Shortly after General Kenney arrived in Australia, he introduced the concept of low-altitude “skip-bombing” by heavy and medium bombers. However, the real reason the B-24s had gone to Africa was to attack the Ploesti, Romania, oil refineries in a daring low-level attack that put the crews in range of every weapon available to the German defenders, from 88mm antiaircraft guns to machine pistols, not to mention German and Romanian fighter aircraft. This is one area in which the B-17 possessed something of an advantage over the B-24. Only a few Liberators were in the Far East serving as transports when the war broke out, and a few others would be sent to Australia in the opening weeks of the war. It changed the world more than any other single event in history. After the 44th Bomb Group entered combat, it quickly achieved a reputation as a “hard luck” outfit, taking fairly heavy losses in comparison to the other groups, though they came about in ones and twos, and in one instance as the result of a midair collision. report. HALPRO was diverted to fly a single long-range mission against the oil-refinery complex at Ploesti, Romania, though plans still called for the squadron to continue on to China. It is also worth noting that the Eighth Air Force B-24s were often used on tactical missions at lower altitudes where ground fire was more effective after the invasion, while in the strategic role their formations operated below the B-17s, where the flak was thicker. Twenty-five other Liberators were lost from the two Ninth Air Force groups on the mission known as “Tidal Wave.”. Now, the B17 had a range of 2,000 miles, a typical payload of 5-8,000 lbs. People almost always say the B17 because it is the one that is in most of the movies and tv shows i.e, gets the most attention. In late 1942, the 90th Bomb Group arrived in Australia with four squadrons of B-24Ds. Hi, I use American planes and I wanna know which T5 bomber is the best. • 300 mph (483 km/h) airspeed. This is more common with conceptual, experimental, and x-plane designs. what do you all like better i am a fan both but the B24 had longer range and a hevier payload. They point to photographs of B-17s that returned to base with large holes put there by flak or fighters. hide. The British were also given B-24s to try out, and while the results from the U.S. viewpoint were less than hoped for, the RAF did prefer the B-24 Liberator over the B-17 Flying Fortress because of its heavier payload capabilities. Operating from Egypt and Palestine under the command of General Brereton, the B-24s of the HALPRO squadron and an advanced element of the 98th Bombardment Group began the American bombing effort against the German war machine. After the B-17s proved ineffective in British hands, the Army Air Corps sought to determine why. The range with 4000 lbs was approx. In the annals of military history magazines, this is one of those moments. By the time the new airplane entered production, war had broken out in Europe and the United States had begun supplying airplanes and other military hardware to the British and French. The B-17 and the B-24 inevitably invited comparison. Doolittle’s letter is interesting because he wrote it at a time when losses in his command had been declining for some time while his sister unit in the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe, the Fifteenth Air Force, was continuing to sustain fairly heavy losses among its force of B-17s and B-24s. In early 1943, a squadron of C-87s was sent to India’s Assam Valley for operations across the Himalayan Hump into China. First deployed in February 1941, a lack of power quartered its bomb load during long range flights and performance issues meant that it sustained particularly heavy casualties. Although the RAF crewmen praised the Flying Fortress for its ability to take hits from enemy fire, the test turned out to be a dismal failure for the much-publicized bomber. As long as there are still two surviving heavy- bomber veterans, one from each type, the B-17 veteran will believe his airplane was best, while the B-24 vet will know better. Why the RAF Preferred the Liberator over the Flying Fortress. While the B-17s managed to hold their own in combat with the Japanese, design deficiencies, particularly in armament and armor, very quickly became apparent. The long, narrow Davis Wing was what is known as a “high aspect ratio” wing, meaning that the span is proportionally much greater than the chord, a feature that provides significantly reduced drag and increased performance on heavier airplanes—which is why the B-24 was considerably faster than the B-17. Fortunately, part of the group had been moved south to a new airfield at Del Monte on Mindanao and would continue to fly from there for several weeks. Advocates of the superiority of the B-17 are surprised to learn that their per-sortie overall loss rate was nearly half a percent higher among Eighth Air Force groups than that of their peers who flew B-24s. But there’s NEVER been anything like THIS before. During the first week of June 1943, the 389th Bomb Group arrived in England to bolster the two groups already there. What Made the German Luger the Most Famous Pistol in Modern Warfare, The Essential Role of Navy PBR Boats in the Vietnam War, Band of Brothers’ Buck Compton: One Man’s Call of Duty, P-40 Fighter Pilot: Fighting for His Life, The Real Story of General George Patton, Jr’s Death & Final Days, Daylight Precision Bombing: Dangerous Doctrine of the Eighth Air Force, Operation Frantic On Eastern Front: Preview Of the Cold War, Bomber Gunner Ben Kuroki: “Most Honorable Son”, Jimmy Stewart’s rise from Private to Colonel. Of the 230 bombers that went to Schweinfurt, 36 failed to return—a total of 60 B-17s had been lost in one day. The 90th got off to a shaky start due to cracks in the nose struts of its airplanes, but once its B-24s began combat operations, they quickly proved superior to the B-17 for the kind of war being fought in the Southwest Pacific. When they got there, 24 bombers were missing, 17 of which had been shot down. Most who look at these statistics quickly jump to the conclusion that the B-17 losses were heavier because of the period in 1943 when they were going it alone on deep-penetration missions over Germany. Bomber pilots were no different when it came to trading in their B-24s for the B-17. It was designed by the Consolidated Aircraft Company (later Consolidated-Vultee) in response to a January 1939 U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) requirement for a four-engined heavy bomber. By December 1941, B-17s had been in service with U.S. Army bomber squadrons for more than four years. For several weeks the 93rd was the only B-24 group flying combat from English bases. B-24 Liberator United States Army Air Forces Consolidated B-24D Liberator over Maxwell Field, Alabama. One area in which the B-17 and all models of the B-24 were completely equal was in the power of their engines. I use B24 alot lately but i hve a sence that there is a small debate between these 2 historical bombers. Other long-range missions were being flown by B-24s assigned to the 28th Composite Group in the Alaska Command. This is more common with conceptual, experimental, and x-plane designs. Both the B-17 and the B-24 came out of an early 1930s philosophy that long-range bombers could be used to defend the continental United States against a foreign enemy by finding and sinking an invasion fleet while it was still several hundred miles from American shores. Bomber Battle: B-17 Flying Fortress vs. the Consolidated B-24 Liberator. only range, speed and payload matter for a bomber), the B-24 should have been used exclusively in the ETO, with the B-17 used elsewhere. The leadership of the Eighth was trying to prove that the prewar concept that the “bomber will always get through” was not ill-founded. The British slang “kite” is appropriate for the B-17, because the huge wing provided tremendous lift that did make for a stable bombing platform and, at least in the minds of B-17 fans, provided increased lift that was valuable in the event of a power loss on an engine. Sixty B-24s were supposed to have gone to the target, but bad weather in their assembly area caused a mission scrub, though a small force from two groups went on to Germany to create a diversion for the B-17s. Log in or Sign up to interact with the community. The B-24s in Africa performed well as they went against German and Italian targets. Range: 2300 miles with 5000 pounds of bombs. Shortly after the 44th entered combat, three squadrons of the veteran 93rd were sent south in support of the North African campaign while the fourth was placed on a special assignment. Stripped of guns, armor, and other equipment, the transport version of the B-24 could carry a 10,000-pound payload up to 1,000 miles, or 6,000 pounds over 3,300 miles. Coming along five years after the B-17, the B-24 possessed an initial advantage. The British, however, had decided to change tactics after early experiences against the Third Reich. B-24 carried a bigger bomb load, was a tad faster and had more range. The aerodynamics of the Flying Fortress stemmed from designs of the late 1920s and early 1930s, featuring a wide chord, the width of the wing from leading to trailing edge, and shorter span. Kenney had no point to prove in regard to daylight bombing, and often his crews struck the most heavily defended targets at night, thus further reducing the exposure of the aircraft and crews. A B-24 could reach 290 miles per hour and carry a 5,000-pound bomb load for 1,700 miles, giving it a longer range, greater speed, and a bigger payload than its B-17 cousin. This is particularly true of veterans who flew in England where B-17s predominated within the Eighth Air Force, and where large numbers of war correspondents reported on the air war over Germany as it was being fought by the crews of the Flying Fortresses in the summer of 1943. 3 comments. The Stirling made a pretty good glider tug. These figures relegate to myth the belief that the B-17 was the “safer” airplane. The fall of France led to the cancellation of deliveries of all airplanes destined for France, and the Liberators, which had been designated as LB-30s, were diverted for British use. This question often comes up at meetings, discussion boards, andother locations where aircraft oriented people gather and talk abouthistory, tactics, and flying characteristics of planes. The proposal—known as Project A—specified only that the airplane would be a “multi-engine” bomber. While U.S. Army Air Forces commanders in other theaters were not locked in to the daylight-bombing methodology, the leadership of the fledgling Eighth Air Force felt that it had a point to prove and all missions were planned for daylight operations. Previously, the highest single-day loss had been 26 airplanes—all B-17s—lost on June 26. The DeHavilland Mosquito. Due to heavy losses, the RAF elected to discontinue daylight operations and turned entirely to night-bombing operations. A 4,000-pound (1,800-kg) bomb load was typical for long missions, though the B-17 could carry up to 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) internally for shorter distances at lower altitudes and even more on external racks beneath the wings. With the exception of Boeing, all of the competing manufacturers assumed the Army was looking for a twin-engine airplane and designed their entries accordingly. The Short Stirling was the RAF’s first four-engined bomber, meeting pre-war specifications that required a 14,000 lb bomb load capacity and a challenging range of 3,000 miles. As combat-weary bomber crews began returning to the United States after the ill-fated Java campaign, they were called upon to give reports of their experiences. Part of the 19th Bomb Group was destroyed at Clark Field on December 8, when Japanese bombers caught the planes on the ground in the midst of rearming for an attack on Formosa. Another use of the Liberator that proved extremely valuable to the war effort was as a long-range transport. The B-24, on the other hand, incorporated a brand-new wing design that was on the very cutting edge of aviation technology in 1937. Looking closely at these pictures, which have been republished in numerous books about the B-17 and the Eighth Air Force, one who is familiar with airplanes and aerodynamics sees that much of the damage is confined to structural areas of the airplane that are not necessary for flight. On August 17, the Eighth Bomber Command mounted a massive effort with a split force of B-17s going against Regensburg and Schweinfurt. Attacks were aimed at the supply lines of the German Afrika Korps, particularly the ports and supply depots at Tobruk and Benghazi in Libya. The B-29, you could say, was more effective because of its much greater range and its greater payload. By the end of the war, the Army had increased the gross weight of the B-17G to the point that it could carry a bomb load almost as great as that carried by the B-24J, but at a sacrifice in airspeed that made the Fortress more than 50 miles per hour slower at normal cruise speed. The B-17 Flying Fortress vs. the B-24 Liberator—veterans of air campaigns in Europe and the Pacific have long debated the merits of these aircraft. If the spar on the wing of the B-24 was hit by flak or an explosive cannon round, it was likely to fail, sending the airplane into a spin toward the ground. 73% Upvoted. of bombs, including the huge (22000 lb.!) He flew a couple of missions in B-17s and another in a B-26, but never flew a mission in a B-24, though he did spend some time with the 44th Bomb Group. - maximum speed at 290 mph As a compromise, the Army elected to put forth a proposal for a less ambitious project and set forth the design requirements that eventually led to both the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator, as well as the more powerful Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Losses due to accident were as great as those from enemy action. Liberator production continued for several weeks after B-17 production ceased, and was only suspended when it became apparent that the war would soon be over. By mid-October the American heavy bomber force in Palestine consisted of 53 B-24s and only 10 B-17s. However, if the spar on a B-17 was hit, the results were the same. The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. The skies were extremely hazardous for both types, and the B-24s were getting their share of punishment from enemy fighters and flak. As the war intensified, the U.S. Army elected to change the role of the B-24A, and most were converted to long-range transports while a few were equipped with cameras for reconnaissance. (Get the full details of this mission and many other pivotal moments in World War II history by subscribing.). There is only one part of an airplane—any airplane—that is absolutely necessary for flight and that is the wing. But, the record of the two types indicates that, of the two, the Liberator design was more versatile and considerably more advanced than that of the Flying Fortress. The original intent of the Army Air Corps was to develop a land-based, long-range heavy bomber that would have relegated the B-17 to the category of a medium bomber. British military aviation leaders suggested that the Americans do likewise, but the Eighth Air Force leadership insisted on continuing daylight operations. This question is about one of the most misunderstood comparisons in all of aviation history. Yet no preference was shown for B-17s in the Fifteenth Air Force, where the proportion of Liberators to Forts was reversed from that of the Eighth in England. Deep raids were called off in mid-October 1943 and were not resumed until February 1944, when long-range escort fighters such as the P-51 Mustang became available. The departure of the 93rd left the 44th alone in the skies over Occupied Europe, and their smaller numbers led their peers in B-17s to take heavier note of their losses, just as had those who fought before them in Java, where the proportion of B-24s to B-17s was similar. France was lacking in long-range bombing capabilities, and the United States agreed to provide a number of the new bombers, which had been given the nickname “Liberator,” allegedly by Winston Churchill. In September 1941, two squadrons of the 19th Bombardment Group were dispatched from Hamilton Field, Calif., to provide a heavy-bomber presence in the Philippines. The B-24 was powered by As a result, it was phased out as the C-54 Skymaster became available. Initially, the British were impressed with the Fort’s ability to withstand gunfire, but that early confidence quickly faded as the desired results were not achieved. Operating from Darwin, the men of the 380th utilized the long-range capabilities of their Liberators by flying a mission to attack the oil-refining complex at Balikpapan, Borneo, a flight that kept the crews in the air for as long as 17 hours. As the only combat commander at the numbered air-force level who favored B-17s, Doolittle may very well have been concerned about replacements. The larger wings and vertical stabilizer of the B-17 could take hits that did only superficial damage because they missed crucial components that would cause structural failure if they were damaged. Dimensions: Wingspan 110 feet 0 inches, length 66 feet 4 inches, height 17 feet 11 inches, wing area 1048 square feet. The 147 airplanes of the Regensburg force were to go on to North Africa. Log in or Sign ... B24 or B17. 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