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B-29 REMOTE CONTROL GUNNERY SYSTEM

Aviation Discuss B-29 REMOTE CONTROL GUNNERY SYSTEM in the World War II - Aviation forums; OK, here’s a question ref the B-29’s gunnery system. Does anyone know why, alone among the gunners, the tail position ...

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    Senior Member Downwind.Maddl-Land's Avatar
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    Question B-29 REMOTE CONTROL GUNNERY SYSTEM

    OK, here’s a question ref the B-29’s gunnery system. Does anyone know why, alone among the gunners, the tail position couldn’t be allocated control of any of the other turrets?



    It seems strange that the most effective sighting position (ie the tail) couldn’t be allocated control of the lower rear turret, especially as the waist gunners could be allocated control of the tail guns. I can understand why the tail position might not be given the rear upper turret due to arc of fire constraints caused by the tailplane and fin – it probably wouldn’t be usable over a large degree of the tail gunner’s cone of engagement - but I would have thought that the lower rear turret would have provided a welcome addition to the tail gunner’s weight of fire.

    While on the subject, when the 20mm cannon was removed (Due to trajectory/reliability problems), why wasn’t it routinely replaced by another 0.5 calibre? I understand that this was done on some B-29Bs, so the engineering fix was available. Anyone with any knowledge or comment on the subject?

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    “Archive” Micdrow's Avatar
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    You might want to check out this thread. There is also some manuals in the thread if I rember right on weapons system.

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/oth...book-8691.html (B-29 Engineering Flight book)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Downwind.Maddl-Land View Post
    OK, here’s a question ref the B-29’s gunnery system. Does anyone know why, alone among the gunners, the tail position couldn’t be allocated control of any of the other turrets?

    It seems strange that the most effective sighting position (ie the tail) couldn’t be allocated control of the lower rear turret, especially as the waist gunners could be allocated control of the tail guns. I can understand why the tail position might not be given the rear upper turret due to arc of fire constraints caused by the tailplane and fin – it probably wouldn’t be usable over a large degree of the tail gunner’s cone of engagement - but I would have thought that the lower rear turret would have provided a welcome addition to the tail gunner’s weight of fire.
    I believe it could; I don't have the book in front of me, but I read that the tail gunner could actually control all three turrets (upper rear turret, lower rear turret, and tail gun), if necessary. It just depended on where the attack(s) was coming from.

    Also, I believe the upper rear turret automatically stopped firing when it was aimed anywhere near the vertical stabilizer.
    Last edited by SoD Stitch; 08-30-2007 at 06:21 PM. Reason: Semantics

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    Okay, I stand corrected; here is the book I was thinking of. According to the schematic, the tail gunner did not have control of the upper turret at any time, only the lower turret; which makes sense, because he probably wouldn't be able to utilize the upper turret most of the time anyway since the vertical stabilizer would be in the way. I will attach the picture as soon as I get my internet issues resolved!

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    Senior Member Downwind.Maddl-Land's Avatar
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    I’m really annoyed with myself now! In the last couple of days I found a really impressive site on the B-29 that had a very good extract of the B-29 gunnery-training manual; it may have even been buried in this site somewhere when I first found it! I thought I had book-marked the site/thread but obviously didn't as I can’t find it now – nor can I find it as I trawl back through my browsing history – it is VERY frustrating!

    In the manual, there was a matrix type diagram showing who could control what turret and the author even stated words to the effect that ‘this extract should resolve all the different stories as who could do what, with what, and when’. Anyway, this matrix seemed to show that tail gunner could only fire his ‘own’ guns and this backed up by a very basic schematic in 2 other references that I have: B-29 Superfortress by John Pimlott and B-29 Superfortress at War by David Anderton. Both these authors state in their text that the tail gunner only had control of his own weapons, hence my question(s). However, I am quite prepared to be corrected - just after the facts, sir, just after the facts!

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    Senior Member Downwind.Maddl-Land's Avatar
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    Found the wretched thing!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails B-29 REMOTE CONTROL GUNNERY SYSTEM-cfc-20systemcontrol1.jpg  

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    The tail gunner did not have a great line of fire and considering the B-29 fire control system was an optical system, it was probably felt it was not necessary to have the tail gunner control any other guns. Besides he's in the most vulnerable position of the aircraft basically segregated from the rest of the crew.

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    It should be remembered that the tail gun on the B-29B had an APG-15 gun control radar. This S-band conical scan set had the ability to automatically track targets and to provide continuous "range rate" to the fire controls. It would make sense to have this "blind fire" capability direct additional guns that can bear on the target. Looks like the left and right blisters do this coordinating rather than the tail gunner.
    Last edited by fer-de-lance; 08-31-2007 at 09:31 AM.

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    Pacific Historian syscom3's Avatar
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    The following link brings you to a great B29 website.

    Join the mailing list and pose your questions right to the airmen who actually used the things or repaired them.

    http://b-29.org/
    "Pilot to copilot..... what are those mountain goats doing up here in the clouds?"

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    Senior Member Marshall_Stack's Avatar
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    This might be a stupid question, but how is it determined who gets to control which guns? It would seem like everyone would want to control as many guns a possible (or maybe that's just me).

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    Senior Member Downwind.Maddl-Land's Avatar
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    Arr - that's what the Central Fire Control gunner was for: he allocated additional turrets to those gunners that had targets from those that didn't, subject to the limitations of the system. Each sighting position had primary control of one turret and secondary control of another, and (from the table above) the waist sighting positions had tertiary control of another. Very clever and effective system for its day.

    I thought Syscom3 would pitch in with something useful - thanks!
    Last edited by Downwind.Maddl-Land; 08-31-2007 at 12:26 PM. Reason: Saw Syscom3's post

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    Senior Member Marshall_Stack's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Downwind.Maddl-Land;272464] Very clever and effective system for its day.

    I'm impressed with the system. I am a controls engineer and automating processes and writing machine code is what I do for a living. I didn't realize that they had this system but was aware of the analog computer that submarines used to determine firing solutions.

    Was the computing gunsight in the B-29 far and away better than the standard turrets of the day or did human ability still play a role in its effectiveness?

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    Pacific Historian syscom3's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Marshall_Stack;272467]
    Quote Originally Posted by Downwind.Maddl-Land View Post
    Very clever and effective system for its day.

    I'm impressed with the system. I am a controls engineer and automating processes and writing machine code is what I do for a living. I didn't realize that they had this system but was aware of the analog computer that submarines used to determine firing solutions.

    Was the computing gunsight in the B-29 far and away better than the standard turrets of the day or did human ability still play a role in its effectiveness?

    When it worked..... it was an excellent fire control system for its era.

    But as with anything to do with avionics of the second world war era.... working "perfectly" was not something that occured with regularity.

    But, overall, it worked well enough most of the time to be usefull. I think the only probelm with it was if the MG's in the turrets jammed, it was difficult if not impossible for the crew to get to it and fix the gun.
    "Pilot to copilot..... what are those mountain goats doing up here in the clouds?"

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    Senior Member Downwind.Maddl-Land's Avatar
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    My view is, from what I have read, that it was far, far and away better than the standard turrets of the day. Check out some of the links above for a better understanding. Don't forget this system was designed in '42/3 and used analogue computers to compute parallax, range, lead angle, slew/rate of change, windage and ballistics. Moreover, it provided the basis for the systems used on Bears, Badgers and Bisons too.

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