If the U.S.Army Air Corps had no B-17's at the outbreak of WWII?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by MikeGazdik, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    As in the title. What if the B-17 program had failed, or was delayed or been cancelled for whatever reason and the U.S. not had a legitimate strategic bomber?

    If that was the case, at the outbreak of WWII, and specifically in Europe, how long do you think that would have extended the war in Europe?

    The 8th AF heavy bombers was the other half of the 50/50 mix in daylight and night time bombing against the Reich. Obviously the British had the night operations covered. I would guess that it would have extended the war at least 2 years.
     
  2. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    At the outbreak of war (1939) the US had but a handful B-17Bs. So no far from not having any.

    As for being cancelled, the B-17 was central to the USAAC's planning.
     
  3. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    Still had the B-24, and there was always the possibility of increasing production orders - Boing could have become another sub-contractor, for example. Also, there was no chance that the USAAC or USAAF would not have found a replacement for the B-17 (if not found a way of reviving the B-17), because daylight strategic bombing was deeply embedded as a doctrine.
     
  4. Crew102

    Crew102 New Member

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    The US strategic bombing raids in Europe didn't really get going until 1943 anyway. We needed to get all those planes built, crews trained and then sent over. Then there was the problem of no fighter cover. Those guys on those early raids really took a beating.
     
  5. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    I think more B-24s were made anyway, they would have just made more.
     
  6. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    There was also the B-15, B-16 and B-19 projects that would have provided an alternative if the B-17 program failed for whatever reason.

    While innovative, the B-15 just wasn't fast enough at the time, same went for the B-16 project. Without the B-17, perhaps the engines could have been used on the B-15 (the B-16 had Allison V-1710 engines) to enhance it's performance.
     
  7. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    The B-15 and B-19 were larger than the B-17 and B-24.

    The B-15 was originally intended to use Allison V-3420s of over 2000hp (I think early ones were proposed at 2000hp).

    The B-19 was bigger again. It too was supposed to have the V-3420s (see Douglas XBLR-2/XB-19), of 1600hp, but these were substituted by R-3350s.

    At least the B-19's substitute engines were of equal power, or more powerful, to the ones they replaced, nut the B-15's power was cut basically in half. The B-15 used Pratt Whitney R-1830s.

    The B-16 project was axed in favour of the B-15, being deemed to big and expensive.
     
  8. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The B-19 was actually kept in service through the war, up to 1949. Sad ending for the B-19, though...the USAF wanted to preserve it as a historical piece but had no place to put it, so it was scrapped...

    The B-20 was intended to be a successor to the B-15 project, but was cancelled. The one positive outcome of the B-15 project was the B-29...

    Anyway, there were certainly alternatives to the B-17...quite a few, in fact.
     
  9. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    whatever long range bomber they had available would have been thrown into mass production as a stop game measure. the strategy and tactics would have depended on the ability and loses of that ac...whether it be night time only raids or limited range daylight daylight. while that was holding the line they would have brought their own better design ( b17 /24 or ?? ) into production OR would have tooled up us factories to build lancasters. it would depend on which would be more expedient. the us would have been way behind the 8 ball if the 17 or 24 designs werent already on the table...similar to the same situation we were in with fighter ac. it would have been a game of "catch up"....i believe the us/canadan industry could have pulled it off....it probably would have prolonged things.
     
  10. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    #10 yulzari, Feb 16, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
    Assuming you need the same OTL timescale to design, develop and get into production as the B17 the competitors for the contract were the Douglas db1 and Martin 146. Both being medium bombers closer to a Wellington in capability than a B17.

    So if one of those were chosen instead of the B17, and given the necessary timescale to get something else into service if they realised they had made a mistake (remember the USA was in a peacetime mode while the first 3 years of the war were fought) then it would have to be more B24s.

    I suspect that Boeing would have been forced to seek European rearmament orders to stay in business. Either as a contractor to an existing company or to quickly put together something they could sell and the orders were going for interceptor fighters and medium bombers.

    I cannot see a UK heavy bomber being made under licence. It would mean a complete redesign to match US engineering materials and practices. A B24 already has this done and has a longer range and heavier payload than a B17.

    The only way it might happen is if Boeing arranged to build a UK design for the RAF starting with an order in 1939. That would mean not a Lancaster, more likely a Stirling though a flapping butterfly with an order for Manchesters might mean that Boeing point out that there was no US engine comparable to the Vulture in production and suggest a x4 US radial or Allison version. May I (tongue in cheek) suggest it be named the Boeing Loyalist.

    Maybe the USAAF see they will need more heavy bombers and ask Boeing to do a version for them with a wider wingspan and 0.5" guns. Perhaps this would even become the standard version for the RAF too later on.
     
  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    If Boeing is to build the Manchester with US engines, they can employ R-2800 there. A Stirling with R-2600 was flown, two prototypes total in Canada? The 'Lancaster minus' seem like a decent plane, though all of them would be hard pressed to do 20000 ft bombing sorties.
    The B-24 seem so natural choice.
     
  12. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the R-2800 had enough grunt at that time (1939/40). It certainly had no more than the Vulture, which was already under powered for the airframe.

    I think the V-3420 wuld be the only American engine choice if you were to build the Manchester and keep it twin engined.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    In 1939-40 R-2800 have had almost no grunt - the production moved in double digits in January 1941. The 1st 'US Manchesters' would enter service instead of B-26, but in same time?
    The R-2800 was offering 100 HP more even in A series, compared with non-restricted Vulture. By January 1942 it would be 250 HP more, circa 250 of B series produced in that month.

    With B-26 cancelled, the Martin does the big bomber on it's own, along the lines of 'Super Marauder', 4 x turbo R-2600?

    With V-3420s it would be one great bomber.
     
  14. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    A-series R-2800 gives, what, 1850hp. Vulture II offers 1820hp in 1940. Vulture IV/V offers 1950hp in late 1940/early 1941. The superchargers used don't give very good altitude performance, though.

    Vultures on test in 1940/41 at 2500hp. R-2800 doesn't offer 2500hp until near the end of the war.

    For the Manchester to work you would probably need at least 2500hp per engine. The V-3420 is the only US engine in 1940/41 that could offer that sort of power.
     
  15. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    The R2800 is not ready in time whereas Twin Wasps, Whirlwinds and Allisons are. Hence the x4 US option. But I still think more B24s would be the default.

    It is worth remembering that the B17 contract was originally given to the the B18 for 300 examples. It was only accountant fudging that let the B17 be built against the financial rules.

    With B18s you are limited to night bombing in the Wellington/Whitley class.

    I love effective ugly uncool machinery. Probably why I tout the performance in action of the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bomber, Valentine tank and the Blackburn Skua dive bomber.
     
  16. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    me too
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    26 July 1941. U.S.A.F.F.E. (U.S. Armed Forces Far East) command formed in Philippines.
    .....Four B-17 heavy bomber groups were main effort of the Philippine military build up. They were to provide muscle in support of U.S. diplomatic brinksmanship with Japan. The Japanese Government chose to preempt U.S. military build up by seizing Luzon (northern Philippines) before our heavy bombers were in place.

    If U.S. Army Air Corps have no long range heavy bombers then historical military build up in Philippines won't work. I don't doubt President FDR will find another way to get us into WWII but the historical method won't work.
     
  18. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Seem we agree about B-24.
    With R-2800 as a thing of (near) future, Boeing can contemplate the 4 x R-2600 bomber. Using the experience from their model 314, famous Clipper?
    Again, if the plane has no turbos, it's a fair game for 88s.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Other side of the coin.

    If U.S. Heavy bombers operate 10,000 feet lower bombing will be a lot more accurate and hence more effective.
     
  20. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Against the targets flying at 15000 ft, the accuracy of 88s is maybe an order of magnitude greater than vs. targets flying at 25000 ft. They will spend less shells per hit or damaged bomber, meaning barrels will be less worn. So the guns will remain accurate for longer time. The time gun has against target jumps, again, by an order of magnitude, it can also engage the bombers that are moving away from the gun. The bomber flying at 15000 ft will be slower than one flying at 25000, again making the gun crew to have better aim on them, and providing even more time. The defending fighters will spend less time fuel per kill, with less time spent to return in fray once rearmed refueled. The bomber crews showered with Flak fragments will be anything but efficient.
     
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