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The incredible B-26 'Flak Bait'


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BravelyRanAway #1 Posted 04 September 2020 - 09:34 PM

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207 missions and the only B-26 Maurader still in existence!

 


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apartclassic #2 Posted 05 September 2020 - 08:19 AM

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Funny thing - there are fragments of an official anti-AA training film from the war, featured in this vid. It's available on YT, I think I also linked it somewhere on the forum already. Yup, I watched it. Nope, it didn't give me some critical life lessons - but it was interesting. One of those things that give you some real science behind your general awareness, like explaining how electric lights works in your home. Interestingly enough, the training film was considered 'confidential' during the war, because apart from the explanation of how AA fire works (e.g. time needed to calculate accurate fire, quoted in the clip above, or modes of AA fire), it also outlined the tactics to avoid it and specific patterns of flying when under AA fire; as such, it could have been a valuable asset to Germans, giving them precise knowledge of the way individual bombers and bomber formations flew (like timing and degree changes of course, to avoid flak barrages).

Also, 207 missions - wowser. Typical tour for a US crew during WW2 was 25-35 missions, though it was calculated specifically (e.g. the case of 'milk runs', missions not in hostile airspace, that were calculated as 1/2 or 1/3 of a regular 'bombing mission'). Three different missions, by three different crews, in a single day - that surprised me.


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GonerNL #3 Posted 06 September 2020 - 03:04 PM

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View Postapartclassic, on 05 September 2020 - 09:19 AM, said:

Typical tour for a US crew during WW2 was 25-35 missions, 

 

The author of "Catch-22", Joseph Heller, flew 60 missions in a B-25 in the Mediterranean as bombardier, no milk runs ... it seems the medium bomber crews, flying shorter missions than the B-17's to Germany initially had to complete 50 missions, but as the war progressed that number was raised to 55, 60 and even 65 according to some.


Edited by GonerNL, 06 September 2020 - 03:06 PM.


apartclassic #4 Posted 06 September 2020 - 09:51 PM

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View PostGonerNL, on 06 September 2020 - 03:04 PM, said:

 

The author of "Catch-22", Joseph Heller, flew 60 missions in a B-25 in the Mediterranean as bombardier, no milk runs ... it seems the medium bomber crews, flying shorter missions than the B-17's to Germany initially had to complete 50 missions, but as the war progressed that number was raised to 55, 60 and even 65 according to some.

 

Each force seemed to have its own tour length, apparently. In most cases the crews were expected to complete more than one - there was a period of leave 'State-side' (usually a few months), then back into the grinder. On average it was 35 missions in the first tour, then 25 in the second one, totalling 60. These however are the average numbers, there was not a single universal standard. It also varied throughout the war, according to perceived survivability of crews. In 1942-43 it was rather low, the attrition rate was very high for USAAF in EOT, and accordingly not many crews lived long enough to do their second tour, yet alone finish the first one. Later in 1943 and especially in late 1944 Luftwaffe's threat was greatly reduced, thus raising survivability chance considerably. This lead to lengthening the tour, and insistence on doing the second one as well. That's why Heller was flying so many missions; it was both because of the later period of war, and because Italy was not as dangerous (saturated with Luftwaffe) as the bombing campaign over Germany (conducted from the UK) and later actions over Normandy.

Fun fact, in 1943 and early 1944, the survivability chance of B-17 crew was about 24% per mission, and iirc something like 8% to finish the first tour. Aerial bombardment in daytime, without fighter cover, was taking its toll.


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RoyalFlyingCorps #5 Posted 07 September 2020 - 08:59 AM

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View PostGonerNL, on 06 September 2020 - 03:04 PM, said:

The author of "Catch-22", Joseph Heller, flew 60 missions in a B-25 in the Mediterranean as bombardier, no milk runs ... it seems the medium bomber crews, flying shorter missions than the B-17's to Germany initially had to complete 50 missions, but as the war progressed that number was raised to 55, 60 and even 65 according to some.

 

That's a kind of "Catch 22" in itself, and perhaps inspired Heller's novel.  The more you fly and survive, the more you'll be asked to fly and risk dying.  On the other hand, if you die, you won't have to fly any more.

Not so far a stretch from that to "you'd have to be insane to fly bombing missions and if you're insane you're not fit to fly them, but if you recognise this, you're obviously not insane and therefore you are fit to fly bombing missions".


Edited by RoyalFlyingCorps, 07 September 2020 - 09:00 AM.





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