Death Trap Aircraft

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daishi12

Airman
79
0
Jul 8, 2006
I have looked through some of the previous threads and seen that there have been the best/worst aircraft of WW2 which got me thinking a little bit.

I seem to recall reading that the Bristol Beaufighter was considered to be a death trap of an aircraft, as it was very difficult to bail out of.

Also the P39 Airacobra with the side door exit in stead of the canopy would be difficult to get out of when in flight due to the fact that there would be considerable slipstream acting on the doors. The pilots would need muscles like Popeye!

Were any other WW2 aircraft considered to be death traps by the poor sods who had to fly them?
 
The Ventura was considered a death-trap by the RAF. And was quickly removed from service.
 
The SBD Dauntless had the lowest loss ratio of any U.S. Navy carrier based combat aircraft. Never heard it was hard to bail out of. As for the P-39, as long as it wasn't in a spin.......
 
Mosquito FB was not considered very much fun for crew when it came to leaving home.

1 hatch for both of them to dive out head first with the propellers a couple of inches from your head.

Apparently it was rather disconcerting and collected more than 1 or 2 aircrew.

Also the Lancaster. One belly hatch way the heck up in the nose, not great for the Mid Upper and Tail Gunners in an aircraft spiraling earthward. climb around turret, get over wing spar, crawl past cockpit, drop into nose section, get out of hole.

The Tail gunner, MIGHT be able to open his turret door reach back, grab his chute, clip it on, rotate the turret and then bail out. But he would be doing the rotating by hand if the port outer engine was gone, as that supplied his turret hydraulics.

The top top hatches, and the pilots hatch could not be used in real terms due to smacking into the Mid Upper Turret.

The crew door meant smacking into the tailplane.
 
plan_D said:
The Ventura was considered a death-trap by the RAF. And was quickly removed from service.

Interesting. The airplane flew for some time in US Navy service after the war and then was adopted as one of the best corporate/business airplanes of all time. The Howard Super Ventura and pressurized Howard 500 was operated for years and years and there are two H500's still active as executive transports.

Can you mention as to what it was that made the Lockheed a death trap?

Chris...
 
k9kiwi said:
Mosquito FB was not considered very much fun for crew when it came to leaving home.

1 hatch for both of them to dive out head first with the propellers a couple of inches from your head.

Apparently it was rather disconcerting and collected more than 1 or 2 aircrew.

Also the Lancaster. One belly hatch way the heck up in the nose, not great for the Mid Upper and Tail Gunners in an aircraft spiraling earthward. climb around turret, get over wing spar, crawl past cockpit, drop into nose section, get out of hole.

The Tail gunner, MIGHT be able to open his turret door reach back, grab his chute, clip it on, rotate the turret and then bail out. But he would be doing the rotating by hand if the port outer engine was gone, as that supplied his turret hydraulics.

The top top hatches, and the pilots hatch could not be used in real terms due to smacking into the Mid Upper Turret.

The crew door meant smacking into the tailplane.

i thought someone would mention the lanc when i saw the thread's title, it wasn't all that bad, no crew members had to pass over the biggest obsticle, the main wing spar, the 5 formost crew members all exited through the hatch in the nose, the primary means of escape, the two gunners in the rear section of the plance had a choice, they could, if the pilot was trying to hold the plane level so others could bail out as they invariably did, they might well decide to climb over the wing spar and exit through the more favourable nose hatch, if not then their designated parachute exit was the main entry door, although as you say there was a slight chance of hitting the tail plane, however i've never heard of this happening and stories of it happening cirtainly weren't widespread, it seems there was enough room to get clear of the tail plane, and the top hatches were never to be used as parachutes, they were strictly for use in the event of ditching in the sea or a crash landing............
 
Air-Vice Marshall Embry commenting on the Lockheed Ventura : "...thoroughly bad, being slow, heavy, unmanoeuvrable and lacking in good defensive armament." Known as the 'Flying Pig'.
 
It depends on the situation. Apart from the P 39, single seat fighters were among the best aircraft to bail out from if you enough height to roll the aircraft upside down and drop out of the cockpit. The FW 190 had an excellent roll rate at some speeds and explosive bolts for the canopy. Ejection seats were appearing on some aircraft in the last months of the war (Heinkel He 162, Dornier Do 335)

Here is a Heinkel He 162 ejection seat from this site

Heinkel 162 Ejection Seat: The Ejection Site
 

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Apart from the P 39, single seat fighters were among the best aircraft to bail out from if you enough height to roll the aircraft upside down and drop out of the cockpit.

The other single seat fighters don't crush the pilot to death when he crash lands and the engine moves forwards.
 
Bailing out of anything is probably a pretty hairy experience. While a single engined fighter might be the least dangerous, you're still looking at broken arms, legs, backs, ect. when they bounce of the horizontal or vertical stabelizers or getting some part of your chute snagged on a part of the bird on the way out.

Turning it upside down and falling out is the easiest (and avoids any problems with the prop as the drag will slow you down right away- people being very draggy against the wind, in general) you could still bounce of the tail. I think that is what happened to that German ace in the desert during WW2. Took him right out.

Once read that the best way to get out of a P39 was to open both doors and let the slipstream suck you right out.
 
About 20 years ago I got talking to a gentleman who had been invited to NZ after WW2 by an RNZAF pilot to set up one of the first top dressing businesses flying tiger moths.

He flew 109's over england, france and germany, including being shot down 4 or 5 times. Had just over 20 victories if memory serves me, and I can not remember his name.

He said the worst part about bailing out was not knowing if your parachute had been shot to ribbons, and that the relief of it opening in one piece was intense.

So getting out was only part of the trick apparently.
 
k9kiwi said:
He said the worst part about bailing out was not knowing if your parachute had been shot to ribbons, and that the relief of it opening in one piece was intense.

Oh man, that would totally suck. Bird on fire, maybe a jammed cockpit, finally fight your way out, scrape along the fuselage, bounce off the rudder and THEN THE PARACHUTE IS FULL OF HOLES!

Talk about it not being your day...
 
Marshall_Stack said:
Bailing out of a P-38...be careful of the horizontal tail boom.

I have heard it said by P-38 pilots that it was almost impossible to get hit by the horizontal stabilizer when bailing out of a P-38. At low speeds, you crawled out of the cockpit and slid off the center wing, and would miss the tail by better than 10 feet. At high speeds, you would open the canopy and get sucked right out of the cockpit, going over the tail by several feet.
 
red admiral said:
The other single seat fighters don't crush the pilot to death when he crash lands and the engine moves forwards.

I have heard that one, too. But, it seems that it was something of a myth. The P-39's fuselage was immensely strong and ridged. It had to be to keep the driveshaft in proper alignment so it would not vibrate, a problem many of the P-39 prototypes had. If you crashed a P-39 hard enough to send the Allison through the front of the aircraft, your day would be done no matter what you were flying.
 
wasn't the "official" way to bail out of a P-38 to get out, crawl along the wing then down part of a boom then jump clear because they were so worried about people hitting the tail?
 
I once interviewed Walter Krupkinski and I found this comment on the P-39 amusing-

"I encountered many of your (American) aircraft. My experience with the Airacobra- they were easy to shoot down with the engine behind it. I had easily gotten behind one and fired. It was burning like hell. The aircraft was in heavy smoke and the pilot tried to bail out. This was my first experience with the Airacobra remember, and he opened a door! I had never seen that before; that the pilot could just open a door and step out of the aircraft cockpit!"
 

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