Best American Bomber of the last 50 years

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Pat Hurley, Mar 23, 2007.

What American bomber aircraft of the last 50 years is/was the most broadly capable?

  1. B-52 Stratofortress

    21 vote(s)
  2. B-58 Hustler

    1 vote(s)
  3. B-1B Lancer

    5 vote(s)
  4. B-2 Spirit

    0 vote(s)
  1. Polish, the Buffalo and the Warhawk were excellent planes . . . they gave the Zero pilots great target practice, which they really needed when they finally met up with the Corsair, Lightning, and Hellcat. :D ;) :p
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2007
  2. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    No, PS, actually most of the GOOD Japanese pilots, both JAAF and JNAF, were KILLED by P-40s and F4Fs over New Guinea and the Solomons before early 1943 (with help from P-38s and P-39s....:p ) all the F6Fs and F4Us had to face for the most part the rest of the war were the "Turkeys" with little or no flight time or training, or those few pilots WOUNDED by F4Fs and P-40s that managed to survive (the fighting, AND the 600+ mile flight back to Rabaul....) and get back into service before the end of the war....;)

  3. Ah, I see Polish. So then, Saburo Saki was a "turkey," eh? I wonder what the pilots of those 64 American combat planes he shot down during WWII in aerial combat flying the Mitsubishi Reisen (A6M2 and A6M3 versions) would say about that. :cool: :rolleyes:

    Face it Polish, the Buffalo and the Warhawk--especially the Buffalo--were obsolete well before the war even started. In the hands of a very good and very careful pilot, the P-40 could and did achieve kills against the Japanese, but only if it could gain surprise and pick them off in a dive. In any ACM engagement, both the Buffalo and Warhawk were at a terrible, and usually fatal, disadvantage. Just for example, look what happened to the Buffalos over Midway Island when they faced off against the Zeros.
  4. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Aha, PS, Saburo Sakai was almost KILLED by an F4F over Cactus, and does NOT remember the 600 mile flight back to Rabaul in his shot up Zero, where he crash landed wheels up and missed a BUNCH, almost a year and a half, of the war recuperating from his wounds...which is why he is one of the few Japanese aces to SURVIVE the war...;)

    That is EXACTLY the POINT I was making....Sakai would be the FIRST to tell you the P-40s and the F4Fs won the war for us! Heck, he already DID!

    The Japanese put a WHOLE lot more stock into New Guinea and the Solomons than we did, they NEW it was the entire war if they failed to hold both, and that is WHY they threw ALL of their available resources, including their TOP AFsquadrons and aces from China and stripping ALL their refitting carriers of even the SEMI trained naval aviators and shipping them to Rabaul...

    To be ultimately DESTROYED by the P-39s and P40s from Moresby and the F4Fs and P-400s and from Cactus...."The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" ring a bell? They were TURKEYS because ALL the good JNAF pilots were DEAD or RECUPERATING from Guadalcanal and New Guinea! THOSE were even "Greener!" Some barely carrier landing QUALIFIED. Which was ANOTHER reason the japanese ultimately went to Kamikazes...

    With a couple of hundred dead at Midway, GRANTED, but the BULK of them died in the SWPAC....look it up!

    Sakai may have called the P-39 a "Water Buffalo," and was amazed that such a beautiful plane could be such a pig, BUT he had the utmost respect for the P-40s and the F4Fs...even when he and his fellow "Superior" Zero-sen pilots AVERAGED 1500 hours of flight time and the AMERICAN pilots facing them in those what you call "inferior planes", Army, Navy and USMC, with some ANZAC squadrons thrown in, averaged less than 500 each....(and even the P-39s and P-400s got more kills than you think on Zeros, if any were stupid enough to fight on THEIR terms, under 14,000 feet....)

    No, PS, the P-40 and the F4F won the WAR for us in the Pacific...with help from the P-38s, and a little help from the Bells...we could have FINISHED it without the Corsairs and Hellcats too, just maybe not as "easy" as we did...and that is NOT to denigrate the Corsairs and Hellcats, and P-47s and P-51s at all, evertyone knows they were vastly superior planes, BUT the fact is they did NOT face and BEAT the "cream of the crop" like the Warhawks and Wildcats did...people just do NOT give them their due...too many people think they just "bought us time" until the REAL planes beat the Japs...

    NO WAY, the "Superior planes" only had "cleanup duty" with the "sloppy seconds...."

    And I'm NOT so sure the F2A Buffalo was as much of a "Pig" as conventional wisdom says either...

    It ONLY was used, ineffectually, at the BEGINNING of the war, by us and the British, when ALL of our allied fighters, were losing to the Zeros and the combat savvy jap INEXPERIENCED pilots trying to DOGFIGHT Zeros in turning fights at low speed.... Remember the two experienced Spitfire squadrons from the BOB that got sent to Australia to "teach the Japs a Lesson?" They lost 27 in two WEEKS, trying to dogfight it like they did the ME109s over England, shooting down only a handful of Zeros. Was the Spitfire a "bad" fighter too?

    Remember even the Marine WILDCATS with inexperienced combat pilots at Midway got mauled, and our P-40 Es and Fs in the Phillipines were as well...while the AVG in China was manhandling the ZEROS and any other JAAF planes with P-40 Bs which were already declared "obsolete" in US Service! It wasn't until shortly before Midway that Navy pilots developed new tactics and were ordered to keep speed up and NOT dogfight Zeros at slow speeds that even the WILDCAT was considered to be "good enough..."

    Now I will NOT say they were "great" planes," but in the hands of "experienced" pilots using effective tactics later developed to handle the Zero they too would have been "Zero-Killers..."

    The Finns did wonders with them, as late as 1943-44, and there are claims that it was as good a dogfighter as the ME-109 in the hands of Finn pilots....

    In fact, several experts claim the USMC would have been BETTER off at Cactus with BUFFALOS than Wildcats.

    THAT too is one of those "Historical Misconceptions" I hope to correct in my lifetime....;):)
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2007
  5. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Well, Polish.....just keep saying it long enough and often enough, and maybe you'll actually convince somebody else..... :D :D :D
  6. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Oh, X, I don't have to keep just SAYING it, sooner or later people will read as much of the available evidence with an open mind, and not rely on "Conventional Wisdom" and draw their own conclusions....:p

    Just like I've come to accept the SWPAC as the most important theater of the Pacific War, when "conventional wisdom" ever since the war had it as a "sideshow...." (PROBABLY in no small part to the superior "media machine" of the US Navy, coupled by the fact ANY reporter would rather sail in a ship through the temperate Central Pacific than stay on the ground in the diseased, hot, humid, exotic lands like the Solomons or New Guinea....)

    And "Conventional Wisdom" had the late German tanks SO superior to any Allied, much less American ones in WWII....when they actually sucked, mechanically, power to wieght, size, fuel consumption, and absorbed so MUCH German resources they hastened the end of the war....

    And "Conventional Wisdom" had us winning the Battle of the Atlantic simply because of Liberty Ship production and Radar.....when was it, 1972 when we FIRST heard of Ultra, and not until the 1990s that we realized it's importance to the ENTIRE war?

    And that the Wildcat and Warhawk were "obscelescent' stopgaps until the REAL fighters came along to beat the Japs....

    That the "Official Historian" of the US Army S.L.A. Marshall was actually great Historian whose "facts" and quotes are gospel, even though now we know a lot of them were actually "conjured up" in a bar far from the fighting....

    i could go on and on where "Conventional Wisdom" has been proved wrong with enough light shed on it, there is no reason for me to stop NOW!;)
  7. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Aw, c'mon Polish......NOBODY had a bigger Media Machine than "Dugout Doug" MacArthur!!!!! :D
  8. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    There's ANOTHER myth, X...

    (BOY, a FULL FLEDGED "Thread Hijack," we ain't done THIS in awhile!:p )

    First, while I am NO real fan of MacA's, heck, a PART of me thinks he should have been publicly tried for TREASON after the debacle of the Philippines and his $2.5 million in 1941 dollars payoff that Roosevelt ALLOWED him to keep, that just MAY explain why he didn't let the 17s hit Formosa when the Japs were fogged in, but we may never KNOW....:mad:

    MacArthur was NOT "Dugout Doug..." he visited the frontlines in Bataan and Corregidor more than was EXPECTED by any top General...THAT one is unwarranted....and he visited the fighting a HELLUVA lot more than his counterpart Nimitz ever did durng the war...why not call HIM something catchy like "Chumpy Chester?" Because it would be as wrong as mocking out MacArthur, that's why...

    And you HAVE to give him his strategic vision, about the ONLY time it let him down was in the Phillipines early, and at the Yalu.....

    MacArthur actully did NOT have a "Media Machine" like the Navy did, in fact he kept the media at "arms length" more often than not, when it came to his operations and plans....(POLITICS may have been a different matter....)

    But the fact remains some of the FIERCEST and BLOODIEST fighting in god-forsaken places like Buna went virtually unnoticed by the wartime press, then his BRILLIANT amphibious operations on a SHOESTRING many timesbecause the US Navy gave him virtually NOTHING, and then when forced, gave him very LITTLE, with virtually NO casualties due to his keeping the Japs off balance with tactical surprise, covered virtually with leap-frogging land-based air because the navy would give him NO carriers...was virtually IGNORED by the press, even though the JAPS knew the entire war HINGED on that theater!

    The fact is 2500 or more dead Marines assaulting an island nobody knew EXISTED with dubius strategic value made better headlines than 100 dead soldiers in a BRILLIANT flanking move along the coast of New Guinea that isolated tens, and ultimately HUNDREDS of thousands of first line Jap soldiers and fliers to wither on the vine and to be useless, virtual POWS without guards, the rest of the war....AND incidentally cutting off the Japs from what they went to war for in the FIRST place...INDONESIA.....

    No X, taking NOTHING away from the valor and the way it was fought, the Central Pacific Campaign, the one MOST people think of when they think of WWII in the Pacific, the fact is that the war would have been won WITHOUT it, at least until after they merged AFTER the Philippines were taken....but without the SWPAC Campaign, and the retaking of the Phillipines, the Central Pacific Campaign would have been FAR bloodier, and maybe would have FAILED....
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2007
  9. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    Well.....the dreaded Thread Drift is still alive & well at TFF! :D

    Gotta disagree Polish. While, indeed, SoWestPac was the most important Theatre early in the war.....after all, New Guinea (including the Battle of the Coral Sea) was the Jap high-water mark, and we pushed them back from there.....but it was the island-hopping campaign in CentPac that brought our bombers in range of the Jap mainland, which ulitmately caused the Jap surrender. The farthest SoWestPac got was the Phillipines, and that was still a long way from Japan.

    Granted, SoWestPac tied up a lot of Jap troops.....but so did CBI.

    Meanwhile, back at the original topic.....

    Can't even believe that the B-58 made the list. This was one very troubled aircraft. So troubled that after it first rolled out in mid-1956 it wracked up and accident rate so horrendous as to warrant the construction of no less than 30 preproduction series prototypes.

    Of the 116 flight-worthy B-58s built, no less than 26 were involved in Class A accidents during the course of it's flight-test and operational career. 19 of the accidents resulted in 36 fatalities*

    *Flight Journal Magazine, August 2007
  10. What you say is true, X, though you must admit, it's absolutely the prettiest bomber we ever put into production. ;) What actually killed the B-58 though was the changing tactical and strategic requirements of the 1960s. The B-58 was designed in the early 1950s to be a single-purpose strategic bomb truck able to penetrate Soviet airspace under radar coverage at very low altitude, at supersonic (in fact, Mach 2) speeds, and deliver its weapon on target, i.e., it was designed to drop nukes and nothing but nukes. Couple that its high maintence cost and the fact that it was, as you point out, a difficult plane to fly, and the Air Force opted out after only a relative few were built. I think it is significant though, that the B-58 laid the groundwork for later supersonic-capable bombers like the FB-111 and even the B-1.
  11. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

    It was, indeed, PS. It's perfromance envelope was more like that of a fighter than a bomber, and, at the time, many felt that Curt LeMay made a big mistake in assigning "Older and Wiser" bomber pilots to fly it rather than "Fighter Jocks".

    That, coupled with a lot of other was a very complex aircraft (for it's time), was very high maintenence.....and, if you lost an engine, was impossible to keep airborne (and was very dangerous to eject from).

    Pretty, yes, but waaaaaaaay too many problems to be the "Best Bomber"....
  12. With that I certainly agree, X. In many ways, the B-58 was too advanced in its design capabilities for the state of technology at the time. I knew a guy once, many years ago, a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, who, for a time, flew missions on the KC-135 tankers used for in-mission refueling the B-58s. He said the things were so damn fast that they were there and gone almost before they were seen by the crews of the tankers. In the initial planning stages of its design, as I recall, they were thinking of using it as a parasite aircraft, i.e., to be transported part way to the target by cargo aircraft, then released to strike its target when in range. That design never got off the drawing board though. I can only imagine what the ride must have been like at Mach 2, at low altitude, with no terraine-following radar!
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