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By Mollo

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Prior to reaching an altitude at which it was necessary for men to don their oxygen masks, the bombardier went to the bomb-bay and removed the safety pins from the ordnance. This task was performed at a relatively low altitude, for at a greater elevation the pins could freeze, thus preventing anyone from arming the bombs. At about the same time the crew plugged in and switched on their heated flying suits, if the mission required them. The desired temperature was controlled by a rheostat. Wireless telegraphy could transmit Morse signals up to 600 miles at combat altitude and radio telephones could be used up to 150 miles for bomber-tobomber communication.

The mechanics started work by "pulling through the props," a difficult task of pulling on each propeller blade to turn the engine and remove any fuel that had collected in the cylinders during the night. The crew chief then entered the cockpit and followed the engine priming procedure to ensure that it was functioning normally. He started the particular engine (of four) which drove the electrical generators before running up each additional engine in turn. These he ran so as to achieve the maximum number of revolutions per minute, in so doing testing oil pressure, turbo-supercharger, and magneto performance.

From the mess hall the men were conveyed by covered truck, each carrying two or three bomber crews, to the briefing rooms, which could seat approximately 200 men. Officers and enlisted men were sometimes briefed together, but in many cases they were informed of the details of their mission in separate rooms or buildings. A briefing room usually had a raised podium behind which, on the wall above, hung a large map of the area of operations: Western Europe, the Mediterranean, part of the western Pacific, or Japan and the nearby island groups.

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Army uniforms of World War 2 by Mollo

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