did not result in workable turrets until postwar. 0.5in guns were not readily available until late in the war: examples of their use include the Rose rear turret on Lancasters, the Martin dorsal turret on late Lancasters, nose-firing guns on Coastal Command Halifaxes and Sunderlands, and the standardised late-war Frazer-Nash and Boulton Paul tail turrets.

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    Default RAF Bombers-lack of machine guns?

    Quote Originally Posted by PFF View Post
    World War II RAF bombers-why were machine guns placed only on the top and rear-especially when ME-110's night fighters found the weak spot below the wings into fuselage? Also were there any experimental bomber aircraft which carried heavy machine guns then .303?
    PFF,

    Others far more knowledgeable will answer you I am sure but from my study of the German Schrage Muzik (literally "curved music" - the German slang word for "jazz" - the term used for the upwards firing 20 mm cannons on the fuselage and wings of several night fighters, not just the ME 110)) it seems that Bomber Command was not even aware of this German invention until quite late in the war. It was even at the point where BC aircrew reported seeing what they called "scarecrow flares" which (they claimed) resembled Lancaster bombers blowing up" But they really were Lancs blowing up having been hit by the 20 mm of the German night fighters. Some times the first knowledge an Allied bomber had been hit was when the fuel tanks in the wings caught fire. But having read several German night fighter biographies it can also be said that the German pilots had to pay attention and approach underneath, fire his shots and get out of there before the Allied aircraft blew up, taking the German and his his crew with them.

    You also ask about heavy guns on "experimental" heavy aircraft. In May of 1944 101 Squadron, the only Lancaster squadron with a crew of eight (Eighth man was a German speaker who operated the ABC equipment to jam German night fighter command and controls) began removing the Fraser Nash turrets with 4 x .303 (7.7 mm)Brownings on all 101 aircraft and replacing them (on just two Lancs first) with twin .5 Browning (12.7 mm) in a tail turret made by Rose Brothers.

    Sadly, one of those first two .5-equipped 101 Lancasters (LL 757). commanded by F/Lt WAMB Stewart (yes, he was a Scot) was shot down over Sweden on 29-30 August, 1944 resulting in the death of all men aboard (eight regular crew and "2nd Dickey" pilot"

    Hope this helps.

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