B17 Flying Fortress under attack

B17 Flying Fortress under attack. You can see the attacking German plane behind the tail and the tail gunner had his hands full with this attack.

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

Tail gunner on a B17

Tail gunner on a B17

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!




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1 Comment on Making ice cream on a combat flying mission

  1. Virgil says:

    Conversation from my Facebook post about this article:

    Clive: Blown up you can see the pursuit plane is twin-engined, so I guess it would be a Bf110 – it looks like it might have the typical twin-rudder tail design but it’s hard to make out.

    Me: you know more that me, it was identified as a ME 110, so looks like you are correct

    Jan: It is a Messerschmidt, but from this picture it seems quite impossible to know whether it’s the Bf110 or the Bf410. The large bomber is most probably a B17-F or G, hard to tell without seeing the underside. But that model is a later version, so it increases the possibility that the German fighter is the later Bf410, but you can’t know for certain.

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