Tail Turret

About this Exhibit

One of our most exciting exhibits is a fully restored B-17 G tail turret on loan from aviation author, Nick Veronico.  Nick contacted the museum in early 2020 about loaning us this beautiful piece that he spent 30 years restoring.  Nick first received the turret in a three-way trade.  It had been last flown on the Yankee Lady and was completely unrecognizable when Nick first acquired it.   From 1996 to 2020, Nick painstakingly found the individuals and the parts to return the turret to its original Cheyenne model standard.  He contacted the 390th Memorial Museum about loaning the turret for display and we jumped at the opportunity.

The freestanding turret allows our patrons to get a complete view, both inside and out.  Visitors can look inside the small compartment, complete with a bicycle seat, and gain a better understanding of the physical challenge for tail turret gunners.  Not only were they responsible for protecting the rear of the plane while communicating what they saw to the radio operator and navigator in the fuselage, but they did so while kneeling in literally freezing cold for upwards of eight hours at a time.

Exhibit Highlights

Turret owner Nick Veronico’s grand-uncle, Lt. Robert Woolfolk, flew four missions with the 390th Bombardment Group in May of 1944 on the “Decatur Deb.” Sadly, Mission 113 was the last for Lt. Woolfolk, a bombardier, and six of his fellow crew members; three men survived and finished the war as POWs. We proudly dedicate our display of the turret to men of the Decatur Deb and the sacrifices they made for our freedom.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER Tail turrets were a late addition to the B-17, not appearing until the F and G models as a way to protect the vulnerable rear of planes from attack.

STEEPLECHASE V. CHEYENNE This tail turret as well as the one on the “I’ll Be Around” are both Cheyenne models. The Cheyenne model was an upgrade from the original “Steeplechase” model that had limited visibility.

MANY ADVENTURES This tail turret was on a B-17 that carried cargo in Bolivia and was used as a firefighting air tanker before Nick purchased it.
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