American Bomber Crewman 1941-45 (Warrior)
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Gregory Fremont-Barnes examines the lives of the American Bomber Crewmen of the Eighth Air Force, "The Mighty Eighth", who crewed, maintained and repaired the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and the B-24 Liberators that flew from the airfields of Norfolk and Suffolk and other counties of England during World War II (1939-1945). He highlights the physical and psychological strain placed on these brave men. Long bombing missions called for brute strength to control the aircraft and extraordinary endurance to fly for hours at 20,000 feet at temperatures below freezing in unheated, unpressurized cabins. Then there were Luftwaffe fighters and anti-aircraft fire to contend with and it required incredible skill and some luck to return from a mission unscathed. This book is a fitting tribute to these often uncelebrated heroes who took the war deep into the Third Reich, as well as a fascinating historical account of the experiences they went through.
from the air of a raid on the docks of Kobe, a major Japanese port city attacked on this occasion in March 1945 by 500 B-29s carrying highexplosive bombs. When attacking residential areas, bombers dropped incendiary bombs, for, unlike the brick and stone of German houses, the traditional paper and wood of Japanese buildings was considerably more vulnerable to fire. (Corbis) to tense up... I quickly reasoned, as I would do many times again, that nothing could be changed. There were no choices
touchdown for each bomber, which then cleared the runway for the aircraft immediately behind. Those bombers with wounded turned off the runway as soon as they could, stopping near a hardstand where an ambulance would be waiting. Other aircraft taxied to their usual ground positions and the crews disembarked with their personal equipment. Flying suits were usually removed and carried away in trucks, together with the guns which would be taken away, inspected, and 54 © Osprey Publishing •
the Norden bombsight on both B-17s and B-24s while based in Florida. Once recruited, men were shipped off to their training bases. Ben Smith, a B-17 radio operator, remembers the journey: We came east on a troop train that seemed to make no progress at all. It toiled on for days, chugging and wheezing and clanking along, stopping for hours at a time, then backing up for miles, then stopping and starting again... Sometimes we would sit on a siding, sweating and dirty, as a streamliner flashed by
in formation. Keeping one’s proper position was essential owing to the ever-present danger of mid-air collisions, especially when aircraft operated in tight formations in poor weather conditions. In such cases contingencies were made if a bomber was unable to strike its primary target. In the event of heavy cloud cover obscuring the target, the bombardier would already have plotted a course for a secondary target. (Corbis) 13 © Osprey Publishing • www.ospreypublishing.com APPEARANCE AND DRESS
whatever they could in order to walk any distance, while if they ditched in water their excessive weight posed a risk of drowning. Sheep shearling was also prone to damage from moths, and attempts to moth-proof it resulted in greater damage to the material. Shearling also easily became filthy with dirt or grease and was difficult to clean. In 1944 shearling production therefore ceased and it was withdrawn from use overseas, though many men retained jackets so lined while serving in the United