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AAF B-17 Bomber Gunner display


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My grandfather was a waist gunner on a B-17 named Junior in the 385th Bomber Squadron during WWII. No one in the family ever paid much attention to his stint in the Army, so most of his memories were forgotten and put away. I decided that I would honor his history by setting up a gunner display of what he wore.

Through the help of several people on this board, I have aquired almost all of the equipment that I needed and here it is as I put it together.

 

This first picture is of the blue bunny suit

i5an0n.jpg

 

I got the leathers on and the Mae West, the boots were tough as the zippers on the trousers were stuck and it was hard getting the material over the top of the boot

103yljn.jpg

 

Here is the gunner harness in place

4rxnj9.jpg


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Because of the weight of the equipment and the flexible maniquin, I had to sit him down in my Huey seat to keep him from collapsing. One thing I learned putting this together is that it is very difficult to put this stuff on. I had to dress in somewhat equivelent equipment while in OIF, but this stuff was very cumbersome to put on, I'm guessing that they had to help dress each other as it was almost impossible for me to put the armor on by myself, I couldn't imagine doing it by ones self.

Also, don't let anyone observe you dressing a maniquin by yourself, it is almost pornographic.

Thanks to those of you that have helped me to aquire much of this stuff, mainly Maurentis.


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HD

 

Nice display.I dont envy you putting on all that shearling and armor.The shearling can be a job and easliy tear too. :thumbsup:

 

RON

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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Also, don't let anyone observe you dressing a maniquin by yourself, it is almost pornographic.

 

Having three of the suckers myself, I laughed myself silly at this comment. I generally ensure I do a clearing patrol before I engage in such activities...

 

Great set up, I have soft spot for the USAAF bomber crews myself. My own grandfather flew for the KMT in the CBI and then CAT.

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My wife's uncle was a flier in the AAC. He was in the 100th BG at Thorpe Abbotts in East Anglia in 1943. He was lost on what I believe was his 8th mission; the 10 October 1943 raid on Munster.

 

The equipment display looks good and I realize you are trying to show all the gear but

I think that the parachute was not worn all the while in the aircraft. There just was not room, particularly in the gunner's positions. They wore the harness and, in an emergence, the chest pack chute was clipped on after discarding the flak vest and helmet.

 

Again, I'm not nit-picking.....it's a nice depiction.

Semper fi; Bill











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My wife's uncle was a flier in the AAC. He was in the 100th BG at Thorpe Abbotts in East Anglia in 1943. He was lost on what I believe was his 8th mission; the 10 October 1943 raid on Munster.

 

The equipment display looks good and I realize you are trying to show all the gear but

I think that the parachute was not worn all the while in the aircraft. There just was not room, particularly in the gunner's positions. They wore the harness and, in an emergence, the chest pack chute was clipped on after discarding the flak vest and helmet.

 

Again, I'm not nit-picking.....it's a nice depiction.

 

Roger that, the chute is just sitting on his legs because I don't want it sitting on the concrete floor and soaking up moisture. Originally, when I had him standing before the armor, I tried to have his hand holding the chute, but the wire in the fingers wasn't able to hold the weight. I do have another maniquin that is sturdier, however, the legs are to close together to allow the pants to fit, so for now, I'm stuck with this moldable one.


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Roger that, the chute is just sitting on his legs because I don't want it sitting on the concrete floor and soaking up moisture. Originally, when I had him standing before the armor, I tried to have his hand holding the chute, but the wire in the fingers wasn't able to hold the weight. I do have another maniquin that is sturdier, however, the legs are to close together to allow the pants to fit, so for now, I'm stuck with this moldable one.

 

For an idea trying a piece of thin rope around the waist, run it round the back of the mannequins neck and then down the arm (all this *under* the clothes), then you could attach the parachute to the of the rope sticking out from the sleeve so that while it *appears* the 'chute is being held by the hand, the weight is actually being supported by the torso.

 

I have tried this method rigging up weapons being held by mannequins rather than having them slung.

 

Hope this helps ...

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Actually, that is a good idea, I may give that a try. I thought about removing the shelving and turning that corner into a mock up fuselage and hanging it on the wall like they did in the aircraft.

 

There is (or at least there was some years ago) a mock up of a B-17 waist gunner's station at the 8th AF Museum in Savannah GA.

Semper fi; Bill











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Very informative to see the gear going on in a sequence.

HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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There is (or at least there was some years ago) a mock up of a B-17 waist gunner's station at the 8th AF Museum in Savannah GA.

 

Actually, I just arrived in Huntsville Alabama, the home of the 385th bombardment group museum. I have contacted the guy that is in charge of it and he is going to give me and my buddies a tour. This guy was a gunner in my grandfathers squadron, this should be interesting.


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Actually, that is a good idea, I may give that a try. I thought about removing the shelving and turning that corner into a mock up fuselage and hanging it on the wall like they did in the aircraft.

 

 

That maybe a good alternative.If you can get some pics and have them blown up to poster size and the quality is good I can see a whole new wall paper theme at casa de Hawk!!!

 

RD

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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Actually the middle straps of the harness go thru the crotch loop too... but it'svery hard to attach them on a mannequin...

 

See the Pilot from my collection below...

 

Also on the same mannequin, there is a piece of plastic covered steel wire running up the left arm (and attached over the right shoulder) to which the parachute pack is attached, giving the impression the left hand carries the pack... Just to give you an idea...

 

USAAFCrew.jpg

 

Nice mannequin and great tribute!!!

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Johan: Thanks, I didn't know about the straps going through the crotch strap, I am just used to wearing a five point harness in our seat and they look the same, so I did it the way I'm used to, but your way makes sense, spread the weight a little so that the family jewels are less likely to get crushed when that chute opens.

 

Doyler: What I was thinking was developing a faux .50 spade grip and have him holding onto the spades in a squating/back leaning posture. that would allow me to hang the chute and the bail out bottle on the wall, I could then run wire up and around the back to help hold him up and take some tension off the legs. I really don't like the sitting posture, it looks un-natural. He looks more like a paratrooper waiting for a jump. Anyone got a good depiction of a gunners area on a B-17?


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Thanks Johan, good pictures. Funny how no two guys are dressed alike. Not a single flak helmet worn among them.

 

Photos of aircrewmen wearing flak helmets aren't all that common. I have seen some of pilots on bombers wearing them, but other crew positions not so much.

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very nicely done! but, a word of advice--- if you have this in the garage or basement, get it out. the worst place. in a room in the house is always better. :thumbsup:

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