B-17, B-24, B-29, or Lancaster?

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Jul 20, 2007.

  1. We haven't has a lively debate here for a spell, so how about a discussion of World War II heavy bombers? Taken on an overall basis--total contribution to Allied victory--which of the following heavy bombers should get the nod as the "best." You will note that all those listed in the poll are four-engined, long-range heavy bombers, and either British or American built. The reason for that is simple: Only the Americans and the British used such bombers to any substantial degree. Both the Germans and the Japanese relied, almost entirely, on two-engined medium bombers.

    Boeing B-17 Flying Forgress
    Consolidated B-24 Liberator
    Boeing B-29 Superfortress
    Avro Lancaster

    My vote has to go to the B-17, not because it was the fastest or could carry the heaviest bomb loads (it wasn't and couldn't), but because of its outstanding performance as a bomb truck that could get the job done and get its crews back home despite massive damage. Nevertheless, there is much to be said for all other listed and I would be the last to disparage any of them.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2007
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  2. Pat Hurley

    Pat Hurley Former Guest

    Sep 30, 2006
    Naples, Florida
    The things that hold the B-29 (which was a supremely capable aircraft) back from top billing were lousy engines (Wright, as I recall) and a limited operational time in the war theater.

    I vote B-17 too Pistol (my Dad bombed Frankfurt on three occasions in one, escorted by the Tuskeegee Airmen in P-51's. He still has many kind and highly complimentary things to say about the Tuskeegee Airmen).
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  3. Marlin

    Marlin *TFF Admin Staff Chief Counselor*

    I'd vote the B-17, with the B-29 second.
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  4. berto64

    berto64 Active Member

    Seeing as my pop was in a B-24 outfit I'll have to pick the B-24.

    There were more B-24's built than any other US heavy bomber during the war and were used more widely through out all the theatres of combat during WWII than any of the others.
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  5. Ursus

    Ursus Active Member

    B-17 no doubt
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  6. bunnyhunter12

    bunnyhunter12 New Member



    I actually just like the Lancaster because of Squadron No.617 and what they did with Tallboy bombs against Tirpitz, Grand Slam against the German viaduct and in the famous Dam Buster raid.

    The Lanc' was also used during Operation Millenium against Cologne (the first 1000 bomber raid), they bombed Hamburg, and firebombed Dresden.

    Many say that these attacks on German cities (espescially Dresden) make Arthur "Bomber" Harris a war criminal. He helped end the war=He's a Hero in my books. The loss of civilians and refugees was a shame, but there would have been many more if Germany was not brought to it's knees thanks in large part to the Allied Bombing Campaigns.
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  7. bunnyhunter12

    bunnyhunter12 New Member

    My favorite bomber of the war was the B-25 though. The Doolittle raid showed how brave its pilots were and the MANY armament plans (including a howitzer mounted in the nose of some) may not have made it the best, but it sure was COOL.
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  8. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2005
    While I'll agree on the Avro, BH, where did you get the idea a howitzer was mounted in the nose of a Mitchell ?

    The Avro was the champeen heavy weight lifter of WW2 bombers toting first Barnes-Wallis' "Tallboy" and later his "Grand Slam" to sufficient altitude to perform as advertised. No U.S. bomber in the ETO could do so. Sub pens at Brest and Lorient, rocket and super gun sites in northern France, and the Tirpitz and the Bienville viaduct all fell victim to this superb combination. What the Avro lacked was defensive firepower and armour.

    The B-29 was the "next generation" of bomber and performed excellently under severe conditions at extreme ranges enabling us to hold much of Japan's home islands at risk.

    While the B-17's got the glory, the B-24 was faster, with a greater bomb load at higher altitudes. Just fewer of them. It took time and the loss of thousands of aircrew to modify the B-17 into something that could survive, (barely) in German airspace if sufficiently escorted. Since these models appeared around the time long range escorts appeared and the decline in pilot skill in the Luftwaffe were also occurring I suspect any "opinion" has to remain more that than established fact. >MW
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  9. bunnyhunter12

    bunnyhunter12 New Member

    Got it from The Encyclopedia of WWII, it's at my parent's place so I can't tell you the editor's name or the publisher. It says some Mitchells had the crew position in the nose removed and a 75mm(?) howitzer mounted in the nose in an abortive attempt to create a tank-buster. It didn't work, maybe they should have mounted it sideways like in modern gun-ships.

    Here's a link, they say it was a 75mm. and was used to sink ships at a rate of fire of three rounds a minute.

    Here's another site and a pic from that site, notice the large aperature on the nose.

    Now DO NOT question me again. (KIDDING) :D :D :D

    Attached Files:

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  10. Berto, the B-24 had the highest production numbers of ANY U.S. aircraft.
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  11. What you say is quite true, Berto. The B-24 was a truly excellent aircraft. Over the years, I've talked to several pilots who flew it during World War II and their only real complaint with it was that it was a beast to fly compared to the B-17.
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  12. Sarge

    Sarge Former Guest

    May 11, 2007
    Since I crewed the Navy PB4Y-2 in it's last years of service (we later got P2V-5 Neptunes) I gotta go with the B24 & variants (PB4Y-2). It sure was a cold bitch in the aft section, but fortunately we never flew very high.

    The B 25 with the 75mm Was a limited success! It was not built as a tank buster and never saw service in Europe & N. Afrika. Strictly anti shipping in the Pacific. They sank everything from Destroyers down with this a/c.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2007
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  13. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    The B24 actually did more to win the war in all theaters than the 17, but the 17 got all the "press...."

    The 24 had better range and payload, and speed was slightly better too, the only thing the 17 had was operating altitude, and was slightly (arguably) better at taking damage (but then again the 17 was RARELY used at treetop or wavetop height where it COULD face REAL flak like the 24 did pretty routinely though....)...but the 17 was also considered "prettier," so it got all the photo ops....

    The 24 not only dropped more tonnage in the ETO than the 17, it also was instrumental in the Battle of the Atlantic both as a patrol bomber and in the Bay of Biscay Anti Uboat offensive...

    In the Pacific it replaced the 17 pretty early, and both the USAAC B-24s and the Navy PB4Ys sunk almost as much Japanese shipping as our subs...

    And the 24 was considered as the 17s replacement, and probably would have been if the war started a year later....as it was, we had both in production, so we kept them both and they ended up complimenting each other pretty well....

    Finally, after the war the 17 was dropped from inventory pretty quickly, but the 24 soldiered on for a while, and the Privateers for QUITE a while longer..

    Taking nothing away from the Fortress and what it did....

    The B-24 had a better record and was the better plane....
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  14. Polish, I'm shocked. You didn't argue for the Russian Ilyushin, Petlyakov, or Tupolev. :D ;) :p
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  15. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    No PS, the Russians really didn't succeed at anything airborne in WWII except full throttle balls to the wall 10000 feet or less, shoot everything at anything in the way no matter who's side it was on, in the air or on the ground on the way out and on the way back!:cool: ;) :p :p :D

    (Which is ONE of the reasons their most loved fighter, the one given only to the Guards (Aces) was the Bell P-39, what they called "The Little Shaver" ....it was perfect for that kind of "combat."

    And oh yeah the Sturmovik wasn't so bad at ground attack either....kind of the first "Flying Tank..."

    As far as the B-25 "Gunships," yeah they used a forward firing 75mm howitzer in later production "J" models but it was never a success....the recoil battered the airframe badly and the fuselage filled up with smoke and fumes quickly too...many times the 75 was removed in the field and more .50s were added in it's place.

    What is cool is that the FIRST "Gunship" models were field expedient "B" and "C" models, along with the A20 "Havocs" which were just as deadly (and maybe as effective and were the unsung heroes of the war, but I digress!:p ) converted in the FIELD by "Pappy" Gunn (What a PERFECT name!;) ) in the 5th Air Force in New Guinea/Australia in 1942, where he faired over the glass nose and packed in there first 8 then 10 then later 12 .50s, with the firing solenoid on the pilots yoke...it was DEVASTATING. The hitting power of 10 fifties concentrated in such a small area was so much that just the .50s could punch a hole in the side of a freighter or Destroyer and sink it.

    There are many first hand accounts of B-25 and A-20 Gunship pilots from the Kenney's 5th AF, my favorites are the ones that said the armorers were kept busy scrounging .50 barrels every day...like at the battle of Bismark Sea, one gunship coming in at wave top height at one of the troopships, hitting the "tit" they called it at about 2000 yds out, the plane feeling like it almost came to a stop from the recoil, and keeping it down for the whole run, and one by one the .50s cutting out from red hot barrels actually warping, so that when they flashed over the target they might have only one still going sounding like "putt putt putt!":p :D

    Coupled with skip bombing against shipping with 500# bombs, or against airfields using the "Kenney Cocktail" 12 pound parachute frags he developed before the war with delayed fuses, it was DEVASTATING. There is a famous picture of several of the B-25 Gunships wing tip to wing tip over the trees at Lae or Salamua airfields on a surprise raid at full throttle, with all the nose guns going, and hundreds of the "parafrags" streaming out behind ....and a BUNCH of Jap planes lined up under them that were ALL destroyed....

    It was one of the few times that "Field Expediency" was adopted for production that quickly, so as many solid nose models were later produced as glass nosed ones, and "package" guns were added to the noses of just about all later models, glassed or not, and to just about every other twin engine bomber later produced, including B-26s, Lockheed Neptunes, etc, and led to the later A-26 Invader, which had the FIRST models designed as solid nose gunships....

    But back to the topic, I think I just MIGHT have preferred actually FLYING in a 17 if I had to go to Berlin in either of them in 43 or 44...;)

    While almost as many 17s were lost as 24s percentage wise compared to the number used, which is why I don't buy necessarily the claim that the 17 could "take" more damage, the fact is you don't see very many still or motion pictures of their wings folding up in a fireball from a single flak hit as you do 24s....not only were the 17s easier to fly with one or two engines out, it was easier to bail out of a plane going down if it still had BOTH wings....;)
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2007
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