USAAF Bombing Statistics from 1942 to 1944

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Sorry if Im being dumb here, does 'Enemy Kills Claimed' refer to the number of fighter kills claimed by crews of that a/c type, or kills claimed by the LW against the a/c type?
Even I am not sure if the stats here are accurate it was just something to think about. If anyone has other figures, please post them so we can compare and talk about them.

BombTaxi that is a good question, when I first read it I was think the number of aircraft that the Luftwaffe lost but it could also go that way too.

The source of this document is:
It refers to the claims of the gunners on the bombers. Obviously everyone questions those claims. It is understandable how they could be inflated with many gunners shooting at the same target. I think those numbers are very inflated and most historians will agree.
I'd grant the heavies overclaimed...then again, that was inevitable in a Combat Box, because most gunners who saw an enemy plane going down would probably have had a pop at it. I don't envy the Intelligence Officers who had to sort out who killed what!

On the other hand, Im mystified by the fact that A-20 and A-26 crews claimed just 18 enemy a/c between them...surely, with A-20s in New Guinea and A-26s in the ETO/MTO, those claims are far too low?
I think you are correct it is bomber kills of enemy fighters. It would be very hard to confirm these those because as even was saying gunners shot at the same aircraft and would claim the same aircraft.

Great website by the way Kanuk
Hi Lancaster,

When you say the Lancaster did so much better than the B-17, exactly what do you mean? Tons per sorties, loss rate, kills per sortie, what???

The Lancaster carried more bombs per sortie but the loss rate per bombing sortie was 60% higher than the loss rate for the B-17. It would pay to be a B-17 crew member if survival was the prime concern. A plane with larger payload will always deliver more payload per sortie than aplane with a smaller payload ... that's obvious. A higher number is always higher.

In fact, the loss rate was better for all US bombrs on the list than it was for the Lancaster, Halifax, Wellington, Sterling, Whitley, Blenheim, Manchester, or Hampden. The only British bomber aircraft with a better loss rate than the B-17 was the Mosquito, and it was about 15% lower.

But the B-25, B-26, A-20, and A-26 in US service had lower loss rates (less than half) than the Mosquito did. The B-26, B-26, and A-26 in US service all delivered more bombs per sortie than the Mosquito in British service and with lower loss rates.

Not trying to trash the Lancaster, which was and is a great plane or the British. But the B-17 was pretty damed good, too. Tougher and safer would be hard to find in the category of 4-engine WWII bomber.

Maybe what we need is to define what we mean when we say "better" or "worse."
loss rate of the Lancaster by Group:

1- 2.3%
3- 1.4%
5- 2.7%
6- 1.8%
8- 2.3%

Avg- 2.1%

BC - Group Stats

American Medium and Light bombers, in the ETO, loss rate was 16%.

Mosquito from the link 1.53%.
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Hi Milosh,

Here's what I have for the USAAF in the ETO. Sorties are bombing sorties, not ALL sorties. Loss rate would be lower for ALL sorties.

1) B-17 – 291508 sorties – 4688 lost equals a combined 1.61% loss rate. 2.0 long tons per sortie. (571461 long tons)
2) B-24 – 226775 sorties – 3626 lost equals a combined 1.60% loss rate. 1.8 long tons per sortie. (404025 long tons)
3) B-25 – 61177 sorties – 380 lost equals a combined 0.60 loss rate. 1.2 long tons per sortie. (75875 long tons)
4) B-26 – 129943 sorties – 911 lost equals a combined 0.70% loss rate. 1.2 long tons per sortie. (151234 long tons)
5) A-20 – 39492 sorties – 265 lost equals a combined 0.67% loss rate. 0.7 long tons per sortie. (28443 long tons)
6) A-26 - 11567 sorties – 67 lost equals a combined 0.58% loss rate. 1.4 long tons per sortie. (16120 long tons)

Data from DerAdlers post above.

From RAF Bomber Command we have the data below. Sorties are ALL sorties, not just bombing sorties.

1) Lancaster – 148403 sorties – 3832 lost equals a combined 2.45% loss rate. 4.1 long tons per sortie. (608612 long tons)
2) Halifax – 82773 sorties – 2232 lost equals a combined 2.70% loss rate. 3.1 long tons per sortie. (224207 long tons)
3) Wellington – 47409 sorties – 1709 lost equals a combined 3.60% loss rate. 1.1 long tons per sortie. (41823 long tons)
4) Stirling – 18440 sorties – 769 lost equals a combined 4.17% loss rate. 2.5 long tons per sortie. (27821 long tons)
5) Mosquito – 39795 sorties – 396 lost equals a combined 1.00% loss rate. 0.9 long tons per sortie. (26867 long tons)
6) Whitley – 9858 sorties – 431 lost equals a combined 4.37% loss rate. 1.1 long tons per sortie. (9845 long tons)
7) Hampden – 16541 sorties – 607 lost equals a combined 3.67% loss rate. 0.7 long tons per sortie. (9115 long tons)
8) Blenheim – 12214 sorties – 534 lost equals a combined 4.37% loss rate. 0.3 long tons per sortie. (3028 long tons)
9) Manchester – 1269 sorties – 76 lost equals a combined 5.99% loss rate. 2.1 long tons per sortie. (1826 long tons)

Data from Osprey Combat Aircraft (31) Lancaster Squadrons by Jon Lake © 2002

The math seems pretty simple to me. The highest US loss rate was 1.61%. The only British aircraft with a lower loss rate was the Mosquito. When I cited a 15% lopwer loss rate, I was citing loss rate on bombing missions, which is 1.38% If you include all missions (photo, fighter, etc) … THEN you get to 1.00%.

If I posted loss rate for bombing missions only (I have the data), they average 0.42% higher all around.

In general the British Lancaster carried more bombs. No news there, we all know it. The USA dropped more tonnage but took more sorties per ton to do it.

There is no "winner" here or "loser." It is just combat statistics. That's why I responded when Lancaster said he noticed how much better the Lancaster did than the B-17. Better at WHAT?

It flew fewer sorties and had a higher loss rate. Doesn't make it better or worse. It means that the threat when the Lancasters flew was, on average, about 0.85% higher for Lancasters than it was for B-17's.

That is hardly a standout statistic to make a case for better or worse.

So I posted to say that I didn't notice the Lancaster as being any better or worse, except at payload, which we can easily see even in Wikipedia numbers for the aircraft specs. When it came to COMBAT, you were statistically about in the same ballpark for probability of survival in a Lancaster or a B-17, and the war would not have gone as it did if either of the top two British or US bombers had not been there and doing good work.

On the other hand, if we didn't deploy the bottom two bombers (for tonnage dropped), would we have noticed? You would if you had been a crew member since the bottom two US bombers had a much smaller loss rate than the bottom two British bombers.

I attribute that to the fact that the bottom two British bombers for tonnage were the Manchester and the Blenheim, which operated in a much more hostile early war sky while the bottom two US bombers for tonnage, the A-20 and A-26, operated later in the war when air superiority was, if not a fact, well on its way to becoming so. The A-26 in particular, operated late in the war when we were sending over 1,000-plane raids while the A-26's were being a nuisance. The Germans, rightly so, were MUCH more concerned about a large number of bombers going for a single target than a small number of attack planes going for myriad smaller-priority targets.
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I have to say I'm scratching my head about Adler's original numbers. Apparently they are 1942-1944 only, yet they are significantly higher than Davis reports for the combined total of 8th and 15th Airforce bombing sorties and losses through 1945.

Davis has 402,395 for 8th and 15th AF bombing sorties, 6,371 for losses for the whole war, Adler's numbers are 518,283 for B-17 and B-24 sorties, 8,314 for losses for B-17s and B-24s, and as noted that's only up to the end of '44.
Actually I have new numbers (from Bomber Command only) from an internet Bomber Command site that say the Mosquito has an overall Bomber Command loss rate of 0.6% (39.487 sorties and 229 losses) while the Lancaster has an overll loss rate of 2.2% (150.332 sorties and 3,378 losses). Don't know if I believe it all ...

Seems you can get different numbers just by looking at different sites ... pretty discouraging ... US sites, operated by the USAF, are fairly non-changing.

The source was: BC - Group Stats

While the numbers are slightly different, the only numbers under 1.6% are for the Mustang, Liberator, Flying Fortress, Mosquito and Beaufighter (what was it doing in BOMBER Command?). Of these, the Mosquito was the highest loss rate at 0.6% while the others didn't fly many missions for Bomber Command and weren't lost much when they did. Probably the result of the mission area of operations. Not many Bf 109's located 500 miles out at sea ...

The overall loss rates are very probably as shown above this post for all commands in British service including Bomber Command and all others.
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The Beaufighters were night-fighters from 141 Squadron, when it was transferred to 100 (Bomber Support) Group in December 1943. They only flew a few sorties, as can be seen, before they completed their conversion to Mosquitos, which both they and the other long-range night-fighter squadrons then flew through to the end of the war.

100 Group did not bomb - it flew sorties to support the bombers, either by attacking Luftwaffe night-fighters or by interfering with their command and communications. The losses for 100 Group really shouldn't be included with the bombers.

The Mustangs were used briefly, as can also be seen, by 617 Squadron for low-level marking.

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