Scarff ring
The Scarff ring was a type of machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

 mounting developed during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 by Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer
A warrant officer is an officer in a military organization who is designated an officer by a warrant, as distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission, or from non-commissioned officer who is designated an officer by virtue of seniority.The rank was first...

 (Gunner) F. W. Scarff of the Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 Air Department
Air Department
The Air Department of the British Admiralty was established prior to World War I by Winston Churchill. Its function was to foster naval aviation developments and later to oversee the Royal Naval Air Service . Its first director was Captain Murray Sueter...

 for use on two-seater aircraft. The mount incorporated bungee cord
Bungee cord
A bungee cord , also known as a shock cord, is an elastic cord composed of one or more elastic strands forming a core, usually covered in a woven cotton or polypropylene sheath...

 suspension in elevation to compensate for the weight of the gun(s) that allowed an airgunner in an open cockpit to swivel and elevate his weapon (typically one or two Lewis machine guns) around and easily fire in any direction. It was simple, rugged, and gave its operator an excellent field of fire. It was widely adapted and copied for other airforces.

As well as becoming a standard fitting in the British forces during the First World War, the Scarff ring was used in the postwar Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 for many years. Perhaps the last British aircraft to use the mounting being the Supermarine Walrus
Supermarine Walrus
The Supermarine Walrus was a British single-engine amphibious biplane reconnaissance aircraft designed by R. J. Mitchell and operated by the Fleet Air Arm . It also served with the Royal Air Force , Royal Australian Air Force , Royal Canadian Air Force , Royal New Zealand Navy and Royal New...


Scarff was also involved in the development of the Scarff-Dibovsky interrupter gear
Interrupter gear
An interrupter gear is a device used on military aircraft and warships in order to allow them to target opponents without damaging themselves....


Although a deceptively simple device, later attempts to emulate the Scarff ring as a mounting for the dorsal Vickers K
Vickers K machine gun
Not to be confused with the Vickers light machine gunThe Vickers K machine gun, known as the Vickers Gas Operated in British service, was a rapid-firing machine gun developed and manufactured for use in aircraft by Vickers-Armstrongs...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Handley Page Hampden
Handley Page Hampden
The Handley Page HP.52 Hampden was a British twin-engine medium bomber of the Royal Air Force serving in the Second World War. With the Whitley and Wellington, the Hampden bore the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlin and the first 1,000-plane...

 was a failure. Handley Page had designed a carriage with ball-bearing wheels running on a track around the cockpit. Vibration when firing shook the balls out, jamming the mounting.

In the 1930s, the Germans developed a similar system called a Drehkranz D 30 (German: Turntable) used on a number of German aircraft, most notably the Junkers Ju 52
Junkers Ju 52
The Junkers Ju 52 was a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1932 to 1945. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler...

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