See ... the person inside the turret would be crushed to death. The gunner could enter the turret from inside the plane by having the turret rotated until the door opening faced the interior of the plane. No room for parachute, another hatch added weight and would increase survival by .001% best . 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. If the mechanism was damaged that prevented that position, it would have had the same effect as not being able to retract. This was difficult and excruciatingly slow when you’re the last person left on the plane and it’s losing altitude quickly. On the day Magee went on the mission of his lifetime, he left his parachute on the bomber’s deck because there was not much space inside the turret. But he was not aware that he had jumped in a 4-mile drop without his parachute. There has to be more details out there other than Andy Rooney’s accounts and anecdotal information. 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 . (I personally interviewed him many times and corroborated his story with other sources.) On 3rd January 1943, Magee got into a Flying Fortress bomber on his seventh bombing mission. This thread is archived. From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. The bomber took a couple of nasty blows on its wing and engine; it started spiralling towards the ground, and was spinning at a very high speed. This is why ball-turret gunners were shorter in height compaired to other memebers of the crew. The fighters never had the range of the bombers. Magee plunged almost 22,000 feet, falling unconscious before crashing into the roof of the St Nazaire railway station. One fellow gunner had his turret cut off by the wing of another plane during a mission. How many Ball Turret Gunners died in World War II? "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" is a five-line poem by Randall Jarrell published in 1945. hide. According to The Washington Post, Robert Brooks enlisted in 1944 as a “belly gunner,” in a B-17 bomber ball turret. The ball turret gunner has not had a living instant to achieve the self-recognition celebrated by Aries or Yeats's Major Gregory. By renfield, September 26, 2012 in MILITARY AIRCRAFT & AVIATION. It is about the death of a gunner in a Sperry ball turret on a World War II American bomber aircraft. share. When he regained consciousness, as the Germans were taking him to hospital, he exclaimed, ‘Thank God I am alive.” Magee once told his friend that the Germans had great respect for those who survived miraculously. Sperry ball turret on a B-17 Flying Fortress - 1942. show full show summary. Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner - engineer | 389th Bomb Group On a mission to Erkner Berlin on 8 Mar 1944, B-24J #42-99975 'The Latrine Rumor' made a forced landing near Wartena, Holland hitting a windmill that crushed the nose section. From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, 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. 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? When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. Ball Turret Gunners on B-17 bombers were protected only by a glass bubble jutting out from the bowels of the plane. 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. 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. 5 years ago. 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. *The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner How did the optics work on remote turrets? When his bomber came under fire from German anti-aircraft guns, he ran out of options. This was mainly because German fighters would target the gunners first. 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. Crushed ball turret gunner. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, website here, could have more of the story behind its photo. The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. Crushed ball turret gunner. 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. eg a rock outcrop could be hidden in the grass … According to an article in Snopes regarded a Reagan anecdote, there is a story by Andy Rooney(in his book “My War”) about a stuck ball-turret gunner who was crushed when his B-17 had to belly land. Magee had to jump out of it to escape certain death. It landed in a haystack and he only scored some broken ribs. I can’t imagine that the Air Force would subject the family with the knowledge that their loved one died such a gruesome death. Also to escape from the turret there were any amount of things necessary before one could leave. report. http://www.americanairmuseum.com/aircraft/12001. The US Army lost 75 airmen, along with 7 planes, while 47 planes were badly damaged. Actual Nose Art panel from crashed B-17 at St. Nazaire, France – 03 January 1943 [Via]. It was an enclosure that at any time could become an airman’s coffin. A ball-turret gunner, sits in his position on a B-17 "Flying Fortress" shortly before take off for a mission into Germany, 1943. Recommended Posts. Dec 27, 2015 - B-17 Ball Turret Gunner Crushed | Dow Field, Bangor, Maine 1942 - Turret gunner aboard B-17 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. His face was about 30 inches from this panel, and suspended in between was the optical display of the computing gunsight. How did the gunner see the bad guy? The gears that rotated the ball to put the gunner in position to … And it often went to the shortest man among the crew. A glimmering of conscious awareness comes to him, if at all, only after the moment of death. ), This guy made it out just in time for his chute to open effectively. HERE is the Andy Rooney interview, the relevant bit starts around the six minute mark. New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast. The Sperry ball turret was very small in order to reduce drag, and was typically operated by the shortest man of the crew. The ball-turrer gunner was one of the most dangerous positions to have on a B-17. Air gunners could and did shoot down fighter planes. The ball turret job can be exciting. The ball turret gunner was usually the shortest crewmember. Followers 1. • A ball turret features in the poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner", by Randall Jarrell. 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 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). Who was this gunner? Pop! You’ll never have a definitive answer. I believe it happened a number of times. We have so much respect for these outstanding men! He also said that during almost 40 years of their friendship, Magee only spoke about the incident three times. So this undated photo shows what looks like a disintegrating turret, and the … Google “air gunner victory” for some cites. level 1. He is buried in San Angelo, Texas. Crackle! Source: 303rd BG  [Via]. Pop! This thread brings remote turrets to mind. No surprise, it is selling Miller’s book here. . I don’t know if the tales of a ball turret gunner being trapped while the plane actually landed on a runway are true or apocryphal, but the gunners definitely got trapped in those things and sometimes went down with the plane. Three months before being shot down, the original crew assigned to the B-17F Snap! Ball Turret Gunner. Once the aircraft was in enemy territory the ball was rotated so that the door was in the floor of the plane. So this undated photo shows what looks like a disintegrating turret, and the purported victim is still anonymous. His frame of 5-foot-1 was perfect for the assignment which is considered as one of the most dangerous during World War II. They took off from Molesworth, England, and their target was a German submarine port in France. save. The gun turrets themselves were relatively nearby and they were also fairly low profile. The Ball Turret Gunner from B17 42-31377 Pot O´Gold crashed on 22 FEB 1944, tells in BALL TURRET about his job. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. This was war. This is clearly something that wartime censors would have edited out. The poem, written in first person, gives the deceased turret gunner a … [Via]. 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. in the forest at La Baule Escoublac on Jan. 3, 1943. Who was this gunner? [Via]. 3. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. Prev; 1; 2; Next; Page 2 of 2 . It operates from jackscrews, and even if only … Still, it looks plausible to me as a way of death that the Air Force would prefer to list as “combat death”. "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." While it may seem cold that a crew would leave the ball turret gunner trapped, they had no choice. There were over 3,500 bullet and shrapnel holes. 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.”. Directed by Steven Spielberg. The date was April 20, 1944. The ball turret on a B-17 didn’t retract. 86% Upvoted. Magee was 5-foot-7 and could barely fit into the small space inside the turret. related question, did they have higher casualities than the rest of the crew on the plane? The reason: First, the ball turret gunner did NOT enter the turret until the aircraft was approaching the point where fighter resistance was expected. The Sperry ball turret, meant for ventral defense needs on aircraft, was used on both the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator as well as the United States Navy's Liberator, the PB4Y. He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. Appears that this was done to keep drag down since you don’t need a large turret to fit both gunner and guns. Censored info. Sergeant Smith was a ball turret gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress on his first combat mission. 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. Contrary to an answer appearing below, there are no substantiated incidents of ball turret gunners being crushed on landing. 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. He was released in May 1945. And yes, the designers probably figured out that there was the distinct possibilty that some gunners would get squished. The landing gear on a B-17 is indeed electrically powered. When Magee’s bomber reached the French town of St Nazaire, it came under heavy fire from German anti-aircraft guns. Ww2 Air Force Aircraft Aviation Plane Airplanes Airplane. Cascabel Cascabel New Members; 13 posts; Posted September 29, 2012. A few thousand planes are not going to be recalled for safety issues. The American writer Randall Jarrell published "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" in 1945, the final year of World War II. With no USAAF documentation of such an event, we are left with having to choose between an uncorroborated memory and a lack of documentation. Here’s an old discussion on a veteran’s forum. The bomber was so badly damaged that, on landing, the airplane’s structure failed from battle damage and it broke in half. 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. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. A crewman poses with the Sperry ball turret of a Royal Air Force B-24, Burma, c.1943-1945. I have no doubt that it happened more than once. Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. Here’s one potential remedy…[link to video on Vimeo]. 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. Jul 19, 2014 - B-17 Ball Turret Gunner Crushed | Turret Gunner on B-17. Made of Plexiglas and about four feet in diameter, the ball turret was a sphere attached to the bottom of B-17s. The gunner never entered the turret before take off. 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. http://www.lonesentry.com/blog/b-29-remote-control-turret-system.html. A pedal under his left foot adjusted the red sight on this display and when a target framed within, the range was correct. … It also kept the gunners inside the pressurized cabin, which the earlier bombers did not have. Missing Air Crew Reports filed after a plane went down, written by the surviving pilot or other crew, sometimes stated something like “ball turret gunner last seen trapped and unable to extricate himself, presumed to have gone down with the aircraft.”. Ball turret gunner’s tale It was their second mission in “Berlin Special,” a B-17 “Flying Fortress.” Their four-engine bomber was part of the 92nd Bomb Group, 407th Squadron of the 8th Air Force flying out of an airbase near Podington, a tiny farm village some 40-miles northwest of London during World War II. In total, there were 85 B-17s involved in the raid, along with some fighter planes escorting them. Turret Gunner on B-17 – Royalty Free World War 2 Images - WW2inColor.com. Saved from ww2incolor.com. The ball turret mechanism was prone to jamming and if the plane had to land…. Rooney describes it as something he witnessed. Being a ball turret gunner was definitely one of the most dangerous assignments during WW2. Powered by Discourse, best viewed with JavaScript enabled. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner . Here’s an article on the B-29 superfortress’s remote gun turrets. 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 –. 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. The name Ronnie Kramer in some book is a fictitious name for a turrent gunner lost on landing, fictitious as the info is censored and it gives the story an appearance of fiction if he says “unknown gunner”. 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. From this sphere a gunner, upside down, could track the enemy, revolving as he let fly with his machine guns. A made-for-TV drama from the 1980's was built around that scenario, but it was by and large fictional. 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. It was common knowledge among soldiers that the B-17 ball turret gunners had a very high casualty rate. 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. Crackle! Battle damage to the radio operator’s compartment of Boeing B-17F-65-BO 42-29649. With Kevin Costner, Casey Siemaszko, Kiefer Sutherland, J.J. Cohen. #41-24620 (PU-O), under Jacob W. Fredericks, from October 14, 1942. I’m sure there were bomber veterans who were haunted by leaving a ball turret gunner behind. 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