… It also kept the gunners inside the pressurized cabin, which the earlier bombers did not have. Ball Turret Gunner: Staff Sergeant William H. Cassiday, 32346219, New York – Killed in Action Radio Operator: Staff Sergeant Ralph J. Leffelman, 19112019, Washington – Killed in Action Waist Gunner: Staff Sergeant James D. Houtchens, 37483248, Nebraska – Killed in Action Like a noose of the free. Ranked among the luckiest people in the world, Alan E. Magee survived a free fall of almost four miles from a B-17 bomber during a bombing raid in WWII. Barney bailed out and was rescued two days later. In November 1944, his B-17 fell out of control over the Adriatic Sea after being attacked by Bf 109s. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose. The US Army lost 75 airmen, along with 7 planes, while 47 planes were badly damaged. On the 23rd of September 1995 Alan E. Magee, accompanied by his wife Helen, returned to St Nazaire to take part in a ceremony sponsored by French citizens, dedicating a memorial to his seven fellow crewmen killed in the crash of Snap! The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. The Ball Turret Gunner from B17 42-31377 Pot O´Gold crashed on 22 FEB 1944, tells in BALL TURRET about his job. Everybody else in the plane understood that the [ball turret gunner] was a dead man. Ball Turret Gunner. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. The primary target was Oranienburg, Germany. Magee had no idea how to control the plane and saw a small opening,  which he quickly jumped through. He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. "He said one time they forgot he was there, and he thought he was going to be crushed. He is buried in San Angelo, Texas. With the E model, the top twin guns were moved directly behind the cockpit with the Bendix powered turret, which was manned by the Flt Eng. It was common knowledge among soldiers that the B-17 ball turret gunners had a very high casualty rate. Randall Jarrell's poem The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner can be found in many anthologies and is his most well known work. As a child, he spent time in Los Angeles, where his grandparents lived, and he would later write movingly about the city in “The Lost World,” one of his best-known poems. Small ammunition boxes rested on the top of the turret and additional ammunition belts fed the turret by means of a chute system. He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country. To enter the turret, the turret was moved until the guns were pointed straight down. Sperry ball turret on a B-17 Flying Fortress - 1942. show full show summary. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner Randall Jarrell - 1914-1965 From my mother's sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. I was trained as a waist gunner so how did I end up in the most hated position on the B-17 as the lower ball turret gunner? Our crew trained together in the states as a ten man crew with two waist gunners but when we got to England and were assigned to a heavy bomb group, they were flying crews with only one waist gunner instead of two. Another factor was that not all stoppages could be corrected by charging (cocking) the guns. Once the B-17 was in … In a US gun turret the gunner opperated a large wire wound variable resistor called a rheostat which applied the current to the amplidyne. Actual Nose Art panel from crashed B-17 at St. Nazaire, France – 03 January 1943 [Via]. On the return leg, the ball turret gunner left his turret once the aircraft had cleared the area in which fighter resistance was a factor. Earlier designs appeared in other patrol seaplanes. When Magee’s bomber reached the French town of St Nazaire, it came under heavy fire from German anti-aircraft guns. The space inside the turret was very small and cramped. There was no room inside for a parachute, which was left in the cabin above the turret. Remembering his friend and comrade, he said that Magee was a great friend and a kind human being. A glimmering of conscious awareness comes to him, if at all, only after the moment of death. The Sperry ball turret was cleary in need of replacement. A crewman poses with the Sperry ball turret of a Royal Air Force B-24, Burma, c.1943-1945, Learn how and when to remove this template message, Development of Aircraft Gun Turrets in the AAF, 1917-1944, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ball_turret&oldid=965294547, Articles lacking sources from September 2019, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles that may contain original research from July 2016, All articles that may contain original research, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from July 2016, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, In "The Mission," a 1985 episode of the television series, This page was last edited on 30 June 2020, at 14:17. Our crew trained together in the states as a ten man crew with two waist gunners but when we got to England and were assigned to a heavy bomb group, they were flying crews with only one waist gunner instead of two. Statistically, the ball turret was one of the safest crew positions during WWII as ball turret gunners had the lowest loss rate. In the TV series Season 1, Episode 6 there is a very similar story of the Ball Turret gunner being trapped in his turret after FLAK damage with the real possibility of being crushed upon landing due to landing gear damage as well. The ball-turret gunner was trapped in the plastic bubble hanging beneath the B-17. Bodies crushed and swollen. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner . From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. Alan Magee decided to join the US Army after Japanese attacked the American fleet at  Pearl Harbor. Ironically, post war analysis of B-17 crew fatality records revealed that the ball turret gunner had the safest job on the plane (with the pilot having the most dangerous). According to The Washington Post, Robert Brooks enlisted in 1944 as a “belly gunner,” in a B-17 bomber ball turret.His frame of 5-foot-1 was perfect for the assignment which is considered as one of the most dangerous during World War II. The Sperry Corporation designed ventral versions that became the most common version; thus, the term "ball turret" generally indicates these versions. Pop! Once inside he could turn on the turrets electrical and hydraulic power. Magee’s survival story has featured in many magazines and is considered one of the most miraculous survivals of WWII. Image credit: Wikipedia. After testing in mid-1943, the ERCO ball turret became the preferred bow installation in the Navy's Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberator and PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bombers although other types continued to be installed. The name arose from the turret's spherical housing. As a child, he spent time in Los Angeles, where his grandparents lived, and he would later write movingly about the city in “The Lost World,” one of his best-known poems. Ball Turret Gunners on B-17 bombers were protected only by a glass bubble jutting out from the bowels of the plane. When his bomber came under fire from German anti-aircraft guns, he ran out of options. 2: The ball turret had a steel for that protected the gunners back. When Pirates Kidnapped Julius Caesar He Laughed at Their Ransom Demands & Told Them To Ask for More, Repelled 30 Taliban: 400 Rounds, Launched 17 Grenades, Detonated a Mine, and Used His Tripod as a Weapon, The WWII Ace Whose Helicopter was Attacked by the World’s Largest Snake, Pull Your Finger Out: The Royal Navy Slang You Never Knew You Were Speaking, USS Nevada Found Off Coast Of Pearl Harbour. On 3rd January 1943, Magee got into a Flying Fortress bomber on his seventh bombing mission. Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. The gunner never entered the turret before take off. From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State, And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze. Development of the spherical Emerson was halted. The cocking handles were located too close to the gunner to be operated easily, so a cable was attached to the handle through pulleys to a handle near the front of the turret. Garp, the main protagonist in John Irving's fourth novel The World According to Garp (1978), is a severely injured ball turret gunner. The bomber took a couple of nasty blows on its wing and engine; it started spiralling towards the ground, and was spinning at a very high speed. I know it was a concern to him, but fortunately, he made it through the war without an issue with the ball. It is about the death of a gunner in a Sperry ball turret on a World War II American bomber aircraft. This was mainly because German fighters would target the gunners first. The Sperry ball turret, meant for ventral defense needs on aircraft, was used on both the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator as well as the United States Navy's Liberator, the PB4Y. Our colour pasty. [POEM] The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell. I was trained as a waist gunner so how did I end up in the most hated position on the B-17 as the lower ball turret gunner? To remedy that, the front end of the cover was "slotted". The Sperry nose turret was tested and preferred, but its use was limited due to poor availability of suitable aircraft designs. The ball-turret gunner was caught in a plastic cage. Our colour pasty. The conventional landing gear of the B-17 meant that the ball turret did not need to be retracted for clearance on the ground, but if the plane was required to do a belly landing (such as in the case of landing gear system failure), the ball turret would likely be destroyed due to the lack of clearance, meaning anyone occupying the turret would be in a precarious position if unable to escape. (NASM (SI-80-20353)) Aerial gunnery training had a make-do, try-anything quality, resulting in the design of 16 types of outdoor ranges. The Ball Turret Gunner tells us how he basically got to be in the army, “From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State” to me this seems like his mother is unaware of her son being in the army. The hardware has survived; the soft flesh has been crushed. (NASM (SI-80-20353)) Aerial gunnery training had a make-do, try-anything quality, resulting in the design of 16 types of outdoor ranges. 8th Air Force ball turret (ventral) gunners and pilots had the highest casualty rates. To enter the turret, the turret was moved until the guns were pointed straight down. They told me that Marshall Yorra, waist gunner, and Joe Reljac, tail gunner, had been crushed on the flight deck when the tremendous force of water hitting the top turret had collapsed it on top of them. According to an article in Snopes regarded a Reagan anecdote, there is a story by Andy Rooney(in his book “My War”) about a stuck ball-turret gunner who was crushed when his B-17 had to belly land. The ball turret gunner has not had a living instant to achieve the self-recognition celebrated by Aries or Yeats's Major Gregory. Our accents thick. Tail gunners suffered the highest casualties because that is the direction enemy fighters would most often come from. A ball turret features in the poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner", by Randall Jarrell. Statistically, the ball turret was one of the safest crew positions during WWII as ball turret gunners had the lowest loss rate. He was considered a perfect fit for the B-17’s ball turret. Sperry and Emerson Electric each developed a ball turret, and the designs were similar in the nose turret version. Ball turret gunner’s tale . Crackle! The design was mainly deployed on the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator, as well as the United States Navy's Liberator, the PB4Y-1. [Via]. Fun Fact: American poet Randall Jarrell wrote a five-line poem called “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” which was published in 1945. German fighters preferred to attack head-on and aim for the cockpit, and the ball turret gunner could not escape from his position unaided. " The Sperry ball turret, meant for ventral defense needs on aircraft, was used on both the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator as well as the United States Navy's Liberator, the PB4Y. Being a ball turret gunner was definitely one of the most dangerous assignments during WW2. Ray H. Peterson, T/Sgt, B-17G Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, United States Army Air Forces, Eighth Air Force, 305 th Bomb Group, 366 th Bomb Squadron, Airbase: Chelveston, England. Or maybe he knew the dangers of singing up for the army but had no … Not according to this study http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwii/woundblstcs/chapter9.htm It found waist gunners had the most but there were 2. He could then open the hatch and would climb in. Magee had to jump out of it to escape certain death. He was released in May 1945. The mission Magee was a part of turned out to be a failure for the Allied forces. The city was the site of a Nazi nuclear energy project. The gunner placed his feet in the heel rests and th… The Sperry Lower Retractable Ball mounted in the belly of the PB4Y-1, is the deadly and efficient defender of the bomber's once soft underside. The gunner released the latch and removed the cover which allowed space to clear the action. The Sperry ball turret was very small[clarification needed] in order to reduce drag, and was typically operated by the smallest man of the crew. They took off from Molesworth, England, and their target was a German submarine port in France. It was their second mission in “Berlin Special,” a B-17 “Flying Fortress.” Their four-engine bomber was part of the 92nd Bomb Group, 407th Squadron of the 8th Air Force flying out of an airbase near Podington, a tiny farm village some 40-miles northwest of London during World War II. Access was severely restricted by the guns' location in the small turret. The Sperry Ball Turret was under the plane as seen in the photo. The ball turret, like this one on a B-17 in England in 1943, was designed small to reduce drag, so its gunner usually was the shortest man in the crew. Alan Magee received the Air Medal for meritorious service and the Purple Heart for his achievements in the war. To get in the turret the gunner would manually crank the guns straight down after take off. The ball turret gunner was one of the most dangerous assignments in World War II. Due to scheduling and additional training received by some members of Frank’s crew, he flew his first combat mission as a ball turret gunner with the Lt Dow C. Pruitt crew on April 18, 1944. Armed with two 50-caliber machine guns and capable of rotating 360 degrees, the ball turret gunner was responsible for protecting the otherwise-exposed underbelly of the flying fortress. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner By Randall Jarrell About this Poet Poet and critic Randall Jarrell was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Quite the contrary. Like a noose of the free. S/Sgt. The city was the site of a Nazi nuclear energy project. Permanently fixed and unable to be retracted, there was no hiding from enemy attack. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner By Randall Jarrell About this Poet Poet and critic Randall Jarrell was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He felt a need to enlist in the Army and defend his country. in the forest at La Baule Escoublac on Jan. 3, 1943. from mortar and bricklaying. Once the aircraft was in enemy territory the ball was rotated so that the door was in the floor of the plane. Pop! Hands like shovels. He also said that during almost 40 years of their friendship, Magee only spoke about the incident three times. The ball turret gunner was one of the most dangerous assignments in World War II. Source: 303rd BG  [Via]. A-2 jacket worn by Fifteenth Air Force ball turret gunner SSgt Emil Barney. Magee was 5-foot-7 and could barely fit into the small space inside the turret. Magee stayed in various German camps as a Prisoner of War. And it often went to the shortest man among the crew. 66 years after the crash he still remembers his part of World War II. Since this turret is of the ball type, the gunner moves with his guns and sight in elevation and azimuth by means of control handles. Alan E. Magee poses for the camera, halfway into the tight confines of the ball turret of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Normally, the gunner accessed the firing chamber by releasing a latch and raising the cover to a position perpendicular to the gun but this was not possible in the ball turret. Due to scheduling and additional training received by some members of Frank’s crew, he flew his first combat mission as a ball turret gunner with the Lt Dow C. Pruitt crew on April 18, 1944. The latch and removed the cover which allowed space to clear the action Electric developed. Defense against bow attacks as well as fire suppression and offensive strafing in antisubmarine warfare,... 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