AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

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AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:00 pm

Looking at the big picture which of the two mentioned aircraft was the more effective in WW2 ? ?

Details for Lancaster

Length: 69ft 4in (21.08m)
Wingspan: 102ft 0in (31.00m)
Height: 20ft 6in (6.23m)
Maximum Speed: 287mph (462km/h)
Cruising Speed: 200mph (322km/h)
Ceiling: 19,000ft (5,793m)
Range: 2,530 miles (4,072km) with 7,000lb (3,178kg) bomb load.
Powerplant: Four Rolls Royce Merlin XX, 22 or 24 of 1,280hp each.
Payload: Up to 22,000lb bombs carried internally. Later versions modified to carry a variety of single high explosive bombs of 8,000lb (3,632kg), 12,000lb (5,448kg) or 22,000lb (9,988kg) for special missions.
Defensive Armament: 2 x .303 Browning machine guns in nose turret, 2 x .303 Browning machine guns in mid-upper turret and 4 x .303 Browning machine guns in tail turret. Early models also had ventral turret with a single .303 machine gun. Special versions were stripped of aramament to carry increased bombloads.
Recognition: Slab-sided fuselage with heavily-framed canopy mounted well-forward on the upper fuselage. Nose, tail and upper rear fuslage contain turrets housing defensive guns. Twin tail unit with unswept horizontal surfaces. main undercarriage housed in the cowlings of the inner engines. Some aircraft had the H2S radar bulge aft of the bomb-bay while a few other carried a mid-lower gun-turret.

TECHNICAL NOTES for B17G
Armament: 13 .50-cal. machine guns; normal bomb load of 6,000 lbs.
Engines: Four Wright Cyclone R-1820s of 1,200 hp each
Maximum speed: 300 mph
Cruising speed: 170 mph
Range: 1,850 miles
Ceiling: 35,000 ft.
Span: 103 ft. 10 in.
Length: 74 ft. 4 in.
Height: 19 ft. 1 in.
Weight: 55,000 lbs. loaded-Bomb Load 4500-8000lbs depending on range
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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:08 am

The Lancaster was the champion weight lifter of WW2 bombers; carrying firstly Barnes-Wallis' "Tallboy" and later his "Grand Slam" bombs to a reasonably sufficient altitude to carry out it's bombing operation IMHO no U.S. bomber in the ETO could do all of this. Sub pens at Brest and Lorient, rocket and super gun sites in northern France, the Tirpitz and the Bielveldt Viaduct all fell victim to this bomber.
What the Lancaster lacked was defensive firepower and armour.
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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:52 am

Although both planes started combat within a few months of one another, losses clearly show the Lancaster suffered a higher loss rate. While the 8th Air Force gets most of the glory and flew in to the teeth of the Luftwaffe, Bomber Command had its own issues.

The Lancaster lacked a belly gun and had flaming exhaust which made it an easy target for the Luftwaffe night fighters. Plus what ever bomber got painted with searchlights was as doomed as the formation leaders in a daylight raid. She made up for this with a massive bomb load.

The B-17 had a much smaller bomb load, both in weight and in the size of of bombs that could be carried. This was due to its very rugged low wing construction. The spar linking the two wings cut the bomb bay in half. However this wing spar gave the B-17 its legendary robustness.
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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:11 pm

The Combat Box was a tactical formation used by heavy (strategic) bombers of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. The combat box was also referred to as a "staggered formation". Its defensive purpose was in massing the firepower of the bombers' guns, while offensively it concentrated the release of bombs on a target.

The major Bomber Command innovation was the introduction of a bomber stream in which all aircraft would fly by a common route and at the same speed to and from the target, each aircraft being allotted a height band and a time slot in the stream to minimize the risk of collision. The recent introduction of Gee made it much easier for crews to navigate within the precise limits required for such flying, although there would always be wayward crews who would drift away from the stream. The hoped-for advantage from the bomber stream was that the bomber force could pass through the minimum number of German radar night-fighter boxes.

The controller in each box could only direct a maximum of six potential interceptions per hour. The passage of the stream through the smallest number of boxes would, therefore, reduce the number of possible interceptions, particularly if the bomber stream could be kept as short as possible and pass through the belt of boxes quickly. This led on to the next decision, to reduce still further the time allowed for the actual bombing at the target. Where four hours had been allowed earlier in the war for a raid by 100 aircraft and two hours had been deemed a revolutionary concentration for 234 aircraft at Lubeck, only 90 minutes were allowed for 1,000 aircraft in this coming operation.

The big fear in these matters was always that of collisions but, on this occasion, this was accepted in return for the opportunity to allow the bomber stream to pass through the night fighter boxes quickly, to swamp the Flak defences at the target and, above all, to put down such a concentration of incendiary bombs in a short period that the fire services would be overwhelmed and large areas of the city would be consumed by conflagrations
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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by tommy303 » Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:38 pm

It is difficult to compare the two bombers as they were almost of different generations. The Lancaster was a wartime bomber introduced in 1942 at a time when nocturnal missions were the norm and it was felt that defensive armament and armour could be kept to a minimum and thus allow the greatest possible bomb load to be carried to the target. As such it was from the beginning an offensive, strategic bomber whose role was to take the war to the enemy homeland and industrial centers. The B17, on the other hand came into being in 1938 as a result of pre-war USAAC specifications which required an extremely long range bomber capable of operating from continental US and territorial airfields as part of the defensive strategy of the US mainland and its possessions. The main idea was to strike at an enemy invasion force long before it could close with its objective. In effect the B17 was more of a medium than heavy bomber. The long range specified demanded large fuel tanks and this required four engines to lift the combined weight of fuel and the plane's relatively modest bomb load which was not much larger than that carried by twin engine medium bombers.

That the B17 was successfully employed in the daylight strategic bombing campaign in Europe, is a testament to the flexibility of the basic design which allowed for greater defensive armament and armour without losing bombload. Thus both were highly competent and successful weapons.

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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:55 pm

The two different strategies of the American and British bomber commands were organized at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. The resulting "Combined Bomber Offensive" would weaken the Wehrmacht, destroy German morale and establish air superiority through Operation Pointblank's destruction of German fighter strength in preparation of a ground offensive.The USAAF bombers would attack by day, with British operations – chiefly against industrial cities – by night.

Operation Pointblank opened with attacks on targets in Western Europe. General Ira C. Eaker and the Eighth Air Force placed highest priority on attacks on the German aircraft industry, especially fighter assembly plants, engine factories and ball-bearing manufacturers. Attacks began in April 1943 on heavily fortified key industrial plants in Bremen and Recklinghausen.

Since the airfield bombings were not appreciably reducing German fighter strength, additional B-17 groups were formed, and Eaker ordered major missions deeper into Germany against important industrial targets. The 8th Air Force then targeted the ball-bearing factories in Schweinfurt, hoping to cripple the war effort there. The first raid on 17 August 1943 did not result in critical damage to the factories, with the 230 attacking B-17s being intercepted by an estimated 300 Luftwaffe fighters. The Germans shot down 36 aircraft with the loss of 200 men, and coupled with a raid earlier in the day against Regensburg, a total of 60 B-17s were lost that day.

A second attempt on Schweinfurt on 14 October 1943 would later come to be known as "Black Thursday". While the attack was successful at disrupting the entire works, severely curtailing work there for the remainder of the war, it was at an extreme cost. Of the 291 attacking Fortresses, 60 were shot down over Germany, five crashed on approach to Britain, and 12 more were scrapped due to damage – a total loss of 77 B-17s. A total of 122 bombers were damaged and needed repairs before their next flight. Out of 2,900 men in the crews, about 650 men did not return, although some survived as prisoners of war. Only 33 bombers landed without damage. These losses were a result of concentrated attacks by over 300 German fighters. This loss rate was unsustainable and something had to be organised to minimise the attrition. Was this the Defensive Box??? If so how was it organised??

05 March 1943 - July 1943
The battle of the Ruhr was one of three major bombing offensives launched by the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command in 1943-44. Its targets were the cities and towns of the Ruhr Valley, Germany's industrial heartland. The battle began with an attack on Essen on the night of 5 March 1943. The Ruhr, nicknamed "Happy Valley" by bomber crews, proved a difficult target to attack due to the haze generated by its industrial plants and a high concentration of German defences. Increasing numbers of German night fighters, equipped with radar and various electronic targeting devices, exacted a heavy toll on the attacking bombers. They were still able to inflict significant damage though, resulting in the relocation of a great deal of the industry located there. Post-war analysis, however, indicated that the impact upon German industry by the attacks on the Ruhr was not as great as had been believed.

The battle of the Ruhr also included renowned "Dambuster" raids mounted on the night of 16 May 1943 against three Ruhr valley dams - Möhne, Elder and Sorpe. The first two dams were breached, releasing destructive floods, but ultimately little disruption was caused to industry. The dams were repaired by October.

The concerted attacks against the Ruhr continued until July 1943 when Bomber Command's mounting losses (over 700 aircraft and crews) caused the offensive to be called off. On 11 June 1943 the command had 726 bombers crewed and operational, by the last raid of the offensive on 9 July this had fallen to 623. The battle of the Ruhr killed around 15,000 Germans and 5,000 British and Commonwealth air crew.
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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:46 pm

Both aircraft were designed for different tasks . The B 17 operated by day, the Lancaster by night . The B 17 had .50 cal MG, whereas the Lancaster had .303 MG's . Also the Bomber Commands had different operational doctrines the USAAF preferred mass group bombings in formation . The RAF went by night in a bomber stream. They were both aimed at bombing targets in Germany . USAAF tried Pin Point Bombing- the RAF- Area Bombing.

Which aircraft- in the long run- was the most effective in all respects-it is tough question and just because I am British does not mean I favour the Lancaster :think: :think: :think:
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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:52 am

Picture and Diagram of Defensive Box adopted by USAAF.It is a pity that the each aircraft's arc of defensive fire is not shown-to indicate the cover provided against attack
However one can see how each plane's position is relative to the rest

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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by Steve Crandell » Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:30 pm

I believe the B-17's weapons were able to cover a sphere around the aircraft with no gaps, so showing the "defensive arc" would be kind of meaningless. They were most vulnerable in front due to the short time a fighter would be exposed in an attack.

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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:02 pm

Thank you for your interest and input Steve-you are right about sphere,arc is the wrong word.As you say the favoured form of attack by enemy fighters was peeling in from the front at great speed firing at the cockpit.I assume this mode of attack would be made on the "lead" bomber of the box
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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Wed Dec 03, 2014 3:23 pm

Effective altitudes for various calibres of German AA guns used




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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by tommy303 » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:28 pm

I wonder if a comparison of the Consolidated B-24 and the Lancaster might be more appropo, since both were true heavy bombers. I think the Lancaster still comes out on top in bomb lifting capacity at least until the B-29 entered the scene, but the latter was a completely different generation of bomber.

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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:36 pm

Tommy- if the B24 is a better comparison-go ahead and post it up-I will follow you-I'll just finish off the Lancaster
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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:42 pm

RAF Bomber Command Bomber Stream-used to defeat the Kammhuber line


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Re: AVRO LANCASTER B1&3 v BOEING B17G FLYING FORTRESS

Post by aurora » Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:17 pm

The B-17 lacked the range and bomb load of the B-24 Liberator, but was somewhat better armed and proved to be even more resistant to battle damage. The Fortress was a key element in winning the air war over Europe and the destruction of the Luftwaffe.

The definitive B-17G was a low-wing, all-metal monoplane powered by four 1,200 h.p. Wright R-1820-97 air-cooled, turbocharged, 9-cylinder radial engines. It had a wingspan of 103' 9" and a length of 74' 9". The normal crew was ten men. Empty weight was 32,720 pounds, normal loaded weight was 49,500 pounds and maximum weight was 60,000 pounds. Normal range with maximum bomb load and normal fuel was 1,100 miles. The maximum speed was 295 M.P.H. and the service ceiling was 35,000'. The B-17's ability to operate at very high altitudes created a significant tactical problem for Axis interceptors.

The B-17G's defensive armament consisted of thirteen heavy .50 caliber machine guns. Eight of these were distributed in pairs in power operated chin, dorsal, ventral and tail positions, plus single manually trained guns on each side of the fuselage in cheek and waist positions and a single manually trained gun fired upward from the top of the fuselage by the radio operator. The internal bomb load was 6,000 pounds.

I really cannot say which was the most effective bomber-55000 men were killed in Bomber Command through saving armour and armament to increase bomb load.
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