BRIEFING FILE

Under the skin of aviation technology and tactics

In all respects, Boeing’s Superfortress was a complicated beast — and its fire control system was no exception

ARTWORK: IAN BOTT

Using the sight

Gunner turns target size knob, setting fighter’s wingspan

2 Range wheel is turned to keep fighter wingtips framed by reticle circle

Gunner only needs to keep centre dot on fighter, tracking it as it moves. The computer calculates deflection, which takes about 1-2 seconds. Thumbs pressed on the triggers fire the guns

How the computers helped gunners’ jobs

Computers use input from two sources

Navigator inputs Indicated air speed, pressure altitude and outside temperature 

Gunner inputs Fighter wingspan, tracking to gauge fighter’s movement, range to fighter

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