1. The AAF forum will close permanently on December 1, 2017. The forum archives, past and present, were successfully transferred to the Heritage League of the Second Air Division. Two conditions were agreed upon; 1) all user email addresses would be protected, and 2) all private messages would remain private. On Dec 1st, the AAF domain will convert to a simple landing page to stay out of spammer hands.
    Dismiss Notice

Turret Failure

Discussion in 'Heavy & Very Heavy Bombers' started by peterDuck, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. peterDuck

    peterDuck Member

    This photo is causing some bewilderment. The photo is dated 16 Aug 44 and has the caption 'Turret Failure'. It is also thought to be related to the 467th BG. I'd like to credit Brendan Wood who posted it in the 467th BG Facebook Group.

    Here's some background:

    • The 467th BG did fly a mission on 16 Aug 44. One B24 was lost and sadly all 10 crewmen were lost. No other men or aircraft were lost on this mission.

    • There was a practice mission also flown 16 Aug 44. One aircraft had a mechanical failure when the trigger switch on the top turret "fused" causing the turret to rotate out of control. While the gunner was able to eventually prevent the gun from firing, another ship was hit, broke up and crashed into the North Sea. Sadly, only 5 of the 11 on board were rescued.

    • Missions flown on the previous 6 days had only one day where a ship was lost. Sadly, 8 of the 10 men were lost in that incident.

    • No other incidences are known to have been reported during that time frame.

    The turret involved in the incident on the practice mission was a top turret. This pictured is definitely the tail turret (or at least where the tail turret used to be). I'm fairly confident this aircraft was not involved in that incident. Also,I don't believe the date of the photo necessarily means the date of the incident. I believe the date is the date the photo was taken (although I can definitely be wrong on that one).

    The comment "Turret Failure" is a bit puzzling considering the amount of damage visible. The amount of damage would indicate that the tail turret "sheared" off (if this is not battle related). That's one heck of a turret failure. I would think there'd be a report of this "somewhere". Especially if a tail turret failure caused it to "shear" from the ship. So far, there's been nothing found that relates to such an incident.

    I read through a report by Joseph Femme (Project Engineer from Consolidated for the B24), that he wrote on 1 Dec 44, after spending time in England attaining "operating data of the B24 in combat". While much attention was given to the nose turret in the report, the only mention of the tail turret was: 1) in an effort to "shed" weight - reduce the thickness of the glass and armor, 2) optimal conditions for firing azimuth and "comfort and warmth" considerations, 3) Booster motor "to weak to pull ammunition from lower box". I'm pretty confident if there were critical failures (even just one for that matter) of tail turret structures it would have ended up in that report.

    First question, has anyone ever heard of the tail turret failing to the point where it "sheared" of the aircraft?

    Next, this might not be a 467th B24. Perhaps it is a B24 from another Bomb Group that landed at Rackheath. Does anyone know of an incident, such as described, with a B24 from another Group of the 2nd Air Division?
    Airwar likes this.
  2. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Probably not related at all but another example of tail turret failure. This one much earlier, 21 December 1943, 579BS, 372BG,8AF. The first image is from the Joseph H. Famme Collection. A similar photo of 42-7510 is offered on AAM here http://www.americanairmuseum.com/aircraft/9204 this same photo is offered on fold3 here https://www.fold3.com/image/29022841
    (attached below) There is a fold3 annotation which reads as follows:
    "Damage occured on the December 20,1943 mission to Bremen,Germany. It is believed that this aircraft slowed suddenly and was ran into by another B-24, slicing away the tail turret and damaging the control surfaces. The tail gunner, S/Sgt. Donald Pippitt, was KIA. by dougsheley093"

    Also not to be forgotten: S/Sgt. Donald D. Pippitt https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=56302759 (more photos, and cause speculation)

    Just wondering if your pictured missing tail turret was also the result of a collision(?)
    B-24 42-7510 tail damage 21Dec43; Famme Coll..jpg
    B-24 42-7510 tail turret damage fold3.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
  3. peterDuck

    peterDuck Member


    Funny thing you show those photos. I noticed them while perusing that link you supplied to the 'Famme Collection'.

    I really don't know much about that photo I posted. I'm not aware of any incident (collision or otherwise) around the time that photo is thought to have been taken that would account for the damage shown. It could be a photo that was taken from a much earlier incident. That would be assuming the photo was dated with the time the photo was taken, and not the date of the incident.

    Then again, it may not be a 467th BG a/c at all. I'm inclined, however, to think it is 467th related. See the image below. This is a known crew with the 467th. The format is "identical" to the 'Turret Failure' photo. It might have been a B-24 from another Group that landed at Rackheath where the photo was taken.

    Unfortunately, I just don't know. Wish I had more "intelligence". It's one of those photos that has me very curious.

    PS. Just reviewed the Fold3 site with the information for Donald D. Pippitt. It just mentions the tail turret was "severed". Hum......... Could be "related". Still, I've yet to find any information regarding concern with the tail turret severing off on it's own. Definitely gotta keep researching. I very much appreciate the following up 'Kingman'.

    16722839_1471087206258570_5087071372870252057_o.jpg .
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  4. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    The turret malfunction on 16 August 1944 was an upper turret failure -- B-24M 41-28981 vs B-24H 42-50580 6 KIA, 5 wounded

    pg 1.JPG pg 1a.JPG pg 2.JPG pg 3.JPG pg 4.JPG pg 5.JPG pg 6.JPG pg 7.JPG pg 8.JPG pg 9.JPG
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  5. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    pg 10.JPG pg 11.JPG pg 12.JPG pg 13.JPG pg 14.JPG pg 15.JPG pg 16.JPG pg 17.JPG pg 18.JPG pg 19.JPG
    peterDuck likes this.
  6. peterDuck

    peterDuck Member


    While I knew the basics of the incident on 16 Aug 44 practice mission, I had never seen these reports (and the details they contain). Among the many details, the one that strikes me as "shocking" is there was actually "blame" (at least 80%) assigned to the Engineer, Hugh R Cunningham, who was operating the top turret . The 'Unsatisfactory Report' states "...gunner....improperly charged the left gun....". There is also mention throughout the documents of the "azimuth" clutch not being engaged.

    The operation of the Martin Turret is a bit "above my pay grade". IF .....I understand correctly, prior to testing the guns, the clutch accidentally was not engaged casing the turret to spin as the right gun was fired. Because the left gun was "charged", it caused the trigger to fuse. The continued firing caused the turret to spin as faster rates until finally Cunningham was able to twist the ammo belt causing the gun to jamb. Unfortunately, the tragic damage had already been done to '580'.

    My only disappointment is the formation sheet doesn't have the a/c identified.

    Thank you so much for your post(s). Ya made my day :)
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
  7. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    "The turret malfunction on 16 August 1944 was an upper turret failure -- B-24M 42-28981"
    Odd this S/N "42-28981" would be in a block of (P-47D-28-RA) http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_1.html B-24Ms first delivered October 1944 http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_bombers/b24_22.html
    B-24J-1-FO-42-50580: replacement Jul 1944 for the 492nd BG, 859th BS. Aug 1944 transferred to 467th BG, 788th BS, 8th AF. Shot down Aug 16, 1944 by friendly fire from a jammed machine gun from another aircraft during training mission over North Sea. MACR 16276. 6 killed, 5 bailed out and were rescued http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_3.html
    And http://www.americanairmuseum.com/aircraft/19631
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  8. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    rereading these report and wondering if they meant B-24H 41-28981 not M.....

    Baugher has this aircraft MIA March 1945

    41-28981 (467th BG, 789th BS, "Wolves Inc") went out of control and crashed into
    North Sea 10 mi off Cromer Mar 4, 1945 following mission

    top photo is 42-50580, bottom is 41-28981

    50580.JPG wolvesincnoseart.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  9. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

  10. peterDuck

    peterDuck Member

    It was indeed B-24H-DT-20 'Wolves Inc.' 41-28981 that had the top turret incident.
  11. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Revelations. Dave has already noted 41-28981 via Baugher was lost later 4 March 45, than this turret malfunction on 16 Aug 1944. Seems Baugher and other may be in error here.

    Another source here http://www.the467tharchive.org/libraryshelftwo.html
    "4th March 1945: Group Mission No.186
    Target: Railway yards Stuttgart, Ger.
    B-24H-20-DT 41-28981 "WOLVES INC" 789 BS

    Remarks: On return the aircraft went out of control and plunged into the North Sea ten miles off Cromer. Eight crew killed and two men saved. Rumoured to have been brought down by a British coastal battery.

    1st. Lt. George W. MILLS, Pilot
    2nd. Lt. Nathan M. HATKOFF, Co-pilot
    F/O Theologos MISSIRAS, Navigator
    T/Sgt. Michael GRINKIAVICIUS, Eng.
    T/Sgt. James A. DICK, Radio-oper.
    S/Sgt. James E. ULERICK, Gunner
    S/Sgt. Hugh R. CASSELS, Gunner
    S/Sgt. John W. RINESMITH, Gunner"

    However this source http://www.8thafhs.com/get_one_acgroup.php?acgroup_id=54

    brings 41-28981 back into play for the 16 August 1944 "friendly fire" incident:
    Aircraft: B-24H (#41-28981).
    Organization: / 467BG of Rackheath, Norfolk.
    Pilot: Grace, Charles W.
    Notes: friendly fire [shoot down].
    Location: North Sea.
    Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 1
    source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/

    And there appears to be an accident report here http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/dbasn.asp?offset=30100
    440816 B-24H 41-28981 467BG 145 8 FF 1 Grace, Charles W NSE

    This in fact does bring us back to Dave's second document (enhanced here) showing 41-28981 on the second line, followed by the 1st Lt Charles W Grace Crew listing.

    Seems positive confirmation to me. who wants to update AAM so no one else need stumble down this path again? Still not sure what is wrong or in error with the 4th March 1945: Group Mission No.186 but something must be amiss if 41-28981 was already on the bottom of the North Sea on 16 Aug 1944.

    Dave, Doc 2.JPG
  12. peterDuck

    peterDuck Member

    http://www.the467tharchive.org/libraryshelftwo.html is Andy Wilkinson's website. Since the passing of Phil Day, and Perry Watts, he is (reluctantly :)) the 467th BG Group Historian. While there is always new information coming to light that helps shed light on "errors" that have popped up over the years, Andy is very good about getting corrections updated on his site as soon as they're known.

    B-24H-20-DT 'Wolves Inc.' 41-28981 was definitely lost on 4 Mar 45. Any other information to the contrary is incorrect.

    B-24J-1-FO 'No Name' 42-50580 was definitely the aircraft shot down on the practice mission on 16 Aug 44.

    Any other information "floating around" is incorrect.

    On a side note, '580' was a recent transfer to the Group. She, along with the remains of the 492nd BG, joined the 467th BG on (or about) 12 Aug 44. When the 492nd was dissolved, the majority of the men and planes joined the 467th as the reformed 788th BS (bringing the 467th to full strength again). William Prewitte (Pilot), and most of the crew on '580', were from the 492nd. This was one of the final practice missions the transfers from the 492nd were undergoing before their combat missions began. Some of the recently reformed 788th BS had started flying combat two days before on 14 Aug 44.
  13. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Troubling you are contradicting your own content in post #10, it cannot be both ways. This leaves the search for the offending Liberator with malfunctioning top turret gun which shot down 42-50580 in question. The accident report document with 1st Lt Charles W Grace with crew list identifying 41-28981 is most compelling.

    Where would you suggest searching next to find the B-24 that shot down 42-50580?
  14. peterDuck

    peterDuck Member

    I probably should have written that sentence, in post #10, better. My bad. I was trying to say that 'Wolves Inc' was the ship with the turret failure. Not the one that was shot down.

    Sorry for the confusion....
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  15. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Looking back here I should also take some heat for not paying close enough attention to the shooter vs shootee; if that's even a word. twas I who was confused earlier.
    peterDuck likes this.
  16. peterDuck

    peterDuck Member

    LOL... No worries.

Share This Page