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B-17 Tail Gunner Position

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Dwilma01
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2010/08/04 11:04:28 (permalink)
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B-17 Tail Gunner Position

In touring a B-17 I noted that the tail gunner position appears to be inaccessible from the rest of the aircraft due to the vertical support member for the tail. Could crew members reach the tail gunner position and vice versa? Could the gunner be relieved or assisted in flight? Was the tail the gunner's position on takeoff? It seems to me that 250 pounds of weight back there on takeoff would cause CG issues.
 

David Wilma
Son of 1LT Francis R. "Dick" Wilma (1920-2005)
Air Transport Command, Chabua, India, '44 - '45
www.DavidWilma.com

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    Bob Gilbert
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    Re:B-17 Tail Gunner Position 2010/08/04 11:39:49 (permalink)
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    David,
     
    Yes the tail gunner's position was accessible during flight.  In fact he and the other gunners in the rear areas sat in the radio room for take off.  After which they would go to their respective positions.  In the case of the ball turret gunner, he would prepare his turret, guns rotated down and access door open, and then sit in the radio room (I would sleep) until ordered to get in during form up operations.

    Bob Gilbert
    S/Sgt, 35 missions 
    Ball Turret Gunner, Goldin crew
    381st Bomb Gp., 533rd Bomb Sq.
    US 8th Air Force
    Author: "The View From The Bottom Up" memoir
    jhor9
    B17 Jock
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    Re:B-17 Tail Gunner Position 2010/08/05 13:54:34 (permalink)
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    Good description Bob.      I wish that I was able to sleep on some of the long flights
     
     David---  the door near the the gunners station was for bailing out if necessary

    Jules Horowitz, B-17 pilot, 99th BG, 50 missions/sorties
    My tour was from 7/19/43-2/13/44
    Bob Gilbert
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    Re:B-17 Tail Gunner Position 2010/08/06 16:37:11 (permalink)
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    jules,
     
    Not only did you not get a chance to take a nap, you were constantly working to keep your bird in your formation position.  In addition, of course, there was the responsibility for the whole crew and reacting to in-flight emergencies. 
     
    I regret that I was too young to fully appreciate the hard job our pilot, Sam Goldin, had and by the time I realized that fact Sam had passed on, so I thank you in his place, Jules.

    Bob Gilbert
    S/Sgt, 35 missions 
    Ball Turret Gunner, Goldin crew
    381st Bomb Gp., 533rd Bomb Sq.
    US 8th Air Force
    Author: "The View From The Bottom Up" memoir
    jhor9
    B17 Jock
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    Re:B-17 Tail Gunner Position 2010/08/08 16:56:04 (permalink)
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    Bob
    Thanks for the accolade, it was the job I signed on to do. I loved the flying except for the shooting. I had a good crew, they shot down 6 enemy fighters.

    Jules Horowitz, B-17 pilot, 99th BG, 50 missions/sorties
    My tour was from 7/19/43-2/13/44
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