Ball Turret Gunner

Perhaps the most undesirable crew position on an aircraft was that of the ball turret gunner. The ball turret was located on the underside of the aircraft, not very far from the ground. Generally the ball gunner was one of the shortest or smallest men on the crew because of the cramped quarters of the turret. The gunner sat in a fetal-like position. Very few gunners had room for a parachute inside the ball turret, so the gunner wore a safety strap for protection against falling out of the aircraft, should something happen to the turret in flight. The turret was one of the most dangerous positions on the aircraft because it offered almost no protection against flak, it was an easy target for enemy aircraft, and it was the most difficult position to escape from in case of an emergency that required bailing out. Because the turret sat under the aircraft not far from the ground, a trapped gunner also had to worry about the landing. If a plane's landing gear couldn't be lowered, the results could be disastrous for the trapped gunner.

Aside from defending the aircraft, the ball turret gunner had several other responsibilities. He also assisted the crew by monitoring the underside of the aircraft for damage or problems (i.e. if the bomb bay doors closed properly after a bomb run, if the landing gear was functioning properly, etc.), and could visually assess the effectiveness of a bomb run.

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