The Tail Gunner
The Tail Gunner
T-SHIRTS IN SIX SIZES: S, M, L, XL, XXL and XXXL
The front of this piece features a B-25 Mitchell bomber on a night mission, being lit up by search lights and avoiding the ack-ack guns (anti-aircraft fire) represented by the bursts of orange around the aircraft.
The back of the shirt focuses on the tail gunner. There were few jobs on the aircrew of a bomber that was as dangerous as the tail gunner. The aircraft had a one in three chance of surviving a sortie, the tail gunners odds were less. Many of the men that joined the Air Force received their wings and were capable of flying the plane but were given the position of tail gunner because they were the smallest guy in the crew.
The tail gunner’s primary role was a lookout for attacking enemy fighters, particularly in bombers operating at night. As Bombers were so large, tail gunners were actually the Pilots rear view mirror, that were in constant communication with the Pilot through an interphone, the tail gunner would advise the pilot to engage in radical evasive maneuver such as to dive or climb or to perform a corkscrew roll to ward off a threat of an attacking fighter. Firing guns in defense of the aircraft was of secondary importance.
Missions that penetrated deep into enemy territory could last up to eight hours and be filled with anxious anticipation as all eyes searched the skies for enemy defenders. They could expect attacks by fighters armed with machine guns, canon and rockets as well as heavy antiaircraft fire from the ground and even bombs dropped from above. The bombers were expected to maintain their positions at all costs - in order to provide the most effective defensive fire and to assure the most devastating results once their bombs were dropped.
The planes were unheated and open to the outside air. The crew wore electrically heated suits and heavy gloves that provided some protection against temperatures that could dip to 60 degrees below zero. Once above 10,000 feet they donned oxygen masks as the planes continued to climb to their operational level that could be as high as 29,000 feet. Nearing the target, each crew member would don a 30-pound flak suit and a steel helmet designed to protect against antiaircraft fire. Parachutes were too bulky to be worn all the time, but crewmen did wear a harness that allowed them to quickly clip on their parachute when needed.
These brave people put their lives on the line for us to be free and we should not forget that!
With our past fundraising initiatives, people have enabled us to donate over 75 THOUSAND DOLLARS of which, 54 Thousand was used to successfully commemorate the lives lost by Canadian soldiers on the beaches of Normandy during World War II. Now the fund-raising goal is focused on providing professionally trained service dogs to the members of our First Responders along with the Women and Men of the Armed Forces who suffer from P.T.S.D. We invite you to please give generously to your local Service Dogs Organizations: e.g. National Service Dogs which will complement funds raised here.
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