His face was about 30 inches from this panel, and suspended in between was the optical display of the computing gunsight. 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. The ball-turrer gunner was one of the most dangerous positions to have on a B-17. He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. in the forest at La Baule Escoublac on Jan. 3, 1943. 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 bomber was so badly damaged that, on landing, the airplane’s structure failed from battle damage and it broke in half. He was 24, and was one of the ten-man crew of the B-17 bomber. So this undated photo shows what looks like a disintegrating turret, and the purported victim is still anonymous. Who was this gunner? 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 … I have a question for the forum members to ponder. 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? 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. Ball turret gunner’s tale It was their second mission in “Berlin Special,” a B-17 “Flying Fortress.” Their four-engine bomber was part of the 92nd Bomb Group, 407th Squadron of the 8th Air Force flying out of an airbase near Podington, a tiny farm village some 40-miles northwest of London during World War II. He is buried in San Angelo, Texas. Ranked among the luckiest people in the world, Alan E. Magee survived a free fall of almost four miles from a B-17 bomber during a bombing raid in WWII. The gunner never entered the turret before take off. Once the aircraft was in enemy territory the ball was rotated so that the door was in the floor of the plane. This is clearly something that wartime censors would have edited out. 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 ball-turret gunner was trapped in the plastic bubble hanging beneath the B-17. Crackle! This was difficult and excruciatingly slow when you’re the last person left on the plane and it’s losing altitude quickly. This thread brings remote turrets to mind. 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.”. 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. How many Ball Turret Gunners died in World War II? 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. 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. 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. Ww2 Air Force Aircraft Aviation Plane Airplanes Airplane. To start with it would have been a B-24 ball turret which retracted for landing. The gun turrets themselves were relatively nearby and they were also fairly low profile. A ball-turret gunner, sits in his position on a B-17 "Flying Fortress" shortly before take off for a mission into Germany, 1943. There isn’t a lot of time when the pilot orders abandon ship. But he was not aware that he had jumped in a 4-mile drop without his parachute. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. level 1. Also to escape from the turret there were any amount of things necessary before one could leave. Dec 27, 2015 - B-17 Ball Turret Gunner Crushed | Dow Field, Bangor, Maine 1942 - Turret gunner aboard B-17 This was mainly because German fighters would target the gunners first. The Sperry ball turret was very small in order to reduce drag, and was typically operated by the shortest man of the crew. From this sphere a gunner, upside down, could track the enemy, revolving as he let fly with his machine guns. I have no doubt that it happened more than once. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner . After the war, Magee did not discuss his ordeal or his survival story with anyone. I’m sure there were bomber veterans who were haunted by leaving a ball turret gunner behind. He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country. The poem, written in first person, gives the deceased turret gunner a … Being a ball turret gunner was definitely one of the most dangerous assignments during WW2. No surprise, it is selling Miller’s book here. We have so much respect for these outstanding men! 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