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3/20/2017 5:03:23 PM
Posted: 10/23/2001 4:52:19 PM EDT
Hi, I figured you guys would have the answer to this. How effecitive were the tail, waist, ball turet ect. gunners in WW2. How many made ace??? Where they even nessasy??? I figure late in the way with the P-51 and P-47s that the extra guys to the bomber be a waste of wieght and space. Thanks BJS
Link Posted: 10/23/2001 6:01:26 PM EDT
I think in the actual number of aircraft shot down, they weren't that great as there was a lot of overclaiming. In fact, it is rather well know that often times they would hit each other while trying to hose down a fighter blasting through the formation. I know, I would sure as heck like to be shooting back at someone shooting at me. You figure it is going to much harder for a fighter pilot to take aim when he has .50 caliber tracers whizzing by aircraft. Especially when they hit, it may not of shot them down all the time, but when you here your aircraft being torn aport I imaging that screws up your aim a little. Late in the war they were seen as more of an insurance policy that made the guys feel good. But fighters did get through and they were used.
Link Posted: 10/23/2001 7:51:21 PM EDT
This was one of those questions I asked my Grampa (B17 pilot) and did not get a response to. He joined the Army Air Corp in 1941 and flew everywhere - England, North Africa, Burma, China, etc., and again in the Korean war. Went through a half dozen B-17's. He did answer me about the worst time he faced airborne. He was flying a weather mission off the China coast when a single Nip fighter came up on them. The Nip flew parallel just outside of 50 caliber range to the B-17 for perhaps 15 minutes before he chickened out and went home. Those weather B17's were unarmed.
Link Posted: 10/23/2001 8:15:23 PM EDT
well, if they didn't have so many guns they would have seemed an easier target-thus more would have been shot down. i read the life expectancy was 1 in 3. i also saw a show where a german pilot when describing an attack on a b17 that it was like "making love to a porqupine. my grandpa was a bombardier b24 and b17 5th af 65th sq 43d bg heavy, known as the "lucky dicers" just read a good book called Those Who Fall by john muirhead about b17s in Foggia italy.
Link Posted: 10/24/2001 5:16:06 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/24/2001 4:05:00 PM EDT
The USAF (yes, they weren't around 'til 1947, but they have the documents) official answer is... 2/3 of German fighters were destroyed by the gunners on the bombers. This is even more impressive when you realize that American fighter pilots in the Europrean Theater were given credit for destroying aircraft on the ground.
Link Posted: 10/24/2001 10:32:49 PM EDT
Originally Posted By zoinks: The USAF (yes, they weren't around 'til 1947, but they have the documents) official answer is... 2/3 of German fighters were destroyed by the gunners on the bombers. This is even more impressive when you realize that American fighter pilots in the Europrean Theater were given credit for destroying aircraft on the ground.
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WOW, I didn't expect it was that high.
Link Posted: 10/25/2001 7:45:52 PM EDT
If you want to get a great sense of what these guys went through, there's a couple of books I can highly recommend. One is "The Mighty Eighth" by Gerald Astor and the one I personally like best is "Half A Wing, Three Engines And A Prayer" by Brian O'Neill. Both are about the Eigth Army Air Corp and the precision daylight bombing campaign in the ETO. Now if you really want a joyride, check out the Collings Foundation: www.collingsfoundation.org For $350 you can catch a ride in a B-17 or B-24, definitely a once in a lifetime event at this point in history.
Link Posted: 10/31/2001 1:42:00 PM EDT
My Father-in law was a flight engineer/top turret gunner on a B-24. He had 24 missions before the war ended. Although he doesn't talk about his experiences he has said that the gunners on the bombers too more than their share of German fighters... Tell me more about these B24 flights.... Where are they offering them???
Link Posted: 10/31/2001 4:05:51 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/31/2001 3:59:47 PM EDT by OddSix]
You can check them out at their website. They generally start in FL in the spring and work their way around the country clockwise. Check it out at [url]www.collingsfoundation.org[/url]
Link Posted: 11/2/2001 1:58:52 AM EDT
Bomber gunner effectiveness must be measured by MUCH more than shoot-down tally. The presence of gunners drastically reduced the attack opportunities available to enemy fighters. -- Early in the air war, the Germans analyzed the sweeps of B-17 machine guns using shot-down bombers. They concluded that a stern or side approach, while maximizing attack shooting TIME, also caused maximum fighter EXPOSURE to defensive fire. They determined the bomber was weakest from the classic "12 o'clock high" vector; only the top turret could bear (on the B-17 E and early F models). This became the prescribed attack method. It had the WEAKNESS of reducing the actual time a fighter could attack; after a pass, the fighter had to make the long circle around the moving bomber formation to make another pass. Thus, waist, tail, and belly gunners DID contribute to bomber survival, even if they were at a poor angle for good shots. -- Bomber crews, of course, realized what was happening. Even before the chin-turret G model came along, the crews/mechanics were stuffing forward firing 50s into the nose compartment. A training issue arose: the navigators & bombardiers (both officers) in the nose positions had never taken the formal gunnery training course (for enlisted-rank gunners), so the LEAST proficient shooters were in the MOST important gunnery positions! There was LOTS of rapid remedial gunnery training at bases in England.
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