WW2 US Heavy Bomber Group organization, etc

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by kettbo, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #1 kettbo, Apr 1, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
    I was looking around tonight here and on Wiki...think I got started on some answers
    #planes assigned to a bomber group = 48 (72 in 1945)
    # squadrons per group = 4
    so 12 per squadron...initially


    # of planes available per mission for the group, 1943...ballpark figures fine
    # of planes available per mission, 1944,

    If you have info or can point me toward info, chime on in!
    I know the groups on paper had more planes in 1945...
     
  2. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #2 kettbo, Apr 1, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2012
  3. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    George - the 8th AF squadron strengths and formation constituency altered as more bombers became available. While the doctrine authorized 12 a/c squadron formations, the heavy bomb groups originally were not so equipped. The 8th AF, for example decided to plan and implement 40+ Bomb Groups at the very beginning of combat ops in 1942 - but it was impossible to achieve that growth, or supply the necessary aircraft and men to man them.

    The USAAF strategy was to organize the groups, understrength, but as planned in context of achieving combat operations with the core TO&E of pilots, crews and support services to enable the strength to grow into existing operational groups as the manufacturing pipeline started flowing.

    The core combat ops squadrons started at six, moved quickly to 9 in 1943 (4x9=36 for the Group operations). I late 1943/early 1944 the mission strengths were 12-13 each for 54 ship Groups (For a Maximum effort in which all four squadrons flew) and remained so for the rest of the war. Not every, in fact most, mission achieved full combat strength on a given day due to aborts, crashes, combat damage from prior missions, etc. Also, many missions authorized one squadron to stand down for a rest on that day and one of the other squadrons may have flown some of the resting squadron's a/c because of being unable to get 13 a/c ready for the mission

    But when you hear the word 'box of bombers' from fighter reports, or assigned escort terminology, they were describing a one group/54 ship collection.

    Having said this I have also seen many combat reports in which the assembly of each squadron might be 9-10 bombers each because of the above reasons.
     
  4. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #4 kettbo, Apr 2, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
    Good answer! Appreciate your insights!
    I had seen this somewhere before, just could not nail it down.

    I have heard of COMPOSITE Groups, guess this is formed with the fillers (?) as you mentioned

    With 20 years active Army service, I understand borrowing equipment, complete crews, or filler crewmen to meet mission requirements.

    A long-time miniatures gamer, I am looking at something above individual plane on plane action. The debate continues on which plane does better individually.... looking more at Fighter Flight and Bomber Squadrons being represented by a single miniature, mission orders, timetables.....have both sides actually PLAN the mission. I'll throw a few lumps in for fun to screw up the timetable and link-ups but give the Germans diversions, other raisds, etc to deal with as well as have them figure out what the target is and where to gather the interceptors, basic fuel status especially the GUSTAVs.
     
  5. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    another question

    I recall reading that the boxes often flew at 180 mph...
    any insights> loaded and after bomb drop? Thanks in advance
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    That would be at the high end of the various cruising speeds I've read for the B-17 and in the middle of those for the B-24.
    Others will most definitely know more :)

    By the way RLV fighters almost invariably took off on their first mission of the day with a full fuel load,including auxiliary (drop) tank. Subsequent missions were flown without an auxiliary tank. This from pilot accounts and 8th AF intelligence reports based on PoW interrogations.
    This obviously affects the range and duration of any second sorties to engage the bombers,typically as they withdrew.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  7. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Good find Stona -

    Kettler - B-17s cruised at 150 IAS and B24s at 180 IAS.
    The differences in True airspeed not as distinctive because the B-17s were flying 3-6000 feet higher altitude and frequently in the 200mph TAS while the B24s at 21-2200o were humping along at 215mph TAS.

    it is all a function of temperature and air density differences
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    What was the TOE for a B-17 heavy bomber group during 1941?
    1942?
    1943?
    1944?
    1945?
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to know that too. I must have at least some of this .......somewhere :)
    TO&E = Tables of Organisation and Equipment for those wondering. They detail a military organisations authorised strength in personnel and equipment.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The TOE would probably be the same pre-deployment to combat theatres, but under authorized strength.

    The typical B-17 bomb squadron TO&E officer count was 59-60 officers, 310-318 Enlisted. That includes clerk typists, Intelligence officers, legal, medical, admininistrative, etc - but not HQ compliment of 18 officers and 36 EM/NCO. It does not include all the supplementary service, quartermaster, logistics and base security.

    Look to Freeman's Mighty Eighth War manual for details.

    This would be an example described for May 1943, 305BG whose authorized sqaudron levels were for 12 B-17s per Squadron, but probably 60+ B-17s actually in the Group at peak strength. In 1945 the number of B-17s and B-24s withing the group on VE Day (assuming no more losses after April 25) would be 72.
     
  11. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    So the listed top speed of a bomber is just so much useless information, as long as they had to fly in formations ?

    Did they keep the same cruise speed after they'd dropped their bombs, and cleared the target?
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Nope. High loads at takeoff minus burning 45% of their fuel and all their bombs, gave the B-17 more legs to run on - and at 26000 feet they were running with less drag on the way home (heavy a/c=higher AoA to generate enough lift=higher induced drag).
     
  13. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #13 kettbo, Apr 3, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2012
    More interesting details, THANKS drgondog!
    So B 17s inbound at 150, B-24s at 180-ish, egress would be.....approx is fine

    Trying to come up with map scale, plane movement rates
    until your lovely posts, I was looking at 90 mph per movement point; bombers spd 2 (180), fighters cruising at 3 (270), combat speed 4 (360)
    now ya screwed me up! :oops:


    STONA, thank you for the info on drop tanks! Really good of you to post this
     
  14. bomber lover

    bomber lover New Member

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    At the time of the 54 plane Group had not the U.S. gone to a 18 plane Squadron for 54 plane fighting box formation?
     
  15. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Each bomb group in the ETO had four squadrons. Late 1942 to summer 1943 Each squadron typically had 12 a/c and on a max effort flew ~ 36 (9 per squadron) per group. As the attrition took its toll, say after Schweinfurt, the next mission might be 20-24 ships. As the 8th built up its strength the typical mission would be 10-12 per squadron. Tho get to a 54 ship box, another squadron or say two lights of another group would be inserted to get to a 54 ship box.

    As to inbound speeds remember that 150 IAS at 26000 feet is about 205 TAS for a B-17 and frequently the could come back at 165+ IAS assuming they weren't protecting a straggler. Given that the B-24 was cruising at 175-180 IAS at 20-22000 the true air speeds weren't as far apart as the IAS differences indicated.
     
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