Keep Your Eyes on a Whirling Propeller

Keep your eyes on a whirling propeller

Air Force, May 1943


Delayed Action

Strange tale (tail?) from Air Force, April 1943.


CREWMEN of a B-17 had a surprise recently while flying over a quiet sector of England when a 20 mm. shell exploded in the left horizontal stabilizer. They had reason to be surprised. There wasn’t an enemy plane in sight.

After the big bomber had landed, Captain Henry J. Schmidt, an engineering officer with the Eighth Air Force, began investigating. He found that the B-17 had been carrying the shell around ever since it had attacked German installations in France some three weeks before. During that attack the shell had pierced the stabilizer without exploding. The hole it made was subsequently repaired, but without knowledge on anyone’s part that the missile was still in the ship.


Targets of the Eighth Air Force

“Targets of the Eighth Air Force” from a special edition of Army Talks, “Stars over the Reich,” published for the officers and men of the Eighth Air Force.

Targets of the Eighth

A. Aircraft Industry (includes assembly, engine and repair plants and airfields). The four great air blows in February 1944 were a decisive factor in weakening the Luftwaffe and giving the Allies the essential air superiority before the invasion of Europe. They were the first of many aimed at aircraft.

B. Tactical Direct Army Support (includes coastal and military defenses, bridges and all marshalling yards attacked after 1 June ’44). Although designed for strategic bombing, the Eighth proved its flexibility during the invasion days in the tactical support it gave to the ground and sea forces by crippling German ground force support.

C. Oil Industry (includes refineries, synthetic oil, and storage). The Germans have more planes, tanks, vehicles and other equipment than they are able to operate, owing to the critical shortage of fuel and lubricants. Strategic bombing has played a very large part in causing this shortage.

D. Flying Bomb Sites. The Eighth, though not designed for such work, took part in the pounding of these targets when the flying bomb menace became serious.

E. U-Boat Industry (includes sub-pens, bases and construction yards). At the height of the German submarine activity in the winter of 1942-43 the Forts and Libs gained experience at the expense of the U-boats and had a big hand in whittling down the U-boat supremacy.

F. Indirect Army Support (includes tank, vehicle and locomotive plants, steel industry, ordnance depots, and marshalling yards prior to 1 June ’44). This is one of the basic strategic jobs of the Eighth Air Force.

G. Ball Bearing Industry. A small but significant target, since the serious damage caused by bombing has been a production bottleneck for the aircraft and other industries dependent on the manufacture of ball bearings.

H. Rubber Industry. The same is true of this target, especially for transportation.

I. Miscellaneous Strategic. An assortment of targets have been attacked in key industrial areas when weather has singled them out as targets of opportunity or as suitable for overcast bombing.


Evasive Tactics

“Where going is Roughest and Toughest, Evasive Tactics!” Ninth Air Force (IX Tactical Air Command) training poster:

Evasive Tactics

See Also: Chaff, Flak Traps

How to Fly the B-26 Airplane

“How to Fly the B-26 Airplane”, Official Training Film No. 1-3301, War Deparment, First Motion Picture Unit, Army Air Forces.



“Chaff can take it… you can’t! Know chaff and use it!” Ninth Air Force (IX Tactical Air Command) training poster:

Chaff (Radar countermeasure, window or Düppel)

See Also: Flak Traps


Grumman at War

Grumman Aircraft color film about the design, testing, manufacturing, and combat record of the Grumman F6F Hellcat carrier-based fighter. Collection: UNT Digital Library.

P-38 Flight Characteristics

WWII color training film produced by Lockheed describing the P-38 Lightning. The film shows operating characteristics of the P-38, demonstrates techniques for takeoff, landing, and combat flying, and shows operating controls and procedures.


Bailing Out of a P-38 Lightning

From the “Pilot Training Manual for the P-38 Lightning”:

Pilot Parachute


Many stories have been circulated that you can’t successfully bail out of the P-38. Rumor had it that you wouldn’t have a chance of missing the horizontal stabilizer, and twin booms and rudders. Actual experience has disproven these stories. In spite of the hangar talk that crops up from time to time, it is no more difficult to bail out of a P-38 than any present-day fighter.

Before you bail out, if you have the time, make the necessary radio calls as outlined in Emergency Radio Procedures. If you bail out over water or unpopulated territory, your best chance for rescue lies in correct and speedy radio procedure before you abandon your airplane.

The method of leaving the plane is largely dependent on your altitude, attitude, and airspeed. The final decision on how to get out rests with you. Here are three recommended and accepted procedures for bailing out.

Over the trailing edge of the wing

1. Head towards an unpopulated area and disconnect oxygen tube and radio equipment.

2. Slow the plane down as much as possible.

3. Roll down the left window and release the canopy.

4. Release your safety belt and slide out head first off the trailing edge of the wing. Never stand up or jump!


P-38 Lightning Pilot Bail Out
Roll the plane over and drop out

1. Disconnect oxygen tube and radio equipment.

2. Roll elevator trim tab forward while holding plane level. (This will keep the nose of the plane up while you are on your back.)

3. Release the canopy and roll the plane over on its back.

4. Unhook your safety belt and drop out.

Unless you are very low to the ground, keep your hand off the ripcord when leaving the plane. If you hold the ripcord handle as you bail out, the slipstream jerks your arm and the chute opens before you are clear of the plane.

P-38 Lightning Pilot Bailout
Sucked out at high speed

If your P-38 is out of control and traveling at a high airspeed, disconnect the oxygen tube and radio equipment, unhook your safety belt, and then release the canopy.

When the canopy is released, the vacuum created in the cockpit sucks you out of the seat and carries you clear of the plane.

If you feel conditions warrant leaving your plane and you have made up your mind to jump, decide which is the best way to get out, and then go.

P-38 Lightning Pilot Bailout


Flak Traps

Beware of Flak Traps! Ninth Air Force (IX Tactical Air Command) training poster:

Flak Traps