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Did the British Need a British Bomber?

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  • Did the British Need a British Bomber?

    I read a comment from Henry Stimson's diary (I think it was) to the effect that, given limited production resources in 1940 and 1941, it would have been better for Britain to cease heavy bomber production and concentrate on producing fighters, and let the US produce correspondingly fewer fighters in favor of more Lend-Lease bombers. Stimson hypothesized, sympathetically, that Britain was thinking of its postwar era, when it would need a strong multiengine aircraft industry.

    Presumably, Lancs and their kin would have been used until attrition reduced their numbers, as B-17s came online and went to Britain.*

    Any thoughts about this scheme? Was it feasible during the war's early years - and would it have made more sense than having both countries produce both weapons, given that they were coordinating their efforts closely?

    Jon

    *Stimson, infuriated when the US Army's Judge Advocate declared illegal training of British B-17 pilots on US air bases, asked TWA to let the War Department charter a big four-engine plane for basic British pilot training. The idea was that by the time that basic training was finished, completed bombers could be sent to Canada and the British crews could finish their bomber training there. While Stimson had to think of the US Army's needs, he was a true warhawk when it came to providing aid to Britain, unlike many in government at the time.
    "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
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  • #2
    Welllll,.... maybe but the British were outproducing the Germans in single engine fighters by June 1940 at the expense of the bomber fleet in any case. I believe the British knew their current bomber fleet was inadequate for strategic bombing in any case and the need for fighters was considered pressing what with events as they were. In fact the RAF was actually stronger than the LW by early 1941, unfortunately it was dispersed all over the British holdings as well as the Atlantic.

    I do agree the British were looking post-war, however, even Canada used it aircradt prodcution facilities post war for developing the civilian aviation industry (much like the auto industry from the tank factories).
    The Purist

    Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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    • #3
      Ever see a B-17 try to lift a Tallboy ? Let alone a Grand Slam.

      While the aircraft with which Bomber Command entered WW2 left much to be desired, the contribution of legends like the Avro Lancaster and De Havilland Mosquito was hardly minor.
      Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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      • #4
        The British did buy a lot of American Medium Bombers. They did good service in North Africa and the CBI. I am not sure the B-17 would have met their requirements. Possibly the B-24 would have passed.

        Pruitt
        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by the ace View Post
          Ever see a B-17 try to lift a Tallboy ? Let alone a Grand Slam.

          While the aircraft with which Bomber Command entered WW2 left much to be desired, the contribution of legends like the Avro Lancaster and De Havilland Mosquito was hardly minor.
          No debate there - the Mos and Lancaster were fine planes!

          It really comes down to optimization of production facilities, when transportation is taken into account. Fighters built in the UK did not need trans-oceanic shipment before they could be put into service, while multiengine planes could make their way to North Africa (via the Caribbean, South America and West Africa) or Europe (via Canada) more readily. If the US could build more bombers when it had fewer fighter demands (or, put more engines into bombers rather than allocate them to pursuit craft), it might have been able to get more bombers into the Reich faster.

          Even when Britain had more fighters than the LW, it probably needed plenty to defend the Home Isles from bombing attacks. That said, I guess there can be "too much of a good thing" (though hard to think that with reference to Hawkers and Spits!).
          "There are only two professions in the world in which the amateur excels the professional. One, military strategy, and, two, prostitution."
          -- Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

          (Avatar: Commodore Edwin Ward Moore, Republic of Texas Navy)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
            The British did buy a lot of American Medium Bombers. They did good service in North Africa and the CBI. I am not sure the B-17 would have met their requirements. Possibly the B-24 would have passed.

            Pruitt
            I believe Costal Command used both the B17 and B24.

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            • #7
              ...Possibly the B-24 would have passed.
              Yup. Longer range, heavier payload.

              Always liked the B-24 over the B-17. It has a certain 'je nai c'est quoi'...

              The medium Boston and Havoc flew for all the CW air forces in Africa if I'm not mistaked and were a constant worry for Rommel's logistics team
              The Purist

              Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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              • #8
                Yes, I believe the British gave the B-17's we sent to Coastal Command. The early model B-17's were quite vulnerable to Fighters.

                Pruitt
                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                • #9
                  There was a very interesting thread some time ago about the idea that the UK should have stopped building Lancs and put those resources into building swarms of Mosquitos.

                  As I recall it was a hard point to rebuff as the Mosequito was a standout performer in all regards. Huge payload, great speed, small crew, cheap to build and capable of being built in a garden shed.
                  What would Occam say?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                    Yup. Longer range, heavier payload.

                    Always liked the B-24 over the B-17. It has a certain 'je nai c'est quoi'...

                    The medium Boston and Havoc flew for all the CW air forces in Africa if I'm not mistaked and were a constant worry for Rommel's logistics team
                    My uncle served as a bombadier on B-24s and he seemed to envy the B-17 crews as having better PR than the Liberators. He also thought that they climbed more quickly, his main memory being of a B-17 tail gunner flipping him the bird as they passed his airplane on take off.
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                    during Virginia’s Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by billscottmorri View Post
                      There was a very interesting thread some time ago about the idea that the UK should have stopped building Lancs and put those resources into building swarms of Mosquitos.

                      As I recall it was a hard point to rebuff as the Mosequito was a standout performer in all regards. Huge payload, great speed, small crew, cheap to build and capable of being built in a garden shed.

                      I was one of them .
                      Less crew for the same overall payload.
                      And lower loss of life.
                      And more accurate.
                      And quicker journey so that the enemy has less time to deal with you. And cheaper planes as built from wood.
                      And shorter runways.
                      And smaller airports required.
                      And less men required.
                      And less ordnance to do the same job concerning gun ammo.
                      .....etc .
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by billscottmorri View Post
                        There was a very interesting thread some time ago about the idea that the UK should have stopped building Lancs and put those resources into building swarms of Mosquitos.

                        As I recall it was a hard point to rebuff as the Mosequito was a standout performer in all regards. Huge payload, great speed, small crew, cheap to build and capable of being built in a garden shed.
                        For a brief moment I thought the same. When I realised that the payload of the Lanc 14,000 lbs was far greater than the Mostquito's 4,000 lbs and the through put of the Mosquito production probably could not keep up had the strategy been changed. The idea building the Mosquito in a shed is stretching the elastic quite a bit. Off the cuff one might see possibilities. I wonder if at the time this was really possible. Begs the question if enough pilots would be available, when needed most urgently. With simple arithmetic
                        based on payload alone of 3 Mozzies for one Lanc. Some 16,000 of extra pilots plus an equal number of navigators, available in 1942/43, with a minimun of how many extra (4,000 pilot navigator pairs?) in training in 1941. Would this be achievable? I think the pilot training programme was already running flat out for that year. Nothing of course is impossible but maybe improbable. Don't be offended me asking the question: Comparing simple payloads with the British heavies were US B 17 and B24 not much better than four engined mediums?

                        Ed.
                        Last edited by dutched; 18 Sep 12, 17:19.
                        The repetition of affirmations leads to belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, you better wake up and look at the facts.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dutched View Post
                          For a brief moment I thought the same. When I realised that the payload of the Lanc 14,000 lbs was far greater than the Mostquito's 4,000 lbs and the through put of the Mosquito production probably could not keep up had the strategy been changed. The idea building the Mosquito in a shed is stretching the elastic quite a bit. Off the cuff one might see possibilities. I wonder if at the time this was really possible. Begs the question if enough pilots would be available, when needed most urgently. With simple arithmetic
                          based on payload alone of 3 Mozzies for one Lanc. Some 16,000 of extra pilots plus an equal number of navigators, available in 1942/43, with a minimun of how many extra (4,000 pilot navigator pairs?) in training in 1941. Would this be achievable? I think the pilot training programme was already running flat out for that year.

                          Ed.
                          Some very good points, but concerning pilots, losses would be far lower, same with navigators. Further, the additional crewmen that a Lanc needs could be used where the armed forces really needed them, ie infantry.

                          However, the point is moot. The war was won and BC played its part. With a different strategy BC might of helped win earlier if deployed with different aircraft and with a better plan. Otherwise, Mossies simply would have reduced casualties .
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                          • #14
                            A-The B-24 had a fatal weakness that the B-17 did not have-if a ''Liberator'' was holed anywhere in the wings it was curtains for both the crewand the plane.
                            In contrast, have you ever seen the famous photograph of a B-17 which had an Me-109 collide with its fuselage yet made it it back to base with a huge visible crack in the rear fuselage?
                            That stresses my point that although the B-24 had great range-a boon to hard pressed R.A.F. Coastal Command in the Battle of the Atlantic -it was-despite its boxcar like appearance -much more operationally fragile than the B-17 or the Avro Lancaster particularly if flak hit any apart of its wings and holed them.
                            There is a famous newsreel clip -often used in W.W. 2 TV documentaries where one second the Liberator is flying normally then a fire appears in one wing root from a flak hit and in seconds the whole of the afflicted wing disintergrates dooming the crew who would not have a chance of escaping.
                            Again, Stimson -as a New Deal fan, a man I normally liked-was havering if he thought we Brits would have been better using the B-17 than British bombers like the Avro Lancaster which with a basic 8 tons bombload therefore could deliver three times the 2 and one half Ton maximum bomb load of the B-17.
                            As someone else has rightly posted too, the B-17 couldn't have lifted/carried the ''Tallboy'' bombs that destoyed the German Bielfield viaduct and turned the German battlessio turtle in a Norwegian fiojrd-or was it ''Grand Slams?''.
                            Similarly when the B-17 first entered R.A.F. service in 1941, it was flop in the convential bombing role.
                            Although in fairness, these early B-17's did not posses the tail guns of the B-17 -''G''.and subsequent B-17 marques.
                            Again, I wonder what Stimson thought about the installation of the British Rolls Royce ''Merlin '' engine that transformed the American P-51 ''Mustang'' from a mediocre ground attack plane with Allison engines, to the undisputed fighter King of the skies over Nazi Germany from 1944 onwards.?
                            The three worst British bombrers were the ''Lancaster's immediate precursor the ''Manchester'' with its fatally flawed engines; the Fairey Battle with its pathetic payload and miserable single defensive machine gun and the'' Short Stirling'' which could not operate effectively in German nigh skies above 12,000 feet-making it ultra -vulnerable to Nazi nighfighters and flak.
                            One American built bomber that did better than the B-17 in RAF Bomber and coastal Command service early in the war was the Lockheed ''Hudson''-indeed it was a Hudson which shot down the very first Luftwaffe plane shot down in World War Two by the R.A.F. just shortly after the war began in 1939.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Toomtabard View Post
                              A-The B-24 had a fatal weakness that the B-17 did not have-if a ''Liberator'' was holed anywhere in the wings it was curtains for both the crewand the plane.
                              In contrast, have you ever seen the famous photograph of a B-17 which had an Me-109 collide with its fuselage yet made it it back to base with a huge visible crack in the rear fuselage?
                              That stresses my point that although the B-24 had great range-a boon to hard pressed R.A.F. Coastal Command in the Battle of the Atlantic -it was-despite its boxcar like appearance -much more operationally fragile than the B-17 or the Avro Lancaster particularly if flak hit any apart of its wings and holed them.
                              There is a famous newsreel clip -often used in W.W. 2 TV documentaries where one second the Liberator is flying normally then a fire appears in one wing root from a flak hit and in seconds the whole of the afflicted wing disintergrates dooming the crew who would not have a chance of escaping.
                              Again, Stimson -as a New Deal fan, a man I normally liked-was havering if he thought we Brits would have been better using the B-17 than British bombers like the Avro Lancaster which with a basic 8 tons bombload therefore could deliver three times the 2 and one half Ton maximum bomb load of the B-17.
                              As someone else has rightly posted too, the B-17 couldn't have lifted/carried the ''Tallboy'' bombs that destoyed the German Bielfield viaduct and turned the German battlessio turtle in a Norwegian fiojrd-or was it ''Grand Slams?''.
                              Similarly when the B-17 first entered R.A.F. service in 1941, it was flop in the convential bombing role.
                              Although in fairness, these early B-17's did not posses the tail guns of the B-17 -''G''.and subsequent B-17 marques.
                              Again, I wonder what Stimson thought about the installation of the British Rolls Royce ''Merlin '' engine that transformed the American P-51 ''Mustang'' from a mediocre ground attack plane with Allison engines, to the undisputed fighter King of the skies over Nazi Germany from 1944 onwards.?
                              The three worst British bombrers were the ''Lancaster's immediate precursor the ''Manchester'' with its fatally flawed engines; the Fairey Battle with its pathetic payload and miserable single defensive machine gun and the'' Short Stirling'' which could not operate effectively in German nigh skies above 12,000 feet-making it ultra -vulnerable to Nazi nighfighters and flak.
                              One American built bomber that did better than the B-17 in RAF Bomber and coastal Command service early in the war was the Lockheed ''Hudson''-indeed it was a Hudson which shot down the very first Luftwaffe plane shot down in World War Two by the R.A.F. just shortly after the war began in 1939.
                              If you squint your eyes a bit; this is what the B17 could have looked like with Merlins (instead of Allison's that are fitted in these pictures)





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