Heavy and long-range bombers of the allies - exact losses

Discussions on every day life in the Weimar Republic, pre-anschluss Austria, Third Reich and the occupied territories. Hosted by Vikki.
JonS
Member
Posts: 3935
Joined: 23 Jul 2004 01:39
Location: New Zealand

Post by JonS » 17 Feb 2006 04:51

Michael,
the splits for 8thAF in June 44 (ie, around D-Day) are as I've stated. Later it may have swung more heavily towards B-17s.

"Better": Longer range, faster, bigger bomb load. That's off the top of my head though, so I can't put specific numbers against it. *shrug* The B-17 is a prettier looking bomber, but the B-24 was better at it's job.

From Wiki:
B-17:
Performance
Maximum speed: 287 mph (462 km/h)
Cruise speed: 150 mph ((240 km/h)
Loaded Range: 1,850 miles (2,980 km)
Service ceiling: 35,600 ft (10,850 m)
8,000 lb (3,630 kg) of bombs long range
17,600 lb (7,985 kg) of bombs short range

B-24:
Performance
Maximum speed: 290 mph (470 km/h)
Cruising speed: 215 mph (346 km/h)
Range: 2,100 miles (3,400 km)
Ferry range: 3,700 miles (6,000 km)
Service ceiling: 28,000 ft (8,500 m)
12,800 lb (5,800 kg) of bombs

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 17 Feb 2006 05:33

JonS wrote:"Better": Longer range, faster, bigger bomb load. That's off the top of my head though, so I can't put specific numbers against it.


I'd agree with all that. But against it was that the B-17 was more maneuverable and better able to maintain formation; was better able to accept battle damage and bring its crew home; was more able to fly with an engine out...or two...or three! 8O The B-17 had a higher service ceiling, 35,000' as opposed to 28,000.

There is another possible factor in the Fortress' favor too. Until he died two years ago, one of my neighbors was a former B-24 pilot in the 15th. AF. He told me one time that he never flew without the bombay doors cracked. When I asked him why, he said that the B-24 constantly leaked fuel, a problem that was never definitively fixed. He said the fuel and more importantly it vapors would collect in the bombay where there was also a lot of electrical equipment. You realize that this is bad news. To illustrate his point, he related a story to me. One day he was approached by a squadron officer who asked him to take one of the birds up for a test flight. As he had a pass that day and was already dressed for town, he turned it down. Well, the pilot who took the plane up may not have known about the leaky fuel problem or the way to deal with it. The plane exploded in midair and killed him and whoever else was aboard that day.

Now you can take that for whatever it is worth. It is a single anecdote and I have never heard that from any other source. What I do know is that given a choice, most crews preferred to fly in the B-17. That alone doesn't make it the better airplane, but neither is it insignificant in comparing the two.

:)

Michael

JonS
Member
Posts: 3935
Joined: 23 Jul 2004 01:39
Location: New Zealand

Post by JonS » 17 Feb 2006 07:28

Fair point, and crew confidence is important. On the other hand, though, they didn't really have a whole lot of say in which a/c they'd be flying ;)

Also, I do think basic stats have some importance. To take an RAF example, the Lancaster is a better delivery truck, but most crews would probably have preferred to have flown the Mosquito.

Anyway, about the B-17 / B-24 mix:
8th AF

1st BmbDiv
91st BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
381st BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
398th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
92nd BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
305th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
306th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
303rd BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
379th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
384th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
351st BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
401st BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
457th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
12 Gps, B-17

2nd BmbDiv
389th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
445th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
453rd BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
44th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
392nd BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
492nd BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
93rd BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
446th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
448th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
489th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
491st BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
458th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
466th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
467th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
14 Gps, B-24

3rd BmbDiv
94th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
447th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
486th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
487th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
95th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
100th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
390th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
96th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
388th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
452nd BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
34th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
385th BmbGp, B-17 Flying Fortress
490th BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
493rd BmbGp, B-24 Liberator
10 Gps B-17, 4 Gps B-24

Total: 22 Gps B-17, 18 Gps B-24 (all gps have 4 sqns)

Taken from 'D-Day, the Air Battle', Ken Delve

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Post by Jon G. » 17 Feb 2006 16:50

Michael Emrys wrote:
JonS wrote:"Better": Longer range, faster, bigger bomb load. That's off the top of my head though, so I can't put specific numbers against it.


I'd agree with all that. But against it was that the B-17 was more maneuverable and better able to maintain formation; was better able to accept battle damage and bring its crew home; was more able to fly with an engine out...or two...or three! 8O The B-17 had a higher service ceiling, 35,000' as opposed to 28,000...


The Wright Cyclones on the B-17 had power output comparable to the the Twin Wasps on the B-24, so presumably a B-24 could do the same trick on one engine. Service ceiling is important to a point because it protects against AA - the Short Stirling was a dog because its ceiling was a pitiable 17,000 feet, but perhaps the difference between 28,000 and 35,000 feet isn't so important if your enemy has fighters that can operate at either altitude.

It reflects poorly on the B-24 that it was developed five years after the B-17, yet doesn't really represent any marked increases in performance. Sure, somewhat larger bomb load in the B-24, but that's because the B-17 was originally developed as a maritime bomber - ironically a job the B-24 ended doing.

B-24s were more demanding to handle for pilots. I don't know if your late neighbour related any stories to that effect to you, but I recall reading that bomber crews called B-24s 'banana boats' due to their gangly flight pattern. Increased range and bomb load came at a price.

By the time Consolidated engineers were developing the replacement for the B-24 - the B-32 Dominator - Boeing had the much more formidable B-29 on the production lines. These aircraft both had the same Duplex Cyclone engines. There's no doubt in my mind who was capable of building the better airplane.

What ultimately counts, though, above specs, is tonnage of bombs delivered. For British heavy bombers, the Lancaster with 132 tons of bombs delivered per aircraft lost stood head and shoulders above the Halifax at 86 tons, which in turn outperformed the Stirling, which could only manage to deliver 41 tons of bombs for each aircraft lost. It would be interesting to see the same statistics for B-17s and B-24s. I suspect the B-17 outperforms the B-24 here as well.

JonS
Member
Posts: 3935
Joined: 23 Jul 2004 01:39
Location: New Zealand

Post by JonS » 17 Feb 2006 20:04

Jon G. wrote:... What ultimately counts, though, above specs, is tonnage of bombs delivered. ... It would be interesting to see [these] statistics for B-17s and B-24s. I suspect the B-17 outperforms the B-24 here ...

I claim brain-fade :) Tonnage / a/c lost would be a very good way of comparing within class, and much better than the stats I listed above. I'd be interested in seeing that too, if anyone has it.

Jon

User avatar
BIGpanzer
Member
Posts: 2812
Joined: 12 Dec 2004 22:51
Location: Central Europe

Post by BIGpanzer » 17 Feb 2006 20:47

Guys! I've already found almost all necessary info ( 8O ) about losses of B-17, but I have no time to post it here at the moment.
One data about losses during WWII: B-17 4,754 and B-24 2,112. But I received today the letter from my good friend (he is WWII AF historian from UK) - he explained me why it is impossible to compare the losses of B-17 and B-24 because of their completely differ theatres of operations during the war. I will attach this info later, when I have time.

Regards, BIGpanzer

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Post by Jon G. » 17 Feb 2006 22:01

BIGpanzer wrote:Guys! I've already found almost all necessary info ( 8O ) about losses of B-17, but I have no time to post it here at the moment.
One data about losses during WWII: B-17 4,754 and B-24 2,112. But I received today the letter from my good friend (he is WWII AF historian from UK) - he explained me why it is impossible to compare the losses of B-17 and B-24 because of their completely differ theatres of operations during the war. I will attach this info later, when I have time.

Regards, BIGpanzer


Hi BP, I can certainly appreciate your expressions of 8O considering the massive work you've already put into this thread. Take your time :) Maybe someone else has some figures we can use?

It should be possible to concentrate only on part of B-17 and B-24 losses - say, 8th and 15th AF losses, or maybe just 8th AF losses in order to get a better picture of which aircraft type sustained more losses relative to tonnage of bombs dropped.

At least for the aircraft we know about, the correlation between service ceiling and overall losses is tempting to make. Stirlings with high wing loadings and very poor service ceiling went down in droves. Halifaxes did better, and their performance was improved when they got later generation Merlin engines (or Hercules radials on some models); the Lancaster did much better with the same engines in terms of losses, despite having only a marginal lead in service ceiling - and finally, the B-29, with a service ceiling of 36,000 feet had the lowest losses of all types discussed here.

Granted, I don't know B-29 losses expressed as aircraft lost/tonnage of bombs delivered either, but I am fairly certain that their losses were much lighter than the other types discussed here.

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 19 Feb 2006 01:54

Jon G. wrote:The Wright Cyclones on the B-17 had power output comparable to the the Twin Wasps on the B-24, so presumably a B-24 could do the same trick on one engine.


I think you might be looking in the wrong place. The 17 had almost half again the wing area, 1,420 vs. 1,024 sq. ft. On two or one engines, the planes would be in essentially in a power-assisted glide, and the 17 could simply glide farther with the extra wing area. BTW, I think the single engine flights were only when they were reduced to the last engine when they were already in sight of the airfield. The extra wing area of the 17 also meant that it was more controllable in all regimes, which also meant that they were more likely to make it down in one piece (more or less).

Michael

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 19 Feb 2006 02:09

Jon G. wrote:
BIGpanzer wrote:Guys! I've already found almost all necessary info ( 8O ) about losses of B-17, but I have no time to post it here at the moment.
One data about losses during WWII: B-17 4,754 and B-24 2,112. But I received today the letter from my good friend (he is WWII AF historian from UK) - he explained me why it is impossible to compare the losses of B-17 and B-24 because of their completely differ theatres of operations during the war. I will attach this info later, when I have time.

Regards, BIGpanzer


Hi BP, I can certainly appreciate your expressions of 8O considering the massive work you've already put into this thread. Take your time :) Maybe someone else has some figures we can use?

It should be possible to concentrate only on part of B-17 and B-24 losses - say, 8th and 15th AF losses, or maybe just 8th AF losses in order to get a better picture of which aircraft type sustained more losses relative to tonnage of bombs dropped.

At least for the aircraft we know about, the correlation between service ceiling and overall losses is tempting to make. Stirlings with high wing loadings and very poor service ceiling went down in droves. Halifaxes did better, and their performance was improved when they got later generation Merlin engines (or Hercules radials on some models); the Lancaster did much better with the same engines in terms of losses, despite having only a marginal lead in service ceiling - and finally, the B-29, with a service ceiling of 36,000 feet had the lowest losses of all types discussed here.

Granted, I don't know B-29 losses expressed as aircraft lost/tonnage of bombs delivered either, but I am fairly certain that their losses were much lighter than the other types discussed here.


I think this calculation would prove a lot trickier than appears at first glance. Losses were also correlated to the kind of opposition they faced. The B-17s came into the ETO in 1942 and were there in significant numbers after the middle of 1943. The B-24 numbers—and consequently sorties flown—ramped up later and more slowly. This means that the 17s faced the cream of the Luftwaffe and before they had escorts over any but extreme western Germany. By the time the 24s were on the scene in comparable numbers, the Luftwaffe was already suffering and the bombers had a better chance of being escorted to their targets.

Something similar applies to the B-29. At first, the Japanese were able to mount little in the way of interception and the bombers flew above all but the largest AA. There was a middle period when B-29 losses went up (I was recently suprised at how high) as the interceptors became more effective and radar directed AA of larger caliber also increased a little. I don't have any information that Japanese AA was ever in the same league as what the Germans had though. When USAAF switched to low-level night fire bombing, losses due to interception once again bottomed out.

Michael

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Post by Jon G. » 19 Feb 2006 02:41

Hi Michael,

I agree that the percentages for B-17 and B-24 losses alone could potentially be misleading, since both aircraft were flying all over the planet in a multitude of roles. However I've earlier suggested limiting the percentage - if it can be found - to just 15th and 8th Air Forces; if you want a more precise comparison between the two types, it would 'just' be a matter of limiting the search chronologically as well. For example the survey could be limited to 1944, or pre- and post- Schweinfurt loss rates could be compared.

Strategic air planners were very fond of statistics. I'm sure the numbers are somewhere to be found, though I am not sure where to look.

In terms of aircraft produced the B-24 beat the B-17 by a healthy margin - c. 12,700 vs. a staggering 19,200.

User avatar
BIGpanzer
Member
Posts: 2812
Joined: 12 Dec 2004 22:51
Location: Central Europe

Post by BIGpanzer » 19 Feb 2006 07:58

Jon G wrote:
In terms of aircraft produced the B-24 beat the B-17 by a healthy margin - c. 12,700 vs. a staggering 19,200.


B-17: 12731 were produced of all modifications and 4754 were lost - 37.34%.
B-24: 18482 were produced of all modifications and 2112 were lost - 11.43%

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 19 Feb 2006 08:20

I wonder if Jon's numbers on the B-24 production might have included the PB4-Y. Jon?

Michael

User avatar
BIGpanzer
Member
Posts: 2812
Joined: 12 Dec 2004 22:51
Location: Central Europe

Post by BIGpanzer » 19 Feb 2006 08:26

Hmm... My number included PB4Y-1 (977 were produced)

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 19 Feb 2006 08:51

Thank you, BIGpanzer.

Michael

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 19 Feb 2006 09:06

There was also a passenger/cargo version called the C-87 (RY-1 in Navy service). According to William Green, 276 of these were built.

Michael

Return to “Life in the Third Reich & Weimar Republic”