B-32 Dominator

Introduction to the Consolidated B-32 Dominator heavy bomber from the training manual: Airplane Commander Training Manual for the B-32 Dominator, AAF Manual 51-126-7, Headquarters Army Air Forces, 1945.


The B-32’s Past

The history of your B-32 Dominator starts in 1940, when the Army accepted Boeing, Martin and Consolidated Vultee designs for VHB aircraft. Martin designs were not completed, but the end results of those Boeing and Convair plans are the present B-29 and B-32 airplanes. Between the first 32 design and the airplane you’re flying today, however, is a long succession of changes.

The originally planned XB-32 was an airplane with several similarities to the present Superfortress. It had pressurization and remotely controlled turrets. It also had a double tail, wing guns and cannon, and other features which it doesn’t have today. The Army decided not to put all its eggs in one basket, but to have at first only one airplane with the new features of the 29, and to duplicate its purpose in another model of more conventional design.

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B-17E Recognition

U.S. War Department WWII Recognition Guide for the B-17E Flying Fortress:

B-17E Flying Fortress Recognition Drawing

DISTINGUISHING FEATURES: Four-engine, low-wing monoplane. Wings equally tapered with rounded tips and full dihedral. Long, narrow fuselage. Gun turret on top of fuselage just aft of pilot’s cockpit enclosure. Large ventral turret aft of wings. Tail has broad single fin and rudder with fin faired far forward into fuselage. Large stabilizer and elevator, similar in shape to the wing.

INTEREST: Designed for high altitude, daytime precision bombing of restricted targets, the B–17 was the first long-range American bomber. Intended primarily for long flights over the Pacific, great fuel capacity rather than tremendous bomb load was emphasized in the individual design. It now does effective work, however, for the Army Air Forces in raids at shorter range in Europe, North Africa, and in the Southwest Pacific. The relative lack of armament characterizing early models is now corrected so it is possible on some missions to operate under the protection of its own guns without fighter escort. The early models, B–17 to B–17D had a much smaller fin with straight leading edge intersecting the fuselage back of the L.E. of the stabilizer.

The Doolittle Raid

Old U.S. Air Force video of the WWII Doolittle Raid in April 1942, when B-25 Mitchell bombers took off from the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet to attack the Japanese islands.


Big 1/32nd Scale B-25J Mitchell

Coming soon from HK Models — a huge 1/32-scale B-25J Mitchell “The Strafer”. “Strafer” is the second B-25 release from HK Models and depicts the solid nose version armed with eight .50 cal machine guns.

B-25J Mitchell, The Strafer, HK Models 1/32nd Scale

Thanks to the Power Turret… The Bomber Fights Back

The importance of the modern power gun turret to U.S. bombers in WW2 from Aircrewman’s Gunnery Manual, Aviation Training Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy, 1944

Thanks to the Turret…  THE BOMBER FIGHTS BACK

  • Without the men who invented the turret, today’s great bombing missions would be impossible. For without turrets, the bomber would be almost as helpless over enemy territory as an ordinary transport plane without a single gun.
  • No one knows exactly who should get credit for inventing the modern turret. The first crude models came out in the 1920’s. One was a circular mount, illustrated on this page, which the United States developed to put a little flexibility into bomber guns. The Russians tried a movable platform, cranked by hand, in which the gunner sat right out in the open, fighting the slipstream as well as the enemy.
  • Early Aircraft Gun Turret

  • The modern power turret–driven by electricity and mounted inside the bomber–was developed after many experiments in the 1930’s and proved its worth in action in the second year of World War II. Its effect on air strategy was spectacular. At last the bomber–heavier and slower than the fighter plane–could really fight back.
  • For turrets–little blisters of plexiglas or safety glass, bristling with caliber .50s, swinging around to meet enemy fighters no matter where they come from–enable the bomber to match the enemy slug for slug in an air battle.
  • Approach an American bomber today, from any angle, and you will see a turret whose guns could be turned toward you in an instant.
  • The top turret swings in a full circle; its guns move up and down from straight out to nearly straight up; it protects the whole top of the plane.
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PV Ventura One-Wheel Landing

A safe one-wheel landing by a PV Ventura on a Pacific Island during WW2 from Naval Aviation News, March 15, 1945.


A PV piloted by a Lieutenant Commander made a successful one-wheel landing on a Pacific island airstrip without injuring the crew or dislodging a 100-lb. bomb no one knew was stuck in the bomb bay. The pilot’s report follows:

While over an enemy target the plane received one hit in the left engine nacelle which severed the hydraulic line and broke the engine mount near the fire wall. The hydraulic system lost all pressure. On return to the field the hand pump would not extend the landing gear.

PV Ventura Bomber in U.S. Navy WW2


Using the emergency extension system only extended the left main mount; the right wheel could not be released from the mechanical uplocks as the cable broke. The tail wheel extended but would not lock. I dropped both external gas tanks and released the escape hatch. My approach was higher than normal and at 110 knots indicated. Keeping the left wing low, I slipped the plane to hold it straight and lose my additional altitude without picking up excessive speed.

As the plane touched the ground on the left wheel, the radioman cut the master electrical switch, I put both engines in idle cut-off and cut the ignition switches. All other electrical gear was cut off in the final approach. The landing was full stalled without flap. Aileron and rudder control was excellent and no trouble was experienced holding up the right wing.

At 58 knots IAS, aileron control was lost, causing the right wing to drop onto the runway. The plane swerved and turned about 150° over an embankment and stopped. The tail wheel being unlocked prevented damage to the empennage. Over-all damage to the plane was surprisingly small and the left main gear was not damaged. Neither engine suffered sudden stoppage and no personnel received any injury, having taken ditching stations before the forced landing was made.

PV Ventura U.S. Navy Patrol Bomber



Words from the Wing Wise

Tips from bomber gunners to prevent guns and gunners from freezing during missions from a special edition of Army Talks, “Stars over the Reich,” published for the officers and men of the Eighth Air Force.


These tips on preventing frozen guns and gunners come from gunners who were on operations last winter.

How to Keep Your Guns from Freezing

Thorough cleaning before and after every mission is point number one. Remove all moisture and powder deposits, especially from the bolt recesses. Firing pin port and receiver (especially extractor switch recess and front barrel bearing) should be thoroughly cleaned, dried and then properly oiled with AXS 777 (new specification number—2-120). Leave only a light film of oil. And keep oil cans tightly closed to keep out dust and foreign matter.

Keep your gun and gunner from freezing

A canvas bag will keep recoiling parts dry while they’re being carried to the plane.

Charge your gun just before or just after take-off (whichever is your Group’s policy). If your gun freezes when unloaded you’re stuck. If it’s loaded the recoil will loosen any frozen parts.

Test-fire at bombing altitude. If you can charge the gun but it won’t fire, hold the trigger back while the parts slam forward into battery—this sometimes loosens frosted parts. Only charge the gun when you have to; it lets cold moist air in to the recoiling parts. If the extractor switch is frozen, charging may result in an out-of-battery stoppage.

How to Keep Yourself from Freezing

Use the correct equipment and wear clothing as it says on the posters. Clothing should fit loosely, as air insulates, and your blood circulates better.

Keep dry. If your feet get wet, change your socks before take-off. Don’t Work around the plane in too heavy clothing before take-off, as sweat increases the danger of frostbite.

Pre-flight your heated suit. The connection in the plane may be out of order. Only turn your heated-suit rheostat up far enough so you are just warm enough to keep you from being miserable. Be sure to have fleece-lined clothing in case the suit goes permanently out of order. If it does, keep moving the parts of your body that don’t have heat, flexing the muscles, wiggling your fingers and toes. And it’s a good idea to have extra heated gloves and cords.

Wear mufflers or bath towels around your knees, neck and anywhere else that gets cold. Goggles and canvas or wool hoods are available, and they sure are handy if the plexiglass is broken near you.

If you have to take off your heated glove at altitude don’t remove the glove liner. Don’t leave any part of your body exposed for more than a few seconds. Remember, at 40 below zero you may freeze a hand badly enough to lose a finger before you feel any pain or realize anything’s wrong.


Memphis Belle Departs for Home

The famous B-17 Flying Fortress “Memphis Belle” and her crew depart England for home.


Idiots’ Delight

Color photograph of the B-17 Flying Fortress “Idiots’ Delight” of Eighth Air Force in England. The original caption states the M/Sgt is Penrose A. Bingham of Reading, Pennsylvania. The B-17 “Idiots’ Delight” served with the 332nd Bomb Squadron, 94th Bomb Group and later with the 710th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb Group. (U.S. Air Force Photograph.)

B-17 Nose Art -- Idiots Delight

B-17 Flying Fortress "Idiots' Delight" (U.S. Air Force Photo.)

Tail Warning Radar

Summary of Tail Warning Radar AN/APS-13 from Radar Observers’ Bombardment Information File, July 1945.

Tail Warning Radar AN/APS-13

Radio Set AN/APS-13 is a lightweight radar set which gives an airplane pilot, or any other aircrew member who can see or hear it, a visible and audible warning that a hostile airplane is behind or approaching from the rear.

The usable range of this set is from 200 to 800 yards, and within an area extending up to 30° on both sides of the airplane and from 45° above it to 45° below it. The set doesn’t work above 50,000 feet or below 3100 feet. Ground reflections determine the lower limit.

Tail Warning Radar AN/APS-13

The main units include the antenna, transmitter-receiver, indicator light with brilliance control; warning bell, ON-OFF switch, and test switch. The set operates on 27.5 volts, which is the primary aircraft power supply.


1. Turn the power switch ON.

2. Wait at least three minutes for the tubes to warm up, then hold the test switch up. If the indicator lights and the warning bell rings, the equipment is operating properly. You can adjust the intensity of the indicator light with the rheostat.

3. You must set the GAIN CONTROL correctly. Adjust the screwdriver control on the front panel of the transmitter-receiver so that the receiver sensitivity is well below the level at which the tube noise can trigger the relay and give a false warning. If you reduce the sensitivity too far, however, it won’t detect aircraft within the required range. Have a competent radio technician check this before you start out on a combat mission.

Caution: The warning bell must be where the pilot can hear it clearly but where crew members cannot hear it; they might mistake it for the bailout signal.