Ice cream is a favorite among Americans, as well as in other countries. The US Air Force was actually founded in 1947, but during World War II, it was part of the Army, the US Army Air Corps. Probably the main heavy US bomber during that war was the B17, the “Flying Fortress.” In addition to bombs, it carried defensive machine guns at the front, sides, belly, and tail. Being a belly or tail gunner had to be scary as hell, especially if you couldn’t get out of your compartment and the plane had to do a crash landing. I knew a guy once who was a belly gunner on one of these things. Those machine guns were the plane’s only defense against enemy fighters and the bombers were not overly fast or maneuverable. You hopefully also had some friendly fighter planes around to help protect you. Beside enemy fighters, there was the ever present flak and anti-aircraft guns on the ground. The men who flew and manned these bombers were incredibly brave.
Americans flying on bombing runs out of England came up with an ingenious way to make use of their bombing runs, assuming they made it home. They devised a way to make ice cream while on bombing missions. According to a great book I am now reading, Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, by Harold McGee (review to follow when I am
done reading it),
On March 13, 1943, the New York Times reported that American fliers stationed in Britain had discovered an ingenious way of making ice cream while on duty. A story titled “Flying Fortresses Double as Ice-Cream Freezers” disclosed that the airmen “place prepared ice-cream mixture in a large can and anchor it to the rear gunner’s compartment of a Flying Fortress. It is well shaken up and nicely frozen by flying over enemy territory at high altitudes.”
If they made it home, they and others had a great treat, homemade ice cream!