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Plane lost propeller

Discussion in 'All Hands Club & Canteen Discussion Area' started by Dnalor, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. Dnalor

    Dnalor Member

    Hi All,

    a WWII eye wittness told me now, that he watched a huge series of bombers (b24)(as often) in the sky over Tyrol, Austria.
    Suddenly something fell down, fist thought to be a bomb, but it was a propeller, hitting the ground and causing a deeper hole. The location was saved with a fence, when folks and officials arrived.
    How can a bomber lose a propeller?
    No German attack by fighters, I assume.
    What happened to the plane then?
    What did the pilot? What said the plane mechanic workmen?
    Did this happen more than once during war time.?
    Sorry to say, the propeller does not exist in our days any longer.

    Thx for your answers
  2. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

    There are a variety of ways to lose a propeller. An engine that has seized due mechanical failure due to loss of oil or being hit by bullets or fragments of flak will sometimes lose it's propeller simply due to the fact that the momentum of a spinning propeller attached to an engine that suddenly stops will snap the drive gears. Sure there are other ways too.

    Bill Runnels or Jim Peters most certainly could provide a more exact answer based on their personal experience.
  3. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Hallo Roland,
    I agree with Hal. Without enemy aircraft attack if an engine fails (stops working) due to mechanical problems the engine must be feathered (lock the propeller shaft). In some instances this cannot be done and the propeller continues to windmill (spine without power). Eventually this will cause the propeller drive shaft to seize and break off usually causing additional damage to the plane. Briefly discussed here http://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=738237
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2017
  4. David Kiley

    David Kiley New Member

    Feathering a prop is done altering the pitch so that the prop blades are in line with the slipstream to keep the prop from windmilling and reduce unnecessary drag. The propeller shaft is not frozen.
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  5. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    You forget one important point -- Boeing in the effort to save weight, eliminated the stand-by pipe in the oil tanks on the B-17's.

    So, if an engine was damaged and the oil leaked out, there was no reserve (ie which would be contained in the stand-bye pipe) -- without oil, there was not way to feather the propeller and the propeller would continue to windmill.

    Again, no engine oil, no oil to feather and the propeller shaft would overheat - either seizing the prop or the gears inside the prop would melt -- allowing the propeller to come off the shaft.

    Airwar and 25Kingman49 like this.
  6. Dnalor

    Dnalor Member

    Dear Experts,
    many thx for your appreciated answers. Very interesting.
    My last question:
    The incident, losing one propeller, happened on the way to the targets in the morning hours.
    Did the pilot return to base, was he allowed-obliged to return?
    Was he obliged to continue the raid?
    Which were the orders?

    What do we know about this ?
    Thx for suggestions

    With compliments
  7. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

    Too many variables, it's not just a simple yes or no answer. Depends on where and when it happened. If deep into enemy territory it might be best to try to stay with the protection of the formation, if unable to stay with the formation then best to turn towards home. If late in the war over Allied territory then more options. A fully loaded plane on only three engines would not be able to maintain enough airspeed to keep up with the formation very long. Ultimate decision would be made by the pilot.

    Do you have a specific date and location?
  8. Dnalor

    Dnalor Member

    Thx for clarification. For sure the crew had no good feeling on this event.

    The date cannot be given specifically,
    only 15th AF, 1943 -45. b24 and b17.
    The location is specific,
    please see the attached picture with coordinates.
    In general the next bigger town is Lienz, Eastern Tyrol, Austria. 7 km west apart from propeller impact.
    Passing Lienz to Munich, Regensburg, Innbruck would be ca the last 5th up from middle Italy.

    Attached Files:

  9. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    I don't suspect anyone wants to guess over this long span of time.
    For anyone wishing to play the 1943 to 1945 propeller impact coordinates are 46.792797, 12.887028 Here is a larger scale map, I guess in 1943 the missions would have been originating out of North Africa, no guessing by me here.
    1943-45 propeller impact 46.792797, 12.887028.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  10. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    Doubt very much if it earlier then November 1943 -- 15th AF moved to Italy at that time and this pass into Austria was a common route into Germany
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  11. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Concur with Dave. The 15th AF did not exist before October 1943.
    AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS: The Joint Chiefs of Staff send a proposed directive to General Dwight D Eisenhower, submitted by General Henry H "Hap" Arnold on 9 Oct, for the establishment of a new Air Force (the Fifteenth) in Italy to be used when needed as part of the Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO) against strategic targets in Germany.
    FRIDAY, 22 OCTOBER 1943
    MEDITERRANEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Twelfth Air Force): The Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) approve the plan, submitted by General Henry H "Hap" Arnold and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), to create a new Air Force (the Fifteenth) in Italy from part of the Twelfth Air Force to be used in strategic bombing against Germany as well as in support of ground operations.

    Throughout earlier 1943 9th AF and 12th AF concentrated bombing missions to targets in Italy.
    One exception SUNDAY, 24 OCTOBER 1943
    MEDITERRANEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Twelfth Air Force): XII Bomber Command B-24's of the 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy) hit Wiener-Neustadt, Austria (Me-109 production & other); the 376th Bombardment Group (Heavy) fails to complete the mission because of clouds. (Likely not related to this prop loss incident)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017

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