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The Little Lauded Togglier


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I saw a wing this week which immediately shot indications of familiarity through my mind. I thought back and remembered that I had seen a glimpse of one of these wings a long time ago in passing and gave it very little thought as I considered it a modern joke of some kind. Boy was I wrong. The wing was owned by a lady who was the wife of a bombardier from World War II, who has passed.

 

She explained how he would, along with the other Pilots, sometimes share their wings at the reunions back in the day and this was one of his. A togglier is an army Air Force crewman during World War II, a bombardier at times and at times a specially-trained crewman for this particular responsibility in the large bombers in the formations over Europe.

 

The AAF togglier was responsible for opening the bomb bay doors, arming the bombs and finally activating release of the bombs at the cue of the lead bombers. They worked concurrently in the position of nose or tail gunner as well.

 

This is the second of two of these wings I have ever seen over the years. The switch actually works, flipping up and down vertically but not horizontally. These were wings individually commissioned by the toggliers to local Jewelers or industrious mechanics etc. This would be a wing similar to the radio operator wing sometimes seen in reference to CBI aircrewman who had local jeweler artisans create an individual work giving recognition to their important yet not individually recognized with insignia, task. I have included a story of one of the toggliers below for your edification, enjoy these rare yet unique wings individually created by the aircrewman and bombardiers who had this task in the skies over Europe.

 

A WWII B-17 Togglier, War and a New Constellation

By Dr. Paul Kengor | August 16, 2018 | 3:35 PM EDT

 

George Cahill was a man with a higher mission fixed to the skies.

 

He volunteered to fight in World War II at the earliest possible age: 17-and-a-half. Both parents signed off, and he headed to gunnery school in Las Vegas.

 

George met his crew in Lincoln, Nebraska. They flew to Newfoundland and then Iceland and England. And there, his mission would be a most daring one.

 

George flew on a B-17 with the Eighth Air Force. He was a togglier, a perilous position often alternately referred to as a bombardier or nose-gunner or tailgunner, though George was a stickler for the differences. The togglier sat inside the cramped nosecone of the plane and released the bombs.

 

 

Earl Tilford, my retired colleague from Grove City College, who himself served in the Air Force, and who had George speak to his classes, told me this about toggliers: A B-17 togglier was responsible for arming and dropping the bombs in lieu of a bombardier r . The togglier had to flip a number of toggle switches to arm the bombs and activate the release mechanism andabove allmake sure your planes bombay doors were open, otherwise youd blow yourself out of the sky. That happened on occasion.

 

George flew 28 combat missions under intense fire, wedged into a tiny spot between two 50-caliber machine guns.

 

Over lunch one day in September 2015, I pushed George to describe what that was like. He wasnt surrendering much. I got a few short sentences from him.

 

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Nothing but plastic between me and the atmosphere, he told me of his vulnerability while bombing Nazi targets. I asked if the plastic could stop enemy bullets. Oh, hell no! he scoffed. Bullets go right through it, and you hope they go out the other side! Out the other side of the plane that is, not the other side of the togglier and crewmates.

 

I asked George if he had any close calls. He shot me a shocked look, with another, Oh, hell!

 

This time, the Oh, hell meant Oh, hell yes, though he didnt care to elaborate. There were, I pried out of him, at least a dozen close calls.

 

I later learned that on one occasion Georges Flying Fortress was so shot up with holes that his crew of 10 had to do an emergency landing in Wales with only one of four engines still operating. As the plane coasted into a landing, the final engine stopped. They barely made it.

 

That was what George faced.

 

Incidentally, adds Earl Tilford, more B-17 crewmen were killed in World War II than U.S. Marines. In 1943-1944, attrition rates were near 90 percent for 25-mission tour.

 

For a visual, if youve seen the chaotic opening scene of the film Unbroken, about World War II bombardier and Olympian Louis Zamperini, thats what George experienced.

 

Oh, hell. Thats about right.

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You can see the amount of work that went into creating these wings. The clutch back pins are soldered on individually and the wing itself must be some kind of casting or the obliteration of a wing of some other rating.

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post-76516-0-00224000-1572033203_thumb.jpg

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I saw a wing this week which immediately shot indications of familiarity through my mind. Patrick, an old-timer on the forum, informed me they were togglier wings! I thought back and remembered that I had seen a glimpse of one of these wings a long time ago in passing and gave it very little thought as I considered it a modern joke of some kind. Boy was I wrong. The wing was owned by a lady who was the wife of a bombardier from World War II, who has passed.

 

She explained how he would, along with the other Pilots, sometimes share their wings at the reunions back in the day and this was one of his. A togglier is an army Air Force crewman during World War II, a bombardier at times and at times a specially-trained crewman for this particular responsibility in the large bombers in the formations over Europe.

 

The AAF togglier was responsible for opening the bomb bay doors, arming the bombs and finally activating release of the bombs at the cue of the lead bombers. They worked concurrently in the position of nose or tail gunner as well.

 

This is the second of two of these wings I have ever seen over the years. The switch actually works, flipping up and down vertically but not horizontally. These were wings individually commissioned by the toggliers to local Jewelers or industrious mechanics etc. This would be a wing similar to the radio operator wing sometimes seen in reference to CBI aircrewman who had local jeweler artisans create an individual work giving recognition to their important yet not individually recognized with insignia, task. I have included a story of one of the toggliers below for your edification, enjoy these rare yet unique wings individually created by the aircrewman and bombardiers who had this task in the skies over Europe.

 

Enjoy these wings rarely seen

post-76516-0-92911600-1572036023_thumb.jpg

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Great wing and my first thoughts was now that it is on the forum how long will it take for someone to try and make one of these wings since it is so rare and will be much sought after by flight wing collectors. You mentioned that the base wing looks like it is a casting so this probably means there wont be any variations in the wing design and the use of the short clutch back pins rather than the longer post war clutch back pins is one of the identifiers of an original piece. I noticed on your wing the lack of patina under the circular clutches where there was less air affecting the metal which might be another identifier unless this can be done chemically. I see these toggles on older junk electronic equipment quite frequently at the flea markets so getting a period toggle wont be that difficult. My guess is someone in the UK where a lot of bogus stuff is made will probably make one of these and try and sell it on eBay. I would be wary of any of these wings popping up for sale on thevnext year or so.

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My Father-in-law was a togglier with the 490th BG, 850th BS. Basically, the crews that had a togglier were a crew of 9, as there was no need for a Bombardier

Always looking for 4th Fighter Group and 490th Bomb Group items.

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My Father-in-law was a togglier with the 490th BG, 850th BS. Basically, the crews that had a togglier were a crew of 9, as there was no need for a Bombardier

Did he leave you any stories you can pass on scarecrow?

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Looks like an original Amico wing used for the base. The design, side profile and pin setting and fixing are all correct. The hallmark would have been in the centre of the reverse, as per a bombardier wing I have in my collection. Nice.

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Just when I thought I knew everything (read: nothing).

Thank you mtnman for a most enjoyable presentation. I was aware of the practice of flying sans bombardier and releasing on que when the lead plane did but it never occurred there had to be a specific position for that task.

 

Art

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"Leave the gun - take the cannoli" - Peter Clemenza

War Is The Only Organized Activity Men Participate In That Women Don't Laugh At

Yes, That Is Me In The Profile Picture Ready To Climb Down the Cargo Net A Long Time Ago In A Place Far Away

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Did he leave you any stories you can pass on scarecrow?

I'll tell you one. He gave me about a 3 inch piece of German Flak that he said came through the bottom of the nose and hit his flak vest. I asked when it hit did it pack a bit of a punch. He smiled and said he wasn't wearing the vest, he used it to line the bottom of the bubble. He said "I was 19 years old, I was a lot more worried about being wounded from the waist down than the waist up!" Same reason helicopter gunners sat on their helmets.

Always looking for 4th Fighter Group and 490th Bomb Group items.

donation2012.gifdonation2013.gifdonation2014.gifdonation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2018.gifdonation2019.gifdonation2017.gifdonation2020.gif

 

 

 

 

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I really love those. I didn't know that something like that existed. I have to find one now.

Here is my Uncle Joe's loading list from 12/30/1943 flying with the 8th AF, 384th Bomb Group ,545th Bomb Squadron when he filled the position of Togglier while flying in the B17 "SNAFU". He was a TSgt and normally flew the Tail gunner position.

SortieReport.htm

Semper Fi

Phil

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Okay guys, I talk to the wife and she gave me the name of the bombardier whose togglier wings these are from World War II. The bombardier's name was Jerry Weisman, a 1st Lieutenant at the time he was flying. His unit was 8th Air Force, 92nd bomb Group stationed out of Podington England and was discharged as a captain. Captain Weisman died in 2001 with his beloved wife Patsy by his side.

 

There was concern that this wing would be forged by the unscrupulous jerks that attempt to cannibalize the Joy of discovery and the excellent pursuit of the preservation of history in its most authentic state. Well I went ahead added his Name, Rank and Bomb Group in my own handwriting, so if any of you collectors in the future come across this Wing, you will know good and well it is authentic and named to Jerry Weisman sure enough.

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I understand mikie, well said from the heart. We all have that aesthetic inside which tells us what we like and what we don't like according to the military history we want to preserve.

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"so if any of you collectors in the future come across this Wing,"

 

Are there plans on selling it???????

I would be interested!

Even though you scribbled on the back of it!!!LOL

 

Semper Fi

Phil

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Phil, if I purchase a wing that has an airman attached to it, I will often etch his name, serial number or unit and rank into the rear of the wing because not one of these little pieces of silver would mean a thing without the men who made them icons representing an era, with each military cataclysm, of heroism.... mankind at his best and at his worst. I never want these intrepid pilot and air crew names to be separated from the insignia which marked their individual role and expertise in their fight to keep us safe from tyrants......

like the ones we are threatened by now, within our borders, championing openly and overrunning the schools as indoctrination centers of socialism, one step away from communism and national socialism and a government of absolute tyrannical power.

 

As for my words regarding encountering them in the future, I have no plans for selling but if that day comes, you Forum members will be the beneficiaries as I don't want my collection to fall into the hands of the irresponsible, but those who respect and embrace and are touched in the deepest depths of their heart and soul, by the history and the men tapped by God to make that history.

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