Gondola (airplane)

Gondola is the general term for the usually-armored ventral casemate-style positions used on many World War II-era military bomber aircraft, especially on German designs,[1] where they were usually known as Bodenlafette, often shortened to Bola[2] (from German Boden, 'floor', + Lafette 'gun carriage or mounting', from French l'affût, gun carriage).

Gondolas were either used to house a gunner or a bombardier.


Examples of gondolas on World War II military aircraft:

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-385-0587-07, Flugzeug Heinkel He 111 H-Z
Heinkel He 111H bomber with its bola gondola just behind the bomb bay
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-402-0270-05A, Flugzeug Junkers Ju 88
Junkers Ju 88A bomber's nose, clearly showing the classic bodenlafette, or bola, undernose form of gondola fitted, in one form or another, to almost all German bomber designs of World War II
Boeing B-17D at Wright Field
B-17D Flying Fortress of 1940, having its "bathtub" gondola in virtually the same location as the He 111H
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-674-7766-07, Flugzeuge Heinkel He 177
Heinkel He 177As, with the foreground aircraft's nose prominently showing the highly integrated bola under the cabin
SM79 193
A flight of four Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero trimotor bombers, each with a similar gondola behind the bomb bay, but primarily used for the bombardier on this design, because of the nose-mounted engine taking up a bombardier's usual location

See also

Other types of aircraft equipped with gondolas:


  1. ^ Kay, Anthony L.; Smith, John Richard (2002). German Aircraft of the Second World War: Including Helicopters and Missiles. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1557500106. Retrieved 2014-07-01.
  2. ^ Stedman, Robert F. (2012). Kampfflieger: Bomber Crewman of the Luftwaffe 1939-45. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1782006633. Retrieved 2014-07-01.

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