B-25 Mitchell Emergency Exits

Emergency Exits and Movement of Flight Personnel for the B-25 Mitchell.

Source: B-25 Mitchell Pilot’s Manual.

P-38 Combat

P-38 Lightning combat with Me 109s and subsequent bail out. Source: “P-38 Combat”, Informational Intelligence Summary, No. 44-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 1944.


In the following interview Major Kelly Mitchim describes a fight with Me 109s, evasive tactics used and bailing out procedure.

We were on a mission against Capua airdrome, just north of Naples, with 24 P-38s escorting a group of B-25s. There were two sections of three flights each, counter-weaving across the top of the bombers, and I was flying top cover for the last section. Two Messerschmitt 109s came in at six o’clock and when I saw them they had already opened fire on my Number Four man. I immediately broke into them without stopping to drop my belly tanks. My Number Two man, who was slightly inexperienced, lost me and left me there by myself. I came around and tried to drop my belly tanks, but evidently I had blown a fuse because they would not release. The two Me 109s dived on me from about nine o’clock and I turned into them and fired a burst at the second one. The first one slid under my tail and hit my left engine, the left belly tank, and the cockpit which set my plane on fire immediately.

I had been told by a P-38 pilot who had been in combat that the best way to get an enemy plane off your tail in a P-38 was to snatch back the left throttle, throw full throttle to the right engine, and do a right stick and right rudder. I don’t know what it does, but it is something like an upward sliding roll. The main thing that I desired was to get him off my tail, and it did that.

Next I began thinking about bailing out. My plane was burning very badly; smoke and flames were in the cockpit. I smashed the escape hatch and tried to roll it to the left but it would not roll over. I stood up to bail out and nearly got my head blown off. I sat back again but the smoke and flames were now so bad that I could not see my airspeed or altimeter, so I pulled back on the stick and pulled her straight up almost into a stall, stood up in the seat, and rolled out backwards. I think as I went out that the nose came down, the tail went up, and I went under it. I am not sure how it was. I pulled my rip cord at about 5,000 feet–I was wearing an English chute and it worked very well.

There is one point that I think should be stressed to all P-38 pilots which had not been stressed to me. That is, do not smash your escape hatch too quickly. It draws all the flames and all the smoke immediately into the cockpit. The escape hatch should not be pulled off until the moment you are ready to drop out of the plane.

See Also: Bailing Out of a P-38 Lightning

TBM Avenger Emergency Exits

Emergency exit routes of the TBM Avenger for both ditching and bailout in flight. The turret exit could not be used by the gunner to bail out during flight, because the gunner did not wear his parachute in flight. The gunner’s parachute was stored above the door in the bombardier’s compartment.

TBM Avenger Bailout Crew Exits and Ditching Exits

Emergency Equipment and Exits

Source: Pilot’s Handbook of Flight Operating Instructions, Navy Model TBM-3 Airplane, November 1945.

P-47 Bailout Procedures

The following bailout procedures are reproduced from the Pilot Training Manual for the Thunderbolt P-47N, Headquarters, Army Air Forces, September 1945.

P-47 Bailout Procedures, Pilot Bail Out

Bailout Procedures

P-47 Pilot Bailout with Wingman, WW21. Plane Under Control.

Gain altitude if it is necessary. Call Mayday (international distress signal) on channel designated for distress. Switch on emergency IFF. If time permits, contact controller and give pertinent information, such as altitude and course.

Jettison the canopy. Disconnect your shoulder harness, radio leads, oxygen tubing, and safety belt. Keep oxygen mask on to protect face from cold and fire. Pull up into a slow climb, bank the ship gently to the left, and go off the right wing. From this side the slip-stream will aid in clearing the tail. If you prefer you may roll the plane on its back, release the safety belt, and fall out with the plane inverted. Keep your hand away from the ripcord release, as the slipstream will jerk your arm before you are clear of the plane.

When jettisoning the canopy, remember to duck your head.

P-47 Thunderbolt Jettison Cockpit Canopy2. Plane Under Control but on Fire.

Follow the normal procedure but do not open the canopy until last possible moment in order to keep flames and smoke from being sucked into the cockpit.

3. Plane Out of Control Not on Fire.

Follow the normal plane under control procedure as far as possible, but never release your safety belt until you are ready to leave the plane as in most cases you will be pulled or thrown clear by suction or some other force.

P-47 Pilot Parachute Bail Out with RipcordIf altitude permits, wait until you slow down before pulling the ripcord.

4. Plane Out of Control and on Fire.

Follow the normal out of control procedure, remembering not to open the canopy until the last possible moment.

Review the instructions in PIF on what to do after leaving the plane.


Abandoning the B-17: Bail Out & Crash Landing

From the Pilot’s Manual for Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress:


a. ESCAPE DOORS AND HATCHES. – All doors and hatches are quickly releasable. The side gunner’s windows slide forward to open. Bomb doors may be opened by either of two emergency release handles, one at the left of the pilot and the other at the forward end of the catwalk in the bomb bay.


(1) Stand by to abandon: one long ring (approximately 6 seconds).

(2) Abandon airplane: three short rings (approximately 2 seconds each).

c. SWITCHES. – The situation will determine whether fuel and electrical systems should be turned off prior to abandoning the airplane. Under normal conditions outside of combat zones, the master ignition switch battery switches and fuel shut-off valve switches should be turned off.

B-17 Flying Fortress: Bail Out and Crash Landing Procedures

Continue reading Abandoning the B-17: Bail Out & Crash Landing

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