Options to save a trapped ball turret gunner in a bomber wheels up landing

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, May 24, 2012.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,048
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    #1 Jenisch, May 24, 2012
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
    Hello,

    I found out a terrible story of a B-17 that couldn't deploy it's landing gear, and at the same time the ball turret gunner was by some reason trapped inside the turret. Unfornately he had an unpleseant death, as the aircraft landed in such way. I don't know what was the state of the aircraft, but since the hydraulics were out it could have been damaged.

    If I was a pilot, to try save the men I was thinking of try put the B-17 down upside down, but don't know if would be possible for the B-17 to fly upside down. I think it would be needed to put it in a high speed dive, and the control forces generated would render the attempt useless. Not to mention the risk would be very high. The other crew members would not be much a problem for this, if possible, as they would be able to bail out.

    Certainly the crew tried the most they could to save him, but do you people think that assuming an all functional plane it would be possible to do something?
     
  2. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,484
    Likes Received:
    110
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    #2 tyrodtom, May 24, 2012
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
    I don't see how landing upside down would save the ball turret gunner.
    Have you ever noticed the radical nose-up attitude ( nose down when you're in the aircraft) a aircraft has to take to fly upside down ? Plus the stall speed would be higher upside down. Now imagine trying to land like that. That's even IF a B-17 could fly upside down.
    Rolling the aircraft into a flaming ball on the runway isn't going to help the ball gunner.

    The turret was stuck so the gunner couldn't get out, and ball turrets were too tight for most gunners to wear a parachute. So they couldn't just drop the turret. The landing gear was stuck also, and being after a mission the aircraft probably low on fuel. So they probably didn't have a lot of time to come up with any bright ideas.
     
  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,093
    Likes Received:
    656
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I think the problem of upside down would be the tail would hit first and slam the cockpit into the runway while probably killing the pilot and/or copilot. I'm not sure what you could do beyond almost stalling the plane above a freshly plowed field and drop the turret.
     
  4. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,627
    Likes Received:
    209
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Aviation QMS/SMS consultant
    Location:
    Blenheim
    I'd doubt that any bomber would be able to fly inverted. They wouldn't have had inverted fuel/oil systems, so the engines would have quit pretty quickly.

    If you managed to land it, most likely, the aircraft would roll itself into a ball, and kill all remaining aboard (including the gunner and pilots), so the outcome would be worse.

    Even if everything was functioning normally, in this situation, the outcome is grim.
     
  5. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    4,185
    Likes Received:
    167
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Hobart Tasmania
    Maybe if there was a grass bank off to one side of the runway the pilot could set one wing down on that the other on the flat, hopefully allowing clearence for the ball turret.
     
  6. model299

    model299 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    175
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Mechanical Designer
    Location:
    Minnysoder
    There was a discussion on that very subject in this thread.
     
  7. jimh

    jimh Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Messages:
    310
    Likes Received:
    87
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Flying
    Location:
    Ohio
    Home Page:
    The B-17 is an electric airplane...there are two things that are hydraulic, the brakes and the cowl flaps. The Ball Turret is electric. There is a tool kit attached to the turret assembly that allows you to drop the turret from the airframe in the event of a gear failure. The turret mount will shove through the top of the fuselage rendering this part of the airframe beyond useful repair. There are also hand cranks to manipulate the turret in such a way to get the crewmember out...if that doesn't work you can put the turret in neutral by disengaging the clutch. I've been flying a B-17 for almost 10 years how and I've never seen or heard a first hand account of a ball turret gunner getting crushed...if anything the turret will push through the fuselage out of harms way.

    jim
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,208
    Likes Received:
    790
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Thanks for the clarification Jim! We ran a thread about this earlier. If a B-17 landed gear up with the ball turret full down it would either get pushed in (as stated by Jim) or it would break the back of the aircraft. The ball turret is not a delicate piece of hardware and is rather robust in construction. On the earlier thread someone submitted stories about personnel being killed while stuck inside a ball turret. I don’t know the validity of these stories but if proven to be true, I would think that being tossed around within a stuck turret would be the cause of death rather than the turret collapsing around the unfortunate gunner.

    I believe Andy Rooney said we witnessed this during one of the missions be flew as a reporter during WW2. With all respect to Mr. Rooney, IMO its utter BS…
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    Jim - doesn't the B-17 have a hand crank to get the Mains down? Would one main gear come down even if the other doesn't? If so that would possibly give some relief to a full contact smack on the Ball wouldn't it?
     
  10. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,484
    Likes Received:
    110
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    Andy Rooney explained it as a hydraulic failure, but that was just his explanation. He mechanical knowledge of a B-17 probably went no further than how to open the entry hatch.

    There's plenty of ways battle damage could have made it so neither could be moved by their manual systems though.

    Sturdy as that turret might be, I can't see any chance of riding out a wheels up landing in it, it'd be the first part of the aircraft to touch the runway.
     
  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,208
    Likes Received:
    790
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    [​IMG]
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    Joe - I wonder if left Main down and right main collapsed in this pic?
     
  13. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    Seems possible to touch tail wheel and (slim possibility) ride nose high until it stalls.
     
  14. barney

    barney Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Yeah, the gear is electric.
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,208
    Likes Received:
    790
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    #15 FLYBOYJ, May 25, 2012
    Last edited: May 25, 2012
    Hard to say - I have another one where the back of the aircraft is split in two at the bulkhead where the turret is installed.

    Riding in a turret during a wheels up landing is like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. I think chances of survival are increased if one was to get the tail wheel or at least one MLG down. Bottom line, the ball isn't going to shatter like it was depicted on that Steven Spielberg TV show that aired many years ago.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK22liTIoqw
     
  16. TheMustangRider

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Messages:
    340
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    United States
    Hey, I remember watching that show on reruns during the mid-90's when I was child, brings back so much memories!
    It was on that episode when I saw a B-17 the first time ever :p
     
  17. jimh

    jimh Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Messages:
    310
    Likes Received:
    87
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Flying
    Location:
    Ohio
    Home Page:
    The Main Gear, Tailwheel, Flaps, Bombay Doors, Chin Turret, Top Turret and Ball Turret are electric. The Main Gear, Flaps, Tailwheel, and Bombay Doors have hand cranks. The Ball Turret also has its own unique hand cranks that work both inside and outside the turret.

    When the gear "retracted" on Aluminum Overcast" during rollout a few years ago the ballturret pole punctured the fuselage and did little damage to the turret. The ball turret is is considered "armored" and quite thick. It would take alot of punishment.

    jim
     
Loading...

Share This Page