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B17 v Lanc bomb load

Old 3rd May 2007, 04:27
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...and its crew could expect to survive a far longer tour of operations.
Tell that to Guy Gibson's Ghost...
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Old 3rd May 2007, 19:01
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I flew a pair of ARV Super-2's to Oshkosh in 198? and met a 'local' who told me that he had travelled the length on breadth of the UK in an Aston Martin down unmade roads in the 1950's with Guy Gibson. I hadn't the heart to tell him.....
Anyhow, have a listen to the glorious sound of ....
http://www.mossie.org/sounds/mosquito_flypast.mp3
(PS Max volume in stereo is recommended)

Last edited by blue up; 3rd May 2007 at 19:03. Reason: speeling mishtak
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Old 3rd May 2007, 20:12
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Nice one Blue up! Took you at your word, not sure if my neighbours will ever talk to me again. Not that I'll be able to hear them...

Loved the stereo on the exhaust crackle.
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Old 3rd May 2007, 20:24
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Evansb said: 'Also, the Mosquito was of wooden construction, being inherently non-reflective of radar signals'
This is not strictly true, one could expect something wooden to have a low RCS, however, being effectively transparent to radar just meant that all those lovely metal reflectors under the skin (engines, fuel pumps, bomb fins, avionic boxes etc) were all now exposed and creating re-entrant structures, not to mention the two biggest sets reflectors on any propellor driven aircraft so, all in all, the Mosquito was not quite as stealthy as one might expect.
Still a damn handsome piece of kit though
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Old 4th May 2007, 09:34
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Schoolboy

Im appalled at the lack of knowledge on here...surely every schoolboy knows the Lanc was a better hauler of explosives than the B-17?! Albeit that the Lanc was purely designed for just that purpose (bigger bomb bay) and didnt carry as much armament and had less crew as a result. A typical load to Berlin would be a mixture of HE and incendiaries, usually a 4,000lb er and several 1,000lb bombs, roughly 10-14,000lb depending on fuel load.

Further the Mosquito regularly flew missions to Berlin carrying a 4,000LB Cookie, which could be fitted in by modifying the bomb doors. They often flew relays of missions to Berlin, landing back home and taking off again the same night! They even bombed Berlin on Hitlers birthday in 1943 in daylight!

The reason that more Mosquitos were not produced were two-fold. Firstly they were of wooden construction and most of this production was dispersed around the UK in small workshops etc, before coming to a final assembly plant.
Britan did not possess enough skilled workers for this job and thus numbers were limited. Secondly,Britains war effort was 'geared' to heavy bomber production and it would have been far too difficult to change that programme
once it was in full swing. There were even problems trying to resolve the Halifax Mk 1 stall problem. Handley Page refused intially to change the rudder design as it would interfere with production!

Im not sure who it was, possibly RV Jones or Tizard who computed that a Heavy Bomber without turrets and extra crew members could have had an increase of 50mph to its speed. That would give the Lanc an estimated max speed of 335-340mph, which would have been more that adequate to see off the twin engined nightfighters of the day, plus it would have given them an advantage of being more manouverable.

The B17 also fought by day as a precision bomber and thus in theory didnt need as big a load, whereas Bomber Command was a creature of the night, having been mauled in December 1939 in daylight, and the policy was one of 'Area Bombing'.

I have often wondered if the Heavies had not carried so much weight with them and were pure haulers of explosives, what effect that would have had on the 'night bombing' of Germany ( as awful now, with hindsight, that policy was) Surviving crews often told of Bombers lightening themselves before they got to Germany to gain altitude.

Im sure we all have nothing but admiration for their courage in carrying out a task that will never thankfully occur again.
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 00:41
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Cool Understanding all the variables?

Many people fail to understand the great number of variables involved. The altitude required was a big one, range, including all course changes etc...
The facts are;
1. The Lanc bomb bay was long, narrow and low. It could carry 12 conventional 1,000 pound bombs. After some time in service, after the RAF chose to do night ops, it was modified to carry 14 - 1,000 pounders with short fins. Then later it was again modified to carry heavier bombs. The 4,000 pound "cookie" as it was known was designed just for this application as the standard 4,000 LC/HC bomb would not fit WO new bomb bay doors. The bay was sized to carry the 4,000 MC bomb which because of the thicker case was smaller in diameter. All other bombs were carried by specially modified planes WO bomb bay doors. The normal maximum bomb load of NON SPECIAL Lancs was 14,000 pounds.
2. The Lancaster's AVERAGE bomb load during the entire war was just under 8,000 pounds! See; The "Lanc", as it was affectionately known,[2] thus became the most famous and most successful of the Second World War night bombers, "delivering 608,612 tons of bombs in 156,000 sorties." @ Avro Lancaster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
((608612*2000=1217224000)/156000=7802 pounds/mission)
Many Lancs had most of their deffensive guns and armor removed to improve aerodynamic performance.
3. The average altitude of Lanc missions was <19,000! This contributed greatly to the AVERAGE weight of bombs it could carry to any given target range. With very heavy loads at relatively long range, bombing altitude was less than 13,000'! At night it did not matter much. But in broad day light, such altitudes were suicide! Since the Lanc's service ceiling was under 25,000', if it HAD BEEN REQUIRED to fly much higher than 19,000' during day light, like B-17s and B-24s at 25,000', to avoid optically directed flak, the bomb load to any given range would have been about half of what it was! MUCH LESS THAN HALF! If missions had been required at 30,000' fuel would have had to have been off loaded to make the plane light enough to get to altitude and both bomb load and range would have been REDUCED TO ONE QUARTER of what it was statistically.
4. The cause of number 3 above was the supercharger systems of the various Lancaster's engine types. There were half a dozen major variants! ( Not counting the Bristol engined types!) Compared to the Turbo-supercharger + supercharger system on both the B-17 and B-24, it was hopelessly under powered and in-efficient at high altitude!
5. The B-17 bomb bay was short, equally wide - twice and tall. It too could carry the 4,000 pound MC bomb internally. Four of them, two on either side. ( Bomb about 3,800 pounds actual, or load <16,000 pounds.) Or it could carry eight 2,000 pounder MC bombs, four on either side. ( >16,000 pounds.), But to get to 17,600 pounds that you see in all the reference books, it had to load eleven 1,600 pound Armor Piercing bombs inside the two bays for 17,600 pounds of bombs. This was facilitated by the four bomb racks that were as tall as the entire depth of the fuselage. The same racks were doubled in the B-24, with four racks in each of the two bomb bays. These four racks could in theory, carry 38 individual 250 pound MC Bombs, or 34, 440 pound Incendiary cluster bombs! ( Because the Lanc only had 12 or 14 shackles, it could only carry 12, or 14 bombs, hence the British preference for larger bombs.) Total bomb load was reduced to meet range and altitude requirements!
6. Statistically, more smaller bombs are better at destroying most targets. The blast over pressure is a CUBE ROOT function, so that a bomb eight times as heavy is required to do twice as much damage. Also, more bombs mean more chances to have a direct hit which is infinitely preferable to a miss! Bomb fragment size and range is equal for all MC bombs because the fragments loose velocity so quickly.
7. Because the American Missions were required to fly between 25-30K' to avoid flak, their bomb loads were much less on average than those of the Lancaster. So it was tactics that determined the relative weight of bombs they would carry on average during the war, not aircraft performance!
8. The B-17 was superior to the Lancaster in construction technology, engine installation and aerodynamic performance! The B-24 was superior to the B-17 aerodynamically, but not structurally. You pays your money and takes your choice!
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Old 8th Mar 2012, 23:42
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Cool PS. One last point.

B-17s dropped about 32,000 more tons of bombs than Lancasters durring the war, while flying for fewer months of service. Their availibility rate was some multiple of the Lancs and they flew more long missions as a fraction of their total, to boot.
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Old 9th Mar 2012, 07:17
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Where is your source for that info?
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Old 9th Mar 2012, 08:42
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Considering that there were some 12,731 B17s and 7377 Lancaster built, and that the B17 first flew in 1935 compared to the Lancs first flight in 1941, the B17 had many more years to get it operating correctly.

The B17 entered service in April 1938, before the war had begun The Lancaster entered service in Feb 42, not long after America joined in.

B17's dropped 640,000 tons compared to the Lancasters 608,612 tons, an average of 50 tons per B17 and 82.5 tons per Lancaster.
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Old 9th Mar 2012, 09:31
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Counter arguments

45 Shooter,

To addresss your points....

1. Complete info on Lancaster bomb bay size, and loads can be found here:

Bomb Loads

I'd be interested to see what you can come up with for the B-17 in terms of loads carried and versatility. The 8000lb bomb was the one that prompted Lancaster bomb door modification, to the interior profile. Bulged doors came later.

2. Averages... why? We know every aircraft theoretically could carry max bombload, but in reality it is dictated by target and task. An average of the tonnage dropped doesn't really mean much, especially when you think that there were significantly more B17s built than Lancasters. At peak there were 4000 B17's on USAAF inventory during 1944, which is more than total Lancaster losses for the war. The maths also doesn't work unless you can verify that every one of those 156,000 sorties was a bombing one.

Regarding armour and removal - the Lancaster's armour was minimal to start with, with the pilots seat having pretty much the only armour plate. Similarly, very few Lancasters had their armaments removed, this being something done to the 'special' aircraft or occasionally the Pathfinders.

3. You're using averages again. Some missions, (Augsburg, Dams raid) were done at significantly less than the service ceiling of the Lancaster - which is listed at 24,500 feet. To get that ceiling and retain its range it would have likely been required to carry about half the load, putting it in B17 territory.

Or maybe not - seeing as the Lanc could carry the 22,000lb 'Grand Slam' up to 15,000 feet to a range of 1500 miles. The standard B17's range on a normal maximum bombload of 11,000lbs is quoted as 1100 miles...

The Tirpitz missions required an excessive range and bombload from the Lancaster, in order to get to Tromso, Norway and back. The RAF did the unthinkable, and removed the mid-upper turrets of the aircraft, and installed overload fuel tanks in the fuselage. There was no protection afforded by flying at night either as the raids were conducted in daylight.

4. Suggest further research for you into the P51 Mustang and its engine. Also look to the Merlin's use in the high altitude PR versions of Mosquito and Spitfire aircraft and the engine's post war use in the Avro Lancastrian, and particularly the Canadair North Star. The North Star's ceiling was 36,000feet. Inefficient, you say?

5. Refer to the bomb loading diagram link above. Just because there are 14 positions for standard carriers doesn't mean that is all you can fit in the bomb bay.

The 17,600lb you refer to the B17 carrying can't be done internally, it is carried off external underwing racks. I wonder how that stacks up against the normal short range of 1100 miles? Not good I'll bet.

I'm not going to bother with the B-24 as its theoretical maximum bomb load was 12,800 lb.

6. Precision bombing vs area. However the RAF (Lancaster..) attacks on submarine pens, tunnels, viaducts, and capital ships suggest that sometimes its not all about how many you can get on target.

7. Agreed. Range, Payload, Altitude. You can't have them all. However, some are better than others.

8. The basic airframe design originated as the Manchester in 1939 and was designed to be strong enough to be catapult launched. The bomb bay was strong enough to hold 22,000lbs, comfortably.

The basic wing design in itself served in:

Avro Manchester
Avro Lancaster (extended by respacing wing ribs)
Avro York
Avro Lancastrian
Avro Lincoln - (extended from wingtip joint hereon)
Avro Tudor
Avro Ashton
AWA Argosy
Avro Shackleton

From 25 July 1939, to 07 July 1991 in RAF service. And before anybody says that there really isn't that much Lancaster by the time you get to the Shackleton, the drawings do say otherwise.

I'm intrigued to know how a neat engine installation that was a self contained 'power egg' is less superior to a setup that has various parts of its supercharger and oil cooler systems buried inside the wings.


Regards,

Rich
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Old 9th Mar 2012, 21:39
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Statistically, more smaller bombs are better at destroying most targets.
The post war US Strategic Bombing Survey came to the conclusion that."..the small bombs carried by the B-17s and B-24s might destroy a factory but not the precious machine tools within" So you may have got more hits with a greater number of small bombs but caused less damage..
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 01:01
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Cool

From Wiki;

Of the 1.5 million tons of bombs dropped on Germany by U.S. aircraft, 640,000 tons were dropped from B-17s.[8]

On 30 May 1942, between 0047 and 0225 hours, in Operation Millennium 1,046 bombers dropped over 2,000 tons of high explosive and incendiaries on the medieval town of Cologne, and the resulting fires burned it from end to end. The devastation was nearly total. The fires could be seen 600 miles away at an altitude of 20,000 feet. Some 3,300 houses were destroyed, and 10,000 were damaged. 12,000 separate fires raged destroying 36 factories, damaging 270 more, and leaving 45,000 people with nowhere to live or to work. Only 384 civilians and 85 soldiers were killed, but thousands evacuated the city. Bomber Command lost 40 bombers.

From the USAAF Strategic Bombing Survey, by way of Ray Wagner on page 133, table 7;
B-17 MISSIONS = 291,508, BOMBS DROPPED = 640,036 TONS.
That is 4,391 pounds per mission, or about 56% per mission of the Lancaster's average!
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 01:21
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Smile All of that is true, as far as it goes.

But it fails to tell the entire story. The B-17 did not serve in Europe in numbers until long after the Lanc. ( First flight in Jan-'41, Service in Oct-41, 1st mass mission in Dec-41) (1st combat ready B-17E in Sept-41, 1st large mission in May-42.) At the introduction of the first full B-17E in to squadron service, there were almost two thousand Lancs delivered for service. The first B-17 variant in numbers like the Lancaster had in 1942 was the B-17F, only 3,400 built. By May 1943, the B-17G, the definitive version started to see squadron service in late 1943.
Finally, because B-17s were also kept in the states, sent to the PTO and North Africa, there were never quite as many B-17s in England as Lancasters'. More Lancs for more months equals fewer missions because of serviceability issues.
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 01:36
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With all that how do you explain they dropped soooo many bombs!

Nb. As if dropping numbers of bombs alone was the whole story anyway.
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 02:17
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Cool Neat web site and some good info, but still short.

Counter arguments
45 Shooter,

To addresss your points....

1. Complete info on Lancaster bomb bay size, and loads can be found here:

Bomb Loads
This web site does not show that the bomb bay was only 34" deep in the center and that the out side shakles could not carry any 4000 pound bomb. Note also that there were four types of 4000 pounders. The first two were so called medium case variety and less than 35" OD. The third was the first gen LC bomb and it would not fit in the Lanc's bay because it was 38" OD and shorter than the fourth version which was longer but only 34" OD. This last "Cookie" is the bomb in all the hubub is about!
I'd be interested to see what you can come up with for the B-17 in terms of loads carried and versatility. The 8000lb bomb was the one that prompted Lancaster bomb door modification, to the interior profile. Bulged doors came later.
There were also two different types of 8,000 pounders. The American version was a standard cast steel MC version and was about the same diameter as the Tallboy. It did not fit in any Lanc, except the 30-33 "Specials"! The 8,000 pounder used by the Lanc was TWO 4000 pound Cookies bolted together. It AND the 12,000 pound triple cookie fit in the Lancaster WO Bulged doors. The Bulged doors were for the American "Medium Case" bomb. The Brits let A.O. Smith cast them because there was no un-used capacity in the UK.


2. Averages... why? We know every aircraft theoretically could carry max bombload, but in reality it is dictated by target and task. An average of the tonnage dropped doesn't really mean much, especially when you think that there were significantly more B17s built than Lancasters. At peak there were 4000 B17's on USAAF inventory during 1944, which is more than total Lancaster losses for the war. The maths also doesn't work unless you can verify that every one of those 156,000 sorties was a bombing one.

Except that those 4,000 planes were scattered over four theaters. The averages are important because they highlight the availibility differances.

Regarding armour and removal - the Lancaster's armour was minimal to start with, with the pilots seat having pretty much the only armour plate. Similarly, very few Lancasters had their armaments removed, this being something done to the 'special' aircraft or occasionally the Pathfinders.

Wrong again; The tail gunner had both seat armor and BP Glass and shield, the pilot, co-pilot and bombardier also had BP Glass. The tanks were fitted with SS bags and the engines had RC plates over the oil tank and gear case. All in all, just over half a tonne total. Almost all Lancasters had the lower ventral gun poss removed, most had the top turret removed along with it's armor glass starting when they chose to go to night bombing. The average Lanc had 800 pounds of armor removed.

3. You're using averages again. Some missions, (Augsburg, Dams raid) were done at significantly less than the service ceiling of the Lancaster - which is listed at 24,500 feet. To get that ceiling and retain its range it would have likely been required to carry about half the load, putting it in B17 territory.

I pointed this out in my original post! IF they had been required to bomb in day light, at 24,000' the bomb load and range would be greatly reduced! To less than half of the AVERAGE!

Or maybe not - seeing as the Lanc could carry the 22,000lb 'Grand Slam' up to 15,000 feet to a range of 1500 miles. The standard B17's range on a normal maximum bombload of 11,000lbs is quoted as 1100 miles...

The Tirpitz missions required an excessive range and bombload from the Lancaster, in order to get to Tromso, Norway and back. The RAF did the unthinkable, and removed the mid-upper turrets of the aircraft, and installed overload fuel tanks in the fuselage. There was no protection afforded by flying at night either as the raids were conducted in daylight.

And we should judge the 8,000 by what thw 33 did? Right!

4. Suggest further research for you into the P51 Mustang and its engine. Also look to the Merlin's use in the high altitude PR versions of Mosquito and Spitfire aircraft and the engine's post war use in the Avro Lancastrian, and particularly the Canadair North Star. The North Star's ceiling was 36,000feet. Inefficient, you say?

And which version of the Lancaster used the equivilant two stage, large wheel Merlin engine? See Wiki;

Merlin XX (RM 3SM)
1,480 hp (1,105 kW) at 3,000 rpm at 6,000 ft (1,830 m); two-speed supercharger; boost pressure of up to +14 psi; Used in Hurricane Mk.II, Beaufighter Mk.II, s, Halifax Mk.II and Lancaster Mk.I bombers, and in the Spitfire Mk.III prototypes (N3297 & W3237).[77] First production Merlin XX, 4 July 1940.[18][nb 13] V-1650-1: 1,390 hp (1,040 kW); Based on Merlin 28, used in the LancasterNote that both of these engines are two speed single blower engines!

5. Refer to the bomb loading diagram link above. Just because there are 14 positions for standard carriers doesn't mean that is all you can fit in the bomb bay.

There are 15 possitions, only 14 of which are usable at any one time. But that is only later versions, because the early types only had 12 shakels and could not cary any 4000 pound bomb with the doors on at that time!

The 17,600lb you refer to the B17 carrying can't be done internally, it is carried off external underwing racks. I wonder how that stacks up against the normal short range of 1100 miles? Not good I'll bet.

Again you are mistaken, as eleven 1,600 pound armor piercing bombs fit entirely inside the bay with the doors closed. They are not nearly as large in diamiter as a 1,000 pound GP bomb. Can you list the external load that yealds the 17,600 pounds mentioned?

I'm not going to bother with the B-24 as its theoretical maximum bomb load was 12,800 lb.

This is limited by weight and balance considerations, not load. If they wanted, it could load and fly with almost 16,000 pounds up, in the form of 4X4,000 pound GP bombs.

6. Precision bombing vs area. However the RAF (Lancaster..) attacks on submarine pens, tunnels, viaducts, and capital ships suggest that sometimes its not all about how many you can get on target.

If you discount all the day light missions, then the RAF states that less than 50% of the bombs landed inside the city limits. All bombs that landed out side the city were zero effectiveness. When the Americans claimed that 2% of bombs hit the targets, the other 98% still hit the city, so the AVERAGE EFFECTIVENESS was twice that of the Lanc?

7. Agreed. Range, Payload, Altitude. You can't have them all. However, some are better than others.
You are so very right about this!

8. The basic airframe design originated as the Manchester in 1939 and was designed to be strong enough to be catapult launched. The bomb bay was strong enough to hold 22,000lbs, comfortably.

No! The fuse required significant re-enforcement before it could cary the 12,000 pound tallboy, Up Keep bouncing bomb AND significantly more re-enforcement to carry the Grand Slam.

I'm intrigued to know how a neat engine installation that was a self contained 'power egg' is less superior to a setup that has various parts of its supercharger and oil cooler systems buried inside the wings.

The Lanc's engines were single stage, two speed blowered, WO Turbo-charger! While it was simple, there is no way to compaire it to the Supercharged with turbo-blower used in the American planes.

Regards,

Stewart.
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 02:28
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Cool

Quote:
Statistically, more smaller bombs are better at destroying most targets.
The post war US Strategic Bombing Survey came to the conclusion that."..the small bombs carried by the B-17s and B-24s might destroy a factory but not the precious machine tools within" So you may have got more hits with a greater number of small bombs but caused less damage..

The above quote is taken out of context. If you read the entire volume, out of ~208 in the entire SB Survey, IIRC, it states "that in general, the smaller bomb must land much closer to the target to destroy it." The source of the above quote.
But if you read the rest of the PP, it states that hitting the factory with 25-100 each 500 pound bombs would destroy more equipment than the 2-3 hits that result from dropping larger bombs from many more aircraft dispersed over a much larger chunk of sky. Further more "The best results were achieved by dropping the most large bombs from the fewest B-29s that can fit over the target zone."
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 02:42
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most had the top turret removed along with it's armor glass starting when they chose to go to night bombing.
I don't know where you got that info from but I suggest that you look at the hundreds of pictures of main force Lancs which indeed did have the mid upper fitted.
The Lanc was not subject to much weight related modification when in service.
The merlin engined Halifax was the a/c which was stripped out to get bombing altitude.
So to recap...the main force Lancs had the mid upper as standard...the mid upper was only removed for certain specific squadrons/tasks

I would also suggest that using Wiki as a primary source is unwise on an aviation forum,it is full of erm 'inaccuracies'

rgds LR
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 02:57
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Wrong again; The tail gunner had both seat armor and BP Glass and shield, the pilot, co-pilot and bombardier also had BP Glass. The tanks were fitted with SS bags and the engines had RC plates over the oil tank and gear case. All in all, just over half a tonne total. Almost all Lancasters had the lower ventral gun poss removed, most had the top turret removed along with it's armor glass starting when they chose to go to night bombing. The average Lanc had 800 pounds of armor removed.
This is the complete paragraph which I quoted from in my previous post...

Re the tail gunners turret...many of the experienced tail gunners removed large areas of turret glazing,but this was not weight saving !It was to cut down on reflections etc and thereby improving night vision.

rgds LR
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 03:13
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Cool Argueing from the specific to the general, or vice-verse

Hundreds of pics out of thousands built? according to the RAF's web site, "Most Lancasters had the Mid-upper turret and most other weapons removed for night bombing. Many going with only the tail gunner to keep watch for night fighters"
A tonne of guns, armor and ammo removed, plus the surface area, form drag and induced drag related to it, all gone. What kind of contribution do you think it made to total performance.
Finally, the Americans and Brits figured range by two vastly different systems. The Americans figured 40-45% of range to bomb drop, including all the course changes. The Brits printed the total range WO stating that the bombs were dropped at some point less than half that distance to the target.
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Old 10th Mar 2012, 03:15
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Cool And that changes things how?

The RAF states that most Lancs carried only the tail gunner on night missions. Why would they leave with unmanned, but installed weapons?
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