A pedal under his left foot adjusted the red sight on this display and when a target framed within, the range was correct. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. I believe it happened a number of times. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, website here, could have more of the story behind its photo. Who was this gunner? It was an enclosure that at any time could become an airman’s coffin. This was mainly because German fighters would target the gunners first. Here’s one potential remedy…[link to video on Vimeo]. Prev; 1; 2; Next; Page 2 of 2 . Here’s an article on the B-29 superfortress’s remote gun turrets. The landing gear on a B-17 is indeed electrically powered. And it often went to the shortest man among the crew. One would think that the crew could break the plexiglass and get the guy out. 3. Jul 19, 2014 - B-17 Ball Turret Gunner Crushed | Turret Gunner on B-17. A courageous young World War II gunner and aspiring cartoonist, trapped in the belly gun of a B-17 aircraft with the landing gear destroyed, has only his imagination as … In total, there were 85 B-17s involved in the raid, along with some fighter planes escorting them. And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. Crushed ball turret gunner Sign in to follow this . The ball turret gunner has not had a living instant to achieve the self-recognition celebrated by Aries or Yeats's Major Gregory. "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" is a five-line poem by Randall Jarrell published in 1945. 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. Ww2 Air Force Aircraft Aviation Plane Airplanes Airplane. The gunner entered the ball turret via a door at its rear, which also served as an emergency exit in case of trouble. I’m sure there were bomber veterans who were haunted by leaving a ball turret gunner behind. You keep the gunsight on the target and the computer (mechanical, I think) did the rest, automatically adjusting the guns to point at whatever the gunner was sighted on. Turret Gunner on B-17 – Royalty Free World War 2 Images - WW2inColor.com. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner . This was war. With Kevin Costner, Casey Siemaszko, Kiefer Sutherland, J.J. Cohen. This was difficult and excruciatingly slow when you’re the last person left on the plane and it’s losing altitude quickly. But he was not aware that he had jumped in a 4-mile drop without his parachute. 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.”. Crackle! They were useful. Magee stayed in various German camps as a Prisoner of War. Then too, if it was an issue, or even widely believed contemporary myth, I wonder why nobody mentions gunners or crews having field expedient escape tools to hand? 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. http://www.lonesentry.com/blog/b-29-remote-control-turret-system.html. On 3rd January 1943, Magee got into a Flying Fortress bomber on his seventh bombing mission. One fellow gunner had his turret cut off by the wing of another plane during a mission. Source: 303rd BG  [Via]. Sperry ball turret on a B-17 Flying Fortress - 1942. show full show summary. From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, Cascabel Cascabel New Members; 13 posts; Posted September 29, 2012. It wasn’t easy what they had to go through. The gun turrets themselves were relatively nearby and they were also fairly low profile. It was cramped and very loud when the guns began to fire. 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. The ball-turrer gunner was one of the most dangerous positions to have on a B-17. Need facts about a B-17 ball turret gunner who died in a belly 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. Another vote here for Miller’s book, which despite its title is not the usual hero-worship or dry recitation of mission details but a realistic-seeming discussion of all aspects of what the war was like for those men. He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country. My question is: Were the gunners on bombers actually useful, or did they serve the purpose of providing the crews with the belief that they were protected from high-speed interceptors? Ball Turret Gunners on B-17 bombers were protected only by a glass bubble jutting out from the bowels of the plane. share. Here’s an old discussion on a veteran’s forum. Saved by Julie Gault. Powered by Discourse, best viewed with JavaScript enabled. The gunner placed his feet in the heel rests and th… 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). The US Army lost 75 airmen, along with 7 planes, while 47 planes were badly damaged. It operates from jackscrews, and even if only … See ... the person inside the turret would be crushed to death. The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. 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. Contrary to an answer appearing below, there are no substantiated incidents of ball turret gunners being crushed on landing. 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. Rooney describes it as something he witnessed. Magee was 5-foot-7 and could barely fit into the small space inside the turret. A ball-turret gunner, sits in his position on a B-17 "Flying Fortress" shortly before take off for a mission into Germany, 1943. They took off from Molesworth, England, and their target was a German submarine port in France. S/Sgt. From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. no one knows… He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country. By renfield, September 26, 2012 in MILITARY AIRCRAFT & AVIATION. 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. 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. He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. in the forest at La Baule Escoublac on Jan. 3, 1943. 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. best . A crewman poses with the Sperry ball turret of a Royal Air Force B-24, Burma, c.1943-1945. The American writer Randall Jarrell published "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" in 1945, the final year of World War II. hide. Directed by Steven Spielberg. People die. How did the optics work on remote turrets? Crushed ball turret gunner. 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”. 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. 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. After the war, Magee did not discuss his ordeal or his survival story with anyone. The ball turret had lost all power, so to get out he had to manually retract the ball using a hand crank. He also said that during almost 40 years of their friendship, Magee only spoke about the incident three times. 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 –. The gunner never entered the turret before take off. . Who was this gunner? And yes, the designers probably figured out that there was the distinct possibilty that some gunners would get squished. There were over 3,500 bullet and shrapnel holes. Also to escape from the turret there were any amount of things necessary before one could leave. 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. We have so much respect for these outstanding men! 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. He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. So this undated photo shows what looks like a disintegrating turret, and the … (The ball turret is too cramped to wear a chute. eg a rock outcrop could be hidden in the grass … The fighters never had the range of the bombers. 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. Fun Fact: American poet Randall Jarrell wrote a five-line poem called “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” which was published in 1945. Randall Jarrell, 1914 - 1965. Magee lived another 61 years after his fall during WWII and died of kidney failure and complications from a stroke. 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. From this sphere a gunner, upside down, could track the enemy, revolving as he let fly with his machine guns. Magee’s survival story has featured in many magazines and is considered one of the most miraculous survivals of WWII. 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 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. 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 . The ball-turret gunner was trapped in the plastic bubble hanging beneath the B-17. I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. According to The Washington Post, Robert Brooks enlisted in 1944 as a “belly gunner,” in a B-17 bomber 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. The Sperry ball turret was very small in order to reduce drag, and was typically operated by the shortest man of the crew. There has to be more details out there other than Andy Rooney’s accounts and anecdotal information. The bomber was so badly damaged that, on landing, the airplane’s structure failed from battle damage and it broke in half. Actual Nose Art panel from crashed B-17 at St. Nazaire, France – 03 January 1943 [Via]. A glimmering of conscious awareness comes to him, if at all, only after the moment of death. That’s why they had to take Iwo Jima so the fighters had a place to take off from that would let them escort the bombers all the way into Japan. 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. • A ball turret features in the poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner", by Randall Jarrell. The gears that rotated the ball to put the gunner in position to … With no USAAF documentation of such an event, we are left with having to choose between an uncorroborated memory and a lack of documentation. Did you look up how a ball turret worked? 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? A made-for-TV drama from the 1980's was built around that scenario, but it was by and large fictional. The poem, written in first person, gives the deceased turret gunner a … Magee had to jump out of it to escape certain death. It is about the death of a gunner in a Sperry ball turret on a World War II American bomber aircraft. New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast. 86% Upvoted. He was 24, and was one of the ten-man crew of the B-17 bomber. Sergeant Smith was a ball turret gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress on his first combat mission. report. According to one of the participants, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force called it an “urban myth.”. 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. 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. The date was April 20, 1944. Magee plunged almost 22,000 feet, falling unconscious before crashing into the roof of the St Nazaire railway station. Censored info. ), This guy made it out just in time for his chute to open effectively. You’ll never have a definitive answer. Battle damage to the radio operator’s compartment of Boeing B-17F-65-BO 42-29649. Once the aircraft was in enemy territory the ball was rotated so that the door was in the floor of the plane. 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. Alan Magee received the Air Medal for meritorious service and the Purple Heart for his achievements in the war. How many Ball Turret Gunners died in World War II? 11 comments. Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at  Pearl Harbor. It landed in a haystack and he only scored some broken ribs. When Magee’s bomber reached the French town of St Nazaire, it came under heavy fire from German anti-aircraft guns. The ball turret mechanism was prone to jamming and if the plane had to land…. His frame of 5-foot-1 was perfect for the assignment which is considered as one of the most dangerous during World War II. Magee had no idea how to control the plane and saw a small opening,  which he quickly jumped through.