Another letter from my friend Ken
I’m so glad you had a chance to check out the B-24 and B-17. There really wasn’t that much room in the planes and when you had bulky flt. gear on it didn’t help either. After we would sweat out a take off with full load of bombs and full load of gas we would climb up and form on sqd. then sqd would form into our group. There were 4 sqds. in a group, then our group would get into bomber slot and then head for our target. When over the channel the gunners would check fire our guns. At 14,000 ft we would put oxy. mask on. Now you mentioned the cat walk---well this was the time we had to arm the bombs and one of the guys would start from the front of the bomb bay and I would start from the back of the bomb bay. There was very little room to squeeze thru and I weighted 150 lbs, but with flt gear and also a portable oxy. bottle and hanging on for dear life as the plane was trying to stay in formation by going up then down with a little sway thrown in we would pull the arming pins from the bombs. The bombs are live at this time and we had to save the pins in case we didn’t bomb and had to put them back in. This would also be the time the ball turret gunner would climb into his turret. I was so happy we didn’t have them in our group, so I stayed in the waist window. We pretty much stayed back in the waist unless you had to go up front and we would if you wanted to warm up some as there was a little more heat up on the flt deck. I think someone gave you the wrong info about the ball retracting on the B-17. It stayed down all the time, but the B-24 had to have it up in order to land. There was a lite on the inst. panel and it would come on when the ball was lowered. One time here in the states I was in the ball and noticed we were getting lower & lower so I called up to the pilot wanting to know if we were coming in for a landing, he affirmed that the told me to get out and pump the ball up real quick. Seems as tho the lite wasn’t working and man did I ever move like greased lightning getting this done!!