The secrets of Sally B

by Helen Hooker November. 03, 2013 5954 views

For the last twenty seven years Kevin has been a proud member of the Sally B Supporters Club [], an association devoted to the restoration and maintenance of the last airworthy B17 bomber in Europe. Sally B's permanent home is the Imperial War Museum at Duxford [], about thirty minutes' drive from our house. During the summer she has pride of place outside one of the hangars, in readiness for her various airshow displays. However, during the winter months the club's volunteers move her into one of the museum's hangars to carry out her annual maintenance and offer guided tours to club members on the first Sunday of the month. We arrived there early this morning, first in the tour queue, and we were shown her every nook and cranny by Jo, our volunteer guide. Jo allowed us to clamber right through to the cockpit where Kevin took the pilot's seat and I sat in the co-pilot's seat. Afterwards we crawled through the narrow tunnel running beneath the cockpit which leads to the small area occupied by the navigator and bomb-aimer when she was in action during World War II. While we had fun exploring these spaces it's a sobering thought to imagine how difficult it must have been for the eight crew members to carry out their duties in such tight spaces, often in sub-zero temperatures, and under fire from the enemy. All that remains now is for me to capture some photos of Sally B in flight, but for that we'll have to wait until the Duxford Airshow next summer when her team have finished fettling her over the winter.

Sally B, tucked up in her warm hangar for the winter. If you'd like to see her in flight I posted one of Kevin's photos of her on my blog a couple of years ago - photo no.8 in this post [].

Up the steps and into the bowels of the aircraft….

One of the machine gun posts. Sally B now has the luxury of perspex windows in this area of the plane but originally the two machine gun posts would have been open to the elements and rather chilly!

Looking through the bomb bay towards the cockpit, with a very suspicious looking pilot waiting for me to catch up!

The radio operator's headphones and oxygen supply

Captain Kevin and Co-pilot Helen at your service!

So many dials and buttons, most of them original, apart from the rather modern addition of GPS!

This area, occupied by the navigator and bomb-aimer during service, is accessed by crawling through a tunnel under the floor of the cockpit. It's surprisingly spacious once you're inside!

On Friday Kevin and I saw a display about the history of the anglepoise lamp, including one specially designed for wartime aircraft navigators, at the Design Museum so I just had to take a photo of this example in its original setting.

The unoccupied bomb-aimer's seat - the best place in the whole aircraft from which to get a bird's eye view in flight, although I dare say most war time bomb-aimers weren't too bothered about the view and were more focused on their job!

My attempt at an abstract shot of Sally B's rivets

Sally B herself

And Sally B's alter-ego, a souvenir from her starring role in the 1990 film Memphis Belle [].

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There are 12 comments , add yours!
Abe Jackson 7 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for having us with you. That's a good story Helen.

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Baptria 7 years, 9 months ago

Great post.

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Nancycola 7 years, 9 months ago

Great shots and thoroughly enjoyed the tour...thank you for sharing

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Ann Garratty 7 years, 9 months ago

She is a lovely old bird for sure... I have been lucky enough to see her flying at Duxford, what a treat for you to be able to see inside her and explore her nooks and crannies!

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Pete 7 years, 9 months ago

awesome share

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Gillian Parsons 7 years, 9 months ago

Just amazing thanks for the visit, Timepiece and I must return to Duxford one day.....

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 7 years, 9 months ago

It's incredible what man was able to do during those 6 years of war. The evolution was staggering.

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Josy 7 years, 9 months ago

New pilot and co-pilot are charming and smiling... :))
Great set Helen !

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Larry Sample 7 years, 9 months ago

Great set! Thanks for sharing!

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Moira 7 years, 9 months ago

Great set and very fine portraits of you both

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Kenny H 7 years, 9 months ago

Incredible views. Thanks for sharing

7 years, 9 months ago Edited
Mark 7 years, 9 months ago

This was a wonderful tour of the Sally B you took me and others through! Great shots in this set!

7 years, 9 months ago Edited