The World War II Photo of the Week
for 10 March 2003
|Exposed Position ...|
The sides of the B-17 Flying Fortress were protected by two waist gunners. These gunners manned single .50-caliber machine guns mounted on the sides of the fuselage (certain special variants mounted dual machine guns). These positions were open to the elements in the B-17E and F models. In the late-war G model, however, plexiglass windows covered the gunners' stations, and the stations were offset so that the gunners did not interfere with each other while firing. These positions were some of the most exposed (to both cold and the enemy) on the aircraft, and waist gunners sustained higher casualty rates than other positions. And unlike the nose, ball and tail turrets, which dumped spent shells through chutes in the floor, the floor at the waist positions filled with spent shells during attacks, and the gunners had to use a shovel during pauses in firing to clear a place to stand.