B-29 and B-52 TAIL GUNNERS DONATE GUNSIGHT TO USAF ENLISTED
HERITAGE HALL; MAXWELL-GUNTER AFB, MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA
By Bill Gaddes
CMSGT Pettit (USAF-ret.) flew combat missions over Korea in both B-26 and B-29 aircraft. He also flew combat missions over North Vietnam. CMSGT Pettit was in charge of more than 300 B-52 tail gunners during several phases of the Vietnam War, including the massive December 1972 Hanoi raids where more than 15 B-52’s were lost. CMSGT Pettit was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross. Air Medal with clusters, SAC Combat Crew Medal, and both Korean and Vietnam combat service medals. SSGT Bill Gaddes was awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf clusters, the USAF Commendation Medal, the Korean Service Medal with five battle stars, Distinguished Unit Citation, and Combat Crew Medal.
Bill Gaddes stated "I am very proud to have been able to locate and purchase these two very rare gun sights for the Air Force Enlisted heritage Hall. I am very pleased that Pete and I were able to take the B-26 periscopic gunsight to Maxwell AFB. The curator, Dr. William Chivaletti, was very gratified to incorporate these rare items into the outstanding displays of the 75 years of defensive aerial gunner history. The Enlisted heritage Hall is one of the finest military museums in the world. The museum is dedicated to anddefines the contributions of military personnel over the history of military aviation. CMSGT Pettit epitomizes the professional defensive aerial gunner. His career spanned 27years as a gunner; through three generations of bomber aircraft. CMSGT Pettit and I are proud to have been able to contribute these sights in honor of the Air Force Gunners Association."
Dr. William Chivaletti, Curator of the USAF Enlisted Heritage Hall, was gratified to acquire a gunsight from the B-29. The defensive armament system represented a significant technical advance in aerial gunnery; incorporating a lead computing gunsight, remote control turrets, and analog computers that were sophisticated for its day. The B-29
“Superfortress” and their heroic crews played a key role in the surrender of Japan in WW II, saving of more than a million American and Japanese lives and many millions of casualties by avoiding a full scale invasion of Japan.
The gunsight will be completely refurbished and placed in a custom-designed lighted
enclosure. The story will be featured by Editor Bob Matherly in the August 2010 issue of “Short Bursts”, the magazine of the Air Force Gunners Association.