The B-17 Flying Fortress Was The Most Overrated Bomber Of World War 2

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Is there any information on the proportion of E/A shot down by gunner crew position in the B-17? i.e. was there a benefit to removing less profitable gunners to save weight and bodies?
I think I saw some in a quite recent thread.

However, there are methodological problems with any calculations.

First we know that overclaiming by the gunners was a factor. Now, do we have any reason to suppose that each position overclaimed to the same degree? Even if we could be pretty certain, how do we decide what bullet from tens of gunners shooting at the same target did the kill? It's not only a problem of deciding which gunner on the single aircraft, it's deciding which aircraft in the box. Having reliable numbers of how many fighters were shot down, dosn't help us here.

Also, it does not count the mission kills. Do we want our gunners to make sure the mission is carried through with minimal losses, or do we want to wear down die Luftwaffe before D-day? As you hint at, the mission profile itself may influence what gunners are most useful.

Possibly it bears repetition that this lies behind the rampant overclaiming, if you pour bullets in the general direction of a plane that catches fire (or produce a lot of smoke from the engine), you just assume that it was your bullets. That's what you are there for in the first place, right? But it's also what the 10 other guys shooting at the fighter are there for.

We can find well documentet instanses of single bombers fighting single fighters (or bombers or recon planes), but that tell us nothing about the invironment most daylight bombing by the eight took place in.
According to 2 Group its Fortress I came with ash trays, carpet, padded walls and Thermos flasks. They did test climbs to 38,000 feet and bombed Cologne from 35,000 feet. One reason for releasing the B-17 to British service was to see how things went. Then the RAF tried flying the aircraft for long periods of time at over 30,000 feet, the result was "lots of useful lessons learnt" or less nicely "lots of equipment had trouble operating at the altitudes flown and temperatures encountered over the duration of the mission."

On 12 August 1941 the Luftwaffe managed to intercept one B-17 over Brest at 32,000 feet, showing altitude alone would not be enough and in any case all too often the aircraft was leaving contrails, very bad for raids with only 1 or 2 aircraft.

Total of 20 B-17C arrived, 4 in April, 15 in May and 1 in June 1941. Non combat losses in the period were on 22 June B-17C lost on air test, flew into cumulus cloud at 33,000 feet, all on board killed including 1 USAAF officer, on 3 July B-17C destroyed by fire during ground engine running tests, on 28 July B-17C structural failure in severe turbulence, again all on board killed. Michael Bowyer in his Book 2 Group RAF gives the operations log.

51 sorties on 17 strike days over 3 months, July to September 1941, no more than 4 sorties on any given strike day.

8 July, two attacked Wilhelmshaven Barracks 6x1100 pound HE, 1 had engine trouble and attacked Norderney Port 4x1100 pound HE
23 July, Berlin, all returned early, 2 due to contrails, 1 for an unknown reason, 90 squadron says bad weather.
24 July all 3 sorties attacked ships at Brest, 12x1100 pound HE.
26 July, to Hamburg, one abandoned due to weather, one dropped 4x1100 pound HE on Emden.

2 August, 1 bombed Kiel 4x1100 pounds HE, 1 abandoned due to joining the wrong formation, 1 bombed Borkum port 4x1100 pound HE, instead of Bremen, due to cloud.
6 August, 2 sorties attacked Brest port but 1 is described as jettisoning bombs, 8x1100 pound HE.
12 August, 3 attacked primary targets (but 2 of these bombed through cloud), De Kooy airfield, Emden port, Cologne industrial area, each attack 4x1100 pound HE, 1 abandoned due to engine trouble.
16 August, 2 abandoned strike of ships at Brest due to weather, (1 of which was intercepted and was lost attempting a crash landing in Britain, 3 killed, 1 injured, 3 safe.) 2 bombed Dusseldorf Industrial Area 8x1100 pound HE.
19 August, Dusseldorf Industrial Area, 1 abandoned due to contrails, 1 abandoned due to frozen guns.
21 August, Dusseldorf Industrial Area, 2 abandoned due to contrails (1 of these also had frozen guns), 1 abandoned due to supercharger problems.
29 August, Dusseldorf Industrial Area, 1 abandoned take off (so not considered a sortie), 1 abandoned due to contrails and engine trouble.
31 August, 1 attacked Bremen Industrial Area, 1 Spiekeroog port instead of Hamburg industrial area, 1 abandoned attack on Kiel due to supercharger problems, 4x1100 pound HE in each attack.

2 September, 1 bombed Bremen industrial area 4x1100 pounds HE, 1 abandoned due to contrails, 1 abandoned due to intercom problems (Duisberg and Hamburg rail targets)
4 September, 2 abandoned due to engine trouble but 1 of these bombed a secondary target, 1 abandoned due to intercom problems (Hamburg, Hannover, Essen industrial areas) Rotterdam port bombed 4x1100 pound HE.
6 September, 3 attacked Oslo shipyard 12x1100 pound HE, 1 abandoned with engine trouble.
8 September, Oslo shipyard, 2 lost (both shot down by fighters, all 14 crew killed), 2 abandoned due to weather (1 of these attacked by fighter), no bombs dropped.
15 September, Cologne industrial area, 1 abandoned due to contrails
16 September, Cologne industrial area, 1 abandoned due to engine problems.
20 September, Emden industrial area, 4x1100 pound HE
25 September, Emden industrial area, 1 abandoned due to contrails

51 sorties, 19 attacked the primary target, another 5 attacked other targets.

Some of the B-17C were sent to the Middle East and did a couple of sorties there, losing 2 B-17C to non combat reasons.

If Roger Freeman is correct in May 1944 the 8th Air Force 1st Division started a policy of removing the radio room gun and one waist gunner from its B-17s, mainly for centre of gravity reasons, both waist guns were retained though. In March 1945 the 381st group was flying without ball turrets, the 91st without waist guns or gunners, the 398th without chin turrets and the 94th without chin and ball turrets. The 398th liked the performance increase.

In June 1944 the 8th Air Force HQ gave permission to remove the ball turrets from its B-24s, it was a decision left to the groups so some removed the turret and others kept it.

Most successful gun positions on B-17 and B-24? remembering this is what the USAAF thought happened.
The RAF commenced B-17C operations in July 1941. They performed so poorly they were removed from service in September 1941.
In that same month, the Bomber Command was still using Blenheims, Hampdens, Stirlings, Manchesters, Wellingtons and Whitleys in front line service.
For the B-17C to perform worse than this list indicates that this early version was astonishingly bad.

Or that they weren't used in an ideal manner ... or that the aircrew weren't up to snuff ... or ...

My point is that they may well be -- and probably are -- several factors going into this result, only one of which is the airplane itself. Beware of hasty generalizations.
Yeah they should have sent something decent like P-3.....s - oops.

The USAAC under estimated the difficulties of operating at high altitudes. Operating at 1/2 hour to 1 hour at 30,000ft and above was doable. But multi hours flights affected the crews too much. Just using oxygen masks and warm clothing wasn't good enough.
The US couldn't get the machine guns to operate at 15-20,000ft let alone 30,000ft in 1940. Keeping windshields from fogging (or camera ports), Radios tended to short out, air is a natural insulator, maybe not a good one but a lot better than thin air. Engines also had problems with ignition systems shorting out.
These problems affected all aircraft, not just the B-17s. The B-17s were just the plane that ran into some the problems first, or often enough to make people realize it was not isolated incidences.
The various 1940's USAAF cost calculations I have access to. Corrections and extensions welcome.

Thanks for posting that.

For what it's worth, here's a bit of additional price information as given in the book B-25 Mitchell — The Magnificent Medium by N.L. Avery (Phalanx Publishing, 1992). The figures appear in Appendix R, Comparative Bomber Costs, on page 195.

B-25, A, B = $148,000
B-25C = $154,000
B-25D = $172,000
B-25G = $140,000
B-25H = $139,000
B-25J = $150,000

A-20B = $138,000
A-20C = $119,000
A-20G = $112,000
A-20H = $98,000
A-20K = $105,000
A-20J = $119,000
A-26B, C = $235,000
A-26D = $181,000
B-26A = $212,000
B-26B = $240,000
B-26C= $306,000
B-26F= $221,000
B-26G= $200,000

B-17E = $300,000
B-17F = $261,000
B-17G = $230,000
B-24D = $325,000
B-24E = $360,000
B-24H = $351,000
B-24J = $250,000

The description accompanying the figures says this: Figures given represent total flyaway costs including both contractor and government furnished equipment. Some averaging was required and numbers rounded to the nearest thousand.

The source cited is this: Technical Order No. 00-25-30, Unit Costs of Aircraft and Engines, Budget and Fiscal Office, Hq. ATSC, 1 August 1945.
The author is a fucking idiot. Period.

The original source document is cited. Feel free to find it and post what it shows as compared to what the book excerpt shows.

ETA: Or are you talking about the article which started off this thread? If so, then disregard the above.
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From the bottom of the article's page:

Sources: National Musuem Of The USAF, Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, US Air Force

I am pretty sure that none of those sources state that the Mosquito was better suited than the B-17, or that it only became popular after the public saw the movie "Memphis Belle".

The entire article is a dumpster fire as well as the author's other WWII aircraft articles.
He needs to stick to Japanese auto writeups.
Off-topic comment:
Why do so many people use the word that means "do sex" to label something or somebody as fouled up, nasty, evil, or stupid? Like my pastor said just recently in Sunday school, there is something ironic about saying, "Sex is sinful and nasty. You should save it for the the person you love."
Or that they weren't used in an ideal manner ... or that the aircrew weren't up to snuff ... or ...

My point is that they may well be -- and probably are -- several factors going into this result, only one of which is the airplane itself. Beware of hasty generalizations.
If I remember correctly the USAAF advisors were telling the RAF that the B17C wasn't ready or suitable for combat. The RAF obviously knew better, until they realised that it wasn't ready for combat.
The RAF obviously knew better, until they realised that it wasn't ready for combat.
Some of the RAF bombers weren't really ready for combat either.
Neither was the He 111 in 1940 and cousins.
Nor were most of the French bombers.
Or Italian.
And in the spring of 1942 many of the Japanese bombers were not ready for combat or at least the combat they faced.
Very few German or Italian single seat fighters shot down multiple twin engine bombers in one flight.
How comes that He 111 was not ready for combat in 1940?
In France and in the very early days of the BoB they had 3 7.9mm machine guns. No better than what they used in Spain.
But that is what the Ju-88s and DO 17s used, a rather frantic refit program to add more guns was the result. And they still had to change over to night bombing.
The Poles were brave and good pilots but they weren't good enough to get the Germans to realize it was no longer 1937 and something needed to be done in a hurry.

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