Mid War Allied production rates: Trained Pilots VS Aircraft Built.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Rufus123, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    From reading out here this has me wondering.

    I used to think that obsolete aircraft fighter aircraft would have had a bigger role in ground attack letting the newer aircraft try and take control of the sky.

    It seems a lot of aircraft that was not that old were doing much of the ground attack.

    Were the Allies producing planes faster than training pilots?
     
  2. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    Ground attack work was dangerous enough without adding obsolescent/obsolete aircraft to the mix. The Allies - particularly the British - had learned the hard way (eg Bristol Blenheim, Fairey Battle, Westland Lysander - even *ulp* Hawker Hector - ops during the Battle of France, May June 1940) that being able to get in fast, attack hard and split the scene asap was a lot cheaper in the long run than having aircraft trundling slowly over, dropping a few light bombs then trundling slowly oops...rapidly to the ground.
     
  3. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    #3 Rufus123, Sep 29, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
    Even the slightly out of date Spitfires, P-40's, earliest production versions of the P-47, the P-39.

    Hmmm, maybe it was not because the rate of production was faster than pilot training then.

    I was picturing vast hordes of 2-3 year old aircraft adding to the numbers of newer aircraft pounding the areas behind Normandy during the invasion shooting up anything that looked like a military asset so that they could bread out of the beaches easier.

    Thanks
     
  4. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    There wouldnt have been that many 2-3 year old aircraft available. Most were used as conversion aircraft in training squadrons.
     
  5. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    #5 Rufus123, Sep 29, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
    I see, some something useful was being done with the slightly out of date aircraft. That makes sense.

    I used to think the massive production rates was to throw ever larger numbers at the other side while replacing losses and adding more capability into the mix.

    I guess it is also to pull things a bit out of date from the line up.

    I think this is also teaching me that Germany's situation was different enough where the allies didn't have to do somethings they did. I understand they would quit using some aircraft in most dangerous areas and start using them where they had air superiority.
     
  6. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    Definitely: for instance the RAF's 2nd Tactical Airforce was still using older Hurricanes and Spitfire IIs and Vs as conversion and ground attack trainers, as well as using brand new Typhoons, Tempests and Spitfires; if anything, by early 1945 there was a shortage of pilots trained for ground attack.

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    Take a look at Neil Stirling's posting on the RAF's strength in late April 1945 - some interesting older aircraft are still being recorded:

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/strength-r-f-26th-april-1945-a-38562.html#post1060237
     
  7. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    Brand new combat aircraft as trainers?

    Ok, that seals it. More planes than men you then use the best you have for the job.
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Ive ead the average life of a given airframe in WWII was less than 8 months, even with low enemy activity. That estimate is based on later war US types like the Mustang.

    By the end of 1941, the Luftwaffe had lost 15000 aircraft. Less than half of those losses were due to enemy action. Simply making an airforce fly under wartime conditions (ie usually in overload condition, in less than optimal visibility, observing RT silence, blackoput conditions, you name it) carries a heavy attritional cost with it.

    Those airframes that lasted longer than a year were doing well. For both sides, those that did usually went to training estqblishments and/or secondary fronts like the med or the far east.

    For the allies with their emphasis on numbers, types were kept in production longer and hence there was sometimes the illusion they were flying obsolete types when, from their perspective, they were not. Case in point, FC and 2 TAC sweeps over Northern France 1941. Major type engaged continued to be Hurricane and Blenheim. Probably by then, both these types were well past their best, but from an operational point of view it still was first line material and still made sense to send them into the attrition grinder. Germans were losing about 1/5 the losses to combat causes, but about 1:1 in overall losses. It was the latter figure that counted
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    There's a flaw in this line of thought.

    WWII era fighter aircraft typically don't make good CAS aircraft. They don't bomb accurately, cannot carry large bombs (i.e. 500 to 1,000kg) and are vulnerable to ground fire. It doesn't help that most fighter pilots did not get a lot of practice dropping bombs before posting to an operational unit.

    If a fighter type becomes obsolete then cancel production and retool the factory for a proper CAS aircraft. Don't squander lives of fighter pilots flying missions neither they nor their aircraft were made for.
     
  10. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    But the Tempest and P-47 were pressed into those roles?
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #11 stona, Sep 29, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
    Mainly the Typhoon rather than Tempest.
    The pilots were trained in ground attack methods. RAF pilots, already qualified and at operational squadrons undertook a three week course.

    Fighter pilots' lives were not squandered flying CAS, interdiction and armed reconnaissance missions. This was a role which had been anticipated much earlier when a decision was taken about what sort of aircraft would operate in support of ground forces. In the case of the USAAF a meeting was held at Wright Field in March 1943 to discuss whether to use fighters (what we now call fighter bombers) or dive bombers to provide air support for ground forced. The principal reason for choosing the former was that they would be able to defend themselves against hostile fighters.
    The British had arrived at the same conclusion much earlier. This followed their own experiences on the offensive in France and the defensive during the Battle of Britain. Initially the British rated the Ju 87 very highly but it's operational limitations were exposed during the BoB. This simply reinforced the cultural prejudice of the junior service when asked to operate in support of the army.
    The Hurricane IIA (12 x .303 MGs) and IIB (4 x 20mm cannon) appeared in 1941 and later that year Nos 1 and 3 Squadrons were flying intruder missions across the Channel with their IIBs.
    Tactics for this sort of mission were developed in the summer of 1941 by the Air Fighting Development Unit. The first real fighter bomber attack was arguably carried out by "Hurribombers" of No 607 Squadron who bombed an electrical transformer at Tingry on 30th October 1941.
    It is quite wrong to say that aircraft like the Typhoon were pressed into service in the fighter bomber role. It was a role anticipated before they even entered service. Tests with bombs and rocket rails were carried out long before the Typhoon entered series production and relevant revisions made by Hawker. Humble flew DN340 on 17th March 1943 with two 1000 lb bombs and an all up weight of 13,248 lbs! He managed to dive at 548 mph TAS before releasing the bombs.

    Cheers

    Steve

    Edit: for the Brits Bill Humble, Hawker test pilot, was the rather delectable Kate Humble's grandfather.

    [​IMG]

    She doesn't look like that "down on the farm!"
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Lysander was thought to be a good close support aircraft in 1939 and early 1940. It suffered horrible losses in the campaign in France but failed to get any "headlines" because it wasn't used against famous targets like the Meuse Bridges.

    Until you got 1500-2000hp engines you simply couldn't build a "good" CAS aircraft because you didn't have enough power for bombload/speed/protection. Pick one or at best two.
     
  13. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    There are other factors at work, but German attritional losses were far greater than western allied losses. Their combat loss rates arent that bad, but both as a proportion of total losses, and also as a simple number, German losses are staggering.

    Like I said, there are a multitude of reasons for that, but opting for a bomb truck principal over a survivable, but less capable fighter conversion for much of the war has to be at least one of th reasons for the high rate of losses for the Germans. Their planes were accurate, but they suffered a lot of losses being accurate, and once an enemy had effective fighter defences, their bomb trucks couldnt cut it or make much difference. even on the EF, after a time, the Stukas were forced to fly at night, because of the Russian fighters. FBs could undertake strikes by day, even in disputed air space, Stukas simply could not do so, because losses became prohibitive. Theres the choice really...bomb average and more survive, or bomb accurately and suffer heavy losses
     
  14. Reegor

    Reegor Member

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    #14 Reegor, Sep 30, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
    I discuss this extensively, concentrating on fighter losses. I can't find the link to my message on this forum (the linker seems to be down), but the underlying paper is at: NOT FLYING BY THE BOOK: SLOW ADOPTION OF CHECKLISTS AND PROCEDURES IN WW2 AVIATION. | Art and Science in Technology - Roger Bohn's Blog.

    To summarize, the numbers for fighters alone are also staggering. I ascribe it to poor flight discipline (always), and poor training (later). But as you say there may have been many other factors. I'm interested in methods of separating out different causes, if anyone has suggestions.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I think, with hindsight, that the correct decisions were made by the British (1941) and Americans (1943). The fighter-bomber was the way to the future.
    It is an interesting point of conjecture that when both air forces were flying large scale missions in support of their armies, particularly in 1944 after the invasion, the conditions in which a purpose built dive bomber could have survived and operated successfully did exist!
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    I have read that the Spitfire was used as a dive bomber on the western front. I don't know with what success but I imagine the the bombs would only have been 250 pounders
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    A 250 pound bomb under each wing or a 500 pound bomb under the fuselage.

    Steve
     
  18. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    How would that work when dive bombing or did the pilot not dive steep enough to hit the prop when the centreline bomb was dropped.
     
  19. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    as i posted in another thread....i would like to see the corresponding numbers ( if anyone has them ) of ac produced as opposed to cadets graduated by year. i can understand in the early part of the war a shortage of pilots. back inthe beginning you had to be a college grad to even be considered ( there were exceptions ). going to college was not near as prevelant as it is today...so the pool was a lot smaller. in late 43 they gave assessment tests at various locations ( i am assuming they needed pilots fast). my father was selected in one of these and actually quit high school to become a cadet. he went through flight training with guys who were several years older and had been in the system a long time. as soon as he graduated he was on a ship to the uk. by the end of the war a lot of cadets who graduated were stuck here in the us flying p 40s and shooting tow targets instead of being rushed to the theaters as replacements.
     
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