He.177 combat history

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Sagittario64, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    im looking at the he.177 combat history. it says alot about how it bombed and caught fire. but i see very little on encounters between enemy fighters and the greifs. i understand soviet pilots were a bit thrown back by the altitude and heavy armament of the greif. but how did spitfires and mustangs cope with them? what were allied tactics regarding luftwaffe bombers, like the he.177 and do.217?
     
  2. krieghund

    krieghund Member

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    As I recall most of their action against the west was at night over Britain. A few were casualties of the Mosquito's Guns. Far more were lost due to accidents and on board fires. They also were employed against convoys with mixed results. Their action was sporadic at best and had more action in the east but poor serviceability and lack of fuel kept them out of action.

    I recommend the book, "Heinkel He177 Grief, Heinkel's Strategic Bomber", by J. Richard Smith Eddie J. Creek which I believe gives a proper appraisal of the aircraft.
     
  3. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello
    not many encounters with western day fighters, He 177s tried to avoid them by operating outside their ranges or by night. There were at least one encounter over Med, when during their dusk attack He 177s found out that day fighters were still covering the convoy, IIRC US and Free French fighters shot down appr 5 He 177s and a night fighter one.

    Typhoons met Do 217s at least twice and in short order shot down 4-5 Do 217s in both cases before rest escaped into clouds or crash-landed in hurry.

    Juha
     
  4. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    Griel and Dressel's book has a long listing of known He 177 fates.

    Mosquitos put in claims (that's CLAIMS) for 44 He 177s destroyed air-to-air, another on the ground, three probables and a few damaged. In some cases these can be tied back to specific 177 losses, however when the claims are made over water, on nights when more than one 177 was reported missing, things are less clear.

    I supoose there may be a claim or two from Beaufighters, not sure.
     
  5. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    Hmm for 1,700 he.177s built, the actual combat losses appear to be far lower than any other wwii bomber i know of, other than the mosquito
     
  6. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    if the loss rate to combat is indeed low, then could it be said that, engine troubles aside, the he.177 was a successful bomber design?
     
  7. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    Certainly wasn't a successful bomber program, if you see what I mean.

    Aerodynamically, I think it was a touch on the slow side, though the strengthened wings apparently let it egress from the UK quite rapidly.

    I think Griehl and Dressel believe it would have been far more successful as a regular 4-engine buff, but by the time it got round to making the changes, it was all too little too late with too few resources. That goes into the tiresome woulda coulda shoulda category though.

    Apparently the second CO of the first unit to use them in the east (the first CO was lost in action...) made very positive noises about the aircraft itself.
     
  8. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    Was the He.177 a potential war winner? because the germans manufactured a fair number of them, and if they stuck with a separate four engined design and maybe downplayed the divebombing in the airframe, the luftwaffe would have their own strategic bomber, which is what most people agree was what germany didnt have and was a factor in them losing the war
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    On one Steinbock mission the HE-177 participated in 14 aircraft were schedualed for the mission, 13 took off, 8 turned around during the climb to altitude because of inflight fires or overheating engines, one more aborted befofe crossing the French coast, 4 reached Britain, one of which was shot down by a nightfighter .

    I've never seen figures as high as 1700 He-177's made, I've seen as low as 900, other sources put it at a little over 1100. No matter which is correct it's a drop in the bucket compared to over 12,000 B-17's and 18,000 B-24's.
     
  10. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    Well it seemed like it had a lot of potential. Im not saying about the mechanical losses. Im saying losses in combat seemed to be far lower than any other steinbock bomber. plus, the fact that the He.177 pilots developed tactics to bomb the target and speed away quite quickly, showed that it had something good as a bomber.
     
  11. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    Its ventral armament though, needed serious redesign. only one little machine gun covered the rear ventral area. thats not good for a high altitude bomber
     
  12. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    No single aircraft is a "war winner", particularly not a four-engined heavy bomber for the Luftwaffe that can only be manufactured in any numbers after about mid 1943.

    For a Germany heavy bomber to have a strategic impact, it needs to be available, in numbers, from the beginning of the war. It also needs an appropriate doctrine and - as UK and US experience showed - a sufficiently capable escort if it wants to operate in congested airspace in daylight.

    One of the main problems lies in the fact that manufacturing a heavy bomber is exceptionally costly and labour intensive. Looking at the UK experience, a four engine bomber is anywhere from 15-40% more labour intensive per lb of aircraft weight than a medium bomber. As a heavy bomber weighs around 50-75% more than a medium bomber, this means you can manufacture more than two mediums for the same cost as a single heavy.

    The Luftwaffe built around 3500 bombers between 1939 and 1940. Supposing that the He-111 - 1200 produced in 1939 1940 - is replaced with a proper heavy bomber. The Luftwaffe is going to lose around production of around these mediums in exchange for building around 500 of our theoretical heavy.

    Given the intensity of the French and BoB campaigns, I don't think that's sufficient weight of production to satisfy Luftwaffe requirements.
     
  13. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I believe the engine problems had been resolved halfway through the project and overall was a good aircraft. It certainly had a lot of potential, but like most bombers if you don't have adequate fighter cover....
     
  14. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    Well the He.177 had adequeate armament to defend itself, but i keep asking this question. how effective were bomber's defensive guns really in the second world war? whats the point of putting weighty guns on the bombers if you're going to die without fighter cover anyways?
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The He177 did have the lowest loss rate on the Steinbock missions, but it was still 10%, think what that means, statistically no crew or aircraft is going to last more than 10 missions.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    No bomber carried enough armament to defend itself. In 1939 many bombers could only point a single rifle caliber machine gun in some directions. later bombers increased the covered arcs and roughly doubled the guns but fighters were carrying 2-8 times teh number of rifle caliber machine guns or a single/dual cannon and several RCMGs. By the time the later B-17s and the He 177 showed potential interceptors were using multiple cannon. A single 20mm in a turret ( few bombers were able to concentrate fire from more than one gun position at a time) does not equal 3-4 20mm (or larger) cannon in the fighters. The B-29 came closest but even it was switched to night attacks.
    Trading one or two fighters for a four engine bomber is in favor of the fighters.
    The big problem is that if you wanted a big bomb load and long range the plane wasn't going to be able to out run fighters anyway.

    Something else to consider is that not all power turrets are equal. the power drive systems need both speed to track targets and fine control for good aim, and they need to be combined in the same control.

    For a bomber to be truly successful it needs to have a low loss rate from ALL causes while delivering worthwhile payloads onto actual targets. Having a low loss rate to enemy fighters while suffering a horrendous loss rate due to accidents and malfunctions while delivering mediocre payloads to the general area of a worthwhile target is hardly the sign of a major success unless the goal is just to cause a lot of lost sleep to your opponent.

    That may sound harsh and the RAF had nothing to brag about in the first part of the war as far as even finding the right city at night but by the time the He 177 was bombing England just dumping bombs in the right county could no longer be called a success.
     
  17. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    lol. and i understood that the heinkels had only a few big bombs as opposed to the allied method of many small or medium bombs, so the 177s would have to be very accurate with their bombing to have any effect at all
     
  18. krieghund

    krieghund Member

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    Actually Heinkel did have a design for a ventral gun turret system but it could only cover the lower rear and side quadrants and wasn't normally fitted to save weight except that the turret fire control mount had better visibility than the flex mount.

    I also included a fuel/bomb load/range chart I compiled from various sources.
     

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  19. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    ive heard of 177s with twin 30mm cannon, quad gun tail turrets, and henschel missiles, but ive never heard about a ventral gun turret for the heinkel
     
  20. Sagittario64

    Sagittario64 Member

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    in rendition to your assessment that no bomber ever carried enough armament to defend itself, id like to direct you to the Junkers Ju.290A variant some call the porcupine

    [​IMG]
    surely this one could dish out some damage to any attacking fighters
     
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