What Was The Least Safe Crew Station

What Was The Least Safe Crew Station | World War Wings Videos

YouTube / WWII US Bombers

According to the Army Air Corps Museum website, the ball turret gunner was the most dangerous position on the aircraft. It had no flak protection, easy target to fighters, and difficult to bail out from.

But is this claim really true?

Analyzing Data

A table from a 1955 USAF document titled ‘Medical Support of the Army Air Force in World War II,’ analyzed which bomber crew positions were more susceptible to wounds. 

YouTube / WWII US Bombers

The data showed little variation in susceptibility based on crew position. However, the ball turret gunner and co-pilot were less susceptible to wounds than the other crew. 

The crew positions are ranked from most susceptible to least susceptible by wound sustained. The navigator and tail gunner represented 12% while, the ball turret gunner and co-pilot are half this value at 6%.

High Casualty Rates

The high casualty rates for waist gunners are partially because heavy bombers frequently carried two waist gunners.

Also, high casualty rates of navigators and bombardiers were to be expected from the positions in the aircraft’s nose. 

YouTube / WWII US Bombers

The lowest incidence of casualties appears to happen in the ball turret gunner’s position. 

Another data from the Medical Department United States Army called ‘Wound Ballistics,” addressed the susceptibility of battle fatigue based on bomber crew position.

The most stressful position was the radio operator because it was isolated from the other crew members and didn’t have much visibility from the outside.

Bombardiers, navigators, and pilots suffered less anxiety as their positions gave them the best outside visibility. 

Addressing the Myth

So what’s the least safe crew station? All in all, the data showed that the safest and least likely to experience wounds and death would be the co-pilot.

YouTube / WWII US Bombers

Meanwhile, the crew member that’s least safe and likely to experience injury or death would be the tail gunner. It has the highest ranking for being killed in action, anoxia, and frostbite injuries.

In comparison, the ball turret is less exposed and well protected by armor, armaments, ammo belts, and equipment, making it one of the best-protected stations from enemy attacks.

YouTube / WWII US Bombers

It can also be considered as the second safest position from being wounded and killed and action. 

Don’t Miss Out! Sign up for the Latest Updates