Saturday, January 7, 2012

B-17G Ball Turret Gunner

My grandson and I decided to drive to the Chino Planes of Fame museum today.  We were particularly interested in the B-17G they have parked out in front, the Piccadilly Lilly II, since my grandson's great grandfather flew in B-17's during the war. They are currently working on restoring the plane to flying condition.  According to to the informative attendant, the restoration will take many years to complete.

Climbing into the plane, although seemingly large from the outside, was very cramped inside.   What was nothing short of amazing was the ball turret in the belly of the plane.  It is hard to believe that there would be a person in there for hours at a time during flight, and in combat.

A flyer was provided with a collection of newspaper articles and information provided by B-17G crewman.  The following is a snippet of the mission information provided by a ball turret gunner's combat missions around D-Day:

Date         Target                                          Air Time         Bomb Load        Comments
6-5-44      Pas-de-Calais                                 5:05                 12-500#              Called out at Midnight
6-6-44      Caen Area Coastal Defenses           7:15                 12-500#              Take off 3:30 am
6-6-44      Caen Area RR Marshalling yards     7:40                 12-500#              Flight suit off, very cold
6-7-44      Nantes Area                                    9:55                 10-500#              Late Launch

Three days and almost 30 hours of flight.   Was all that time in the ball turret?  A big thank you to that veteran and all that served; it's hard to fathom what they went through.  The Pas-de-Calais mission must have been part of Operation Fortitude, the Allied plan to deceive the Germans where the invasion would occur.

Our next trip will hopefully be to orange county and the Lyon Air Museum where they have a B-17 on display that is in flying condition.


  1. As a kid i always wanted to be the ball-turret gunner, i see they took out the chin-turret. i think 17s look better chinless, and painted O.D with yellow I.D #s and letters. thanks for sharing!


  2. You are braver than I my friend. I'm a bit too claustrophobic. As a kid, I wanted to be be an anti-aircraft gunner in the Navy.