Rank the Allied Heavy Bombers 1939 to 1944

Discussion in 'Polls' started by DerAdlerIstGelandet, Nov 1, 2009.

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Best allied heavy bomber 1939-1944

  1. Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

    28.8%
  2. Consolidated B-24 Liberator

    13.5%
  3. Avro Lancaster

    46.2%
  4. Short Stirling

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Handley Page Halifax

    5.8%
  6. Petlyakov Pe-8

    1.9%
  7. Consolidated B-32 Dominator

    3.8%
  1. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I thought this might bring up some interesting debate. We all know (well at least most of us...;)) that the B-29 was the best bomber built during the war, however lets rank the planes before it. Lets talk about the other Heavy Bombers that were fighting the war before 1944.

    How would you rank them and why?

    Here are the contestants, if I forgot one please let me know and I will add it.

    Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
    Consolidated B-24 Liberator
    Petlyakov Pe-8
    Handley Page Halifax
    Short Stirling
    Avro Lancaster
     
  2. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    Before I found this website, I would have said the B-17 but I do not know anymore. The Lancaster did a lot of work and pulled off the special missions, dam bursting, hydro plants and sub pins. I am leaning toward the Lancaster.

    DBII
     
  3. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    I prefer the B24 as it performed in all theatres with different roles . the Lanc was afine aircraft but not up to the 24 except in bombload
     
  4. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    I'm going with the B-17. It got its job done, flew a ton of missions over 30,000 feet, where the Lib could get barely over 25,000 (I believe). The B-17 was very durable and put up a very go defensive fight. I think that the B-17 is iconic...

    The Lib and Lancaster are a tie. The Lib was a great plane. The wing positioning itself was genius. But reading a book, a pilot said, "She doesn't take kind to battle damage, and if power is lost, its glide slope is just about equal with a brick." That could be fatal....

    The Lancaster was a great overall plane IMHO.. I have been in one (Yes I have check one of my older thread titled "This is what got me to love planes" or something of that nature ) and it is a bit cramped. There is no belly gunner which even on a night mission could be very, very fatal.. its main emphasis was bomb load.

    Once the B-17 got its escort (even though it had superb armament) it definitely got its full use.

    Either way, I salute all of those who took up the bombers. The war couldn't of been won without either of these three bombers...
     
  5. Flyboy2

    Flyboy2 Member

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    I've got to go with the B-17 on this one....

    Of the British three i would say the Lancaster was the best
     
  6. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    #6 Vincenzo, Nov 1, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
    little note the B-32 first mission it's may '45, only five delivered in '44 and only to test center.

    There are, for the four engined, also the Farman 222223 and TB-3. but early in the war also some twin engined was heavy
     
  7. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I would go for the B17 over the Lancaster beause it had much heavier defensive armament and because it was more survivable because of the air cooled versus liquid cooled engines. Lancaster losses in daylight bombing would have been much heavier than the B17s.
     
  8. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    I'm going with the B-17 on this one. Not the biggest bomb-load, but it had great durability, and a good defensive armament. Though my vote might be biased, since I've flown in one.:D
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A Lancaster EQUIPED for daylight operations might have been a different story.

    We are trying to compare a night bomber and a day bomber. The day bomber used a larger percentage of it's useful load in defensive guns and ammunition. Leaving less weight for fuel and bombs.

    THe night bomber, with less chance of fighter interception could trade guns and ammo for more fuel (range) and a larger bombload.

    One might also take note of the rankings of these bombers in relation to their horsepower (include the B-29 in this) .

    THe older American bombers aren't doing so bad considering their 4800-5400hp power plants. Lancaster could top out at over 6800HP although most were less. aAnd the B-29s 8800-9200HP is what really allowed to be the champ.:)
     
  10. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    The B24 had IMHO a bigger impact on the war , it was the aircraft that closed the gap in the N Atlantic, Ploesti, also used extenbively in CBI by both RAF/USAAF .Renrch mentioned the liquid vs aircooled in choosing the 17 over the Lanc but many Lancs were powered by radials
     
  11. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    pb, thought the MK II, of which only about 300 (?) were built, were the only Lancs to be radial powered. Seems that well over 7,000 machines would be Merlin powered.

    TO
     
  12. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The USSBS has a lot to say in what bomber can be considered the best.

    The B17 has the best performance at high altitude? Well, as altitude goes up, accuracy goes down. Its almost a perverse type logic in bombing from that high up ..... fewer bombs will be on target, therefore the probability that the same target will need to be bombed again goes up. Therefore the aircraft and crews are put at higher risk simply because they have to do the same missions over and over and over.

    The US 1000lb bomb simply couldn't get the job done. There's plenty of factual evidence that the AAF blew the roof of the factory (if they hit it) but didn't damage the machinery inside. The Germans could easily clean up the mess and start the production line back up. But the RAF used plenty of ordinance that was far more destructive (the 4000lb types were noted) that not only blew the roof off, but wrecked the machinery and caused far more lasting damage.

    As for accuracy, it was the RAF that actually had the best bombs on target percentage. Forget about the AAF claims of being able to "precisely hit" a target. Fact is, it was an area type bombardment that usually had some bombs on target, but also had bombs landing miles away too.

    Then there was the difference in style in night raids and day raids. This was noted by the USSBS. Night raids lasted for hours, and in that time, destructive fires could take hold in the targets and actually cause some serious damage. The USSBS quoted German officials in saying that their crews had to stay in their shelters for quite some time because of the danger of going out during the bombing. The daylight raids on the other hand, were over and done with in a matter of minutes. In which time fire crews and damage repair groups could get out of their shelters and get the fires under control before they got serious.

    Therefore, I say the Lanc was the best bomber in the ETO. The B24 was better for the Pacific and ASW work, but the Lanc could be pressed into service to do those roles with some possibility of success. But the B24, and definatly not the B17 could carry the bomb load the Lanc could. In the end, the measure of success for a bomber is if it destroys its target, with what efficiency.

    And IMO, the B32 doesn't belong here. Its first missions were in the final weeks of the war.

    When I first joined this forum, I was convinced in the superiority of the B24. But while trying to prove it with some facts and logic, I changed my mind. The Lanc was better than the B24 and B17 in what it was supposed to do.
     
  13. Hop

    Hop Member

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    I agree, I think the restrictive bomb bays of the B-17 and B-24 were a major disadvantage.

    In 1943, 1944 and 1945 the USAAF dropped 48,575 2,000lb bombs in the ETO and MTO, and just 158 larger bombs, all of 4,500lb.

    Bomber Command:

    2,000lb - 38,000
    4,000lb - 114,000 (figure is for the whole RAF, presumably includes the MTO)
    8,000lb - 1,088
    12,000lb - 1,047
    22,000lb - 47
     
  14. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    To rank them I would go for the following:-

    1) Lancaster
    It had payload, range and even in daylight raids had the same loss ratio as the B24 on similar raids and similar timescales. This plus the ability to carry any sized bomb makes the case.
    2) B24
    Flexibility and range
    3) Halifax
    Almost my second choice, the Hercules powered MkIII onwards had better loss rates than the Lanc and it was easier to bail out of. It could also carry most bombs which makes it a contendor.
    4) B17
    If you had to shoot your way through to the target without escort this would be no 1 choice, but it lacked range/payload and was restricted in the type bombs it could carry. So overall it drops down my list
    4.5) B32 Domminator
    This has the feel of a plane that didn't achieve what it was supposed to do and still had more than a few significant bugs when sent into action. A sort of He277 for the Allies, potential but still mainly potential as it only has a handfull of missions against an enemy that lacked any effective defence to its name.
    5) PE 8
    This I like, but the problem was that it wasn't developed during the war. Had it been it would be higher up the list as I feel that it had a lot of unrealised potential.
    6) Sterling
    I always felt sorry for the Shorts company. Avro and Handley Page were able to make significant changes to their designs to achieve their full potential but Shorts never had the opportunity to change the wing which was imposed on them by the original specification.
     
  15. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    Any figures of maximum internal load, largest bomb sizes that could be carried, loadouts?
     
  16. RAF Liberators

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    #16 RAF Liberators, Nov 2, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2009
    The B-24 for obvious reasons, but I could go on.
    Highest US production aircraft of the war (over 18,000)
    Longest range (The RAF held the record in a B-24 until the B-29's rolled out).
    Used in more theatres (until the Lanc was shipped out to North Africa and South East Asia as well).
    Was more technologically advanced than the B-17 and the Lanc.
    Flew faster.
    Not sure where you're getting the 25,000' ceiling from, that's for the early B-24D's the later models had a ceiling of 28,000 plus. But that's a moot point anyway as most RAF operations were below 10,000 so the extra speed over the 17 was of more use.
    I'm not sure what you mean by restrictive bomb bays (unless you mean it was two bays instead of the one big one?), don't forget the B-24 bomb bays had shutters that rolled up the side, this was done to reduce the drag effect of opening huge great doors to the 300MpH + winds. Each one of the bomb bays on the B-24 could hold the same ordance as the single bay on a B-17. What often happened was the 2nd Bay was used for extra fuel for the long range attacks out in SEA.
    Bomb load of a typical USAAF B-24J was approx 8,800Lbs but I say typical USAAF because again the RAF tended to push the Lib to the limits and beyond. They were also used as a multirole aircraft. SOE, Minelaying, ASR, Tanker, Transport etc etc. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think it actually had more roles than either of the 17 or the Lanc.
    Oh and the 24 was quite happy dumping 4,000 cookies which were more than enough to blow Jerry's socks off along with his factory roof.
    The Lanc is a close second even with my bias. :D
     
  17. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Well nighttime missions you don't have to worry as much about AA fire than you would daytime. During the nighttime it wouldn't be as accurate as daytime.

    It'd feel a lot safer in a B-17. Armament and Durability. It may not have the biggest bomb load but going on raids with hundreds of planes it doesn't matter as much.
     
  18. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I admit that I understood that the largest bomb carried by the B17 and B24 was a 2,000lb bomb.
     
  19. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    #19 Vincenzo, Nov 2, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
    Bomb bay load AFAIK
    B-17 max 8*1600 pds
    B-24 max 8*1600 pds
    Lancaster max 14*1000 pds
    Halifax max 8*1000 pds (this has also small wing cells for boms)
    Pe-8 max 8*500 kg (i'm not sure, maybe that are only 6)
     
  20. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #20 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Nov 2, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2009
    The Lancaster would have had more defensive armament if it had been a daylight bomber. You give it the same protection the B-17 had with the P-51D and Lancaster would have done just fine.

    AA was just as deadly at night as during the day. The night sky over the target was lit up like a Christmas tree.
     
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