By: Clyde L. Mings
On: 09/16/2005
We never had any scandals about $6000 toilet seats on the B-17 because we had no toilets!When visitors go thru the B-17's at airshows, the inevitable question is " where was the rest room"? The simple answer is that we had only an icy(!!!) funnel and hose clipped to the left rear bomb bay wall. That is it, period.The tears in the crew's eyes were the liquid level. For some crew members, especially the tail and ball gunners, , making their way to the bomb bay on a walk around oxygen bottle and in rough air or during combat was an ordeal.The ingenious crews learned to bring an " individual compact liquid retention receptacle" (A.K.A. condom)and tie a knot in it (the receptacle, of course) and later jettison the frozen blob. Primitive WMD? Needs beyond that were up to the individual. BYOB(bring your own bag) or empty "chaff" boxes  were alternatives. My ball turret gunner STILL hasn't forgiven me for the time I had an upset stomach and had to use a chaff box thatI jettisoned thru the camera hatch in the radio room floor.He was rotating his turret past the "12 oclock level point and suddenly went "on instruments"! He had a very dim view of the rest of the mission.Did the Boeing design engineers think we were "angels" who never needed relief?Had they never drank GI coffee that goes thru you faster than thru the filter? The B-17 was a fighting machine with no frills but Mother Nature always trumps theory. Our food was another problem-it usually was a bologna sandwich, a large cookie and an apple or orange.At minus fifty, everything froze solid as a rock unless you put it inside your heated suit. The radiomen out theirs on top of the big transmitter and the heat from the milk bottle sized tubes kept it warm. My next posts will cover the duties of the radio-gunners.

Clyde L. Mings CMSGT USAF (Ret) radio op on 613th IN-Q, Madame Queen.