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Crushed ball turret gunner


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I have a question for the forum members to ponder. On the show World War 2 in HD The Air War... Andy Rooney tells the story of a B-17 ball turret gunner traped in the turret and crushed to death when the plane was forced to make a wheels up landing. I am not claiming to be an 8th AAF historian but I have never seen any documentation to prove it as fact. I would like to know the Bomb Group, the Bomb Squadron. What was the name of the plane or the pilot. Most of all what was the dead mans name. I had "heard" this story even before the tv show. I hope someone can post a source other than Andy Rooney. I hope I learn the truth.

 

Steve

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Always looking for anything related to the 8th AAF and flight gear of W.W.2.

Also any info on Advisory Team 98 the unit my late father served in.

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Steve

 

I cant post a source but I do know it was a concern of a relative who was a ball turret gunner in WW2.He flew out of Italy and in B17s.What he stated to me once was he saw a B17 land once with the turret down.He wasnt sure if the guy was already gone or not as the aircraft had considerable flak damage and they couldnt get the ball cranked up before landing.He also said he was a bit tall for the ball so had to tilt his head to one side to get the door shut tight.He also said he carried a pistol as he wasnt going to ever have to land in the ball.True or not it was his story he told me as a young man.

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I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
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With the thousands of B-17s in combat it is logical to think it did happen. I just know that everything in the 8th AAF was so well documented I thought I would have read about it. A nightmare situation to be sure.

Steve

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Always looking for anything related to the 8th AAF and flight gear of W.W.2.

Also any info on Advisory Team 98 the unit my late father served in.

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There is an episode of Amazing Stories about a ball turret gunner trapped in his turret and the plane has no more landing gear. This is a mix between sci-fi and fantasy. I remember watching it when I was young.

"One law for them, another one for us !"

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There is an episode of Amazing Stories about a ball turret gunner trapped in his turret and the plane has no more landing gear. This is a mix between sci-fi and fantasy. I remember watching it when I was young.

 

I also remember watching this as a kid, I did not like the ending.

 

Rob

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There was a pre-recorded show on A.F.T.N. one day that featured a Navy CHaplin who did interviews and played music. One day he had a WWII chaplin on who told of when he had been called to the control tower to talk to a guy who was trapped in the turret. He kept talking to him until the aircraft settled onto the ground. He said the boy inside was not just killed, he was destroyed. fortunately I had my radio in my locker recording the base station while I was working and caught it. I had it transferred to reel tape and eventually onto CDs.I sent a copy of all the cds to Buffalo college in New York to Dr. Lydia Fish and I should still have a copy in my originals.

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There is an episode of Amazing Stories about a ball turret gunner trapped in his turret and the plane has no more landing gear. This is a mix between sci-fi and fantasy. I remember watching it when I was young.

The Amazing Stories episode is "The Mission"

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Steve

 

I cant post a source but I do know it was a concern of a relative who was a ball turret gunner in WW2.He flew out of Italy and in B17s.What he stated to me once was he saw a B17 land once with the turret down.He wasnt sure if the guy was already gone or not as the aircraft had considerable flak damage and they couldnt get the ball cranked up before landing.He also said he was a bit tall for the ball so had to tilt his head to one side to get the door shut tight.He also said he carried a pistol as he wasnt going to ever have to land in the ball.True or not it was his story he told me as a young man.

 

 

The ball turret on a B-17 could not be "cranked up", as it was not retractable. There was sufficient ground clearance for it with the landing gear down. The turret on the B-24, however was retractable, as it hung much lower down.

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The ball turret on a B-17 could not be "cranked up", as it was not retractable. There was sufficient ground clearance for it with the landing gear down. The turret on the B-24, however was retractable, as it hung much lower down.

 

I know he flew in both.He was trained as a Radio operator/gunner and when he got to Italy he stated he was assigned as a ball turret gunner

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..





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This has been a recurring nightmare of mine. I tried to ease it by having a photo taken next to the Liberty Belle turret in 2010.

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Andy Rooney is supposed to have told about seeing it happen.

 

Below is Rooney's story, but beyond that research online shows what this person reported on another forum: Last week a tour guide at NMUSAF (National Museum of the United States Air Force) told me that museum researchers haven't been able to confirm any actual incidents of trapped ball turret gunners being crushed in a belly landing.

 

The NMUSAF calls it an "urban legend" according to that account.

 

Now as for Rooney - well as a journalist for 30 years, I looked at him as a story teller, and I take his tales with a grain of salt. Here's what he wrote:

 

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There was quite a dscussion about this story on the armyairforces forum. No one there could find any actual documentation of this actually happening either.

 

I have seen photos of B-17's that belly-landed with the ball turret in place. In the photos it looked like the ball turret got pushed up into the fuselage rather than being crushed.

 

If a B-17 did have to be belly-landed with a man trapped in the ball turret, I am pretty sure they would have also picked a field to land on rather than a concrete runway.

 

Marty

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A ball turret comes back to life! (A pretty impressive bit of aviation engineering!)

 

 

 

....and the real McCoy!

 

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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These are the same link Ian? Did you intend this?

 

 

Whoops! No...thanks for the heads-up JS! :pinch:

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxG-3SiMObs...;feature=fvwrel

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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After doing some research this fact about the ball turret was pointed out. If the power system and hydraulics were knocked out an emergency hand crank could be inserted into the gearing mechanism of the turret and it could be returned to the neutral position to allow the crewman to exit the turret. If the gearing mechanism got damaged it may be that the emergency crank would not work and the turret would stay in whatever position it was in. Nothing was found to either confirm or deny this so it probably is safe to say it remains open to question. Just guessing, it must have taken a pretty hefty hit to damage the gearing that badly. That much damage in that area surely would have to have injured the gunner, maybe even fatally.

 

IH

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It's become a movie cliche...just think of the climax of "The Memphis Belle" movie!

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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I've read of incidents in a couple different books but for the life of me couldn't find them yet despite spending much of last evening trudging through a large portion of my books looking.

 

I did find this, which isn't of a belly landed B17 but does support the idea of a crewman in the ball turret having to ride it down since the crew could not get him out while still in the air. Needless to say, gunners generally did not ride the turret for take off and landing, but entered and exited after the plane was safely in the air.

 

This guy couldn't get out til they got on the ground. Had they bellied in, he'd have had it.

 

I'll keep digging for an actual bellied in incident.

 

BTGunner.jpg

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Now that shows what kind of catastrophic damage would immobilize the turret with the gunner in it. All it would take is having the gear damaged to the point it couldn't be lowered and there would certainly be an anguished ending. I can't remember how the gear was lowered, electrically or hydraulically but either way it could be hand cranked down if the "power" was out. It would take equal damage on both sides to jam the gear. Indeed, a very rare circumstance but also possible.

 

IH

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Many, many years sgo......I'm thinking 1950s, I read the story of this BTG in Reader's Digest. Bobgee

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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The gear on the B-17 is electrically powered, not hydraulic. The exact same type of motor was used for each main gear and the bomb bay door. They could be raised or lowered with hand cranks. A good friend of mine was a flight engineer on B-17s.

 

Also, one of my uncles was a ball turret gunner on B-17s. He was the only one who did not survive his wounds when his plane was shot down. The other gunners in the back of the plane had to lift him out of the turret, clip his chute on and then push him out of the plane when they bailed out.

 

Marty

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