WW2 Strategic Bomber Characteristics

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wuzak, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Which characteristics were the most important for WW2 era strategic bombers?

    Bomb load?
    Maximum bomb size?
    Speed?
    Defensive armament?
    High operating altitude?
    Armour?
    Other?


    Which could most be sacrificed in order to maximise the others?
     
  2. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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  3. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    #3 tomo pauk, Jan 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
    I'm a fan of the unarmed bomber, so ditch the gun weaponry (and the men manning it, and the life support for those, along with armor protecting them), so you can be reasonably fast.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    High cruise speed with payload means less time in enemy air space.

    Cost is a characteristic few like to discuss. Heavy bombers are very expensive to purchase and operate. It was true during WWII and it's still true today. If the bomber is also inaccurate it makes you wonder if they are worth the price....
     
  5. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Yes.

    The ability to carry a variety of weaponry increases the flexibility of operations and versatility of the aircraft.

    Like Tomo, I think high speed unarmed bombers were a real asset and I think the concept was much underrated by all sides during the war.
     
  6. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Apart from the Mosquito, were there any high speed unarmed bombers deployed during WW2?

    Strategy is something determined by the command. As Nuuumannn says, flexibility in bomb loads will make a bomber suitable for a wider variety of tasks/strategies.
     
  7. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    What types of bombs are best for strategic campaigns?

    A large number of small bombs, or a small number of large bombs? Or intermediate numbers of medium sized bombs?

    I guess that all depends on the type of target.
    What about for oil refineries/synthetic oil plants?
    Is it the same for industrial targets like airframe or engine manufacturers?
     
  8. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    And makes interception more difficult.



    Are strategic bombers necessarily heavy bombers?
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Most British bombers (including the Battle) were "Strategic" bombers in 1939. They were intended to bomb the potential enemies homeland, production, transport and cities.

    Likewise many other countries had large numbers of "light" and "medium" STRATEGIC bombers.

    They were not intended to take part in the land battle in direct support of the army (Close support). They were not intended for interdiction missions ( bombing supply routes behind the lines). They were intended to take the battle to the enemies homeland and cities.

    They just weren't very good at it. Cities, factories and civilians proved to be much more resilient that most (all?) pre-war planners gave the them credit for.

    The Japanese used both single engine and twin engine bombers to bomb Chinese cities.

    Is a plane used for mine laying doing tactical (sinking ships) or strategic (closing off a supply route or denying raw supplies) work?
     
  10. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    i don't think that a small fast and unarmed bomber was the right reply
    from the Neil file
    Mosquito XVI range most economical cruise (245 mph) with 2,000 lbs of internal bombs 1,795 miles
    Manchester as above (185 mph) with 8,100 lbs of internal bombs 1,630 miles and a Lancaster surely did better
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I think range speed payload and structural strength are all significant. Other issues like defensive weapons are still significant, but less so than the abovementioned.

    One thing I would mention that is not listed....accuracy. Not strictly part of the aircraft, but the guidance systems are as important as the payload, surely
     
  12. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    So, you are valuing load capacity over speed?

    Other posters mentioned high speed and unarmed. The Mosquito may have been the only operational aircraft by this description, but it may not be what they had in mind.

    Handley Page's chief designed, Volkert, submitted a paper in 1937 outlining a high speed unarmed bomber to the basic requirements of P.13/36 - the specification that produced the Halifax and Manchester. This was to be powered by 2 Rolls-Royce Vultures, as per the Manchester (and the not proceeded with HP.56), have a bomb load of 6-8000lb and a max speed of 380mph.

    Would you still prefer the Lanc over such an aircraft?
     
  13. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The Arado Ar 234 (although there were variants with defensive armament), hence my point. I'm sure its been mentioned in the past, but there were senior personnel within the RAF who believd that big, heavy bombers were a waste of man power etc once the Mosquito demonstrated how effective it could be and some even went as far as proposing (on paper anyway) that the heavy bombers be dispensed with and Bomber Command concentrate on re-equipping solely with bomber variants of the Mosquito. A rather rash and difficult decision considering everything already in place in Bomber Command by mid '42 - 43, but that's how some saw the value of the machine.
     
  14. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #14 nuuumannn, Jan 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
    Most certainly - not just a good bomb sight once over the target, but what use is the best bomber in the world if it can't find its way to the target?

    Effective radio navigation aids, countermeasures to jamming etc; the scientific stuff all became a vital part of waging a successful bombing campaign. The Luftwaffe was the first to effectively use radio navigation aids for finding and releasing their bombs on targets at night and in cloud during the invasion of Poland and subsequently during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, years before Bomber Command would contemplate the idea, even when British scientists were hammering home how effective these aids were and could be. The Bomber boys refused to see that their astro naviagation and dead reckoning was not getting them to the targets and bombing as accurately as they were led to believe.
     
  15. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The daylight fast bomber can also make the escort's job easier - they don't have to ess in order to have their speed up (low speed makes escorts vulnerable to the enemy fighters), so they burn less fuel for distance covered. Faster bomber spends less time in the AAA 'kill area', reducing the number of salvos fired on the bomber stream, and making a job harder for the predictors, analog computers and inter-connected AAA to have accurate lead on the target. Another thing is that short night does not affect the sorties as much as it will do for slower bombers. The bomber can make most of the ingress during the night, bomb during the dawn and egress during morning. The interception of fast target during the night was never an easy job, the slower bombers being a far more awarding task. Another thing is that a 4-engined unarmed bomber can do with 4-5 crew members, hence easing it on manpower demands (both in numbers and in training), while suffering less human losses in case of being shot down. It's also less expensive to build (no power turrets, MGs ammo).

    The decently sized bomb bay is a prerequisite. Mosquito did have a decent bomb bay, but only when compared with twin-engined bombers, and once it was of bulged variety. The 4-engined bombers should have a bomb bay sized more or less like Lancaster have had, so any meaningful combination of bombs can be carried, depending on target type.
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #16 stona, Jan 17, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
    Bombers carrying large bomb loads are an inevitable result of the relative innaccuracy of bombing in WW2. In simple terms you needed a lot of bombers dropping a lot of bombs to effectively hit your target.
    Even RAF raids carried out with the benefit of electronic aids,pathfinders,master bombers etc in late 1943 and later demonstrate this. Peenemunde springs to mind.

    Using the RAF's standard Mk XIV bombsight in tests in March 1945, 9 Sqn ,bombing in daylight from 20,000ft achieved an average error of 195 yards. Using the more accurate but rare (about 1,000 manufactured) SABS MkllA bombsight, 617 Sqn achieved an average error of 125 yards at the same time. This was a specialist precision bombing unit,using the SABS operationally to drop special ordnance like Grand Slam and Tallboy.
    The USAAF using their Norden sight rarely achieved even 9 Sqn's accuracy. Only 31% of american bombs landed within 1000 ft (call it 330 yards) of the target.

    To be statistically certain of destroying a typical industrial building 200' x 200' you have to drop hundreds of bombs.

    In an ideal world a fast,unarmed bomber carrying a lighter load (like the Mosquito) might seem the solution but an ideal world it was not.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  17. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    If one has a bomber force consisting from Mosquitoes, why wolud he bomb from 20000 ft? The XB-42 (Mixmaster) was said to be able to carry 8000 lbs, plenty of bombs for 2-engined job. A 4-engined unarmed bomber never existed (at least not in service)*, that one would be able to match any armed bomber in bomb hauling capacity.

    *neither did the 2-engined, unarmed bomber with some really powerful engines, like R-2800, Griffon, Sabre, or similar 2000+ HP hardware
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I was assuming that the targets were defended.

    Steve
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    #19 Shortround6, Jan 17, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
    You could look at an A-26 for an idea of the performance to be had from a twin engine bomber using R-2800s ( at least without turbos), granted it was not unarmed but it only carried a three man crew (with glass nose). It was the first twin engine bomber to use a laminar flow wing, it was the first bomber to use double slotted flaps.

    It had a Radius of about 790-860 N miles (908-909 S miles) at about 10,000ft with 4000lb of bombs at about 230mph economical cruise speed. max speed of 372mph at 10,000ft may have been using 2370 hp per engine using WER and water injection.

    It's wing was about 20% bigger than a Mosquito's wing but take-off weight could go to 37-40,000lbs.

    Yes you could ditch the turrets and the fixed guns and gain 1500-3000lb of bombs/fuel but you can't make the plane much smaller and still hold the extra fuel/bombs. You could add two stage superchargers or turbos for more altitude capability (Ceiling at "combat weight ( 29-32,000lbs) at max power with 500ft per minute in hand was about 22000-23400ft) but that takes volume and some of the saved weight from the guns.

    Bombing Berlin with a big twin with 5000lb of bombs (same load as a B-17) certainly seems possible but the speed advantage may be a cruise of 230-250mph instead of the B-17s 180mph.

    Please remember that the a lot of the Mosquito's performance came from the 2 stage engines and was only shown in 1943. Decisions as to which types of bombers to use if you want them in large numbers in 1943 had to be made in 1941 at the latest.

    Granted there was a bit of messing around with the program and things were not pushed as fast as they could have been been but the first 3 A-26 prototypes were ordered in in mid 1941, well before Pearl Harbor. First combat use was in late 1944. Maybe you could speed up things so your "fast bomber" shows up in the Spring of 1944?
     
  20. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    Wuzak i prefer a Lancaster over a paper plane. Draw a bomber is not the same that build it in hundreds/thousands
     
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