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Ball Turret Gunners

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by KenH, Jul 6, 2006.

  1. KenH

    KenH Active Member

    May 18, 2002
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    I have watched this program on the History Channel a couple of times in the past. If you haven't seen it before, it is well worth watching.

    Friday, July 7, 2006 - The History Channel

    6-7 pm (Central Time) -- Modern Marvels - Ball Turret Gunners.
    In war, certain missions demand the most and
    constitute much of the legends of bravery. Journey
    back to the Second World War when fearless airmen
    manned the B-17's belly guns--glass bubbles that at
    any moment could become their coffin. The ball turret
    gunners called their work "flying the ball", others
    called it crazy!

  2. fromtheright

    fromtheright <img src =/2844.JPG>

    Feb 21, 2002
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    They included such folks as my hero, Tailgunner Joe McCarthy.
  3. Phillip

    Phillip <b>Moderator</b>

    Jun 29, 2001
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    That also included my mother's brother who's plane was shot down over the Med. in WWII killing all crew-members. Back then it took about eight weeks for the family to receive notification by Western Union wire.
  4. blackbird

    blackbird Administrator

    Feb 21, 2002
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    KenH---I would love to watch it--being I am a WW2 Hobbyiest----most unfortunetely---I do not have nither satellite nor cable and therefore cannot pick up the History Channel---do they broadcast over the 'net???

    I have several books that cover the air war over Europe---both the Allies and the Luftwaffe.

    One particular reading concerned a certain ball turret gunner who was "penned" inside of the belly turret after an encounter with a Luftwaffe Bf-109---a 20mm shell burst inside the plane that jammed the hatch closed with the gunner still inside the turret--still alive!!

    The crew discovered it was impossible to open the hatch and retract the ball turret---it was jammed fully extended.(The belly turret was designed to retract and extend from the fuselage. The gunner would "mount" the turret while it was retracted---the hatch would be closed and then the turret would be mechanically extended beyond the fuselage below.

    The crew also knew that even with the landing gear fully extended as they would be coming in for a landing--that the turret extended well below the landing gear and tires of the B-17---as the plane would touch down on the airstrip---the gunner would be killed instantly.

    The Flying Fortress was a mechanically engineered fete--that could "belch lead" all over incoming Luftwaffe fighters. Unfortunes did happen though!!
  5. Ralph III

    Ralph III New Member

    Jun 2, 2006
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    Our family has had a long history of service also. Your uncle was a hero! Did you ever know him?

    I kick myself for not having penned the stories told to me in my youth. Our elders lived history as most of us can only read about. My grandmother(Fathers side) told a story of how her Father got permission from superior, to leave duty to go home and see his new-born. He was warned of being caught as a deserter but did so anyhow and then returned. I believe battle of Kings Mountain, N.C. "Civil War".

    One of my absolute favorite pictures of all time, is of my Grandfather(Mothers side). He is pictured sitting in his "WWI" uniform and my Grandmother standing next to him. It was a professional sitting and unbelievable how dignified and honorable. He passed away in my Mothers youth, so I never knew him. My Grandmother passed on in my teenage years.

    I also remember it being said an Uncle, would dive under the table, upon hearing planes overhead. This was the case with him for several years after returning from "WWII". His brother died in the war so married his wife. As I understand this was somewhat common and considered honorable-like. She is still living but he passed on 6 years ago. He was a great man and uncle. Very, very funny! All I ever remember him saying in regards to the war was "people don't realize just how close we came to losing it". It was much more grave and important than generations since could ever really understand. This is what he meant. He was well loved and a good Christian.:praying:

    If I could do it over, I would ask many questions and record everything! I think I would give a few more hand shakes and hugs also.:)


    Blackbird. You did not finish the story. What happened to that gunner in the turret?