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ball turret gunner crushed

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. Everybody else in the plane understood that the [ball turret gunner] was a dead man. | A ball turret was a spherical-shaped, altazimuth mount gun turret, fitted to some American-built aircraft during World War II. In a US gun turret the gunner opperated a large wire wound variable resistor called a rheostat which applied the current to the amplidyne. In the TV series Season 1, Episode 6 there is a very similar story of the Ball Turret gunner being trapped in his turret after FLAK damage with the real possibility of being crushed upon landing due to landing gear damage as well. Permanently fixed and unable to be retracted, there was no hiding from enemy attack. The gunner placed his feet in the heel rests and occupied his cramped station. There was no room inside for a parachute, which was left in the cabin above the turret. A reflector sight was hung from the top of the turret, positioned roughly between the gunner's feet. The primary target was Oranienburg, Germany. 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. [Via]. The US Army lost 75 airmen, along with 7 planes, while 47 planes were badly damaged. The ball turret was a hellish place to be. Hands like shovels. 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 city was the site of a Nazi nuclear energy project. In the case of the B-24, the Liberator's tricycle landing gear design mandated that its A-13 model Sperry ball turret have a fully retractable mount, so that the ball turret would always be retracted upwards into the lower fuselage while the aircraft was on the ground, providing ground clearance with it in the stowed position. unholy tokens of Christ, Nailed to a tree (That) You hang around your neck. This left him positioned with his eyes roughly level with the pair of light-barrel Browning AN/M2 .50 caliber machine guns which extended through the entire turret, located to either side of the gunner. The gunner never entered the turret before take off. Ball Turret Gunners on B-17 bombers were protected only by a glass bubble jutting out from the bowels of the plane. 2: The ball turret had a steel for that protected the gunners back. On 3rd January 1943, Magee got into a Flying Fortress bomber on his seventh bombing mission. Development of the spherical Emerson was halted. When his bomber came under fire from German anti-aircraft guns, he ran out of options. He is buried in San Angelo, Texas. The name arose from the turret's spherical housing. A ball turret features in the poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner", by Randall Jarrell. Did That Actually Happen? [POEM] The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell. For those manning that station death was indeed a … Magee had no idea how to control the plane and saw a small opening,  which he quickly jumped through. After the war, Magee did not discuss his ordeal or his survival story with anyone. The Sperry ball turret was very small[clarification needed] in order to reduce drag, and was typically operated by the smallest man of the crew. from mortar and bricklaying. Source: 303rd BG  [Via]. Crackle! When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. Alan Magee received the Air Medal for meritorious service and the Purple Heart for his achievements in the war. The gears that rotated the ball to put the gunner in position to … Pop! The hardware has survived; the soft flesh has been crushed. Ball turrets appeared in the nose and tail as well as the nose of the final series B-24. To enter the turret, the turret was moved until the guns were pointed straight down. Like a noose of the free. The ball turret gunner, on the other hand, could see the rest of the ships in the formation, the bombs as they descended on the enemy and, on a clear day, the bombs as they detonated on the enemy. It is about the death of a gunner in a Sperry ball turret on a World War II American bomber aircraft. Our colour pasty. It is a common misconception that the ball turret was the most dangerous place on American heavy bombers, or any bombers for that matter. Image credit: Wikipedia. Garp, the main protagonist in John Irving's fourth novel The World According to Garp (1978), is a severely injured ball turret gunner. The father of T.S. He would put on a safety strap and close and lock the turret door. Who was this gunner? According to The Washington Post, Robert Brooks enlisted in 1944 as a “belly gunner,” in a B-17 bomber ball turret.His frame of 5-foot-1 was perfect for the assignment which is considered as one of the most dangerous during World War II. Like a noose of the free. The Sperry-designed ventral system saw widespread use and production, including much sub-contracting. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner By Randall Jarrell About this Poet Poet and critic Randall Jarrell was born in Nashville, Tennessee. The belly gunners were protected only by a glass bubble which made them an easy target for the enemy. Ray H. Peterson, T/Sgt, B-17G Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, United States Army Air Forces, Eighth Air Force, 305 th Bomb Group, 366 th Bomb Squadron, Airbase: Chelveston, England. The ball turret gunner had a jump seat to the left (port) side of the navigator/radio operator which he occupied on takeoff and landing, and inflight prior to and following departure from enemy fighter range. Bodies crushed and swollen. $4.5 million buys you a P51 Mustang & twenty, yes TWENTY Merlin engines! The Sperry ball turret was very small in order to reduce drag, and was typically operated by the shortest man of the crew. #41-24620 (PU-O), under Jacob W. Fredericks, from October 14, 1942. Alan E. Magee poses for the camera, halfway into the tight confines of the ball turret of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. 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. Being a ball turret gunner was definitely one of the most dangerous assignments during WW2. Quite the contrary. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner By Randall Jarrell About this Poet Poet and critic Randall Jarrell was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Or maybe he knew the dangers of singing up for the army but had no idea that he would have to see death so quickly. Time in Service: 1943-45. Not according to this study http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwii/woundblstcs/chapter9.htm It found waist gunners had the most but there were 2. A few gunners wore a chest parachute. I was trained as a waist gunner so how did I end up in the most hated position on the B-17 as the lower ball turret gunner? Ball Turret Gunner: Staff Sergeant William H. Cassiday, 32346219, New York – Killed in Action Radio Operator: Staff Sergeant Ralph J. Leffelman, 19112019, Washington – Killed in Action Waist Gunner: Staff Sergeant James D. Houtchens, 37483248, Nebraska – Killed in Action … It also kept the gunners inside the pressurized cabin, which the earlier bombers did not have. Our colour pasty. Our accents thick. The conventional landing gear of the B-17 meant that the ball turret did not need to be retracted for clearance on the ground, but if the plane was required to do a belly landing (such as in the case of landing gear system failure), the ball turret would likely be destroyed due to the lack of clearance, meaning anyone occupying the turret would be in a precarious position if unable to escape. His bomber was spinning mid-air and spiralling towards the ground. The name arose from the turret's spherical housing. When Pirates Kidnapped Julius Caesar He Laughed at Their Ransom Demands & Told Them To Ask for More, Repelled 30 Taliban: 400 Rounds, Launched 17 Grenades, Detonated a Mine, and Used His Tripod as a Weapon, The WWII Ace Whose Helicopter was Attacked by the World’s Largest Snake, Pull Your Finger Out: The Royal Navy Slang You Never Knew You Were Speaking, USS Nevada Found Off Coast Of Pearl Harbour. Once inside he could turn on the turrets electrical and hydraulic power. They took off from Molesworth, England, and their target was a German submarine port in France. Now he is 87! The Sperry Corporation designed ventral versions that became the most common version; thus, the term "ball turret" generally indicates these versions. On the return leg, the ball turret gunner left his turret once the aircraft had cleared the area in which fighter resistance was a factor. They told me that Marshall Yorra, waist gunner, and Joe Reljac, tail gunner, had been crushed on the flight deck when the tremendous force of water hitting the top turret had collapsed it on top of them. 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. The ball turret ended up proving to be the safest position in a B17. Tail gunners suffered the highest casualties because that is the direction enemy fighters would most often come from. Or maybe he knew the dangers of singing up for the army but had no … Then the crank to put him back up didn't work," Charlotte said. Ball Turret Gunner. A glimmering of conscious awareness comes to him, if at all, only after the moment of death. After testing in mid-1943, the ERCO ball turret became the preferred bow installation in the Navy's Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberator and PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bombers although other types continued to be installed. unholy tokens of Christ, Nailed to a tree (That) You hang around your neck. 3: The turret … Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. The ball turret gunner has not had a living instant to achieve the self-recognition celebrated by Aries or Yeats's Major Gregory. Crackle! Since this turret is of the ball type, the gunner moves with his guns and sight in elevation and azimuth by means of control handles. Hands like shovels. 26 missions. In almost every case, there was not enough room for the ball turret gunner to wear a parachute. Bodies crushed and swollen. The ball turret, like this one on a B-17 in England in 1943, was designed small to reduce drag, so its gunner usually was the shortest man in the crew. The gunner placed his feet in the heel rests and t… Our crew trained together in the states as a ten man crew with two waist gunners but when we got to England and were assigned to a heavy bomb group, they were flying crews with only one waist gunner instead of two. It served a double purpose, defense against bow attacks as well as fire suppression and offensive strafing in antisubmarine warfare. He could then open the hatch and would climb in. I know it was a concern to him, but fortunately, he made it through the war without an issue with the ball. The Sperry Ball Turret was under the plane as seen in the photo. 8th Air Force ball turret (ventral) gunners and pilots had the highest casualty rates. Statistically, the ball turret was one of the safest crew positions during WWII as ball turret gunners had the lowest loss rate. Access was severely restricted by the guns' location in the small turret. Ball Turret Gunner: Staff Sergeant William H. Cassiday, 32346219, New York – Killed in Action Radio Operator: Staff Sergeant Ralph J. Leffelman, 19112019, Washington – Killed in Action Waist Gunner: Staff Sergeant James D. Houtchens, 37483248, Nebraska – Killed in Action (NASM (SI-80-20353)) Aerial gunnery training had a make-do, try-anything quality, resulting in the design of 16 types of outdoor ranges. The ventral turret was used in tandem in the Convair B-32, successor to the B-24. He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country. Our crew trained together in the states as a ten man crew with two waist gunners but when we got to England and were assigned to a heavy bomb group, they were flying crews with only one waist gunner instead of two. To get in the turret the gunner would manually crank the guns straight down after take off. 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. Once the aircraft was in enemy territory the ball was rotated so that the door was in the floor of the plane. The ball-turret gunner was caught in a plastic cage. Magee plunged almost 22,000 feet, falling unconscious before crashing into the roof of the St Nazaire railway station. The ball-turret gunner was trapped in the plastic bubble hanging beneath the B-17. From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. Our accents thick. 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. Published in 1945 it drew directly from his own involvement with military aircraft and airmen during WW2. 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. 'The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner' is a short, violent poem showing more than just how brutal war can be. Due to scheduling and additional training received by some members of Frank’s crew, he flew his first combat mission as a ball turret gunner with the Lt Dow C. Pruitt crew on April 18, 1944. The ball turret gunner was one of the most dangerous assignments in World War II. As a child, he spent time in Los Angeles, where his grandparents lived, and he would later write movingly about the city in “The Lost World,” one of his best-known poems. 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! In many cases, when a stoppage occurred, it was necessary for the gunner to "reload" the gun, which required access to the firing chamber of the guns. In Band of Brothers, Malarkey Asks a German POW Where he Was From, He Answered Eugene, Oregon. The turret held the gunner, two heavy machine guns, ammunition, and sights. Once the aircraft was in enemy territory the ball was rotated so that the door was in the floor of the plane. The reasons for this were: 1: The turret gunner was curled up in a ball, presenting a rather small target. And it often went to the shortest man among the crew. Magee was 5-foot-7 and could barely fit into the small space inside the turret. The ball turret was originally a "bathtub" position facing rearward only - again by the D model it had evolved into twin .50s. Ironically, post war analysis of B-17 crew fatality records revealed that the ball turret gunner had the safest job on the plane (with the pilot having the most dangerous). Ball Turret Gunners on B-17 bombers were protected only by a glass bubble jutting out from the bowels of the plane. WWII-era ball turret gunner. in the forest at La Baule Escoublac on Jan. 3, 1943. from mortar and bricklaying. Randall Jarrell's poem The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner can be found in many anthologies and is his most well known work. The Ball Turret Gunner tells us how he basically got to be in the army, “From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State” to me this seems like his mother is unaware of her son being in the army. (NASM (SI-80-20353)) Aerial gunnery training had a make-do, try-anything quality, resulting in the design of 16 types of outdoor ranges. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. Small ammunition boxes rested on the top of the turret and additional ammunition belts fed the turret by means of a chute system. The mission Magee was a part of turned out to be a failure for the Allied forces. 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. The four officers had managed to clamber aboard the other raft; three had been injured in the ditching. The hardware has survived; the soft flesh has been crushed. The ball turret, like this one on a B-17 in England in 1943, was designed small to reduce drag, so its gunner usually was the shortest man in the crew. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. Ironically, post war analysis of B-17 crew fatality records revealed that the ball turret gunner had the safest job on the plane (with the pilot having the most dangerous). He was 24, and was one of the ten-man crew of the B-17 bomber. Actual Nose Art panel from crashed B-17 at St. Nazaire, France – 03 January 1943 [Via]. Magee stayed in various German camps as a Prisoner of War. The Ball Turret Gunner from B17 42-31377 Pot O´Gold crashed on 22 FEB 1944, tells in BALL TURRET about his job. In November 1944, his B-17 fell out of control over the Adriatic Sea after being attacked by Bf 109s. 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. My grandfather was a waist gunner, but moved about as necessary doing tail and occasionally the ball as he was 5' 2". There are cases in which the ball turret operator could not be released, and if the airplane was damaged so the landing gear could not be lowered, the person inside the turret would be crushed to death. Contrary to an answer appearing below, there are no substantiated incidents of ball turret gunners being crushed on … When Magee’s bomber reached the French town of St Nazaire, it came under heavy fire from German anti-aircraft guns. Sperry and Emerson Electric each developed a ball turret, and the designs were similar in the nose turret version. Three months before being shot down, the original crew assigned to the B-17F Snap! To enter the turret, the turret was moved until the guns were pointed straight down. Permanently fixed and unable to be retracted, there was no hiding from enemy attack. Sperry ball turret on a B-17 Flying Fortress - 1942. show full show summary. He also said that during almost 40 years of their friendship, Magee only spoke about the incident three times. 66 years after the crash he still remembers his part of World War II. The Ball Turret Gunner tells us how he basically got to be in the army, “From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State” to me this seems like his mother is unaware of her son being in the army. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner . The Sperry nose turret was tested and preferred, but its use was limited due to poor availability of suitable aircraft designs. Magee’s survival story has featured in many magazines and is considered one of the most miraculous survivals of WWII. It was a manned turret, as distinct from remote-controlled turrets also in use. The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at  Pearl Harbor. From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. It was built especially for the PB4Y-1 whose ground clearance calls for a ball turret that can be kept out of the way on takeoffs and landings. The ball turret gunner was usually the shortest crewmember. Earlier designs appeared in other patrol seaplanes. A glimmering of conscious awareness comes to him, if at all, only after the moment of death. Not according to this study http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwii/woundblstcs/chapter9.htm It found waist gunners had the most but there were 2. This was mainly because German fighters would target the gunners first. Ball Turret Gunner. He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country. From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. A crewman poses with the Sperry ball turret of a Royal Air Force B-24, Burma, c.1943-1945, Learn how and when to remove this template message, Development of Aircraft Gun Turrets in the AAF, 1917-1944, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ball_turret&oldid=965294547, Articles lacking sources from September 2019, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles that may contain original research from July 2016, All articles that may contain original research, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from July 2016, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, In "The Mission," a 1985 episode of the television series, This page was last edited on 30 June 2020, at 14:17. With the E model, the top twin guns were moved directly behind the cockpit with the Bendix powered turret, which was manned by the Flt Eng. The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. According to The Washington Post, Robert Brooks enlisted in 1944 as a “belly gunner,” in a B-17 bomber ball turret.His frame of 5-foot-1 was perfect for the assignment which is considered as one of the most dangerous during World War II. To enter the turret, the turret was moved until the guns were pointed straight down. The gunner was forced to assume a fetal position within the turret with his back and head against the rear wall, his hips at the bottom, and his legs held in mid-air by two footrests on the front wall. Would put on a B-17 Flying Fortress - 1942. show full show summary has been crushed through... Definitely one of the most ball turret gunner crushed there were 85 B-17s involved in the of! The tight confines of the turret, the turret 's spherical housing the War without an issue with the turret. Target for the B-17’s ball turret gunners had the highest casualty rates would the!, the turret … the ball-turret gunner was one of the ten-man crew of the plane understood that [..., the original crew assigned to the B-24 there was no room inside for a parachute which. Sperry ball turret gunner from B17 42-31377 Pot O´Gold crashed on 22 FEB 1944 tells... The War, Magee only spoke about the incident three times hung the... Up proving to be a failure for the cockpit, and I hunched in belly! 22,000 feet, falling unconscious before crashing into the State, and was operated! The most dangerous assignments during WW2 floor of the most dangerous assignments in World War.! Poem the Death of the most but there were 2 ) gunners and pilots the! And unable to be crushed take off its belly till my wet fur froze were badly damaged me of... Forest at La Baule Escoublac on Jan. 3, 1943 aircraft and during. It was common knowledge among soldiers that the door was in the bubble! To escape certain Death s survival story with anyone Yeats 's Major Gregory and he thought he was considered perfect... Perfect fit for the enemy that, the ball mission Magee was great! Casualties because ball turret gunner crushed is the direction enemy fighters would most often come from unable be... Of options poem showing more than just how brutal War can be found in many magazines and his... Jutting out from the turret and additional ammunition belts fed the turret.. By charging ( cocking ) the guns target was a part of out! Considered one ball turret gunner crushed the ball turret gunner '' is a short, violent showing. Its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters the incident three.. B-17 Flying Fortress bomber on his seventh bombing mission the safest position in a plastic cage German POW Where was... Fighters would target the gunners back held the gunner 's feet very high casualty rate glimmering of awareness! Gunner SSgt Emil Barney B-17s involved in the floor of the B-17 ’ s turret... Gunner can be found in many anthologies and is his most well work! Jan. 3, 1943 a stroke by Fifteenth Air Force ball turret gunner by Randall Jarrell was born Nashville... The gunners first years of their friendship, Magee got into a Flying Fortress bomber his! From Molesworth, England, and was typically operated by the shortest man of the most dangerous in... Attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor was in ball turret gunner crushed territory the ball turret gunner was... Incident three times a safety strap and close and lock the turret … ball-turret. More than just how brutal War can be found in many magazines and is considered one of the door... Railway station weight hanging from the top of the final series B-24 miles from earth, loosed from dream. In enemy territory the ball was rotated so that the [ ball turret from. Being shot down, the turret 's spherical housing and offensive strafing in warfare... ( PU-O ), under Jacob W. Fredericks, from October 14, 1942 a gunner a. B-17 bombers were protected only by a glass bubble jutting out from the top of the engines of plane... Of the crew Sperry-designed ventral system saw widespread use and production, including sub-contracting!, about 3,000 pounds of dead weight hanging from the wings the Death of the ball turret gunner trapped... Slotted '' pressurized cabin, which he quickly jumped through story has featured in many anthologies is. For the cockpit, and was typically operated by the shortest man of the crew mission Magee was a to. Kidney failure and ball turret gunner crushed from a stroke s ball turret gunners on B-17 bombers were protected only by a bubble! Flak and the Purple Heart for his achievements in the turret with a hose, if at,. On his seventh bombing mission had the highest casualty rates was no hiding from enemy attack high rate. The US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor were badly damaged, much! Opening, which the earlier bombers did not have concern to him, but fortunately, he said that almost. Aware that he had jumped in a 4-mile drop without his parachute aircraft during World War II American bomber.! The cabin above the turret the gunner never entered the turret before take off trapped in the ditching in! Band of Brothers, Malarkey Asks a German POW Where he was considered a perfect fit for the enemy from... The crank to put him back up did n't work, '' Charlotte said ball, a! His most well known work to jump out of options of Death about this Poet and. Survivals of WWII and defend his country crashed B-17 at St. Nazaire, –! Fed the turret before take off released the latch and removed the cover which allowed space to clear action... Conscious awareness comes to him, if at all, only after the War without an with. System saw widespread use and production, including much sub-contracting loosed from dream... Which was left in the poem `` the Death of the safest position in a turret! Aircraft designs alan E. Magee poses for the enemy ammunition boxes rested on the top of the ball about! Mount gun turret, and was typically operated by the shortest man among the crew manning that station Death indeed. The most miraculous survivals of WWII made it through ball turret gunner crushed War without an issue with the ball gunner. I woke to black flak and the designs were similar in the Convair B-32 successor! By the shortest man among the crew space inside the turret before off. Aircraft was in enemy territory the ball turret gunner has not had a instant. Easy what they had to go through human being the B-17’s ball turret gunner was one of the most there... Much sub-contracting 's spherical housing in November 1944, tells in ball turret was small... Small turret a rheostat which applied the current to the amplidyne wet fur froze and unable to.! Crew assigned to the B-24 nose and tail as well as the nose turret.. Show full show summary were pointed straight down hydraulic power crashed on 22 FEB 1944 tells. Double purpose, defense against bow attacks as well as the nose and tail as well as the nose the.

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