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Thread: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

  1. #76
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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amrit View Post
    It's for the whole 1939-45 period, and the 9% is, as far as I can tell, for all operational and training casulaties on/over Britain.

    Thanks.

    That tends to support my recollection that training was very dangerous, as it's at about the ratio of one in six of total deaths.

    On the reasonable assumption that enemy flak over England was fairly minimal , it suggests that whatever the causes a lot of people died out of 'action'.

    I suppose one would need to know the people miles flown in training and on ops to garner a fair figure, but I suspect that rather more fuel was available for ops deep into enemy territory than blundering about in English airspace.
    ..
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  2. #77
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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Is there a statistic about tail-gunners KIA compared to rest of crews?
    I often read that it was the most dangerous place in a bomber...

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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Mate, a great and very informative first post.

    Probably the best first post ever.

    Welcome to the site.

    Can you elaborate on the big discrepancy between the fairly small loss of aircraft, which is very much smaller than I'd thought, and the relatively large loss of air crew?

    I'm assuming that it's explained by a lot of craft landing with mortally wounded or dead crew aboard and the craft being returned to service?

    I suppose there's also a statistical factor that explains the ratio, being that one bomber has, say, seven men in the crew so that if they lose just one man killed every fourth flight and the plane survives a tour of, say, 30 sorties then the plane has still lost a number equivalent to the whole crew.

    I seem to recall that, relative to ops, training flights in England were often more dangerous and there were many casualties from crashes from a range of factors related to inexperience by various crew members and, on occasion, even being mistakenly shot down by their own side because they were where they shouldn't be or had encountered another green fighter pilot or crew. Do you have any info on that?


    Hi Rising Sun, thanks for the welcome and kind words.

    I think you nailed the answer to your question on casualties vs aircraft lost by the aircraft returning with wounded or dead crew aboard and the craft being returned to service.

    Seen doco's with half the crews being taken off badly wounded or killed, while the bomber ''seems'' to be in reasonable shape, or at least repairable.


    On the Strategic bombing offensive, it seems to still get a bad rap at times for failing to break the morale, or the production rates of the Germans until near the of the war and sometimes is thought as not cost effective and a waste of materials and manpower.


    But the U.S. Strategic bombing report done after the war sums it up pretty well, saying in part..........


    ''Allied air power was decisive in the war in Western Europe. Hindsight inevitably suggests that it might have been employed differently or better in some respects. Nevertheless, it was decisive. In the air, its victory was complete. It helped turn the tide overwhelmingly in favor of Allied ground forces.

    The German experience suggests that even a first class military power -- rugged and resilient as Germany was -- cannot live long under full-scale and free exploitation of air weapons over the heart of its territory. By the beginning of 1945, before the invasion of the homeland itself, Germany was reaching a state of helplessness. Her armament production was falling irretrievably, orderliness in effort was disappearing, and total disruption and disintegration were well along. Her armies were still in the field. But with the impending collapse of the supporting economy, the indications are convincing that they would have had to cease fighting -- any effective fighting -- within a few months. Germany was mortally wounded.''


    It's probably that the full effects of the collapse had not reached the enemy's front lines when they were overrun by Allied forces that takes away the full impact of the bombing campaign.

  4. #79
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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    I read an english language bokk; "Air Gunner", I think, once. It contained some statistics on the matter.
    I don´t recall the numbers, but piloting a US strategic bomber should have been a lot safer than being a gunner in the rear fuselage.

    (The worst pilot-gunner "kill-ratio" must have been in the IL-2, many (armour protected) pilots survived a series of (much less protected) gunners.

  5. #80
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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Regarding Survival rates of US strategic bomber crews, I remember reading a passage in a book called my war by Andy Rooney, he was stationed with the 8th airforce in the beginning of the campaign. I think the tour was 24 missions before you were able to go state side and become a instructor. What struck me most while reading that chapter in the book was that due to the losses substained by the 8th airforce at that time it was mathmatically impossible to complete the number of missions required to return to the US. Ronney mentioned that that the high point of losses there were 28-30 year olds Majors and Col. that were leading the squads because there was no one else left. " of the crews returning back home none came from the 8th Airforce".

    Kind of makes you wonder

  6. #81
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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    That tends to support my recollection that training was very dangerous, as it's at about the ratio of one in six of total deaths.
    That's how my Great Uncle died - he was in Bomber Command, as a Navigator on a bomber which flew into a hill in training...

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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    That's how my Great Uncle died - he was in Bomber Command, as a Navigator on a bomber which flew into a hill in training...
    Oh , damn,sorry was it in day or night training?

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    Oh , damn,sorry was it in day or night training?
    I'm not sure - funny that being as he died about 40 years before I was born! All I know is that they never saw the hill they hit, so it will have been either at night or in bad weather.

  9. #84
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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Regarding the forum topic, how many crew'd a b-17? I watched Ken Burn's 'The War' and a pilot said there were 10 people that flew in a b-17 over europe. He said at one point 110 people were lost in bomb raid. I think it was the Black Tuesday thing which was about bombing a v1 base or a german industry plant? Is the man correct? 10 is awefully alot of people i would expect like 6 poeple.

  10. #85
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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Quote Originally Posted by SS Ouche-Vittes View Post
    Regarding the forum topic, how many crew'd a b-17? I watched Ken Burn's 'The War' and a pilot said there were 10 people that flew in a b-17 over europe. He said at one point 110 people were lost in bomb raid. I think it was the Black Tuesday thing which was about bombing a v1 base or a german industry plant? Is the man correct? 10 is awefully alot of people i would expect like 6 poeple.
    Ten is right! 1 tail gunner ("tail-end charlie"), 2 waist gunners, 1 ball turret gunner, 1 radio operator, 1 bombardier, 1 top turret gunner/technician, 1 navigator, 1 co-pilot, 1 pilot.
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    i was aware only of the 1 tail gunner , 2 waist gunners, 1 ball turret gunner, 1 top turret gunner/technician, 1 co-pilot, 1 pilot. I assumed that some of them would also do 2 jobs simultaneously like navigating and bombarding.

  12. #87
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    Default Re: Survival rate of the US and UK strategic bomber crews.

    Quote Originally Posted by SS Ouche-Vittes View Post
    i was aware only of the 1 tail gunner , 2 waist gunners, 1 ball turret gunner, 1 top turret gunner/technician, 1 co-pilot, 1 pilot. I assumed that some of them would also do 2 jobs simultaneously like navigating and bombarding.
    Some crew were dual-trained, in addition to basic first aid skills. This applies to both US and Brit crews.

    Statistically, oddly enough, the safest crew position in a B17 was the ball turret. Casualty risk was given as 10%, citing this figure from a post-war USAF study. This from "History of Aviation" Hodder and Stoughton, 1976.

    As to training accidents, the toll of about one in 6 deaths seems correct, from reading the RAF History, which I did several years ago.

    As to relatives killed.
    A cousin of mine, was dorsal turret gunner in a Lockheed Hudson.
    They took off from Gibraltar in morning fog, and the pilot was late making the 15 degree right turn after the wheels left the runway. The Hudson flew straight into the rock. The remains of the crew were identified by their teeth.

    A genuine event.

    Accidents on operations were rare, but happened, as did accidents in training.
    My math teacher was ex RAF Navigator, Lancasters.
    He was off duty one afternoon as Lancs took off to form up for a raid.
    Two took off, and turned opposite ways, one to the right, the other to the left.
    The fireball was 500 yards wide, at about 1500 feet above ground: 15 dead men before you could even pray for them. One of the Lancs had had a reporter onboard, to write up that night's raid.

    And one other casualty-causing factor needs mentioning regarding Lancasters.
    As phenomenally good as the aircraft was, it killed a lot of crews, and the Air Ministry let it continue.
    The fuselage escape door at the rear right was too small to permit an unassisted exit of a crewmember bailing out. A larger door had been designed, protoyped, built, but the Air Ministry refused to slow the production lines for long enough to have the new door fitted.
    It was subsequently fitted to Lincolns and Shackletons, post war. This data from a newpaper article, circa 1980, still in my possession.

    Regards, Uyraell.
    Last edited by Uyraell; 03-27-2009 at 12:57 AM.

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