Crash Landing

Crippled by flak over Germany, this Fort limped home and crash-landed in England. An AAF mobile repair unit fixed it on the spot.

Damaged by enemy action on a bombing mission over the continent last summer, the Flying Fortress, Sir Baboon McGoon, staggered back over the channel and made an emergency belly landing in England. This unusual picture sequence, photographed by Harold Kulick, shows the step-by-step procedure by which an Army Air Forces repair crew made Sir Baboon flyable again. The Fortress was not seriously damaged for a belly landing, though chin and belly turrets were wrecked, at least one engine needed replacement, and the propellers were bent. The under-skin of the empennage back of the belly turret was badly ripped by pieces of the turret which broke off with the landing impact. Readers of Flying are familiar with the work of the photographer, whose pictures have illustrated many articles, color pages and covers of this magazine. A few days after taking these photographs, Mr Kulick was killed in an airplane accident.

This article was originally published in the May, 1945, issue of Flying magazine, vol 36, no 5, pp 39-42.
The PDF of this article [ PDF, 19.6 MiB ] includes twelve captioned detail photos of the in-the-field repair of Sir Baboon McGoon, plus a full-page color photo of the plane prepared to take off after repairs.
Photos credited to Harold W Kulick.
Photo captions:
  1. The Flying Fortress Sir Baboon McGoon has been raised by jacks after landing on its belly in a British field. Wheel patterns indicate activities of repair crew.
  2. Grateful to be safe, one crew member kissed the ground. Mates thought he should have kissed Sir Baboon instead.
  3. With mingled feelings, the crew looks over the damage done to their plane. The props are obviously in bad shape, the chin turret is bent into the nose, the belly turret is a total loss. But repair crew assures them that plane will soon be flyable.
  4. Huge balloon jacks, inserted flat between inboard engines and fuselage, raise Sir Baboon's 40,000-odd pounds easily. Wheels and other parts of plane's underside are checked carefully for damage. Note unusual bomb rack under wing close to fuselage.
  5. A new engine and propeller are installed with the help of a truck-mounted crane. This nacelle was undamaged.
  6. The belly turret bore brunt of the landing and sections of it shattered off on impact. The gunner was not in it.
  7. A new Plexiglas nose is being fitted to plane. Note also that the chin turret and under skin have been removed.
  8. Damage to turret was result of a 20-mm cannon hit by a Focke-Wulf Fw-190 during plane's mission over Germany.
  9. Crew member dismantles .50-caliber machine guns in tail of Fortress. Big repair truck in rear carries spare parts and equipment for doing minor machine repairs on the job. Silhouettes of Fortresses stenciled on sides indicate number of jobs done.
  10. While repair job is under way, members of engineering unit level off ground, fill ditches and fix metal landing strips so that Fortress can take off when repairs are completed. Soft ground which enabled an easy landing would have endangered take-off.
  11. The job done, crew members stencil Fortress silhouette on side of their truck. Some of the bombers repaired by this crew include the Dry Martini II, Hangar Queen, Patches and Sandra Kay. The numbers are AAF designations of unnamed Forts.
  12. The Fort trundles down the metal landing strip, gathers speed and is airborne. The prompt action of Army Air Forces repair crews have enabled the AAF to keep additional hundreds of bombers in fighting trim for action against enemy war industry.
    (Color)Repairs comleted, Sir Baboon McGoon prepares to take off from muddy strip.