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Murph

B-17 tail antenna question

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Came across this picture of a late war B-17G with a pair of "L" shaped antennas on the tail and the tail guns apparently removed.  It is an H2X equipped aircraft, but I don't think that has anything to do with these antennas.  Any ideas?

 

B-17G%20324th%20BS2_zpsp4jabrkw.jpg

 

Regards,

Murph

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I have a copy of that photo (also a download) in my files.  The caption says they are Monica aerials.

 

I'm not quite sure why a day bomber flying in a large formation would need a tail warning radar though I suppose it could have had other uses.  Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, says the USAAF used Monica as a radar altimeter to drop Little Boy on Hiroshima.  I suppose that makes sense though I claim no actual knowledge!

Edited by RJP
clarity

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It doesn't particularly look like the Monica installation seen on RAF aircraft (which isn't to say it isn't.). Here's an example on a 100 Group Fortress, second pic down. IIRC the Monica aerial is the single aerial in the centre. (I'm away from my references and may be rambling dangerously.....)

 

http://www.cambridgeairforce.org.nz/WONZShow/2016/01/episode-97-lindsay-budge-b-17-gunner/

 

Also why a twin installation? Interesting.

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8 hours ago, RJP said:

I have a copy of that photo (also a download) in my files.  The caption says they are Monica aerials.

 

I'm not quite sure why a day bomber flying in a large formation would need a tail warning radar though I suppose it could have had other uses.  Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, says the USAAF used Monica as a radar altimeter to drop Little Boy on Hiroshima.  I suppose that makes sense though I claim no actual knowledge!

 

Seems strange to put in a tail warning radar, but take away the means to do something about any radar contacts they picked up: aka the tail guns.  This aircraft was probably used exclusively by this point as a lead aircraft, I guess it is possible the radar helped in station keeping for the formation.

 

Regards,

Murph

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My first reaction was a VLF trailing antenna. Typically seen on command n control aircraft (my experience was communicating with subs). Doesn't make sense on a B-17 late war...so likely a poor theory. 

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I think I might have found a site that can shed some more light on this topic- see the link below. Evidently 44-8588 was an H2X 'Mickey' B-17G. This site has some excellent photos and information. Scroll down to see the photo and text on this Fort. Every once in a while, I get lucky. (Fire bad- Internet good!)

Mike

 

https://lostgallery.blogspot.com/2014/10/aaf-at-bassingbourn-b-17.html

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Some interesting pics here

 

http://www.arcforums.com/forums/air/index.php?/topic/222504-b-17-reference-information/&page=9

 

Doesn't explain what we're looking at but covers the H2X installation on B-17's in some detail.

 

Just scanning the internet for pics of Mickey ships and I can't find another example with this installation.

 

To me they look like pitot tubes - maybe to help him judge his speed when reversing into a tight space............:P

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1 hour ago, Potato Pete said:

Just scanning the internet for pics of Mickey ships and I can't find another example with this installation.

 

 

Same here.  I've come across quite a few pictures of H2X equipped aircraft, but this is the only one I've seen with those antennas (or whatever they are) on it.

 

Regards,

Murph

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This is from Paul Bellamy who is something of an authority on this kind of thing.

 

Can't reply as not a member, but have answered the same question with the same photo before. 
Pyrotechnic candle rack for mickey lead ship. Tail guns not removed, just lost in the shade of the plane behind.

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1 hour ago, Mike M said:

This is from Paul Bellamy who is something of an authority on this kind of thing.

 

Can't reply as not a member, but have answered the same question with the same photo before. 
Pyrotechnic candle rack for mickey lead ship. Tail guns not removed, just lost in the shade of the plane behind.

 

Thank you very much.  From what I recall, later in the war the lead ships would drop colored smoke flares to signal the rest of the formation to drop their bombs.  I've never seen a picture of the how they were carried before and assumed they came out of the bomb bay.

 

Regards,

Murph

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Finally got registered, so I can now add a bit more into.

The rack was installed on a few H2X-equipped B-17s in the 8AF, I've only noted examples in groups of the 1st Bomb/Air Division so far.

They usually have brackets for up to four electrically-ignited pyrotechnic candles, and were intended for clearer visual signalling to the following aircraft in the formation in addition to the usual smoke marker bombs being dropped as part of the lead ship's bombload.

 

A different view of the rack can be seen at https://www.fold3.com/image/161300081, albeit a somewhat cruder version than the Bassingbourn examples.

 

All the best,

PB

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30 minutes ago, P Bellamy said:

Finally got registered, so I can now add a bit more into.

The rack was installed on a few H2X-equipped B-17s in the 8AF, I've only noted examples in groups of the 1st Bomb/Air Division so far.

They usually have brackets for up to four electrically-ignited pyrotechnic candles, and were intended for clearer visual signalling to the following aircraft in the formation in addition to the usual smoke marker bombs being dropped as part of the lead ship's bombload.

 

A different view of the rack can be seen at https://www.fold3.com/image/161300081, albeit a somewhat cruder version than the Bassingbourn examples.

 

All the best,

PB

 

Paul,

  Great information, thank you for taking the time and effort to provide it.

 

Regards,

Murph

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Also if interest is the fact that the fuselage codes clearly show this to be a 91st BG aircraft, yet the tail letter (triangle L) shows it as belonging to the 381st out of

Ridgewell. 

 

Perhaps some mods at a service depot before being transferred between groups. The fact that the L is very dull suggests it's in the process of being painted out before the 91st BG letter A is applied. 

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On ‎2‎/‎16‎/‎2017 at 2:41 AM, tomprobert said:

Also if interest is the fact that the fuselage codes clearly show this to be a 91st BG aircraft, yet the tail letter (triangle L) shows it as belonging to the 381st out of

Ridgewell. 

 

Perhaps some mods at a service depot before being transferred between groups. The fact that the L is very dull suggests it's in the process of being painted out before the 91st BG letter A is applied. 

 

The H2X ships were often transferred between Groups.  I'm assuming the white "L" was painted over with something readily available (like olive drab or neutral gray) to make it less conspicuous until it could be redone; although I don't know why they didn't just use black.

 

Regards,

Murph

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