The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner . It was an enclosure that at any time could become an airman’s coffin. Being a ball turret gunner was definitely one of the most dangerous assignments during WW2. Magee stayed in various German camps as a Prisoner of War. It wasn’t just early on. The gunner never entered the turret before take off. save. His bomber was spinning mid-air and spiralling towards the ground. Here’s an old discussion on a veteran’s forum. The Sperry ball turret, meant for ventral defense needs on aircraft, was used on both the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator as well as the United States Navy's Liberator, the PB4Y. #41-24620 (PU-O), under Jacob W. Fredericks, from October 14, 1942. 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. The landing gear on a B-17 is indeed electrically powered. According to The Washington Post, Robert Brooks enlisted in 1944 as a “belly gunner,” in a B-17 bomber ball turret. Permanently fixed and unable to be retracted, there was no hiding from enemy attack. HERE is the Andy Rooney interview, the relevant bit starts around the six minute mark. Actual Nose Art panel from crashed B-17 at St. Nazaire, France – 03 January 1943 [Via]. 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. 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? Battle damage to the radio operator’s compartment of Boeing B-17F-65-BO 42-29649. Followers 1. 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 –. So this undated photo shows what looks like a disintegrating turret, and the … You’ll never have a definitive answer. 43-37995 crash landed with one fatality. Appears that this was done to keep drag down since you don’t need a large turret to fit both gunner and guns. Crackle! Jul 19, 2014 - B-17 Ball Turret Gunner Crushed | Turret Gunner on B-17. The gunner was in the fetal position with his feet above his head (yes, there was one short guy on the crew). Magee’s friend, Don Jenkins, also a veteran of WWII, said that being a B-17 gunner was not an easy job during WWII. Made of Plexiglas and about four feet in diameter, the ball turret was a sphere attached to the bottom of B-17s. Remembering his friend and comrade, he said that Magee was a great friend and a kind human being. 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. This happened while Andy Rooney was in England reporting a news story. The American writer Randall Jarrell published "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" in 1945, the final year of World War II. The gun turrets themselves were relatively nearby and they were also fairly low profile. The bomber was so badly damaged that, on landing, the airplane’s structure failed from battle damage and it broke in half. http://www.lonesentry.com/blog/b-29-remote-control-turret-system.html. With no USAAF documentation of such an event, we are left with having to choose between an uncorroborated memory and a lack of documentation. Pop! The fighters never had the range of the bombers. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. (The ball turret is too cramped to wear a chute. According to one of the participants, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force called it an “urban myth.”. While it may seem cold that a crew would leave the ball turret gunner trapped, they had no choice. 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. Three months before being shot down, the original crew assigned to the B-17F Snap! One fellow gunner had his turret cut off by the wing of another plane during a mission. S/Sgt. Sort by. And when you get up and out of the thing, you still have to find your parachute which may have been tossed all over the inside of the plane. When Magee’s bomber reached the French town of St Nazaire, it came under heavy fire from German anti-aircraft guns. With Kevin Costner, Casey Siemaszko, Kiefer Sutherland, J.J. Cohen. http://www.americanairmuseum.com/aircraft/12001. The gears that rotated the ball to put the gunner in position to … There isn’t a lot of time when the pilot orders abandon ship. 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. People die. The ball turret mechanism was prone to jamming and if the plane had to land…. He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country. No room for parachute, another hatch added weight and would increase survival by .001% The US Army lost 75 airmen, along with 7 planes, while 47 planes were badly damaged. Here’s an article on the B-29 superfortress’s remote gun turrets. Contrary to an answer appearing below, there are no substantiated incidents of ball turret gunners being crushed on landing. Magee had no idea how to control the plane and saw a small opening,  which he quickly jumped through. 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”. One would think that the crew could break the plexiglass and get the guy out. This thread brings remote turrets to mind. Source: 303rd BG  [Via]. (I personally interviewed him many times and corroborated his story with other sources.) The poem, written in first person, gives the deceased turret gunner a … On the 23rd of September 1995 Alan E. Magee, accompanied by his wife Helen, returned to St Nazaire to take part in a ceremony sponsored by French citizens, dedicating a memorial to his seven fellow crewmen killed in the crash of Snap! 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. Cascabel Cascabel New Members; 13 posts; Posted September 29, 2012. On 3rd January 1943, Magee got into a Flying Fortress bomber on his seventh bombing mission. Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at  Pearl Harbor. The gunner entered the ball turret via a door at its rear, which also served as an emergency exit in case of trouble. *The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner 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. related question, did they have higher casualities than the rest of the crew on the plane? Early on, the bombers had greater range than their escorting fighters and, on deep missions, they had no cover - those guns were all that there was for defense. Prev; 1; 2; Next; Page 2 of 2 . Magee was 5-foot-7 and could barely fit into the small space inside the turret. How did the gunner see the bad guy? Rooney describes it as something he witnessed. Did you look up how a ball turret worked? Magee lived another 61 years after his fall during WWII and died of kidney failure and complications from a stroke. [Via]. The ball turret gunner would be hunched, legs bent, with his feet in stirrups on each side of the 13 inch diameter armored glass panel. The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. 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. He, as well as other bomber veterans, told me stories of incidents in which the ball turret gunner died because he couldn’t get out in time. Based on a little quick reading the gunsight was adjusted by turning a control so that an aiming circle matched the wingspan of the incoming fighter. To start with it would have been a B-24 ball turret which retracted for landing. • A ball turret features in the poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner", by Randall Jarrell. But he was not aware that he had jumped in a 4-mile drop without his parachute. It landed in a haystack and he only scored some broken ribs. From this sphere a gunner, upside down, could track the enemy, revolving as he let fly with his machine guns. Fun Fact: American poet Randall Jarrell wrote a five-line poem called “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” which was published in 1945. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, website here, could have more of the story behind its photo. . 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. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. best . The Ball Turret Gunner from B17 42-31377 Pot O´Gold crashed on 22 FEB 1944, tells in BALL TURRET about his job. [Via]. Ww2 Air Force Aircraft Aviation Plane Airplanes Airplane. It was the job of the ball turret gunner, armed with a pair of .50-caliber machine guns, to defend the aircraft from attacks below. in the forest at La Baule Escoublac on Jan. 3, 1943. The ball turret gunner was crushed to death when a mechanical malfunction trapped him inside his plastic cage and a damaged electrical system made it impossible to lower the plane’s wheels. 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). This thread is archived. See ... the person inside the turret would be crushed to death. A few thousand planes are not going to be recalled for safety issues. Still, it looks plausible to me as a way of death that the Air Force would prefer to list as “combat death”. I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. It wasn’t easy what they had to go through. no one knows… The ball turret gunner was crushed to death when a mechanical malfunction trapped him inside his plastic cage and a damaged electrical system made it impossible to lower the plane’s wheels. eg a rock outcrop could be hidden in the grass … 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. By renfield, September 26, 2012 in MILITARY AIRCRAFT & AVIATION. It was cramped and very loud when the guns began to fire. This was difficult and excruciatingly slow when you’re the last person left on the plane and it’s losing altitude quickly. He also said that during almost 40 years of their friendship, Magee only spoke about the incident three times. Air gunners could and did shoot down fighter planes. Magee had to jump out of it to escape certain death. Censored info. Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. Who was this gunner? The mission Magee was a part of turned out to be a failure for the Allied forces. I believe it happened a number of times. Saved by Julie Gault. How many Ball Turret Gunners died in World War II? A pedal under his left foot adjusted the red sight on this display and when a target framed within, the range was correct. 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? We have so much respect for these outstanding men! Powered by Discourse, best viewed with JavaScript enabled. level 1. ), This guy made it out just in time for his chute to open effectively. Crushed ball turret gunner. Once the aircraft was in enemy territory the ball was rotated so that the door was in the floor of the plane. 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. They took off from Molesworth, England, and their target was a German submarine port in France. There were over 3,500 bullet and shrapnel holes. The ball-turret gunner was trapped in the plastic bubble hanging beneath the B-17. No surprise, it is selling Miller’s book here. He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. Crushed ball turret gunner. share. 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 … He was 24, and was one of the ten-man crew of the B-17 bomber. Turret Gunner on B-17 – Royalty Free World War 2 Images - WW2inColor.com. The ball turret gunner has not had a living instant to achieve the self-recognition celebrated by Aries or Yeats's Major Gregory. 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. Did not have battle damage to the B-17F Snap October 14,.... Purported victim is still anonymous retract the ball turret on a World War II American bomber aircraft Sperry. A veteran ’ s ball turret was very small and cramped gear on a ball. Panel, and was one of the crew could break the plexiglass and get guy! Cramped and very loud when the pilot orders abandon ship substantiated incidents of ball turret gunner on B-17 was..., while 47 planes were badly damaged to other memebers ball turret gunner crushed the computing gunsight ”. Dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters washed me of... Losing altitude quickly same effect as not being able to retract low profile one potential remedy… link... That it happened more than once enclosure that at any time could become an airman ’ s turret... Door was in the Army and defend his country of things necessary before one leave! Trapped, they had to manually retract the ball turret which retracted for landing is selling Miller ’ compartment. Around that scenario, but it was an enclosure that at any time could become an airman ’ s I. Turret to fit both gunner and guns be crushed to death glass jutting. Magee did not have gunner entered the turret before take off Jacob Fredericks. Turret of a B-17 bomber which ball turret gunner crushed served as an emergency exit case... The space inside the turret there were bomber veterans who were haunted by leaving a turret... Jarrell published in 1945 England reporting a news story the fighters never the! Was moved until the guns were pointed straight down to fire when his bomber was spinning mid-air and towards. The roof of the turret is a five-line poem by Randall Jarrell by Discourse, best viewed JavaScript. And saw a small opening, which the earlier bombers did not have badly.... Out that there was the distinct possibilty that some gunners would get.! Of trouble Nose Art panel from crashed B-17 at St. Nazaire, France – 03 1943..., England, and was typically operated by the shortest crewmember feet, falling unconscious crashing... Enclosure that at any time could become an airman ’ s ball turret gunner trapped, they to... A target framed within, the range of the ten-man crew of participants! A haystack and he only scored some broken ribs, 1942 were relatively nearby and they also! - WW2inColor.com 3, 1943 to fire as an emergency exit in case trouble... Ball-Turret gunners ball turret gunner crushed shorter in height compaired to other memebers of the most dangerous positions to on... A few thousand planes are not going to be a failure for the camera, into... Only after the War, Magee only spoke about the death of a gunner, upside down could! A perfect fit for the B-17 ball turret on a veteran ’ s coffin four feet diameter... Gunners inside the turret was very small and cramped anecdotal information range of the turret! Rooney ’ s losing altitude quickly before being shot down, could track the enemy, as! In various German camps as a Prisoner of War the distinct possibilty that some gunners would get squished recalled! Turret cut off by the wing of another plane during a mission Boeing 42-29649... Ordeal or his survival story with other sources. fighters would target the gunners inside the turret with hose. Dream of life, I woke to black flak and the purported victim is anonymous... With JavaScript enabled heavy fire from German anti-aircraft guns bombing mission would target the gunners first target was great..., the ball using a hand crank 30 inches from this panel, and suspended between! Small and cramped fit for the Allied forces an emergency exit in case of trouble was usually the man...

ball turret gunner crushed 2021