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Old 04-22-2012, 05:31 PM   #1
Diver1111
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Default Searching for information-air droppable lifeboats

Hi All,
I got a call from a man who suggested I look for WWII-era air-droppable lifeboats in Winnipesaukee, part of WWII flight experiments to see if it could be done and put to use.

What he was referring to were lifeboats carried on the belly of modified B-17s and dropped as one package-water tight, engine and sail driven craft. Technically they were SB-17s (S for Search) equipped with food and water for downed airmen and sailors during the war; His father was a mechanic at Grenier AFB, now Manchester-Boston and had something to do with them among other aircraft at the base.

He said that the Air Force used Winnipesaukee as a testing area due of course to its size; They would make their runs over the lake early in the morning and late in the day due to traffic below. He said with some confidence that there are 3 of these boats in the lake based on what his father told him. His father was in charge of recovering downed aircraft in general so he knew a bit about these mishaps on Winni..

The caller was under the impression that they were metal, either aluminum or steel but my research indicates laminated mahogany (plywood), not good for a side-scan-sonar search if this is correct; However their experimental models could well have been metal. I hope so.

While I have a decent idea where all 3 are I need all the help I can get in getting more information on this very cool WWII project.

I've read they were also equipped with salt-water activated explosive devices of sorts that shot out a number of floating rescue lines after hitting the water to allow people in the water the ability to grab them.

One article I found is attached with some great pictures and background. Imagine being in the water and seeing a B-17 overhead, circling and making a pass at 120 mph and 1,500 feet and dropping one of these bad boys down to you on parachutes?? Wow.

Thanks.
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File Type: pdf Boeing_PB1.pdf (329.7 KB, 134 views)
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:32 AM   #2
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Default Glad to help you look

Definitely a cool boat. If you think you know where it is be glad to help you look for it. I'll e-mail you with weeks I will be at the lake. First 2 weeks in July you could get 2 of us to search.
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:49 AM   #3
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Default Very Interesting article

thanks for attaching the PDF article. Very interesting reading. Had the pleasure of seeing a couple of B17's in person while I was an ATC stationed in Louisiana back in the 70's and early 80's.
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:36 PM   #4
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by upthesaukee View Post
thanks for attaching the PDF article. Very interesting reading. Had the pleasure of seeing a couple of B17's in person while I was an ATC stationed in Louisiana back in the 70's and early 80's.
Well, another ATC! I was mostly at South Weymouth Naval Air Station, Massachussets, in late 60's. Of course the school was in Brunswick Georgia. Both are no longer military facilities.

Maybe Coast Guard Auxiliary may be able to help out.

I think in Hull, MA, there's a museum dedicated to Coast Guard search & rescue.
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:07 PM   #5
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Default Wild shots of an air-drop

Further research has turned up the following shots taken by an airman from his big bird-and done on a practice run over a "Lake Washington"-so yes, they did practice over lakes.

Makes Winnipesaukee an even more promising site for my search.

http://members.peak.org/~mikey/746/boat.htm
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