Production of B-17F heavy bombers. The belly turret of the B-17F heavy bomber has stopped many Axis pilots. A gunner on this rotating cage controls the fire of two heavy caliber machine guns. This new ship is ready for delivery from the Long Beach, California, plant of Douglas Aircraft Company. Better known as the "Flying Fortress," the B-17F is a later model B-17, which distinguished itself in action in the South Pacific, over Germany and elsewhere. It is a long range, high altitude, heavy bomber with a crew of seven to nine men and with armament sufficient to defend itself on daylight missions: photo by Alfred T, Palmer, October 1942 (Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
Boeing Flying Fortresses. Guns bristling from turrets, these huge Boeing B-17Es are seen cruising high above the clouds. Described by the War Department as "bigger and more deadly" than any previous Flying Fortress, this plane marks the seventh Boeing B-17 type built for the Army since 1935. Armament includes heavy caliber power turrets on top and bottom of the all-metal fuselage, a deadly tail "stinger" turret, and side-mounted guns. These airplanes have been active in the Far East since Pearl Harbor, and are now serving the cause of the United Nations in every part of the world: photographer unknown, between 1941 and 1945 (Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)
The inside of the ball turret underneath a B-17 Flying Fortress (Yankee Lady): photo by Mr. Z-man, 30 August 2008
Close-up of the belly turret of the B-17 Liberty Belle on display at the 2005 Lumberton Celebration of Flight: photo by Danleo, 5 April 2006
Randall Jarrell: The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner, from Little Friend, Little Friend, 1945
"A ball turret was a Plexiglas sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24, and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine-guns and one man, a short small man. When this gunner tracked with his machine guns a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in his little sphere, he looked like the foetus in the womb. The fighters which attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose."