B-26: any improvement over B-25?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Or, was it worth it?
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It is a good question, as a "bomb truck" the B-26 couldn't really haul much (if any) more bombs. While it was faster, neither one could operate in defended airspace without escort.
     
  3. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    #3 wuzak, Sep 14, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011
    Since both were ordered into production at the same time you could ask the reverse - was the B-25 any improvement over the B-26?

    Which then begs the question - was it waste of resources building both?

    Should the USAAC have chosen one or the other?

    Andif they preferred the B-25, would they have liked a version with R-2800s?
     
  4. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    The B-26 was definitely a tough plane to master - with higher wing-loading than the Mitchell. That said, the B-26 had the highest crew survivability record of any US bomber in WW2. And one clear distinction - the B-26 was designed to carry torpedoes as well as
    bombs.

    You know the USA, tomo pauk, they never like to have all their eggs in one ... basket. :)

    MM
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Contract for B-25 precedes the one for B-26 for a month (aug '40 vs sept '40?), so B-26 was just a tad later :)

    Indeed...

    With hindsight, and if we count all the pluses minuses, B-25 served better for Allied cause - a far better choice IMO.
    The version with R-2800 was tested, but didn't stand up well for 10% increase in power (engineers were warning that plane was not that sturdy prior the flight?).

    What was mission profile, so our B-26s received such an accolade? Were they flying mostly after 1943 (with bugs sorted out, and in conditions of Allied air superiority)?

    That makes sense; one of the eggs was...problematic, though :)
     
  6. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    In a few cases the B-26's (original small winged versions) better speed v B-25 was important. For example, in unescorted bombing missions from Port Moresby to Lae in summer 1942 by both types in separate small formations. The B-25's took heavier losses to Zero's because they were easier to catch. The B-26 was difficult for the Model 21 Zero to overtake unless the fighter started in a favorable altitude position. But serious fighter interception of unescorted mediums was not common in later Pacific campaigns, and in MTO/ETO the bombers were usually in bigger formations unable to use their max speed, and the enemy fighters were faster too, so the B-26's speed advantage wasn't a factor either, and the advantage decreased in later models as well.

    Joe
     
  7. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #7 michaelmaltby, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
    "... What was mission profile, so our B-26s received such an accolade? Were they flying mostly after 1943 (with bugs sorted out, and in conditions of Allied air superiority)?"

    Largest "profile" probably the rail, canal, road, bridge targets in France - behind the Normandie bridgehead leading up to June 6, 1944.

    Every "advance" brings with it "bugs". I think the telling factor is how quickly the USAAF dropped the B-26 after WW2 ended. Most in service were destroyed overseas IIRC. The B-25 served for years after in the RCAF and other forces. My Ferry Cmd Uncle remembered the B-25 as very docile with no bad habits. :) Most of his time was logged on B-24's.

    MM
     
  8. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Thanks, JoeB :)

    Michael - that was my point: B-26 was largely attacking Axis assets in the time of Allied air supremacy.
     
  9. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    #9 renrich, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
    Some B25C-D were configured to carry a torpedo externally. Interestingly the production numbers of both AC were close, around 5000 plus with a few more B25s made. The B25 was probably a little easier to fly well but the B26 did serve very well in the ETO and early on in the Pacific. I believe that Lyndon Johnson received a medal for a mission flown in a B26 around New Guinea. I got close to a B26 at Planes of Fame Museum and was surprised at how large it was. There was also a Sunderland there ( not close by) and they seemed to be about the same size.

    The B26 flew missions in the Med and during the Italian campaign when the Axis still had a lot of punch in their air defenses.
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    There were almost 10K of B-25s produced :)
     
  11. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    #11 pbfoot, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
    Did not the B26 have the lowest loss rate in combat of all US bombers thar certainly must count , I believe it was under 1%. That might even be lower then the Mosquito. They were very active in the ETO from 42 onwards
     
  12. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    be surprised if a B-26 is the same size as a Sunderland but could be wrong !
     
  13. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    It might have seemed as big, but they're not really close. The Short Sunderland was 85 ft long by 112 wingspan. The B-26 was 58 long by 71 wingspan, the early models had a 65 ft wingspan.
     
  14. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

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    question Which B-26 the Martin or Douglas (AKA known as A-26)
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I assumed it's about the Martin. The Douglas A-26 didn't appear till late in the war, and was called the A-26. It didn't take on the B-26 nomenclature until after WW2.
     
  16. Coors9

    Coors9 Member

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    I stood by a B-26, it's a big bird just the same. She sits higher than the 25 I think, maybe that makes the difference.
     
  17. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    if whay Ive read is correct the mission for which he was awarded Silver Star the aircraft he was on turned back because of mechanical problems before getting to target ,
     
  18. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    It seems most of the problems with the B-26 was typical of new aircraft and fuel. The real problem was that the aircraft was more advanced for the training. High wing loading and high speeds soon became quite common and quite safe, but when the B-26 came out, the AAF was not familiar with training techniques. To me the most impressive mission the B-26 flew was at Midway, where four took off unescorted, penetrated an alert fighter cover, shot down one fighter, two were lost, one, I believe actually struck a carrier before crashing, one flew down the flight deck of the Akagi, I believe, strafing the Japanese crew. Torpedoes were released, but no results. There may have hits but none exploded (the Japanese recorded no strikes). Two made it back, one crash landing but the crew made it. This was actually quite impressive considering the record of the Navy torpedo planes, even the TBFs. If there had been more B-26s with "good" torpedoes, the Japanese could easily lost its first carrier. The Japanese pilots said the B-26s were "blazing fast" and difficult to shoot down. It is also too bad the AF did not think ahead for an antishipping mission and designed the B-26 for carrying two torpedoes internally. They would have been even faster. Also, since they were capable of over flying the carriers, skip bombing would have been effective but would have to wait to a later date to be developed.

    When I started working, one of my leads had been a B-26 pilot in the war. I never talked to him about it. Another missed opportunity. Crazy pilot though, crashed once and survived, drug his Navion tail down the runway because he took off with the wrong fuel tank selected but reacted fast enough to switch tanks. Later he killed himself and another man commuting when he ran into a mountain. FAA had been trying to pull his licenses for awhile for breaking minimums.
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    There is a trend worth noting. All the allied bombers that enjoyed the lowest loss rates were those that could fly fastest. Speed was the antidote to loss rates.

    The Maryland was the fastest bomber in the Armee d'Air and recorded the lowest loss rate. the A-20 was the fastest bomber in the VVS inventory and enjoyed the lowest loss rate. The Ju88 was one of the fastest bombers in the LW (until late in the war) and enjoyed the lowest loss rate. Later, the Germans used the Ar 234 which suffered a very low loss rate. The British used the Mosquito...lowest loss rate. The Japanese used the Grace, and the unarmed Dinah, both of which enjoyed low attrition rates.

    There is a pattern here....speed saves lives. even if the fighters were faster, it takes them longer to catch a retreating bomber, they have to expend more fuel per mile to keep up or catch up, and the target is that much harder to hit. Whilst large scale raids at high speed was not possible, raids up to about group strength at full speed were certainly feasible.

    Dont know how the B-26 fits in with all of this, but it was judged "hot" when first deployed to the SWPA are in early '42
     
  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    While the B-26 was considered 'HOT' it speed advantage may not have been that great. Numbers are from Joe Baugher's site.

    B-25----322mph at 15,000ft
    B-25A---315mph at 15,000ft
    B-25B---300mph at 15,000ft
    B-25C---284mph at 15,000ft
    B-25G---280mph at 15,000ft
    B-25H---275mph at 15,000ft
    B-25J---275m[h at 15,000ft

    B-26----315mph at 15,000ft
    B-26A---313mph at 15,000ft
    B-26B---282mph at 15,000ft
    B-26C---282mph at 15,000ft
    B-26F---275mph at 15,000ft
    B-26G---274mph at 15,000ft
    '' '' ---283mph at 5,000ft.

    Now maybe the B-26 was a lot faster low down or something but I am not seeing a big difference in the speeds for the most common versions. at least not enough to make a big difference.
     
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