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Barbette of the Redoutable (1876).
Illustration of the barbette in relation to other parts of a battleship turret.

A barbette is a protective circular armour feature around a cannon or heavy artillery gun. The name comes from the French phrase en barbette referring to the practice of firing a field gun over a parapet (defensive wall) rather than through an opening (embrasure). The former gives better angles of fire but less protection. For example, the Confederate defenders at the Second Battle of Fort McAllister were unable to operate their cannons because the en barbette gun emplacements provided poor protection from Union riflemen outside the fort[1].

Before the complete introduction of the fully enclosed armoured gun turrets, a barbette was a fixed armoured enclosure protecting the gun. The barbette could take the form of a ring of armour around the gun mount over which the guns (possibly fitted with a gun shield) fired.

In warships from the age of the dreadnought forward, the barbette is the non-rotating drum beneath the rotating gun turret (properly known as the "gunhouse") and above the armoured deck on a warship. It forms the protection for the upper ends of the hoists that lift shells and their propelling charges (e.g. cordite) from the magazines below.

When applied to military aircraft, a barbette is a position on an aircraft where a gun, or guns, are in a mounting which has a restricted arc of fire when compared to a turret. As such it is frequently used to describe the tail gunner position on bombers such as the B-17 Flying Fortress.

The term "barbette" is often, used with military aircraft of World War II, to refer to remotely aimed and operated gun turret, which itself has no human presence directly within its mechanics-the German Messerschmitt Me 210 and Me 410 Hornisse had twin remote turrets, one per side, for rearwards defense, the Heinkel He 177 had such a turret for its forward dorsal defense.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Trudeau, Noah Andre. Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea. New York: Harper Collins, 2008

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BARBETTE (Fr. diminutive of barbe, a beard), a platform inside a fortification raised sufficiently high for artillery placed thereon to be able to fire en barbette, viz. over the top of the parapet; also in warships a raised platform, protected by armour on the sides, upon which guns are mounted en barbette.

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