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Curator's Choice Video Collection

Cradle of Aviation Museum Historian and Curator, Josh Stoff, curates interesting short YouTube videos and provides commentary.

Virtual Museum Home > Curator's Choice > Sperry Ball Turret

The Sperry Ball Turret

YouTube Channel: Gunscom, posted Dec 7, 2018

One of the most unique combat positions of World War Two was the Sperry Ball Turret.

Designed and built by the Sperry Corporation of Lake Success, L.I., the tiny turret protected the underside of B-17 and B-24 bombers from enemy fighter attack. The hydraulically operated turret, which could rotate 360 degrees as well as point straight down, contained the gunner, two .50 caliber Browning machine guns, a Sperry optical sight and two ammo cans with 250 rounds for each gun.

The gunner sighted between his elevated feet and routinely stayed inside the turret for up to 10 hours on a mission. The turret was too small to hold both the gunner and his parachute, thus the gunner was required to rotate the turret, exit into the fuselage and put on his parachute should the plane be going down.

Statistics showed the Ball Turret gunner was the least likely member of the crew to be wounded, as he was surrounded by armor plate, however, he was also the least likely to survive should the plane be shot down.

Such turrets are now quite rare as most were removed from war surplus bombers pressed into postwar civilian service.

The museum is pleased to present a restored Ball Turret in its World War Two gallery. So check out this unique fully restored and operational Sperry Ball Turret, would you like to go to war in one?

Of course, this also begs the question of why anybody would need a fully operational Ball Turret – but these days you never know!