F.N.64 Under turret in R.A.F. Mitchells?

Profile picture for user Air Ministry

Member for

11 years 9 months

Posts: 1,682

I've studied many files at Kew on the subject of bomber defensive armament and one topic which crops up occasionally is the installation of the Frazer Nash F.N.64 under defence turret, originally intended for the Lancaster and Stirling, etc, into the Mitchell in place of the original U.S. Bendix turret. I don't have much reference material on the Mitchell in R.A.F. service so have had to rely on Google. One post (this one)...: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/hyperscale/re-bendix-ventral-turret-on-raf-b-25-c-d-s-t145506.html ...suggests that the mod. went ahead but I'm wondering to what extent the turret was fitted in Mitchells used on operations? The post I've indicated above suggests photos of FN64 equipped Mitchells can be found in the book Mitchell At War, but not having access to a copy, I wonder if the author is confusing images of Mitchells with their original U.S. turrets rather than actual F.N.64 turrets? I've studied every photo of a R.A.F. Mitchell that I can find, on the internet and on my bookshelves and I can't positively identify a F.N.64 in any of them. Can anyone help shed a light on this topic, please?
Original post
Profile picture for user Air Ministry

Member for

11 years 9 months

Posts: 1,682

Can I bump this up please as it was posted just as the Forum descended into its upgrade doldrums and probably passed most people by. I'm looking for (preferably) photographic proof that the FN64 under turret was installed in operational Mitchells in RAF service (Mitchell II). Here are comparative photos of the original Bendix turret, which was retractable and the FN64, which wasn't. The profiles are quite different and the prominent cartridge ejection chutes on the FN64 should help to positively identify it. Hoping someone can help, and thanks in advance...
Attachment Size
Bendix.jpg 32.9 KB
FN64.jpg 44.86 KB
Profile picture for user Air Ministry

Member for

11 years 9 months

Posts: 1,682

That's a great start, DaveF68, many thanks. I expect it will be a 320 (Dutch) Sqn. Mitchell II, ex 2nd TAF. As far as I can tell, this mod. only applied to the Mitchell II as the III had no provision for an under turret.

Member for

14 years 8 months

Posts: 151

Can't quite tell definitively from the angle, but this (attached link) Mitchell II of 320 Sqn seems to have the FN ventral turret installed. Photo is part of the Australian War Memorial collection, so perhaps a closer look at their website might show more photos. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C22576 This photo from the Harold A Skaarup collection (2nd photo) appears more like a FN64 turret. http://silverhawkauthor.com/warplane...chell_868.html ...geoff
Profile picture for user Air Ministry

Member for

11 years 9 months

Posts: 1,682

Great links, bearoutwest, many thanks. I've seen enough now to intrigue me. I'll have a look through the catalogue at Kew for relevant files on the subject. I've read that at a fairly late stage in the war, there were 300 FN64 turrets stored in a hangar at Scampton, presumably held in case there was a need to fit them for daylight raids?. Perhaps these were the ones switched to the Mitchells of 2nd TAF when the drive to install H2S in all heavies prevented their use.

Member for

14 years 8 months

Posts: 151

So having peaked your interest, I was also quite curious about these "factory/field mods". I had a closer look at the "tapatalk" discussion, and looked up their suggestion of Shores and Thomas volumes on 2.TAF. Additionally, I dug through Bowyer's book on 2 Group. Attached are a number of scans of Mitchell II's with the distinctive FN64 turret bumps. Both books indicate that 180 Sqn RAF had FN64 equipped Mitchell IIs (via the photo captions) and detailed the actual airframes. EV- 180 Sqn FW166 EV-V 180 Sqn FW172 I've also attached blow-ups of areas of the photos. So happy hunting for more details. I hope you will get a chance to share your findings. ...geoff