ball turret gunner crushed

report. I have no doubt that it happened more than once. The gunner never entered the turret before take off. My question is: Were the gunners on bombers actually useful, or did they serve the purpose of providing the crews with the belief that they were protected from high-speed interceptors? Contrary to an answer appearing below, there are no substantiated incidents of ball turret gunners being crushed on landing. From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. S/Sgt. The ball turret was a feature of the bomber aircraft, a B-17 or B-24, made of plexiglass and set into the belly of the plane. He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. Magee’s survival story has featured in many magazines and is considered one of the most miraculous survivals of WWII. Source: 303rd BG  [Via]. The mission Magee was a part of turned out to be a failure for the Allied forces. It looks like the gunners didn’t sit that far from their weapons, basically they had a small plexiglass bubble to look out of with the (complicated looking) gunsight mechanism to aim with. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. The US Army lost 75 airmen, along with 7 planes, while 47 planes were badly damaged. He, as well as other bomber veterans, told me stories of incidents in which the ball turret gunner died because he couldn’t get out in time. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, website here, could have more of the story behind its photo. The ball turret on the B-17 had to rotate to the vertical position to allow the hatch to be opened into the plane for exit during flight. People die. The ball turret gunner was crushed to death when a mechanical malfunction trapped him inside his plastic cage and a damaged electrical system made it impossible to lower the plane’s wheels. And even if it didn’t, as long as the (tricycle) gear extended and the pilot didn’t flare too much, he’d be fine. best . Magee plunged almost 22,000 feet, falling unconscious before crashing into the roof of the St Nazaire railway station. I suspect it was the placebo effect - it looks good and it is reassuring to think that Rob will shoot down any nasty fighter that comes along. The gunner entered the ball turret via a door at its rear, which also served as an emergency exit in case of trouble. Pop! It was common knowledge among soldiers that the B-17 ball turret gunners had a very high casualty rate. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. After the war, Magee did not discuss his ordeal or his survival story with anyone. To start with it would have been a B-24 ball turret which retracted for landing. The gunner was in the fetal position with his feet above his head (yes, there was one short guy on the crew). Here’s an old discussion on a veteran’s forum. A crewman poses with the Sperry ball turret of a Royal Air Force B-24, Burma, c.1943-1945. With no USAAF documentation of such an event, we are left with having to choose between an uncorroborated memory and a lack of documentation. Fun Fact: American poet Randall Jarrell wrote a five-line poem called “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” which was published in 1945. The US 8th Air Force, which flew daylight missions over Europe, had a 19% death rate, if you survived being shot down, you had a 17% chance of become a POW. Followers 1. no one knows… It was the job of the ball turret gunner, armed with a pair of .50-caliber machine guns, to defend the aircraft from attacks below. You keep the gunsight on the target and the computer (mechanical, I think) did the rest, automatically adjusting the guns to point at whatever the gunner was sighted on. Being a ball turret gunner was definitely one of the most dangerous assignments during WW2. And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. Saved from Actual Nose Art panel from crashed B-17 at St. Nazaire, France – 03 January 1943 [Via]. #41-24620 (PU-O), under Jacob W. Fredericks, from October 14, 1942. level 1. A major player in one of my nonfiction WW2 books was a ball turret gunner who was stuck there when the pilot called to abandon ship because the bomber was going down. His frame of 5-foot-1 was perfect for the assignment which is considered as one of the most dangerous during World War II. Magee lived another 61 years after his fall during WWII and died of kidney failure and complications from a stroke. I can’t imagine that the Air Force would subject the family with the knowledge that their loved one died such a gruesome death. Jul 19, 2014 - B-17 Ball Turret Gunner Crushed | Turret Gunner on B-17. From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. Permanently fixed and unable to be retracted, there was no hiding from enemy attack. share. On 3rd January 1943, Magee got into a Flying Fortress bomber on his seventh bombing mission. It wasn’t just early on. Pop! So this undated photo shows what looks like a disintegrating turret, and the purported victim is still anonymous. This happened while Andy Rooney was in England reporting a news story. He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country. The bomber was so badly damaged that, on landing, the airplane’s structure failed from battle damage and it broke in half. Three months before being shot down, the original crew assigned to the B-17F Snap! The poem's speaker suggests that he slips from the protection of his mother's womb into "the State," where he finds himself in a ball turret (the round compartment on a bomber plane from which a gunner shoots). He is buried in San Angelo, Texas. As the photo shows it in a field with tress, its possible the ball turrent smashed into something but the rest of the plane didn’t suffer much . The B-17 was a taildragger, and if any of the three wheels wasn’t down and the ball turret was, then the plane would land on the ball turret. Cascabel Cascabel New Members; 13 posts; Posted September 29, 2012. Based on a little quick reading the gunsight was adjusted by turning a control so that an aiming circle matched the wingspan of the incoming fighter. Magee stayed in various German camps as a Prisoner of War. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. The ball turret gunner would be hunched, legs bent, with his feet in stirrups on each side of the 13 inch diameter armored glass panel. And when you get up and out of the thing, you still have to find your parachute which may have been tossed all over the inside of the plane. So this undated photo shows what looks like a disintegrating turret, and the … How many Ball Turret Gunners died in World War II? And yes, the designers probably figured out that there was the distinct possibilty that some gunners would get squished. Armed with two 50-caliber machine guns and capable of rotating 360 degrees, the ball turret gunner was responsible for protecting the otherwise-exposed underbelly of the flying fortress. • A ball turret features in the poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner", by Randall Jarrell. He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. (The ball turret is too cramped to wear a chute. Then too, if it was an issue, or even widely believed contemporary myth, I wonder why nobody mentions gunners or crews having field expedient escape tools to hand? There has to be more details out there other than Andy Rooney’s accounts and anecdotal information. The ball turret gunner was on the underside of the plane and the gunner had to wait until the aircraft was airborne before opening the hatch to get into it. The Ball Turret Gunner from B17 42-31377 Pot O´Gold crashed on 22 FEB 1944, tells in BALL TURRET about his job. Also to escape from the turret there were any amount of things necessary before one could leave. There were over 3,500 bullet and shrapnel holes. Magee was 5-foot-7 and could barely fit into the small space inside the turret. "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" is one of the earliest of post-modern elegies of a type that might well be termed "peculiar monodies." save. Crackle! Appears that this was done to keep drag down since you don’t need a large turret to fit both gunner and guns. He also said that during almost 40 years of their friendship, Magee only spoke about the incident three times. The gears that rotated the ball to put the gunner in position to … Made of Plexiglas and about four feet in diameter, the ball turret was a sphere attached to the bottom of B-17s. That’s why they had to take Iwo Jima so the fighters had a place to take off from that would let them escort the bombers all the way into Japan. It was cramped and very loud when the guns began to fire. Alan E. Magee poses for the camera, halfway into the tight confines of the ball turret of a B-17 Flying Fortress. However, since it would have been a pretty natural fear of the bomber crews, in general, he may be recalling an actual event or his memory might have converted legends into a “memory.”. This is why ball-turret gunners were shorter in height compaired to other memebers of the crew. Ball Turret Gunners on B-17 bombers were protected only by a glass bubble jutting out from the bowels of the plane. Recommended Posts. The ball turret gunner was crushed to death when a mechanical malfunction trapped him inside his plastic cage and a damaged electrical system made it impossible to lower the plane’s wheels. The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. My first thought is unbolting a radio-they were huge, my Father had one for his ham radio hobby-and two or three guys smashing the plexiglass with it. But he was not aware that he had jumped in a 4-mile drop without his parachute. Crushed ball turret gunner. Air gunners could and did shoot down fighter planes. The American writer Randall Jarrell published "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" in 1945, the final year of World War II. This was mainly because German fighters would target the gunners first. His bomber was spinning mid-air and spiralling towards the ground. Sergeant Smith was a ball turret gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress on his first combat mission. "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" is a five-line poem by Randall Jarrell published in 1945. Battle damage to the radio operator’s compartment of Boeing B-17F-65-BO 42-29649. Alan Magee received the Air Medal for meritorious service and the Purple Heart for his achievements in the war. On August 4, 1944, Douglas A-20G-30-DO Havoc (SN 43-9502) of the 644th Bomb Squadron, 410th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force, receives a direct flak hit in the tail section, completely severing it whilst on a mission to Rouen, France. … It also kept the gunners inside the pressurized cabin, which the earlier bombers did not have. Early on, the bombers had greater range than their escorting fighters and, on deep missions, they had no cover - those guns were all that there was for defense. How did the optics work on remote turrets? A few thousand planes are not going to be recalled for safety issues. If this was an actual issue, I wonder why the design of the turret was not revised to either permit opening or even to fall free and allow the gunner a chance to parachute? 3. When his bomber came under fire from German anti-aircraft guns, he ran out of options. Donald L. Miller’s 2006 book Masters of the Air, NY Time review here and goodreads reviews here, repeats the Rooney story and also includes a photo (#29, credited to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, Savannah, Georgia) with this caption –. Sort by. Still, it looks plausible to me as a way of death that the Air Force would prefer to list as “combat death”. related question, did they have higher casualities than the rest of the crew on the plane? Magee was 5-foot-7 and could barely fit into the small space inside the turret. Here’s one potential remedy…[link to video on Vimeo]. Crushed ball turret gunner Sign in to follow this .

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