The Ball Turret. Where did it come from?
It came from the Armory Dance Hall in Greely, Colorado.
The ball turret was purchased in an auction it will be installed in the B-17G, the “Champlain Lady”. The serial number of the B-17 from which these parts were removed is 44-83316.
The Champaign Aviation Museum has also the aft fuselage section of the 44-83316, which was used as reference to built a new aft fuselage section per drawing.It was purchased at an auction after the place went out of business. The ball turret was hanging in the ceiling above a dance floor. There was also a pilot throttle control for sale. The Champaign Aviation Museum bought
Purchased in ………. less the barrels and the stand.
A ball turret on a B-17 hangs under the aircraft directly behind the radio room.
The gunner protects the airplane from fighter attacks below the airplane with (2) .50 calibers machine guns. The guns were effective to about 800 yards.
The ball turret is loaded with (2) ammunition boxes. Each box holds about 500 shells.
The ball turret gunner usually slides into the ball as soon as the airplane is airborne with the help of an other crewmember.
The gunner enters and exits thru a narrow opening which gets locked/unlocked from the outside. The entering and exiting can only take place when the (2) barrels are pointing down and the opening is inside the airplane.
In case of emergency somebody has to help the gunner to come out of the ball turret. On long flights the gunner will stay in his position until it is safe and the area is clear of enemy planes. Usually this takes place when the airplane is preparing for a landing. One does not want to be in the ball during landings in case a landing gear in not locked in place and the airplane’s weight sits on top of the ball. A ball turret gunner may be in his ball as long as 8-10 hours. The ball turret gunner was important in the protection of their airplane. According to B-17 airplane fatality statistics, the ball turret was the safest place to be in.
When the barrels are pointed down the gunner can enter or exit the ball turret through a hatch in the ball. The hatch must opened or closed, externally, by one of the other crew members.
Electric motors would horizontal 360 degrees and also 90 degrees in the up/down position.
It was a very effective weapon covering the bottom side of the airplane.
A ball turret gunner was connected to the interphone, oxygen and electric system of the B-17.