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Anonymous Poster

How Did They Do That?

10/12/2010 9:13 PM

1942........B-25........8,000'........200 knots........returning from mission.

Rear gunner crawls over bomb-bay into cockpit. Above hatch is open and some how his parachute opens and he is sucked out. Pilot grabs left leg, co-pilot grabs right leg just before he's gone, and hold on to him for dear life (not knowing if he is dead or alive) . .......The throttles on a B-25 are , of course in the middle, and with the pilots right arm around one leg and the co-pilots left arm around the other leg, how did they land the airplane?

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#1

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/13/2010 12:10 AM

I give up...how did they do that?

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#30
In reply to #1

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/30/2018 2:32 PM

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#2

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/13/2010 12:12 AM

Well since the standard crew complement of the B-25 Mitchell was 6, I would say the closest spare crewman (say the navigator or possibly radio operator, I think they could respond faster than the turret gunner in this example) would jump into action and take hold of the poor rear gunner's legs while the pilot and co-pilot return to the cockpit and land the plane.

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#7
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Re: How Did They Do That?

10/13/2010 8:05 PM

Why wouldn't the other crewman release the chute or cut away the shroud lines.

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#16
In reply to #7

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 2:09 PM

Why wouldn't the other crewman release the chute or cut away the shroud lines.

Perhaps they could have (and I did also think of it before posting my original response), however the answer to the original posted question would be - pilot and co-pilot cut parachute straps and pull rear gunner back in and then go back to flying the plane. This didn't seem like the answer, especially since it is not clear how far out of the plane the rear gunner is and if the straps could be reached or even if he could be pulled back into the plane.

A lot of unknowns so I just answered with a minimum amount of speculation and assumption.

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#27
In reply to #16

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/21/2010 1:26 PM

sorry that I posted with out the "facts". I was doing it from old memories. When I did my research and found the true accounts of this (and many other fantastic things about the B25 and the Columbia Army Air Base and its crews.) I got real excited, because of how really heroic the Doolittle Raiders, and all the support teams were. (30 seconds over tokyo is a very good movie). (actually, over 10,000 men and woman were in the task force as they pushed off into the unknown that morning) again, apologizes for not researching first. You guys have taught me allot.

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#3

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/13/2010 12:05 PM

It might be safer to let him go. His parachute is evidently already open, so let him land it while the flight crew lands the plane.

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#14
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Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 11:57 AM

It seems to me if they let him go he would impact the vertical tail with the obvious results. Safer?

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 2:03 PM

It seems to me if they let him go he would impact the vertical tail with the obvious results.

No, the B-25 Mitchell had no central vertical tail.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_B-25_Mitchell

Safer?

Perhaps but the poor rear gunner's parachute may have become fowled upon opening, or he may not be able to make a safe landing because of other reasons (perhaps over sea, etc). This is however outside the boundary's of the original question.

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#4

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/13/2010 12:41 PM

So, how did you get qualified to submit a "Challenge Question"?

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#20
In reply to #4

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 6:46 PM

Hello Mikeerho,

Hope you are fine?............ I was actually wondering the same question, how is a guest allowed to ask this with no conformation?

Take care,

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#23
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Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 10:55 PM

Welcome back, baby bear. Good to have you back on board.

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#24
In reply to #23

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/15/2010 6:42 AM

I second your welcoming comment to Babybear.

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#25
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Re: How Did They Do That?

10/15/2010 9:28 AM

# 21...(although I did not know I had to be qualified to ask this question)

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#5

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/13/2010 1:19 PM

Can you provide some source material for this rather fantastic story?

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#19
In reply to #5

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 5:01 PM

yes

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#31
In reply to #5

Re: How Did They Do That?

11/16/2018 11:53 PM

Yes see #30

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#33
In reply to #5

Re: How Did They Do That?

11/17/2018 1:54 AM

See #30 .T Y

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#6

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/13/2010 4:38 PM

There was no rear gunner in the 1942 version of the B-25. The rear gunner position wasn't added until the H model in 1943.

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2515

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#10
In reply to #6

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 3:13 AM

You may be interested to know that the NA-62 development aircraft for the B-25 Mitchell (following the loss of the NA-40 at Wright Field) was revised to feature a tail gun position (0.5 inch calibre). The B-25A, of which forty were built continued to have the rear tail gun; however, the gun was then removed in 1941 when the B-25B was produced (this being one of many design changes). One of course should remember that two wooden guns were placed in the rear tail cone to discourage stern fighter attacks when Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle and his 15 other crews carried out the famous Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama and Nagoya raid on April 18, 1942 after taking-off from the USS Hornet.

From then on through B-25C, D, (E was an experimental aircraft and there was never any recorded official F variant) to what was regarded as the most heavily armed B-25 then made, the B-25G the tail gun was removed, and NOT until the emergence of the B25H in February 1944 did the familiar twin 0.5 inch power operated tail gun become standard equipment. The B-25J also featured a twin tail gun complete with the gunner blister fairing as the former B-25H.

In regard to crew, the original B-25 (NA-40) had THREE, however this was increased to FIVE by the time operational B-25A's were being made, and this compliment continued until the B-25G when it was reduced to FOUR, and then returned to FIVE again (although due to operations in the South Pacific region where low-level bombing was common, the bombadier was omitted). Of course many will no doubt comment that maybe six or even seven crew were reported at times, however, the "standard crew compliment" was never more than FIVE.

In regard to the original question, there are of course many possibilties, however, there are no recorded incidents in any USAAF or RAF logs to refer to this occurrence, so we wait with baited breath to hear the "answer".

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#32
In reply to #10

Re: How Did They Do That?

11/17/2018 1:51 AM

See #30 T Y

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#8

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/13/2010 11:17 PM

And even if the 1942 B-25 had a tail gunner, he would have to be a very tall man for the pilot and copilot to reach him from their stations as they are several feet ahead of the bomb bay.

And even if they could reach him, and had no help, one could handle the controls while the second handled the throttles - which would likely have had to be at full power to drag a parachute.

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#9

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/13/2010 11:49 PM

Well, the parachute is not designed to withstand 200 knot winds, it is either going to tear itself into shreds or the tail gunner, or both.

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#11

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 3:23 AM

Out of the 16 takeoffs in the 1942 Doolittle mission, none of the planes were found "Returning from mission" Maybe this was supposed to have happened during the Russian Landing of takeoff #8?

http://www.b25.net/pages/raiderslist.html

http://www.doolittleraid.com/researchandnews.htm

But if this is a hypothetical question, the rear gunner should have remained in position until the plane landed unless he had information to share with the pilot that could have been needed to land the plane.

If the top hatch was blown, it is quite likely that the wheels where locked up requiring a belly landing as this would have been the only way out and you don't want that jammed up from twisting during a belly landing.

The pilot and co-pilot would have had to trade off tasks to handle all the controls and get the bird down while holding the gunner. We must be concluding that the other two crew members did not make it, or they would have assisted in securing the tail gunner. However, at 8,000' there is plenty of time for the pilot to take full control and allow the co-pilot to cut the gunner loose and strap him down.

Top Hatch: (Picture Borrowed from:http://www.maam.org/airshow/b25_cockpit.htm)

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#12

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 6:33 AM

For an even more frightening modern situation in a Jet, see www.gallagher.com/ejection_seat/. A partial ejection from an Navy A-6 overhead the Aircraft Carrier.

Not too smart

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#13

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 9:36 AM

I would venture to guess (ie if I were in that sitch) FO (co-pilot) manipulates throttles and prop controls with right hand and Captain handles the yoke with left hand!

Remember it's always better to be on the ground wishing you were up there than being up there and wishing you were on the ground.

Pilot's 10 commandments #10: "Often shalt thou consult thine airspeed on final lest the Earth rise up and smite thee".

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#17

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 2:24 PM

I guess the two pilots could turn to face each other which would allow them to operate controls in the middle with their free hands.

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#18

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 4:50 PM

Hi All. ........ I posted this question (inadvertently anonymously). I was doing it from a long lost memory of my Dad and wanted to share it. Here is the actual event

(all you pilots out there can relate to this, as I did being a pilot myself) Airman's life saved in strange flying accident. Two flyers won a tug of war with a parachute and saved the life of a B-25 medium bomber pilot. This story of one of the strangest aerial accidents at the Columbia Army Air Base was told today. Second Lt. Gerald Mahaffey, of Represa Ca., the pilot is , by his own admission, "lucky to be alive" because of the quick action of second Lt. Einar Muhonen, co-pilot, of Westminister Mass., and Sgt, Gerald Bowles, engineer, of Sunny Side Long island N.Y. Both have been recommended for the Soldier's Medal for "Valiant courage". Mahaffey turned the controls of the medium bomber (one great airplane) to co-pilot Muhonen, while the plane was cruising high over the sand hills of South Carolina. As Mahaffey worked his way to the upper turret compartment, his back-type parachute unexpectedly tripped and released the pilots upper escape hatch. Out went the parachute and up through the hatch went Mahaffey. Parachute opens. Caught by the airstreame, it "blossomed". Mahaffey, quite unprepaired for the exit, was knocked out as the shroud lines, taught as violin strings, jerked him into the hatchway. From the corner of his eye, Muhonen saw Mahaffey sail upwards. Swinging his arm in an arc, he caught a disapearing foot and pulled with one hand while he manipulated the controls of the plane with the other. Sgt. Bowles, a veteran engineer of 52 B-25 combat missions in the China-Burma-India theater, felt the plane lurch sharply, heard the chute slapping against the plane, and came forward to investigate. He found Mahaffey unconscious and rapidly turning blue in the face. Muhonen and Bowles twisted Mahaffey slightly so that he was able to catch his breath . He recovered consciousness, but that only added to the problrms of the two MEN on the inside. Mahaffey kicked his legs trying to free himself, one foot crashed into the instrument panel and another kick sent his foot smashing into Muhonen. The three MEN were in a tight spot with the plane roaring along at 200 mph. and the tug of the chute streaming towards the rear controls. Muhonen and Bowles had two choices: let Mahaffey bail out with the possibility of being killed by the tail assembly if it broke free without too much damage to the cloth to be effective and thrwing the plane out of control. Or hold on to Mahaffey's legs and try a landing. Flying with one hand Traveling at 200 miles an hour, the B-25 came close to getting out of control as the open chute fantastically deragged on the planes slipstream while Mahaffey struggled to be freed from his frightning wedged-in position inside the plane. Bowles wrapped his arm around one leg and braced himself against the side of the plane. Muhonen clinched his hand on to the other foot and flew the plane with his right hand. Muhonen radioed the control tower their predicament and was given the right of way over all other traffic. By now Mahaffey was out of the plane except from his knees downward. Bowles arms were becoming paralyzed from holding the pilots leg. The co-pilot tried to set the plane down on the long runway, but the chute made the controles sluggish and he pulled up, circling the field for another try. The third time the planes wheels screamed as they touched the runway and he rolled to a stop. Medical corpsman and doctors took Mahaffey to the hospital to repair his bruises and lacerations. Muhonen and Bowles superhumanly managed to keep Mahaffey in the plane. Mahaffey went back on the job, none the worse for his tiff with death, and kept in touch throughout the years with my dad untill they passed on recently My dad taught me how to fly at a young age and he said there was only one thing I had to know, and that was "How not to throw up"

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#21

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 7:15 PM

your guess is as good as mine, I just pushed "reply" and "ask a question" to have some fun with this lost memory. You guys have posted some really great senerios, T. Y.

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/14/2010 10:10 PM

Many thanks Craig,

Your story is genuinely appreciated, and can only extend the knowledge of some of us of such events that are not well documented in the mainstream information domain.

There are many such occurences that merit recognition but fail to be recorded other than by those who have experienced the events and verbally passed on from one to another. Aviation historians would welcome to know such details, and no doubt if someone is preparing a history of the B-25 Mitchell for publication would indeed like to include this miraculous event in their work.

Regards and thanks

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#26
In reply to #22

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/18/2010 11:29 AM

Thank you for sharing this with me. I am in the process of finding out about the "other" Doolittle raiders. The ones who volunteered for this mission. Out of all those men that did (almost every air crew wanted to ) 22 went to San Fran and then 16 went on to tokyo. the 16 are of course well documented, but I am now interested in all the support teams and their story. I think my Dad was one of those volunteers, but as yet I have not come up with that list. (i did find out that the B-25 B was one of the best ) Any help out there? Again Thank You.

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#28

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/29/2018 11:58 AM

file:///C:/Users/Craig/Documents/b25%20newspaper%202/b25%20chute%20picture.pdf I posted improperly in 2010. I hope this works T Y

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: How Did They Do That?

10/29/2018 1:54 PM

That document is on your "C" drive:

You need to click on the little camera:-

Then click choose file

Navigate to the file you want; double click; then click OK.

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#34
In reply to #29

Re: How Did They Do That?

09/13/2022 10:39 AM

Thanks for helping

Trying to figure out how to enlarge text so it's not blurry

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#35
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Re: How Did They Do That?

09/13/2022 11:26 PM

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