Monday, December 23, 2013

Fwd: WW2 Flying information


Most   Americans who were not adults during WWII have no understanding of the magnitude of it. This listing of some of the aircraft   facts gives a bit of insight to it.  
276,000 aircraft were manufactured in the U.S. 
43,000    planes lost overseas, including 23,000 in combat.    
14,000  lost in the continental U.S.    

The  U.S. civilian population maintained a dedicated effort for four years, many working long hours seven days per week and often also volunteering for other  work. WWII  was the largest human effort in history.
Statistics are from   Flight Journal magazine.

THE    PRICE OF VICTORY (cost of an aircraft in WWII   dollars)
B-17          $204,370.        P-40         $44,892.
B-24          $215,516.        P-47          $85,578.
B-25          $142,194.        P-51          $51,572.
B-26          $192,426.        C-47          $88,574.
B-29          $605,360.        PT-17        $15,052.
P-38            $97,147.        AT-6          $22,952.

PLANES  A DAY WORLDWIDE  
From Germany's invasion of Poland Sept. 1, 1939 and  ending with Japan's  surrender Sept. 2, 1945 --- 2,433  days
From    1942 onward, America averaged 170 planes lost a   day.

How  many is a 1,000  planes?   B-17 production (12,731)  wingtip to wingtip would extend 250 miles.  1,000 B-17s carried 2.5 million gallons of high octane fuel and required  10,000  airmen to fly and fight them.

THE   NUMBERS  GAME
9.7   billion gallons of gasoline consumed,   1942-1945.
107.8  million hours flown,  1943-1945.  
459.7 billion rounds of aircraft  ammo fired overseas,  1942-1945.
7.9 million bombs  dropped  overseas,  1943-1945.
2.3  million combat sorties, 1941-1945 (one sortie =  one   takeoff).
299,230 aircraft accepted,  1940-1945.
808,471 aircraft engines accepted,  1940-1945.
799,972 propellers accepted,  1940-1945.

WWII    MOST-PRODUCED COMBAT AIRCRAFT
Ilyushin  IL-2  Sturmovik                                     36,183


Yakolev Yak-1,-3,-7,   -9                                  31,000+


Messerschmitt   Bf-109                                     30,480

Focke-Wulf   Fw-190                                         29,001

Supermarine   Spitfire/Seafire                           20,351

Convair B-24/PB4Y   Liberator/Privateer          18,482

Republic P-47   Thunderbolt                             15,686

North American P-51   Mustang                        15,875

Junkers   Ju-88                                                 15,000

Hawker Hurricane                                           14,533

Curtiss P-40   Warhawk                                    13,738

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress         12,731

Vought F4U Corsair                                         12,571

Grumman F6F Hellcat                                     12,275

Petlyakov   Pe-2                                                11,400

Lockheed P-38 Lightning                                 10,037

Mitsubishi A6M Zero                                       10,449

North American B-25 Mitchell                           9,984

Lavochkin LaGG-5                                            9,920

Note: The LaGG-5 was  produced with both water-cooled (top) and air-cooled  (bottom) engines.

Grumman TBM Avenger                                   9,837

Bell P-39 Airacobra                                           9,584

Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar                                       5,919

DeHavilland Mosquito                                      7,780

Avro Lancaster                                                 7,377

Heinkel He-111                                                 6,508

Handley-Page Halifax                                        6,176

Messerschmitt   Bf-110                                       6,150

Lavochkin   LaGG-7                                            5,753

Boeing B-29 Superfortress                               3,970

Short Stirling                                                      2,383


Sources:  Rene Francillon,    Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific war; Cajus Bekker, The Luftwaffe Diaries;  Ray Wagner, American Combat  Planes;   Wikipedia.


According to the AAF Statistical Digest, in less than four years (December  1941- August  1945), the US Army Air Forces lost 14,903 pilots,  aircrew and assorted personnel plus 13,873 airplanes   --- 
inside   the continental United   States.  They were the result of 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving  fatalities) in 45 months.

Think about those numbers. They average 1,170 aircraft  accidents per month --- nearly 40 a  day.  (Less than one accident in four resulted in totaled aircraft, however.)
It gets  worse.....
Almost 1,000 Army planes disappeared enroute from the US to foreign climes. But an eye-watering 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 against the Western  Axis) and 20,633 attributed to non-combat causes overseas.

In a  single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60  B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in  England.  In 1942-43 it was statistically  impossible for  bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in  Europe.
Pacific theater losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed.  The worst B-29 mission, against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses, 5.6  percent of the 464 dispatched from the  Marianas.
On  an avrage, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day.  By the end of the war, over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat  theaters and another 18,000 wounded.  Some 12,000  missing men were  declared dead, including a number  "liberated" by the Soviets but never returned.  More than 41,000 were captured, half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in  German hands.   Total combat casualties were pegged at  121,867.

U.S. manpower made up the deficit.  The AAF's peak strength was reached in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the   previous year's figure.
The losses were huge---but so were production totals.  From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft. That number was enough not only for U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but for allies as diverse as Britain, Australia,   China and Russia.  In fact, from 1943  onward, America produced more planes than Britain and Russia  combined.  And more than Germany and Japan together 1941-45.
However, our enemies took massive losses. Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained uncontrolled hemorrhaging, reaching 25 percent of aircrews and 40  planes a month.  And in late 1944 into 1945, nearly half the pilots in Japanese squadrons had flown fewer than 200 hours. The disparity of two years before had been completely reversed.
   
 
Experience Level:
Uncle Sam sent many of his sons to war with absolute minimums of training. Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than one hour in their assigned  aircraft.
The 357th Fighter Group (often known as The Yoxford  Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on  P-39s. The group never  saw a Mustang until shortly before its first combat mission.   
A  high-time P-51 pilot had 30 hours in type.  Many had fewer than five hours.  Some had one hour.
With arrival of new aircraft, many combat units  transitioned in combat. The attitude  was, "They  all have a stick and a throttle.  Go  fly  `em."  When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in February 1944, there was no time to stand down for  an orderly transition.  The  Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said, "You can learn to fly `51s on the way to the target.    

A future P-47 ace said, 
"I was sent to England to die." He was not alone.   Some fighter pilots tucked their wheels in the well on their first  combat mission with one previous flight in  the aircraft. Meanwhile, many bomber crews were still learning their trade: of Jimmy Doolittle's 15 pilots on the April 1942 Tokyo raid, only  five had won their wings before 1941. All but one of the 16 copilots were less than a year out of flight school.

In   WWII flying safety took a back seat to combat. The AAF's worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of  the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000  flying  hours.  Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38  at 139.  All were Allison powered.

Bomber  wrecks were fewer but more expensive. The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000 flight hours,  respectively--  a horrific figure considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force's major mishap rate was less than  2.
The B-29 was even worse at 40; the world's most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to  stand down for mere safety reasons. The AAF set a reasonably high standard for B-29 pilots, but the desired figures were seldom attained.    
The original cadre of the 58th Bomb Wing was to have 400 hours of multi-engine time, but there were not enough experienced pilots to meet the criterion.  Only ten percent had overseas experience.  Conversely, when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force initiated a two-month "safety pause" rather than declare a "stand down", let alone grounding.

The B-29 was no better for maintenance. Though the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, no more than half the mechanics had previous experience with the Duplex Cyclone.  But they made it   work.

Navigators:
Perhaps the greatest unsung success story of AAF training was Navigators. The Army graduated some 50,000  during the War.  And   many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving "Uncle   Sugar" for a war zone.  Yet the huge majority found  their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running  out of fuel --- a stirring tribute to the AAF's educational establishments.
Cadet To Colonel:
It  was possible for a flying cadet at the time of Pearl Harbor to finish the war with eagles on his shoulders. That was the record of John D. Landers, a 21-year-old Texan, who was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 12, 1941. He  joined his combat squadron with 209 hours total flight time, including 20 in P-40s.  He finished the war as a full colonel, commanding an 8th Air Force Group --- at age 24.
As the training pipeline filled up, however those low figures became exceptions.  
By early 1944, the average AAF fighter pilot entering combat had logged at least 450 hours, usually including 250 hours in training.  At the same time, many captains and first lieutenants claimed over 600 hours.

FACT:
At  its height in mid-1944, the Army Air Forces had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types.  
Today the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000  civilians) with 5,500+ manned and perhaps 200 unmanned  aircraft.  
The 2009 figures represent about 12 percent of the manpower and 7 percent of the airplanes of the WWII  peak.

IN SUMMATION:  
Whether there will ever be another war like that experienced in 1940-45 is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones over Afghanistan and Iraq. But within living memory, men left the earth  
in 1,000-plane  formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless.

This is an excellent summary of the effort required in WWII. It focuses on the  American side of things, but the British, Germans and  Japanese expended comparable energy and experienced similar costs.  Just one example for the Luftwaffe; about 1/3 of the Bf109s built were lost in non-combat crashes. After Midway, the Japanese experience level declined markedly, with the loss of so many higher-time naval pilots.
 
 
 







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