B-26 Marauder 320th Bomb Group

 

Armament

 

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"Lead Soup"

 

"In 1945 the Luftwaffe fighters would still come after us, but would avoid it if at all possible. Because we could fly such tight formations and the degree of firepower that we had, it would be nothing but 'lead soup' for them."

-Ben Reisdorf, 441st Bomb Squadron

 

The Martin 250CE Full Power Turret

 

The Martin 250CE full-power turret was located forward to the waist gun and just aft of the rear bomb bay. It was designed as a "drop in" unit and was hung from the upper fuselage. The unit rotated on a large ball bearing ring. It weighed 655 lbs, was 6 /12 feet tall, 4 ft. in diameter, and had a 3/8" protective armor plate skirt that rotated with the turret to provide protection to the gunner. The .50-caliber guns & mount, controls, site, and cartridge canisters (400 r.p.g.) were all a part of the unit. It featured a drop seat the was brought up and latched once the gunner lifted himself into position. Power was derived from a General Electric amplidyne motor.

Domes of Destruction

The Marauder used Martin's own power turret. It was highly successful and used in a variety of aircraft including, but not limited to, those produced by Consolidated and Lockheed as well.

Operating the turret was fairly intuitive. There were two hand grips. A rocking motion fore and aft adjusted gun angle and lateral movement was performed by twisting of the handgrips with handle displacement being converted to rate of rotation. Both movements could be performed simultaneously to created a diagonal swath of fire. Triggers were located on both grips and activation of either fired the guns.

Azimuth was a full 360 degrees with up to an 85 degree elevation. To protect the vertical stabilizer, there were fire interrupter cams that ceased gunfire if guns were aimed near the Marauder's tail. Similarly, fire interrupters were set to give a 4 inch clearance for the propeller arcs an wing tips that under full flight loads could flex up to 6.8 inches.

 

The Tail Sting

 

The B-26A

 

The nascent B-26 was equipped with a single hand held .30-caliber machine gun which later in the B-26A series was replaced by a .50 gun with 400 rounds of ammunition.
 

Introduction of the "Twin Fifties"

 

The New "Twin Fifty" Stinger

The first significant revision of the tail gun was seen with the B-26B whereby the single machine gun was replaced by two hand-held .50 calibers in a new stepped-down tail position. Each gun was supplied with 1,500 rounds of ammunition that was fed from containers in the aft bomb by on a pair of patented Martin remote roller tracks located along each side of the fuselage interior.
 

 

Bell Type M-6 Turret

 

Bell Type M-6 Turret

Starting with the B-26B-20-MA and B-26C-20-MO, the tail gun assembly was redesigned. The hand held "twin-fifties" were replaced by a power-operated twin .50 caliber electro-mechanical Bell Type M-6 turret. The now blunt, rounded-off installation visibly changed the Marauder's tail profile. The Bell type M-6 tail turret had a transparent Plexiglas cap through which the guns protruded. The guns were hydraulically-boosted and had a 90-degree cone of fire behind the aircraft. The gunner was protected by armor platting stationed between him and the guns. The turret was operated by a mechanical linkage which moved the N-8 gunsight and guns in tandem. The gun movement was very fast, up to 35-degrees per second.
 

Bell Type M-6A Turret

 

Bell Type M-6A Turret

The Bell M-6 power-boost tail turret was deleted and replaced by the M-6A, a modified version with a flexible canvas cover over the end of the gun position starting with B-26F-2-MA/B-26F-6-MA.

With the B-26G-10-MA/B-26G-11-MA, a tail gun shell collector pan was now fitted as standard below the position on the bottom of the fuselage.

 

 

Ventral  and Waist Guns

 

A flexible mount for a single .30-caliber designed to fire through the rear crew entry hatch was introduced in the earliest B-26 models, the so called "tunnel" gun. This was in response to complaints about the lack of downward defensive firepower. Two waist .30-caliber waist guns were also added to the earlier models.

The "B-26B-1" did away with the single ventral gun and had waist positions augmented. Waist windows were located on each side of the aft fuselage. Each window now had a single .50 Browning M-2 Machine gun. The guns were mounted on swivels. Ammunition canisters were mounted on the fuselage ceiling with the belts running down to the guns. Sliding hatches covered the waist openings when not in use.

With the B-26C-5-MO, the side waist gun doors were enlarged and moved one station aft to improve the angle of fire down and to the front. Also with this model, a single larger circular scanning window, replacing the two smaller ones, was located above each waist door to give the gunner a better view.

 

Package Guns

 

Starting with the B-26B-4 variant, four forward facing .50-caliber fixed guns were mounted in blisters on each side of the fuselage below the radio operator and navigator's compartment. Ammunition was fed from inside the fuselage. Armament with the B-26-4 now totaled 12 Colt-Brownings, giving the Marauder as much firepower as a fighter.

 

Nose Guns

 

Starting with the "B-26B-1" a flexible machine gun was mounted in the center of the nose with a canvas bag under the breech to collect the shell casings. Ammunition hung in a box from the right side of the nose frame. The weapon could be hooked to a clasp on the left to keep it our of the way while the bombardier was over the bomb sight. In addition, the "B-26B-1" had a fixed forward-firing .50-caliber installed in the lower right-hand side of the nose.


"
Sandra Lee" of the 441st.
Flexible .50-caliber and canvas collecting bag are well seen in this photo. The lower package gun has been removed.

The fixed .50-caliber machine gun in the nose was deleted in the middle of the B-26B-45-MA/B-26C-45-MO production run (from 42-95979).

 

Ordnance

 

Bombs

 

The Marauder internal bomb load was between 3,000 and 4,800 depending on the model and range. The forward bay would hold any of the following permutations: two-2,000-pound bombs, four 1,100-pound bombs, six 600-pound bombs, eight 300-pound bombs, or twenty 100-pounders.

The smaller rear bay could hold: two 600-pound bombs, six 300-pound bombs, or ten 100-pounders. With the Army Air Corp abandoning the requirement for carrying a total of thirty 100-pounders, the aft bomb bay was sealed up from the B-26B-45-MA/B-26C-45-MO variants and onward.
 

Torpedoes

 

Limited torpedo-bombing operations were attempted in the South-West Pacific.

Torpedo racks were fitted under the fuselage as factory standard with the B-26B variant. The torpedo shackles were deleted starting with the B-26F-1-MA.
 



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