Ditch Ship!

Dummy Fortress floating on lake gives AAFSAT air crews practice in abandoning planes which have crash-landed at sea.

Since American bombers cannot swim but, in fact, are guaranteed to remain afloat only 40 seconds (although it might be longer) after crash-landing in the ocean, the Army Air Forces' School of Applied Tactics at Orlando, FL, is drilling air crews in the correct procedure for "ditching" a plane once it has crash-landed. A wooden replica of a Fortress has been constructed and set afloat on a nearby lake and completely outfitted with rescue devices. Sound effects simulating motors add realism to the practice while each member of the crew is drilled to his definite part in the routine. The rehearsals repeat the procedure which the 10-man crew will actually follow if it is forced down at sea. They must all scramble out with necessary gear, including individual life belts, inflate their raft and paddle away — in 40 seconds. There is a detailed ditching procedure for each plane in use by the AAF.

This article was originally published in the January, 1944, issue of Flying magazine, vol 34, no 1, pp 50-51.
The PDF of this article [ PDF, 8 MiB ] includes six photos of the training process.
Photos credited to US Army Air Forces.