Radial aircraft engine with a four-bladed propeller at the center of the wings.

New specialty late in the war.

Info Contributor - Ed Self

The Flight Engineer had to be a qualified airplane mechanic, having gone through school (and in all probability) at Keesler Field, Mississippi. After completing AM school, he was then (as in my case) sent to Hammer Field, California, to specialize in Ball Turret (for whatever reason, I will never understand!). I never knew an Engineer to fly in the Ball Turret. His normal position was to fly the Top Turret, as he was needed to be where the Pilot could call to him in a hurry, when something went wrong and needed fixing, while in the air. In my case, I was required to stand between the Pilot and Co-Pilot (both on take off and landing) and call out air speeds. The Pilot and Co-Pilot's attention were needed in the duties of flying the plane, and on many occasions, the aircraft was shot up, which really required all of their attention!

The Engineer did a pre-flight visual check of the plane (prior to take off), and to make sure that the gas caps were secured.
(I have seen the caps come off, and it only takes a few minutes to siphon all the gas from the plane!) The Engineer was also responsible to see that the wheels were always locked (prior to landing), and there were times when he had to lower them by crank, from inside the plane. On occasions, we had to drop the bombs through the bomb bay doors. It then became necessary for the Engineer to go out on the catwalk without his parachute, 5 miles high, with the temperature being minus 60 degrees! He then had to lay down, taking an arming wire from the bombs, (that had been dropped), and fish the bomb bay doors (all four of them!) to secure them to the catwalk. The plane could not land, with the doors swinging in the wind!

There were many times in the war that the Pilot and Co-Pilot were injured (or killed) and the Engineer flew the plane back to the base. The Engineer usually got to fly the plane many times, and on occasion, to even take off (which I have done myself!)

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B-24 Best Web. Published on Veterans Day 11/11/97. Last modified: March 19, 2008