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"GUNNERS' Safety Belt, A-3. Anyone does know?


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Hello all,

 

I'm currently helping in my spare time a person who is slowly putting together a full-display mannequinn of B-17 (or, B-24) Waist Gunner the most complete possible.

We came some time ago upon pics of a "Gunners' Safety Belt, Type A-3" which is possible to see through the web, apparently these items had mfg. dates of around 1943 and inspections of even many years after, and somewhere they were specifically named as "waist gunners" safety belts.

 

I never saw along many years any pics of them "in action" as worn by the fuselage gunners, the same told me other collectors and/or aviation enthusiasts. Remember having read somewhere about it being long not more than 5.5' so I wondered what freedom of moving around could have a waist gunner, if secured to such a strange belt - moreover, that very odd hardware at one end.

does anyone know some more about this? I even thought it to be a seat strap for B-29 side observers, in order not to be sucked out fuselage in case of sudden decompression when a scanning dome blew away (some instances registered).

 

Any helps appreciated!! Greetings from Italy - Franco.

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I have one that looks similar to yours, but one end is affixed to a snap link, while the other end has a snap link that affixes to a probable D ring. The length you mention is about right. Unfortunately, mine is fitted to a gunner mannequin, so am unable to get a true measurement. Jack Angolia

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Hi Franco,

The gunner's safety belts were not personal equipment, rather, they were attached to the plane and not worn outside of it. Think of it as you would a pilot's lap belt / shoulder harness, or a radio jack box, so it probably would not be necessary for a "complete" mannequin unless your friend has the plane to attach it to.

In the photo of a B-24, below, you can see one belt on the floor to the left of the man's foot and the other at the lower right corner of the photo attached to the fuselage. Hope this helps!

Regards, Paul

 

 

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I've also read accounts where air crew also used these as a safety strap of sorts to attach a QAC or A-4 parachute pack to their harness--like a tether--in case they "involuntarily" left the aircraft they would hopefully have the pack with them to attach to the harness in freefall. HTH

Tim

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Thanks Jack.

Is your display a B-17 waist gunners? If so, please what way did you attach the belt to the mannequinn?

Yes, the mannequin is set up as a B-17 waist gunner. The safety belt is draped over the right arm, runs around the back, and then over the left arm, thus showing both running ends of the belt. Jack

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Thanks all for the replies, particularly Paul with your so much interesting photo.

 

So, there were indeed the safety belts for the waist gunners - I didn't know this, fortunately always something new to learn. At this point they perhaps also show up in some pics "in action", maybe it's just a matter of more accurately watching at them?

But the strange hardware with spring and "jaw", was this the end wich attached to the man? Thanks again . Franco.

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Hi Franco,

The hardware you mention is a "quick-release", which could be operated with one hand by pulling back on the flat, circular, washer-like surface which will then release the "jaws" that grip the "D" ring on the other end of the belt. The illustration and description below are from the "Index of Army-Navy Aeronautical Equipment MISCELLANOUS" catalog from June, 1944. This style of belt simply looped around an attachment point on the aircraft and the gunner's parachute harness. There were other belts that encircled the gunner's waist and had lengths of webbing on each side that attached to the airframe.

Regards, Paul

 

 

 

 

post-9787-0-70074700-1403344371.jpg

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Thanks so much Paul, as always.

Nothing less than a page from a 1944 items' catalog.. great!! finally we have our ideas clearer about the mysterious belt. Yes this should be more an airplane's accessory piece, rather than an aviator's item.

So, nothing too complicated - belt simply went double and its lenght became the half, once clipped together. Must think it attached to gunner's groin strap rather than chest's?, given the dimensions, it looks short indeed but maybe is just a my impression (had read somewhere 5,5' but perhaps it could further be adjusted and lenghtened).

 

Thanks again - greetings, Franco.

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