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Old 04-22-2012, 06:31 PM   #1
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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.

Attached Images
Attached Images
File Type: pdf Boeing_PB1.pdf (329.7 KB, 1279 views)
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