Men at Work

The conditions at the Advanced Landing Grounds on the European continent were often were very basic field conditions for Army Air Force units.   A glimpse into what this was like is offered in a 5:23 minute film of 406th Fighter Squadron (squadron code 4W) armorers at work at ALG A-6, aka Beuzeville, La Londe, Ste Mere Eglise in June of 1944, which you can view on YouTube, by DDay-Overlord, at:

371st Fighter Group – Beuzeville-au-Plain – 28/06/1944

In the first scene you will see men at a munitions storage area hitching up an M5 Bomb Trailer loaded with 500-lb bomb bodies to a 4X4 M6 Bomb Service Truck for transport out to the 406th aircraft at their dispersal area on A-6.  The bombs are stored out in an open area, no protective bunker or revetment for these munitions! Note the jerry cans secured in the truck.

3D computer-aided design (CAD) rendering of the Chevrolet M6 bomb truck and M5 trailer. (Courtesy Airfix)

3D computer-aided design (CAD) rendering of the Chevrolet M6 bomb truck and M5 trailer. (Courtesy Airfix)

In the next scene the truck and bomb-laden trailer arrive at the aircraft, bouncing over some rough turf off the Square Mesh Track (SMT) operating surface of the field.  At the aircraft, the bombs are seen already loaded and fitted out aboard the fighter, as an officer wearing a jacket and an ascot, with a pipe, chalks a message onto one of the bombs.  A 406th pilot shows up, briefly examines the loaded ordnance and climbs into the cockpit.  Lastly, shipping pins on the fuses are removed and shown to the pilot as he prepares to fly the aircraft on a combat mission.

The camera then shifts back to the munitions storage area, where the armorers once again work to load bombs on a trailer, in one view removing the shipping collars the bombs came in with.  Bombs go out to aircraft again, and this time the preparation of the bomb is filmed.  As it rests on a hand trolley, the tail assembly is screwed on, then the weapon is hand-trucked to the loading position beneath a pylon on the wing.

Once the bomb is secured to the aircraft, the armorers, officer in ascot and pipe and another man, remove AN/M103 nose and tail fuzes from shipping containers – note the difference between the nose and tail fuzes.  You can see one man removing the nose plug on the bomb before installing the nose fuze.  Last view is of him bringing the arming wire forward from the pylon and attaching it to the short lower vane of the nose fuze.

Compare the film above with that of USAF bomb loading 70 years later, as seen in a 2014 example from the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas ANG, in the 4:10 video at:

This five-minute film from World War II shows just one part of the work required by Frisky to prepare an aircraft for a combat mission. Every man in the outfit had a Military Occupational Specialty and was present at A-6 for one reason, to generate combat airpower to defeat the enemy.  No matter the position, everyone had a part on the 371st Fighter Group team, and contributed directly and/or indirectly to successful mission accomplishment.  Hand salute to the 371st Fighter Group men at work!
References

M6 Bomb Service Truck, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M6_Bomb_Service_Truck

M5 Bomb Trailer, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M5_Bomb_Trailer

B-17G Flying Fortress and USAAF Bomber Resupply Set, plus Defiant update, at: http://www.airfix.com/uk-en/news/workbench/5889/

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