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B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea

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WillowRun
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2007/09/24 19:57:36 (permalink)
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B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea

The B-24 was obviously not the best "fish in the pond!"  In fact the fracture point at station four (Center Wing) was notoriously well known.  Whenever possible, "ditching at sea" was usually not one of the preferred options!  Is there anyone of the Vets or children of Vets who have had experience of these tragedies?  Statistically, the Lib would sink within approximately 2 minutes based on weather and sea conditions
post edited by WillowRun - 2009/02/23 15:27:40

 
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Hugh
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/24 20:06:48 (permalink)
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Great photo....but, I don't think that particular B-24 is going to sink; it's beached.  Hope you get some good responses from those who are familiar with the problems of ditching a B-24.   Good question!
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/24 21:03:38 (permalink)
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That B-24 looks like it may have landed short of its runway or forced-landed on a beach at the waters edge, and now the tide is coming in, since the gear is down. 
 
 As in any ditching, it all depends on how the weather & water conditions are.
 
Terry T.
 
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/24 22:42:15 (permalink)
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I am in contact with a veteran who survived such a ditching in the Adriatic Sea.  If you want information, please contact me.
 
kevin
 
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/25 07:03:22 (permalink)
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Two crews in the 458th BG ditched in the English Channel.
 
March 16, 1944 - 2Lt Neil A.J. Peters crew: http://www.458bg.com/crew69peters.htm
 
August 5, 1944 - 2Lt James B. Prevost crew: http://www.458bg.com/crewaj9prevost.htm
 
Peters' crew suffered eight men KIA and two men rescued, while Prevost's crew had one man KIA and nine rescued.  Each man on Prevost's crew gave their own account of the ditching.

Darin Scorza
Son of 1Lt Samuel D. Scorza
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WillowRun
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/25 07:17:39 (permalink)
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Hugh,    Thanks!  You are correct!  Not a good choice of photos, but I used it for the "thread starter" as I did not have another one on hand.   I've included a FO WR photo from the early stations of the Final Assembly build process prior to the outer wings being attached.   I've used this photo in other posts before (it also appears in my bio) as it shows the "spring loaded-life-raft-hatches."  I recall having seen several photos in Lib books of "ditched Libs" where their backs were broken.  I believe that at CO, they did do "controlled" testing.  At FO WR there was nearby Lake Erie, but basically FO WR, once into the manufacturing and assembly processes, had relied on CO for its testing and data and structural engineering changes if applicable in this regard.     Steven 

Attached Image(s)


 
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Steven P. Puhl
Ford Willow Run B-24 Bomber Plant (FO) Historian
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/25 08:29:15 (permalink)
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I never ditched in my tour, Jan. 45 to war's end. However, we were briefed on ditching. Here's a few comments. While we were told the 24 could sink in 2 mins. so get out fast, we were also told that there were instances of a 24 staying afloat almost 2 hours after ditching. Two other things we knew. The Adriatic was warm as opposed to the North sea where the 8th ditched. They were told, I believe, that as much as a few mins. in the sea was probably fatal. Another fact for us  to consider was the use of the island of Vis for an emergency landing. Vis was at the Northwest corner of the Adriatic, and could be reached far sooner than our home bases.
Nevertheless, I opted to fly hone on 3 engines and try to make base, which I did, rather than the 2 other altermatives, Vis or ditching.
RHD
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/25 10:45:18 (permalink)
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Steven:  You might want to read the Medal of Honor account of Lt. Col. Leon R. Vance and his ditching experience.  John Thompson
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/25 11:22:46 (permalink)
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Darin:
Peter crew did not all die as a result of the ditching..
 




Name
Pos 

Status 

Date 

Notes 

 2Lt Neil A. J. Peters
 P

 KIA 

16 Mar 1944

Ditched in Channel

 2Lt Theodore F. Wagner
 CP

 KIA 

16 Mar 1944

Ditched in Channel

 2Lt Gasper DeSimone

WIA

16 Mar 1944

Ditched in Channel

 2Lt John N. Hulse

 KIA 

16 Mar 1944

Bailed out into Channel

 S/Sgt George W. Conlogue
RO 

 WIA 

16 Mar 1944

Ditched in Channel

 Sgt Richard G. Lowry
TT/E 

KIA

16 Mar 1944

Ditched in Channel

 S/Sgt James J. Duffy
BTG 

KIA 

 16 Mar 1944

Bailed out into Channel

 T/Sgt Carl P. Lee
RWG 

KIA

16 Mar 1944

Bailed out into Channel

 Sgt Michael F. Marino
LWG 

KIA

16 Mar 1944

Bailed out into Channel

 Sgt Peter F. Morrone
TG 

 KIA 

16 Mar 1944

Bailed out into Channel 
 
 
*
 
Prevost crew




Name
 Pos

 Status

 Date

Notes

 1Lt James B. Prevost

 RFS 

Jan 1945

Removed from Flying Status

 F/O Allen Boorse, Jr.
CP 

KIA

5 Aug 1944

Lost in ditching

 2Lt Astor Perry

 RFS 

Jan 1945

Removed from Flying Status

 F/O Robert F. Kearney

 UNK

--

Unknown

 S/Sgt Henry C. Howard
RO 

 RFS 

9 Nov 1944

Trsf to AAF 101 (Cent Med Bd)

 S/Sgt James C. Quillen

UNK

--

Unknown

 S/Sgt Raymond E. Barto
BTG 

 CT 

10 Feb 1945

Rest Home Leave

 Sgt John C. Colbert
LWG 

 UNK 

--

Unknown

 Sgt Benjamin W. Dankosky
RWG 

 UNK 

--

Unknown

 Sgt George E. Streeter
TG 

 UNK 

--

Unknown
 
 
Terry T.
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/25 11:30:48 (permalink)
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/25 13:28:37 (permalink)
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Terry,
 
Correct.  Three men were picked up, but only two survived.  Sgt Lowry died shortly after.

Darin Scorza
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/25 18:54:48 (permalink)
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Dodd, we did 2 of the three. Went home on 3. One throwing oil
& backup for one of the three that was running rough.
Landed once on two on Vis island. Bummed a ride to Bari on a C47 that was bringing in equipment for retriving some of the
stranded AC. Our AC was later recovered.
That big rock at one end of the "runway" & ditch at the other end was not very inviting. Luckily we still had brakes.
bjsassy90
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/25 20:13:47 (permalink)
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Robert,      As usual, thanks for your post!  Also to those who have sent PM's and have posted, I'll get around to responding while researching.  We know that the B-17 would remain afloatand have a better chance for the crew to exit than on the Lib.  Structural integrity and conditions were the contrbuting factors.   Your comment, Robert, about the water temp also struck a chord.  You are right that the 15th had a better chance than the 8th in that regard.  Anyway, neither situation was acceptable.  Hopefully, more actual remembrances will come forward.
 
John Paul,    thanks for the tip on the CMH recipient!    
Steven   

 
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/26 02:10:37 (permalink)
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Steven:

Here is what William Carigan wrote about Ditching in a B-24 in his book "Ad Lib: Flying the B-24 Liberator in World War Two." I did not include the portion on crew procedures to prepare to ditch and drills.

“Warning: if time permits, waist windows should be jettisoned through the belly hatch to avoid danger of their closing and jamming shut on impact. It is most important that all bottom hatches be closed and that the top hatches and waist windows be open. …

“Ditching positions: … there are three suitable general positions: the flight deck, the rear compartment forward of the waist windows, and the half deck. [Above the rear bomb bay.] The half deck is one of the best ditching positions in the airplane and as many men as possible should be there with feet braced forward, protected with coats and cushions from sharp edges. The men on the half deck could aid others if injured by water or carried back into the tail. …

“The dangers from a hard landing are that the top turret can be torn loose; and if bomb-bay doors are caved inward, water may fracture No. 6 bulkhead and flood the rear compartment. …

“Technique of landing the airplane [on water]: to land the airplane properly, the pilot must determine the direction of the wind, wind velocity, and the character of the waves…. When flying over water the pilot must develop some judgment about the seas, waves, ground swell and wind. This is another skill you need to develop before the grim event.

In a B-24 ditching, avoid a high rate of sink. That’s one reason you jettisoned everything except the shadows. Get the airplane slowed down before you start your glide, and control the rate of descent with power if possible. Approach the surface with half flaps, bringing down full flaps to slow the speed as you flare out. Best technique is to approach at low airspeed and low rate of descent. As everywhere else, grease it in—it means more here. Don’t attempt to land tail low, because this puts too much strain on station 6. Don’t drop it in or you will collapse the bomb-bay doors and force water against station 6, to the consternation of the crewmen in the aft section.

Note: I [William Carigan] never ditched the B-24, which is attended with a somewhat low rate of success; but the techniques are those recommended by ditching survivors.

Landing on a calm sea: if the surface of the sea is calm, without whitecaps or waves, land upwind.

Landing on a swell: when whitecaps exist but foam is not being blown into spray, ditch along the top and parallel with the swell.

Landing in high waves: if foam is whipped into spray, wind velocity is too great to land crosswind. Ditch upwind on upslope of wave. This is the procedure for a high wind and a heavy sea.

Caution: there may be more than one impact. Warn the crew to hold positions until the airplane comes to rest.

Procedure after landing: The airplane will usually remain afloat from one to ten minutes. As soon as the aircraft comes to rest, engineer will pull releases on the life rafts. Crew should exit as fast as possible with necessary equipment as follows.

Through the flight-deck hatch (each man inflates his life vest after clearing hatch): navigator first, receives emergency radio (if stored on flight deck) from radio operator or flight engineer and goes to left raft. Radio operator second after passing emergency radio to navigator, goes to left raft. Engineer third, receives ration box from copilot and goes to right raft. Copilot fourth, after handing ration box to flight engineer, goes to right raft and takes command. Pilot fifth, hands out water and other supplies and goes to the left raft and takes command.

“From rear compartment (life vests should be inflated after individuals are clear of the waist windows so vests won't interfere with exits if hatches are under water): right waist gunner or nose gunner first through right waist window to right raft, carrying water or other supplies, followed by bombardier to right raft. Left waist gunner first through left waist window to left raft, holding ration-box rope; tail gunner second, through left waist window after throwing out radio (if in his charge) holding tightly to rope, to left raft.


“Note: if time and circumstances permit, take out the frequency meter and be sure to keep it dry. (Emphasis mine.) By attaching antenna from the Gibson Girl emergency radio to frequency meter, it can be operated as an efficient receiver to provide two-way communication for several hours. ...

“Life Rafts: Two type A-2 life rafts are carried in the fuselage above the wings and slightly aft of the top turret. To release either raft from inside the aiplane, pull the T-handle, on early aircraft located at the rear of the flight deck left side.... The pull cable releases the lock pins which hold the life raft doors closed and allows the spring bungee to throw the life raft out, clear of the fuselage. A ripcord attached to the raft cradle automatically opens the valve that controls the raft inflation from the CO2 bottle. To release either raft from outside the airplane, the lever flush in the fuselage aft of each door should be lifted and twisted 90 degrees. This action pulls the same cable and releases the raft in the same manner as described above. Do not release rafts until airplane is at rest in the water. …"

Ken

Ken Alexander
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/26 02:18:19 (permalink)
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From what I've read, and watched on video, a ditching in a B-24 was iffy at best. More often than not it was a disaster. Crews were advised that ditching was a last resort. The main reason was the bomb bay doors. You were sitting a 36,000 plus lbs. bomber into the water at 90 plus mph. directly onto the bomb bay doors. They were flimsy and they almost never remained intact in a water landing. As a result, they collapsed inward allowing the rear of the now open bomb bay to act as a giant scoop for the water. It often broke the back of the plane and filled the rear compartment of the fuselage with water in a pretty short order. I have read that anything more than two minutes before the plane sank was pretty optimistic.

The only exits from the plane in a water landing were the navigator's dome, the top escape hatch just behind the pilot and the waist windows. (Two escape hatches were added aft of the top turret in later models.)

You can imagine the chaos that much have ensued. The guys in back were often thrown around by the impact. The top turret could break away and fall into the plane. Sometimes the nose folded up and back, pinning the guys on the flight deck.

Unless the seas and piloting were perfect the results were seldom good.

Ken

Ken Alexander
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/26 02:20:31 (permalink)
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From the December 1965 Issue, Volume 2 number 4, of "Air Classics" Magazine. An article called: "Prepare to Ditch!"

While the actual preparing and ditching portion of the article is short, I thought you might be interested in this excerpt:

"Deadsticking a B-24 in, all engines out...

"At the last split-second, Bishop and 'Vam' took their feet off the rudder and braced fthem against the dashboard to prevent their legs from being pinned. 83 came down on ailerons and elevators only... wheels up, flaps down. She smacked with a terrible, rending crash. The chicken-wire bomb bay ripped off. Otherwise it was a perfect landing, the bomber mushing down on the two rear bomb doors. The rear bulkhead had absorbed most of the shock and although the men in the waist section had been bounced around in the 90-mph collision, those on the flight deck had been little more than jarred.

"The Liberator quickly filled with water which rushed in through the bomb bays and the open nose. It engulfed the pilot's compartment in a flood of dark green and everything went suddenly dark. Navigator Gill was out first, then the bombardier Davis. The latter slipped off the fast submerging wing, and before he could inflate his preserver, was swept out to sea.

"The gunners dove headfirst out the settling waist windows, but radio operator Norris was trapped inside. Gunner Tom Boothby dove back into the wreck, and disentangling his clothing from a protruding rib, brought Norris to the surface. Copilot Vam, Flight Engineer Holmes and the top turret gunner got out next and inflated two life rafts. Everyone was accounted for but Bishop.

"Below on the flight deck of the settling Liberator, Bishop lay drowning and unconcious. While trying to climb out of the submerged compartment he had been met by a barrage of boots, Davis' and Gill's, climbing out ahead of him. Knocked back into the pilot's station, he swam around, found a crash axe and began hacking away at the sinking windows, desperately trying to get out. But his blows had little effect in the water. He only succeeded in gashing his habd and was passing out when Gill reached down and pulled him out. His harness saved him. He was the only member still wearing one and by pulling on it, Gill was able to lift his water-logged body. Otherwise both would have gone down with the plane.

"Aboard the life raft, Vam administered artificial respiration to Bishop's inert form, and within 15 minutes all were picked up by an Italian fishing boat..."

"Interestingly, two weeks later the crew again ditched at sea with Vam as the copilot and Vam suffered a broken leg, but everyone else, again escaped serious injury."

Ken Alexander
Proud son of 1st Lt. Clair B. Alexander Jr.
Pilot, B-24s: 10/12/1944 - 04/24/1945
15th AF, 49th Wing, 461st BG, 764th BS
Torretta Airfield, Cerignola, Italy
fana
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/26 03:41:42 (permalink)
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There is an interesting account in the "44th BG Roll Of Honour" website regarding the ditching of a 68BS aircraft on the 11th July '44. Four of the aircrew survived; one of them, Sgt Garvey had been involved in a bale-out  a week previously over the UK!!
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/26 06:50:52 (permalink)
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Unfortunately the pic that started this thread is actually a "fake".  Either CGI or a model.  The attched pic is more demonstrative of a ditching in these circumstances.

Pete
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/26 06:52:56 (permalink)
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However,....crash landing on a beach, with the tide out,  often produced a different result

Pete
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RE: B-24 Liberator: Ditching at Sea 2007/09/26 11:49:27 (permalink)
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Pete,  Thanks for the "fake" warning, and I shall alert the "Goggling site."  As I stated in post #6, I standed "corrected," but since I didn't have a photo in my collection, I was hunting.   I appreciate your attachments.     Steven

 
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Steven P. Puhl
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