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Classic Wings Magazine WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific Luftwaffe Resource Center
When Hollywood Ruled The Skies - Volumes 1 through 4 by Bruce Oriss


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:22 pm 
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Yah, the YB-40. A 'Bomber Escort'.


More range and speed out of a dirigable.

My father was actually training in those..,out of Ft. Myers, FL before he saw the sign-up sheet for the B-29 and scribbled his name down..., most likely saved his life!!!

I have never heard any stories about anybody ever deploying these liferafts.

Did they work?

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Last edited by the330thbg on Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:36 pm 
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I recall a book of Eddie Rickenbacker (yes, the WW 1 Ace) who was touring the Pacific in a B-17 that was forced to ditch. They floated in rafts for something like a couple weeks. I don't know for sure if they were the overhead rafts or not. There were survivors of many B-17 ditchings, but I don't recall mention of how well the rafts worked. I'll have to do some digging.

Found an account of that ditching
http://www.historynet.com/eddie-rickenb ... -ocean.htm


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 2:59 pm 
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WOW.., quite an ordeal!

Thanks, I had no idea he went through this!

Cheers!

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:12 pm 
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I read his (Eddie Rickenbacker's) book in HS Waaaaay back when, and it was an autographed copy! I often wonder just what happened to that HS library book....probably just dissapered. I think I had been the first one to check it out in 10 years!


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:48 pm 
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I've seen a good bit of information that leads one to believe the overwing rafts worked pretty well, both on the B-17 and B-29. If the rafts didn't suffer battle damage they generally inflated as advertised. I've read stories of the rafts being ripped by damaged sheetmetal, and the lanyard not being severed causing the raft to be drug down by the sinking bomber, but overall they did their job pretty reliably.

I know the liferaft shops at the Processing Centers were a very busy department, inspecting, testing, and packing the rafts prior to loading them in the aircraft heading overseas. Kearney got gigged pretty severely due to shoddy raft installations. Seems the inspectors at the Port of Embarkation did thorough raft inspections before the B-29s made their overwater trips to the combat zone and didn't care for what they saw.

Scott


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:23 pm 
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I realize this isn't the best quality, but here is the ditching trainer at Grand Island Army Air Field from '44. I may have a better photo from one of the other 2AF histories, but this gives the general idea.

Image

The fellow who wrote the caption was a little bit off on the depth of the pond--it wasn't fifty feet deep, but about ten feet at the deepest point of the "lake". Makes for good text, though! 8)

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There were several instances of crews surviving long periods of time in life rafts. There was a TBD crew that took to a raft in the Coral Sea. they were in it for 34 days.
Here are 3 interesting books about survival in life rafts, I have read 2 of the 3
Robert Trumbull wrote The Raft, about the TBD crew

Lt. James C. Whittaker wrote We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing: (On the Life Raft with Eddie Rickenbacker in the WWII Pacific ,

Eddie Rickenbacker wrote Captain Rickenbacker's Story of the Ordeal and Rescue of Himself and the Men with Him

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:07 am 
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Matt, do you recall if SJ has the external raft release handles I posted earlier? Thanks in advance!

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:52 am 
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Just curious, because all I have heard of the 330th's life rafts is that they either did not inflate properly, did not inflate, or problems inflating!

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Second Air Force wrote:
Matt, do you recall if SJ has the external raft release handles I posted earlier? Thanks in advance!

Scott


It has been many years since I worked on SJ, but I don't recall seeing them when we reskinned the upper deck.

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if the B-29 had em.., they would be recessed. I have not seen any, otherwise.

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Second Air Force wrote:
I realize this isn't the best quality, but here is the ditching trainer at Grand Island Army Air Field from '44. I may have a better photo from one of the other 2AF histories, but this gives the general idea.

Image

The fellow who wrote the caption was a little bit off on the depth of the pond--it wasn't fifty feet deep, but about ten feet at the deepest point of the "lake". Makes for good text, though! 8)

Scott


There's lakes in Nebraska??? :shock: :P :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 4:49 am 
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Hal B wrote:
Second Air Force wrote:

There's lakes in Nebraska??? :shock: :P :lol:


Yup, as long as you've got a shovel or bulldozer and a creek nearby! Heck, not every Nebraska bomber base even had a ditching pool because there wasn't a man-made pond close to the field. Grand Island and Harvard had them, but Harvard had to share theirs with Fairmont.

Scott


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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 8:01 pm 
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Usually I like to post on this thread to update, everyone who cares to read it, the progress on returning Chuckie to the air. However this time I have some news that is perhaps a little more interesting. You see, up until now there has been zero information on B-17G 44-8543's life from the time it was accepted by the AAF in October of 1944 through September of 1945. It was popular belief that the plane was configured as a radar equipped Pathfinder bomber and served in the 486th BG in Sudbury England at the tail end of the war. However there was never any concrete evidence to confirm this.
Yesterday I recieved in the mail copies of two AAF accident reports on B-17G S/N 44-8543 from AAIR. These accident reports are good news and bad news. The good news is that yes, she was equipped with the Pathfinder "Mickey" radar. The bad news is that she almost certainly did not serve overseas.
She was in two accidents, one major one in February of 1945 at Cleveland Municipal Airport and one minor one in July of 1945 at Vandalia Ohio - not exactly in the thick of the action. Below are the summaries of the two accidents.

Accident #1 February 12, 1945 at Cleveland Ohio was a major accident. Home station: Patterson AAF, Ohio ATSC Command, Engineering and Production Division, Flight Section, Flight Test Branch.

Copilot 1st Lt. Warren C. Dennison was taking off from the right seat with Major Edward T. Dunn flying left seat, (both pilots have hundreds of actual combat hours) the plane started to veer to the right on the icy runway and 1st Lt. Dennison overcorrected and got the left gear off the edge of the runway at which time it contacted a small snow drift and then subsequently a larger drift which swung the airplane to the left and stopped it suddenly enough to tip it up on it’s nose damaging the chin turret (yes she still had it at that time) nose skin and #2 and #3 props. When the tail came down, it came down hard enough to damage the tail wheel, partially retracting it and damaging skin, stringers and bulkheads in the tail wheel area. (OUCH!!) :shock: The report also says that when the tail came down that it damaged the “radar dome”!!! Sounds like proof that maybe she was a Mickey ship after all!! :D There are pictures (very grainy B/W) of her in the snow drift up to the top of wheels (not the tires) and about half of the tail wheel visible below the bottom skin of the tail. It also appears that her name at the time was “Weather Guinea Pig” as it is painted on both sides of the nose below the cockpit widows in line with the cheek windows.

Total time on airframe and all four engines: 110.10 hours!!! She still had that new bomber smell I bet! The Major flying in the left seat took the heat for this accident because he didn't try to help the Lt recover the aircraft.

Accident #2 July 9, 1945 at Vandalia Ohio was a taxiing accident. Home station: Dayton AAF, Ohio ATSC Command, Flight Section, School Branch

The 1st Lt. student pilot was taxiing out of a parking spot and had a P-47 parked to his left but didn’t taxi forward far enough before turning left and the left wing hit the prop on the P-47 (prop was not turning). It damaged the outer wing panel and deicer boot. The report says that they changed the left outer wing panel, not sure if they mean the wing tip or the whole section outboard of the nacelle. The pictures look like just the wing tip was damaged but it also says that the deicer boot was damaged. No damage to the P-47 (Republic makes a tough plane!). It wasn’t completely the pilot’s fault, the crew chief was standing in front of the right side of the nose of the B-17 and not out in front of the left wing like he should have been. Stinkin' crew chiefs! :lol:

My guess is that after the first accident that the AAF decided that it wasn't worth the time and money to repair the chin turret and radar dome on a bomber that was probably never going to be used in combat anyway (the war was nearly over in Feb. '45), so they removed both and turned it over to the All Weather Flying Service School. Notice that it was assigned to the Flight Test Branch during the time of accident #1, but assigned to the School Branch in accident #2 just 4 months later. There is a picture in Final Cut on page 79 that shows her at Patterson Field in June of 1946 with no nose turret or radar dome also.

I felt like a kid at Christmas yesterday when I got this information. There has been a lot of speculation for a lot of years that this puts to rest, in my opinion. Thank you to AAIR for making these records available.

BTW, the inspection is progressing nicely and will continue to do so if Second Air Force doesn't run off to Australia to restore a B-24 on me! :P

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 5:02 am 
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Since there was damage on the nose structure in that first incident, do you suppose the astrodome was deleted during the repair? I know it was gone by the time the Weather folks had her in the later forties.

We'll be there this weekend unless we wash away first.........
Scott


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