A tail gunner or rear gunner is a crewman on a military aircraft who functions as a gunner defending against enemy fighter attacks from the rear, or "tail", of the plane. The tail gunner operates a flexible machine gun emplacement in the tail end of the aircraft with an unobstructed view toward the rear of the aircraft. While the term tail gunner is usually associated with a crewman inside a gun turret, the first tail guns were operated from open apertures within the aircraft's fuselage, like in the Scarff ring mechanism used in the British Handley Page V/1500 (a 1918 aircraft), and also, in the most evolved variants of this type of air-to-air anti-aircraft defense, they may also be operated by remote control from another part of the aircraft, like in the American B-52 bombers (an aircraft first introduced in 1955 but still in service).
The tail gun armament and arrangement varied between countries. During World War II, most United States Army Air Forces heavy bomber designs such as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Boeing B-29 Superfortress used a fixed gunner position with the guns themselves in a separate mounting covering an approximately 90-degree rear arc. Typical armament was two 0.50 inch M2 Browning machine guns.
In contrast, Royal Air Force heavy bombers such as the Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax used a powered turret capable of 180-degree rotation containing the tail gunner and four 0.303 inch Browning machine guns. A similar arrangement was used in the American B-24 Liberator heavy bomber (but with two 0.50 inch heavy machine guns.) Most British turrets were manufactured by two companies Nash & Thompson and Boulton & Paul Ltd and the same turret model was fitted to a number of different aircraft.
In many German and Italian aircraft, and smaller ground attack aircraft and dive bombers, no tail gunner was used but a dorsal gun behind the cockpit or ventral gun along the belly of the aircraft replaced the tail gunner position covering the tail. This position was blocked by the fuselage but allowed better weight distribution.
The tail gunner's role was mainly as a lookout for attacking enemy fighters, particularly in British bombers operating at night. As these aircraft operated individually instead of being part of a bombing formation, the bombers' first reaction to an attacking night fighter was to engage in radical evasive maneuvers such as a corkscrew roll; firing guns in defense was of secondary importance. The British slang term for tail gunners was "Tail-end Charlies", while in the Luftwaffe they were called Heckschwein ("tail-end pigs").
In the autumn of 1944, the British began deploying Lancasters fitted with the Automatic Gun-Laying Turret, which was fitted with a 3 GHz (9.1 cm) radar. The image from the radar's cathode ray tube was projected onto the turret's gunsight, allowing the gunner to fire on targets in complete darkness, with corrections for lead and bullet drop being automatically computed. Due to it having the frequency that it did, it might potentially be spotted by any Luftwaffe night fighter fitted with the Funk-Gerät 350 Naxos radar detection system, which was primarily used to home in on the earlier H2S bombing radar system's emissions.
One important development for the Luftwaffe that never made it onto its larger night fighters or strategic bomber designs, would have been the Borsig firm's "quadmount", hydraulically-powered Hecklafette HL 131V manned tail turret, fitted with a quartet of the firm's own MG 131 machine guns. Prototype examples of the HL 131V were trialed in the late spring and summer of 1943 on a trio of He 177A-3 examples set aside as the V32 through V34 prototypes. This innovative design never made it to production status, only existing as a series of engineering department mockups with Heinkel and Junkers, among others (for their aircraft designs that were intended to mount them) and as the aforementioned working prototypes. The HL 131V turret's design was advanced for a German-origin manned emplacement, using hydraulic drive to both elevate the turret's side-mount gunmount elevation units through a +/- 60º vertical arc either side of level, with a capability for horizontal traverse (of the entire turret) of some 100º to either side, all at a top traverse angular speed of 60º per second.
The first aircraft to ever have incorporated a tail gunner position was the Sikorsky Ilya Muromets bomber, during World War I and the last years of the Russian Empire. The Ilya Muromets prototype flew for the first time in 1913, with no guns on board and no rear position for the crew. When the war broke out, in 1914, only a few Ilya Muromets copies were built, but increasing numbers were required because of the war effort. After having entered the mass-production phase and having seen combat all along the first year of war against the fighter planes of the German Empire, a rear-defending position appeared to the Imperial Russian Air Service to be more and more vital to protect both the plane and its crewmen.
This is how, on March 1916, saw light of day the model S-25 (variant Geh-2) of the Sikorsky Ilya Muromets bomber plane. This aircraft was the first in history to include on its ending tail area a gunner position. Mass-production of Ilya Muromets bombers, all in all variants included, lasted in 1918 with a total of more than 80 copies. Those Ilya Muromets copies that served after the Russian Revolution, served with soviet red star insignias in the Red Air Force.
Another example of a World War I era aircraft equipped with a tail gunner position was the British Handley Page V/1500, but it did enter service at the very end of the war, during the months of October and November 1918, and finally never saw any kind of combat action. After that, during the 1920s and 30s, a few more military aircraft designs came with a gunner position on their tails, like the 1920s British Vickers Virginia (on service as of 1924) or the 1930s Japanese flying boat Kawanishi H3K (on service as of 1930). One of the first aircraft to operate a fully enclosed tail gun turret was the British Armstrong Whitworth Whitley. After a first flight in 1936, the British Whitleys were in service until the end of World War II (1939–1945).
In the overall history of its use in combat, the tail gunner was most commonly used during that conflict, World War II, and in almost every aircraft model in which it was fitted, the tail gun position was constituted of an enclosed compartment inhabited by the gunner. During World War II, this extreme tail compartment could consist, generally:
In the last years of the war, the American B-29 bombers were equipped with a tail gun position in which the gunner still had a direct view on his target while operating his synchronized weapons, but some other gun positions of this particular model of Boeing bomber were, for the first time in an aircraft, operated from other parts of the plane, each one spotting the target by means of a periscopic viewing system. In the years that followed the war, more and more subsequent tail gun positions in aircraft inherited this viewing and sight method, ending afterwards with added radar sights and radar targeting systems, which had been early tested during the World War II period (like in the radar-aimed FN121 turret fitted to some Lancaster and Halifax bombers in 1944, see above).
The tail gunner was mainly last used in combat during the Vietnam War, on large bombers. At this point, the position has become largely obsolete due to advancements in long-range air combat weapons such as air-to-air missiles as well as modern detection and countermeasures against such armaments.
On 18 December 1972, during Operation Linebacker II, USAF B-52 Stratofortresses of the Strategic Air Command conducted a major bombing campaign against North Vietnam. As the bombers approached the target, SAMs (Surface To Air Missiles) exploded around the Stratofortresses. After completing its bombing run, callsign Brown III was warned of Vietnam People's Air Force (NVAF-North Vietnamese Air Force) MiGs. Brown III's tail gunner, SSGT Samuel O. Turner, shot down a MiG-21 interceptor, becoming the first tail gunner to shoot down an enemy aircraft since the Korean War.
On 24 December 1972, during the same bombing campaign, B-52 Stratofortress Diamond Lil was attacking railroad yards at Thái Nguyên when the tail gunner detected a MiG-21 8 miles (13 km) away climbing to intercept. The aircraft took evasive action and dropped chaff and flares while the gunner fired around 800 rounds from 2,000 yards, causing the MiG-21 to fall, on fire. That incident was the last tail gunner to shoot down an enemy aircraft with machine guns during wartime.
The last combat usage of tail gunners by the United States was in 1991, during the Gulf War. During the war, a missile struck a B-52 by locking onto the tail gunner's radar. It is disputed whether or not it was friendly fire by an F-4 Phantom or an enemy missile fired from a MiG-29. On 1 October 1991, Master Sergeant Tom Lindsey became the last USAF tail gunner to serve on a B-52 sortie.
This is a list of aircraft with tail gun positions.
(in German)Der Schwerpunkt der Abwehr feindlicher Angriffe liegt bei dem bemannten Vierlings-Heckstand HL 131 V, der von der Firma Borsig entwickelt wurde. Der Stand hat hydraulischen Antrieb und bei gleichzeitigem Richten von Höhe und Seite eine maximale resultierende Richtgeschwindigkeit von 60°/sec. Der Schwenkwinkelbereich beträgt +/- 100° in horizontaler und +/- 60° in vertikaler Richtung. Die Munition ist in 4 Kästen zellenseitig untergebracht und wird durch Gurtfördermotoren dem Stand zugeführt. Die Schußanzahl beträgt pro Lauf ~1000 Schuss.
The 29th Primetime Emmy Awards were held on Sunday, September 11, 1977. The ceremony was broadcast on NBC. It was hosted by Angie Dickinson and Robert Blake.
The top shows of the night were Mary Tyler Moore, which, in its final season, won its third consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series Award, it also became the first comedy series to gain eleven major nominations (since broken). Upstairs, Downstairs, also in its final season, won its third Outstanding Drama Series Award in four years (it competed as a miniseries in 1976, and won that category too). But the overwhelming champion of the ceremony was the miniseries Roots.
Roots set several milestones and broke multiple records during the night. It became the first show to receive at least twenty major nominations (21). Adding its nominations in Creative Arts categories, its total expands to 37. Both records still stand for all shows. It was the first show to gain every nomination in an acting category. Its thirteen acting nominations tied the record set the previous year by Rich Man, Poor Man, however all of Roots' nominations came in the miniseries category, while Rich Man, Poor Man had nominations cross over into the drama series field. Roots became the first miniseries, and second show overall, along with All in the Family in 1972, to win six of seven major categories. All but one of Roots' eight episodes were nominated for major awards (Part VII).
Another distinction of the night was that Mary Kay Place won a Major Acting award for a TV show (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) that had no major network, only broadcast in Syndication - the first time this rare feat has occurred.
With this ceremony, the Primetime Emmys began a long residency at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium that would continue until 1997.Bill Anderson (American football, born 1925)
Billy Joe Anderson (July 20, 1925 – February 20, 2013) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at Howard Payne University from 1988 to 1991, compiling a record of 24–18. Anderson was born in Erath County, Texas on July 20, 1925. During World War II he trained as B-29 tail gunner in the United States Army Air Corps, but did not serve overseas. After the war, he attended Pepperdine University, where he played college football from 1947 to 1949 before graduating in 1950. He then returned to his home state of Texas and coached football at a number of high schools. He later coached at Abilene Christian University, West Texas State University—now West Texas A&M University, Cisco College, and Tarleton State University. Anderson died on February 20, 2013 in Brownwood, Texas.Bill Budge's Space Album
Bill Budge's Space Album is a collection of four Apple II action games written by Bill Budge and published by California Pacific in 1980. The games are Death Star, Asteroids, Tail Gunner, and Solar Shootout. Death Star was based around a scenario similar to the Death Star "trench battle" that formed the climax of the 1977 film, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.Broyhill
Broyhill may refer to:
Broyhill Furniture of Lenoir, North Carolina
Jim Broyhill (born 1927), Republican former U.S. Representative and Senator from the state of North Carolina
Joel Broyhill (1919–2006), American politician and a Congressman from Virginia for 11 terms, from 1953 to 1974
Lincoln Broyhill (1925–2008), record-setting American tail-gunner in World War II and later a successful real estate developerCinematronics
Cinematronics Incorporated was a pioneering arcade game developer that had its heyday in the era of vector display games. While other companies released games based on raster displays, early in their history, Cinematronics and Atari released vector-display games, which offered a distinctive look and a greater graphic capability (at the time), at the cost of being only black and white (initially).Dale Hyatt
Dale Hyatt (December 10, 1925 – March 28, 2013) was an American salesman and marketing person who was a longtime associate of Leo Fender and George Fullerton.
Hyatt joined the Army Air Force in 1944, and served as a tail gunner in the B-17 bomber. He completed 25 missions, and was shot down once over occupied France, but was able to make his way back to Allied lines and successfully returned to his bomber group.
Hyatt began working for Leo Fender in January, 1946, upon returning from World War II. He left Fender Music when Leo Fender sold the business to CBS in 1965, and rejoined Fender and George Fullerton when the three founded G&L Musical Instruments. Hyatt is the father of and marketing strategist behind G&L's highly collectible Broadcaster model; during its only production period from May, 1985 through May, 1986, 869 guitars were made. Dale retired from G&L on November 4, 1991, about eight months following the death of his close friend Leo Fender.Hyatt resided in Hawkins, Texas, prior to his death and owned one of few known guitars to be signed by Leo Fender.George R. Caron
Technical Sergeant George Robert "Bob" Caron (October 31, 1919 – June 3, 1995) was the tail gunner, the only defender of the twelve crewmen, aboard the B-29 Enola Gay during the historic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Facing the rear of the B-29, his vantage point made him the first man to witness the cataclysmic growth of the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.
Caron was also the only photographer aboard, and took photographs as the mushroom cloud ascended. Of the four 509th Composite Group aircraft assigned to the Hiroshima bombing, Caron's camera and two others captured the explosion on film. Immediately before the mission, the 509th's photography officer, Lieutenant Jerome Ossip, asked then Staff Sergeant Caron to carry a handheld Fairchild K-20 camera. After the mission, Ossip developed photos from all the aircraft, but found that the fixed cameras failed to record anything. Film from another handheld was mishandled in developing, making Caron's the only official still photographs of the explosion. 2nd Lt. Russell Gackenback, Navigator aboard then unnamed Necessary Evil, took two still photographs of the cloud about one minute after detonation using his personal AFGA 620 camera. A handheld 16 mm film camera on The Great Artiste captured the only known motion film of the explosion. Caron's photographs of the explosion were printed on millions of leaflets that were dropped over Japan the next day.
Caron graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School (Brooklyn, New York) in 1938.In May 1995, he published the book Fire of a Thousand Suns, The George R. "Bob" Caron Story, Tail Gunner of the Enola Gay about his "eye-witness account of the momentous event when the world was catapulted into the Atomic Age, the introduction of atomic capability, the technical development of the B-29, and the events that put him into the tail gun turret of the Enola Gay."Great Lakes XSG
The Great Lakes XSG was an amphibious observation aircraft developed in the United States in the early 1930s for a US Navy competition. It was an ungainly and unorthodox biplane design with a single large pontoon mounted below the lower wing. This pontoon extended rearwards and carried the conventional empennage. On top of the lower wing, where the fuselage would normally be located, was a stubby nacelle containing the tractor-mounted engine and the pilot's cockpit. The rear of this nacelle was semi-enclosed with glazing and incorporated a position for a tail gunner. The main units of the wheeled undercarriage retracted into the sides of the central pontoon.
Development quickly ended when trials revealed that the aircraft was incapable of reaching the speeds required by the Navy, and only a single prototype was ever built.Gregory Mangin
Gregory S. Mangin (November 1, 1907 - October 1979) was an American former tennis player.
Mangin was educated at the Georgetown University and learnt lawn tennis in Montclair, New Jersey.In 1931 Mangin, partnering compatriot Berkeley Bell, were runners-up in the doubles final of the U.S. National Championships, played in Brookline, MA, losing in straight sets to compatriots John Van Ryn and Wilmer Allison.
He won the singles title at the U.S. Indoor Championships, played at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York, in 1932, 1933, 1935 and 1936.He was a member of the US Davis Cup teams in 1930 and 1931 but did not play any matches.During WWII Mangin enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces (AAF). He became a tail gunner on the B-17 Flying Fortress and flew 50 missions over Europe. He was wounded twice in missions over Italy and France and shot down two Bf 109s in a mission over Germany. Reaching the rank of staff sergeant he received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), the Air Medal with six clusters and a Purple Heart with one cluster.Hannover CL.II
The Hannover CL.II was an escort fighter, produced in Germany during World War I, designed in response to a 1917 requirement by the Idflieg for such a machine to protect reconnaissance aircraft over enemy territory. It was a compact biplane of largely conventional configuration with single-bay staggered wings of unequal span. The fuselage was a thin plywood paneled, wooden monocoque design, very similar to the style of fuselage in Robert Thelen's Albatros series of single-seat fighters. The main units of the fixed tailskid undercarriage were linked by a cross-axle, and the pilot and tail gunner sat in tandem, open cockpits, with the gunner's cockpit elevated above the line of the upper fuselage to afford him a greater field of fire. For the same purpose, the aircraft featured an unusually compact empennage, with a short fin integral with the rear fuselage structure and a biplane tail unit that allowed the rear gunner to have a larger field of aftwards fire when defending the aircraft. Smaller than the usual C-class reconnaissance aircraft, it was easy for enemy pilots to mistake it for a single-seat fighter; a mistake that would bring them into the line of fire of the rear-facing dorsal gunner when closing from astern.
The CL.II was also produced under licence by LFG, under the designation CL.IIa. The type was widely produced, and as the war continued, was increasingly employed as a ground attack machine, remaining in service in this role until the Armistice.
A copy of Hannover CL.II, named CWL SK-1 Słowik, was the first aircraft built in independent Poland, in CWL in Warsaw in 1919. It however crashed during a public flight on August 23, 1919 in Warsaw, due to faulty bracing wires, killing its constructor Karol Słowik.Hannover CL.III
The Hannover CL.III was a German military aircraft of World War I. It was a two-seat multi-role aircraft, primarily used as a ground attack machine. Like the other Hannover "light-C-class", or "CL" designated aircraft designed by Hermann Dorner, it included an unusual biplane tail, allowing for a greater firing arc for the tail gunner. Until the introduction of the aircraft, such tails had only been used on larger aircraft.Hannover F.10
The Hannover F.10 was an early German airliner developed shortly after World War I by Hannoversche Waggonfabrik based on their wartime escort fighters; the Hannover CL.II and its derivatives. Unlike those aircraft, which were all biplane designs, the F.10 was a single-bay triplane, with a middle wing mounted flush with the fuselage top, and a top wing mounted on struts above it. I-struts were used in the interplane gap, as on the Hannover CL.V. The fuselage was essentially similar to its military forebears, but the tail gunner's position was now enclosed as a cabin for two passengers and the wing-mounted radiator was substituted for a frontal radiator. The F.10 also featured the characteristic biplane tail unit that had been developed originally to give the tail gunner a good field of fire.Heinkel HD 55
The Heinkel HD 55 was a biplane flying boat produced in Germany in the early 1930s for use as a reconnaissance aircraft aboard Soviet warships. The design was based on the HD 15 mail plane of 1927 and was a conventional design for its time, with equal span, unstaggered wings, and an engine mounted tractor-wise on struts above the pilot's open cockpit. A second open cockpit was added on the rear fuselage to provide a position for a tail gunner.
The HD 55 came about as a result of a meeting between Heinkel and Soviet officials in May 1929, leading to a contract for 15 such aircraft, and two pneumatic catapults similar to the type Heinkel had developed to launch the HE 12 mail plane from the Bremen, although this order was substantially increased as time went by. In Soviet service, the designation KR-1 was used (корабельный разведчик - Korabelniy Razvedchik - "Shipboard Reconnaissance").
The first catapult was installed on the battleship Parizhskaya Kommuna in October 1930, and trials commenced immediately, revealing problems with both the catapult and the aircraft. These difficulties were never fully resolved, and the KR-1 was plagued through its career by various structural defects. Nevertheless, the type was deployed into service, with catapults and aircraft installed at various times aboard the cruisers Chervona Ukraina, Komintern, Krasny Kavkaz, and Profintern. The type lingered on in service well into obsolescence in the mid-1930s, mostly due to the failure of its intended replacement, the Beriev Be-2. The final operational use of the KR-1 was around 1938, and by 1941 all had been either scrapped or placed in indefinite storage.Junkers A 32
The Junkers A 32 was a mail plane built in prototype form in Germany in the late 1920s, and later developed as a prototype reconnaissance-bomber under the designation K 39. The design was a conventional low-wing cantilever monoplane with fixed tailskid undercarriage. Construction was metal throughout, with corrugated duralumin skin. Three open cockpits were provided in tandem; the third seat intended from the outset to accommodate a tail gunner for a military version of the aircraft. In fact, the militarised version developed in Sweden by AB Flygindustri featured a fourth crew position as well, for a bombardier. This version featured twin machine guns built into the engine cowling, and a trainable machine gun for the tail gunner.
Only two A 32s were built, and the first prototype was destroyed in a crash on 2 November 1927 that killed Junkers engineer Karl Plauth. The sole K 39 constructed may have been modified from the second prototype. No sales of either the civil or military version ensued.Junkers CL.I
The Junkers CL.I was a ground-attack aircraft developed in Germany during World War I. Its construction was undertaken by Junkers under the designation J 8 as proof of Hugo Junkers' belief in the monoplane, after his firm had been required by the Idflieg to submit a biplane (the J 4) as its entry in a competition to select a ground-attack aircraft. The J 8 design took the J 7 fighter as its starting point, but had a longer fuselage to accommodate a tail gunner, and larger wings. The prototype flew in late 1917 and was followed over the next few months by three more development aircraft. The Idflieg was sufficiently impressed to want to order the type, but had misgivings about Junkers' ability to manufacture the aircraft in quantity and considered asking Linke-Hoffmann to produce the type under licence. Finally, however, Junkers was allowed to undertake the manufacture as part of a joint venture with Fokker, producing a slightly modified version of the J 8 design as the J 10. Like the other Junkers designs of the period, the aircraft featured a metal framework that was skinned with corrugated duralumin sheets. 47 examples were delivered before the Armistice, including three built as floatplanes under the designation CLS.I (factory designation J 11). After the war, one or two CL.Is were converted for commercial service by enclosing the rear cockpit under a canopy.Kochyerigin DI-6
Kochyerigin DI-6 (internal designation TsKB-11; Russian: Кочеригин ДИ-6/ЦКБ-11) was a two-seat fighter biplane produced in the Soviet Union in the 1930s.
DI-6 was developed at TsKB as a fighter that would also be capable of ground attack when fitted with different armament. Originally intended to use a liquid-cooled V-12 engine, problems with its development led to the choice of the Wright R-1820 radial engine instead. The first flight took place on 30 September 1934, and testing began in earnest in early 1935, with State Acceptance Trials following between May and November. Despite a number of weaknesses discovered during testing, the type was ordered into production, and deliveries to the Air Force commenced in spring 1937. Problems including excessive vibration, and a poor field of fire for the gunner, were never adequately resolved, and the various fixes implemented to cure these and other problems eventually added around 160 kg (350 lb) to the aircraft's weight. Production continued until 1939.
DI-6 was a conventional single-bay biplane of mixed construction with cable-retracted main landing gear. The pilot and the tail gunner sat in tandem cockpits, the pilot's open, and the gunner's partially enclosed. To maximize the gunner's arc of fire, the rear cockpit was set lower in the fuselage than the pilot's.Levasseur PL.6
The Levasseur PL.6 C.2, also known as Levasseur VI C.2, was a two-seat fighter aircraft built in France in 1926 in order to meet a 1925 C.2 Service Technique de l'Aéronautique (STAé) specification, (C.2 - Chasseur 2 seat). Constructed along the same lines as Levasseur's naval aircraft of the same era, it was a conventional, single-bay biplane with seating for the pilot and tail gunner in separate, open cockpits. Flight testing of the prototype commenced in 1926, and it was exhibited at the Salon de l'Aéronautique at the end of the year.The PL.6 was evaluated against the Aviméta 88, Les Mureaux 3, Les Mureaux 4, Blériot-SPAD S.60, Villiers XXIV and Wibault 12 Sirocco. However, before any one of these was selected for production, the requirement was cancelled. No further PL.6s were built.Tail Gunner Joe
Tail Gunner Joe is a 1977 television movie dramatizing the life of U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican who claimed knowledge of communist infiltration of the U.S. government during the 1950s. The film was broadcast on NBC-TV. It was nominated for six Emmy awards and won two: best writing and best supporting actor for Burgess Meredith's portrayal of attorney Joseph Welch. It starred Peter Boyle (as McCarthy) and John Forsythe. Robert F. Simon appeared as liberal journalist Drew Pearson.
The nickname 'Tail Gunner Joe' is a derisive term for the Senator that originated from his false claim to have been a tail gunner on American bombers during World War II.