Most Ugly Aircraft

Was bomber command's losses not around 5% per raid?
RAF Bomber command? 44% by the end, largely thanks to the Battle of Berlin and the Luftwaffe adapting their strategy to cope with our radar equipped night fighters bombers (they concentrated all of their fighter over the target area instead of picking off stragglers from the bomber stream on the way and on the way home from the targets)

edited to add, about 11% loss rate on aircraft only was an average peak but it is really hard to calculate a meaningful average because of the large variances in actual danger. Berlin was heavily defended on the ground and by air compared with say Hamburg or Dresden or a French target
 
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At a quick look:

8325 Aircraft failed to return from 364,514 sorties for an overall loss rate of 2.28%

worst loss rate on a large raid was the Nuremburg Attack 30/31 March 1944 with 96 aircraft failing to return and another 10 written off after landing from 795 sorties. loss rate of 13.3% More aircrew killed (545) than Fighter command losses in the Battle of Britain (537).

Lowest loss rates were with the Mosquito 193 FTR from 28,000 sorties i.e 0.7 % loss rate.
highest were the Sterlings right? but it was so bad with them that even Harris retired them towards the end
 
...the Luftwaffe...concentrated all of their fighter over the target area instead of picking off stragglers from the bomber stream on the way and on the way home from the targets...
Wilde Sau single seat fighters impressed into the nightfighter role as a result of RAF jamming were primarily employed over the cities. However, the true ‘nachjagdt’ were encountered throughout the entire route - including the North Sea - particularly once the Zahme Sau and ‘reportage’ C2 system was adopted as a result of WINDOW.

highest were the Sterlings right? but it was so bad with them that even Harris retired them towards the end
In descending order, Bomber Command operational losses by types were as follows:

Manchester 5.04%
Ventura 3.91%
Blenheim 3.62%
Stirling 3.39%
Whitley 3.22%
Wellington 2.92%
Boston 2.61%
Hampden 2.56%
Halifax 2.28%
Lancaster 2.20%
Fortress 1.04%
Mosquito 0.65%
Liberator 0.45%

Regards,
MM
 
I would counter that by noting that USAAF lost rather a lot of Fortresses in daylight raids until the advent of long range fighter escort, particularly the P51 Mustang and P47 Thunderbolt with long range tanks.
 
the Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle

Well the Albermarle wasn't a particularly ugly or bad aircraft. It suffered to a large extent from being designed to be mediocre. It was anticipated that the main aero factories would be pasted by the Luftwaffe and that light alloys would be in short supply. So the Albermarle was specified to be built from wood and metal tubing and designed for dispersed production by non-aero sub-contractors. As it was designed as the second half substitute it never had priority for the best engines either. Consequently it was quite heavy for its size and under-powered.

It did manage however to be the first equipment on RAF charge with a tricycle undercarriage
 
Fortress 1.04%
Mosquito 0.65%
Liberator 0.45%
To be fair wasn't most of the bomber command service for the B-17 and 24 special duties with 100 group? i.e jamming, spoofing and chaffing, rather than fully bombed up and prosecuting the target??

Wouldn't want people thinking that losses could have been halved if we'd ditched the Lancs and used Fort's and Lib's instead.... :)
 

Maalox

On ROPS
On ROPs
In 1945 in the last 3 months of the war bomber losses to 88 and 128mm flak surprisingly suddenly increased. The Germans had found that aiming for a direct hit on an aircraft, rather than setting up a time-fuzed barrage around it, had much greater chance of success. If the Germans had had access to the proximity-fuse in 1944, losses may have become prohibitive.
 
To be fair wasn't most of the bomber command service for the B-17 and 24 special duties with 100 group? i.e jamming, spoofing and chaffing, rather than fully bombed up and prosecuting the target??

Wouldn't want people thinking that losses could have been halved if we'd ditched the Lancs and used Fort's and Lib's instead.... :)
Other than a brief and somewhat disastrous experiment with early Fortress Is on daylight ops (which led to the USAAC redesigning the type to introduce greater defensive armament including the tail position) both types were indeed largely employed for Radio Countermeasures (RCM or what we now call EA) by the RAF in Europe (the Liberator was used by the RAF as a bomber in the Far East however).

They did operate with the main force and, while rarely going over the target itself, would routinely operate in isolation and over other defended areas to secure the correct geometry for jamming. However, they flew at far higher altitude than the British heavies and were introduced later in the War when RAF EW and intruders was significantly degrading Luftwaffe night defences.

An indication of the routing and effectiveness of such jamming can be gauged by an incident when a single 100 Gp Fortress failed to receive a recall signal cancelling a raid. The aircraft continued alone to the Ruhr, dropping Window whilst conducting ABC and Jostle RCM. COMINT indicated the Luftwaffe believed a force of 50 aircraft had been involved rather than a lone Fortress!

Regards,
MM
 
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This is a famous picture of 51 Sqn aircrew being briefed in the Operations Room at RAF Snaith, Yorkshire on 30 Mar 44 by Sqn Ldr Peter Hill prior to the infamous Nuremberg raid.

That night, 35 of the men in this picture died (including Sqn Ldr Hill) and a further 7 became PoWs when 6 Halifax bombers of 51 Sqn were lost.

RIP.

Regards,
MM
A chap on YouTube recently had a chance to film inside the Yorkshire Air Museum's Halifax. In terms of interior space the Halifax was decent in WW2 terms but the main thing I took from the video was how hard it would be to get out of a Halifax in a hurry, particularly from the mid upper gunner's turret.
That photograph is very, very sobering.

 
A chap on YouTube recently had a chance to film inside the Yorkshire Air Museum's Halifax. In terms of interior space the Halifax was decent in WW2 terms but the main thing I took from the video was how hard it would be to get out of a Halifax in a hurry, particularly from the mid upper gunner's turret.
That photograph is very, very sobering.

The Halifax was actually statistically the easiest heavy to abandon as it had larger and better placed hatches. Statistically, the safest position was the bomb aimer as he lay right over the nose hatch on the Lanc and had space to get his parachute on quickly. The pilot was the least likely to escape a damaged aircraft although rear gunners had a higher mortality rate as they were often killed in a rear attack.

I’ve been privileged to fly twice in the BBMF Lanc. Even just wearing a bone dome and grow bag, movement was challenging in daylight. I can’t imagine trying and bail out of a stricken aircraft in darkness and freezing cold as the aircraft started to enter its terminal spin.

Regards,
MM
 
I remember reading a quote thar said going on a raid was like slowly walking through an immense blacked out building that would take four hours to get through and four hours back. Whilst feeling your way you would be carrying a bucket of fuel and a bucket of amatol.
You would be carrying a popgun but someone would be hunting you with a much bigger gun.
Also the building would be full of noise so you wouldn’t hear him coming.
If you survived you got to do it tomorrow night!
My grandad like all the rest just got on with it, convincing himself that he and his crew would get through. But he said every couple of weeks they would see another experienced crew go ( one that stuck in his. Mind was on the return from a raid on Essen in 1943, a crew on 22 trips on their port beam returning after bombing ,was hit. They must have taken a hit to the oxygen bottles as well as starting a fire as within seconds the whole interior of the fuselage was an inferno. They watched in horror from a couple of hundred yards as the cockpit glowed for a good half minute before the AC fell away, no one got out!).
In comparison they were lucky, apart from one brush with a nightfighter and some flack damage , his crew completed their tour with no injury’s at all.
Brave souls all.
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
To be fair wasn't most of the bomber command service for the B-17 and 24 special duties with 100 group? i.e jamming, spoofing and chaffing, rather than fully bombed up and prosecuting the target??

Wouldn't want people thinking that losses could have been halved if we'd ditched the Lancs and used Fort's and Lib's instead.... :)
A lot of the B17 and B24 were used by Coastal Command rather than Bomber Command. Not sure if they figure in @Magic_Mushroom 's figures.
 
A lot of the B17 and B24 were used by Coastal Command rather than Bomber Command. Not sure if they figure in @Magic_Mushroom 's figures.
No, the stats I used relate purely to their use by Bomber Command.

The source is Martin Middlebrook's exceptional 'The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book, 1939-45.' That lists every single Bomber Command raid conducted during WWII, numbers of aircraft, losses, results (much taken directly from Nazi records), and has numerous annexes examining specifics via gp, sqn, type and year.

Regards,
MM
 
The Lanacaster was a pit to exit for two reasons:

Firstly the hatch was 2" smaller than a Halifax / Stirling and the War Department refused to change it.
Secondly the Lancaster had only one pilot hence if the pilot was hit you were in trouble. Most other heavies had 2 pilots

The Stirling was handicapped by using the same (inefficient) thick wing as the Sunderland which limited the service ceiling making it more vulnerable to AAA and fighter attack.

 
The Lanacaster was a pit to exit for two reasons:

Firstly the hatch was 2" smaller than a Halifax / Stirling and the War Department refused to change it.
Secondly the Lancaster had only one pilot hence if the pilot was hit you were in trouble. Most other heavies had 2 pilots

The Stirling was handicapped by using the same (inefficient) thick wing as the Sunderland which limited the service ceiling making it more vulnerable to AAA and fighter attack.

Any particular reason Short's Stirling is such a (comparatively), big bugger?
 
The Stirling was handicapped by using the same (inefficient) thick wing as the Sunderland which limited the service ceiling making it more vulnerable to AAA and fighter attack.
Weren't these consequences of the original spec particularly that the proposed aircraft should

lift off from a 500 ft (150 m) runway and be able to clear 50 ft (15 m) trees at the end

Have a wingspan less than 100' so that existing hangers could be used.


Having failed to notice the performance issues resulting from these kinds of spec restrictions. Short field performance specs went on to blight the design of the Bristol Brabazon, and to some extent the VC-10.
 

Maalox

On ROPS
On ROPs
The 1944 slaughter of RAF heavies due to angled-Jazz-Music cannon could have been reduced if only a cut out window with a single Browning had been added to Lancs and Halifaxes, to deter the nighfighters formating at leisure unseen from underneath

 
...the Lancaster had only one pilot hence if the pilot was hit you were in trouble. Most other heavies had 2 pilots...
The Halifax also only had a single pilot.

While the Stirling was the only RAF 'heavy' to have dual controls fitted at all times, it became increasingly common for only a single pilot to be used with the flt engineer routinely occupying the second seat for portions of the sortie. Note how only the captain's seat has armour plating in the picture below.

One famous example was Flt Sgt Arthur Aaron, Captain and only pilot during the sortie in which won his VC over Turin.

Air Ministry, 5th November, 1943.

The King has been graciously pleased to confer the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned airman in recognition of most conspicuous bravery:—

458181 Acting Flight Sergeant Arthur Louis Aaron, D.F.M., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 218 Squadron (deceased).

On the night of 12 August 1943, Flight Sergeant Aaron was captain and pilot of a Stirling aircraft detailed to attack Turin. When approaching to attack, the bomber received devastating bursts of fire from an enemy fighter. Three engines were hit, the windscreen shattered, the front and rear turrets put out of action and the elevator control damaged, causing the aircraft to become unstable and difficult to control. The navigator was killed and other members of the crew were wounded.

A bullet struck Flight Sergeant Aaron in the face, breaking his jaw and tearing away part of his face. He was also wounded in the lung and his right arm was rendered useless. As he fell forward over the control column, the aircraft dived several thousand feet. Control was regained by the flight engineer at 3,000 feet. Unable to speak, Flight Sergeant Aaron urged the bomb aimer by signs to take over the controls. Course was then set southwards in an endeavour to fly the crippled bomber, with one engine out of action, to Sicily or North Africa.

Flight Sergeant Aaron was assisted to the rear of the aircraft and treated with morphia. After resting for some time he rallied and, mindful of his responsibility as captain of aircraft, insisted on returning to the pilot's cockpit, where he was lifted into his seat and had his feet placed on the rudder bar. Twice he made determined attempts to take control and hold the aircraft to its course but his weakness was evident and with difficulty he was persuaded to desist. Though in great pain and suffering from exhaustion, he continued to help by writing directions with his left hand.

Five hours after leaving the target the petrol began to run low, but soon afterwards the flare path at Bone airfield was sighted. Flight Sergeant Aaron summoned his failing strength to direct the bomb aimer in the hazardous task of landing the damaged aircraft in the darkness with undercarriage retracted. Four attempts were made under his direction; at the fifth Flight Sergeant Aaron was so near to collapsing that he had to be restrained by the crew and the landing was completed by the bomb aimer.

Nine hours after landing, Flight Sergeant Aaron died from exhaustion. Had he been content, when grievously wounded, to lie still and conserve his failing strength, he would probably have recovered, but he saw it as his duty to exert himself to the utmost, if necessary with his last breath, to ensure that his aircraft and crew did not fall into enemy hands. In appalling conditions he showed the greatest qualities of courage, determination and leadership and, though wounded and dying, he set an example of devotion to duty which has seldom been equaled and never surpassed.

Flt Sgt Aaron's citation does however indicate that the dual controls available made it easier for another member of the crew to assume control when the pilot was wounded or killed.

Where second pilots were carried on raids, they were nearly always 'second dicky' inexperienced pilots who were normally allowed to complete one or 2 trips with a more experienced crew before taking their own to war.

Regards,
MM
 

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