The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Artists in Action #540

Captain Clark Gable takes aim.


Mark Connolly said...

The image reminded me of this YouTube footage of Gable in uniform:

Possibly some of it was filmed at the same time as the photo?

Vanwall said...

Waist-gunner on a B-17 ain't no walk in the park, either.

Christopher said...

kill boys kill!

Peter L. Winkler said...

Looks posed to me. Since when were waist gunners provided with a seat? Also, Gable's taking up the space that would be occupied by the gunner on the port side of the fuselage.

Vanwall said...

He's crouching and that's about the right position - the other gunner and he would've had an intricate dance in combat.

Tempest said...

Probably was posed because he would be wearing far more clothing to be warm-and an oxygen mask...
Electrically heated gloves oh yeah a steel helmet And a big fat flak vest with metal plates. You wouldn't know it was him.
People have no idea what these guys wore-and had to get out of in order to bail out.

I've been inside a B-17 the gun positions are not abreast of each other-they're staggered.

It was so cold at their final altitude-what he is wearing here is almost a T-shirt.

Gable did go on some missions over Europe to film some training movies for USAAC and was pulled when the brass found out about it. He wasn't a poser-he risked his life several times.

Unlike John Wayne.

Think I posted it one time-Sabu from the movie KIM was a tail gunner in B-24's in the Pacific.

Yeah little Sabu.

Mark Connolly said...

It is posed, for a press event, but he indeed wasn't a poseur. Have a look at the YouTube link. You'll see Gable firing the gun, but obviously on the ground for benefit of the cameras. The YouTube page includes an article about the event, written by Andy Rooney (then a reporter for Stars and Stripes, today possibly still on 60 Minutes each week).

swac said...

I figured it probably was posed, taking aim is likely all he's doing.

He was eventually promoted to major, but around the same time he was pulled out of active duty, so it's likely he was still a captain when this photo was taken.

skipwhiffle said...

In the linked youtube video, the B-17 waist gunner positions are most definitely not staggered. There's a straight-on view from outside the aircraft of the gunner position, and you see clear through the plane starboard to port side.

Gerard Saylor said...

Later B-17 were staggered. Moving the gun positions was an improvement (I rationally assume).

The defensive guns on bombers were not all that effective anyway. better than nothing, to be sure, but the real protection from enemy aircraft came from fighter escorts.