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B17 v Lanc bomb load

Old 29th Apr 2007, 19:18
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B17 v Lanc bomb load

Just read an article saying that the Lanc could carry 22,000lb of bombs against a max of 8,000lb for the B17. Is this correct??? Seems quite a difference.

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Old 29th Apr 2007, 19:56
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The B-17 had a notably smaller bomb bay than the Lanc (impressive though the B-17's payload was at the time of its design) - although the 22,000lb figure is for the Grand Slam carrying Lancs rather than the standard maximum load (which was, IIRC, about 14,000lb).
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Old 29th Apr 2007, 20:34
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Don't forget that the B-17 could carry an overload (including external racks under the wings) of 17 600lb. Don't think it was used much, if ever, operationally due to parasite drag & other performance issues, but it proved that the basic design could haul a significant bombload.
Remember that the B17 was originally designed to threaten the US Navy's role of protecting the US mainland from an enemy navy. Therefore range and endurance were more important than absolute bombload.
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Old 29th Apr 2007, 20:43
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Yes, until the Boeing B-29 Superfortress entered service, Britain seemed to have a good handle on making true heavy bombers. The American built Consolidated B-24 bomber could carry 8,000-lbs, yet the HP Halifax could carry 13,000-lbs. The Short Stirling could carry 18,000-lbs. The B-24 and B-17 were, however, reasonably reliable, and available in quantity. The B-24 had good range and speed, but was more vulnerable to damage than the B-17.

The giant Douglas XB-19 would have dwarfed Britain's biggest bombers in shear size alone, had it entered overseas service. The XB-19 could carry 18,000-lbs. of bombs, and for short range missions, could carry in excess of 35,000-lbs of bombs. MTOW was 140,230-lbs.

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Old 29th Apr 2007, 21:39
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What I think is more interesting is the B17/Mosquito comparison. Here's an example of an often quoted piece of Mosquito lore:
It was said that the 2 man twin engined Mosquito could carry the same bomb load to Berlin as the 4 engined Flying Fortress with its crew of 11. It also did it quicker and used less fuel.
Can anyone confirm if this is true?
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Old 29th Apr 2007, 22:23
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The Mosquito was certainly capable of carrying over 2000 lbs to Berlin.

The bomber variant was specifically tested with the 4000 lb "cookie", although a more usual bombload would have been 4 or 6 x 500 lb "short fin" bombs.

The range with 4000 lbs was approx. 1500 miles, so Berlin & back with 4000 lbs would have been possible, though perhaps not at high speed, and assuming a pretty direct flightpath.

It is possible that later variants with more powerful Merlins could have carried a greater load, but whether any actually did I'm not sure.

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Old 29th Apr 2007, 22:31
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There is an interesting comparison on Wiki here:

Bomb load alone doesn't adequately explain what each aircraft type had to carry over what distance. The US Air Force was trying to use precision bombing during daylight and trying to defend their aircraft too and from the target. The RAF had decided night bombing was 'safer' and tended to bomb an area. Those two arguments themselves being gross over simplifications too.
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 04:09
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I remember going around the Fort Lewis Museum in Washington State in the early 80s. On display was (if I recall the label correctly) "an experimental bomb dropped from a B-17 and found on the ranges" - it was, in fact, an intact Tall Boy so obviously jettisoned not dropped as intended from altitude - maybe too heavy for the aircraft? Wonder if it was intended for use against the Yamamoto?
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 07:07
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B17/Mosquito bomb load

India Four Two, Yes, in the dark, solo, below radar, (i.e. low-level), and carrying specialized electronic counter measures tuned for the day that were NOT available to the U.S. 8th Air Force en-mass, the Mosquito was, indeed, a formidable weapon. The RAF Bomber Command was also not privy to many of the counter-weapons specially tuned for the day. Logistics made it very difficult to build, test, and install a counter-measure system that would work in every aircraft of the European Theatre. Also, the Mosquito was of wooden construction, being inherently non-reflective of radar signals, and she had a relatively large avionics bay in relation to her size, in addition, she had a somewhat forgiving aerodynamic envelope that would accomodate a few changes to her foil. Most importantly, she was faster than most of her enemies.

Yes, Simon, if we only had 750,000 more Mosquitos, the war could have been over earlier. The forests would have been denuded, but, cest le guerre.

Let us not forget the de-laminating of the Mosquito's empenage in the tropics. It took a while to formulate a better adhesive to prevent the high speed delamination.

Last edited by evansb; 30th Apr 2007 at 07:34.
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 07:53
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evansb: It did not have to fly low level at night and carry specialized electronic counter measures to be formidable.

For quite a long time it was too fast at high level with a normal bomb load for the Germans to shoot it down at night.
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 08:10
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I thought the reason the B17 carried such a small bombload was because they didn't need much to destroy a German pickle barrel.
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 08:29
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The USAAF took some Tallboys after the war and modded them with radio guidance, I think the project was called Tarzan, so maybe you saw one left over from that programme?
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 08:43
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Below from Bill Sweetman’s ‘Mosquito’.

(How many Mosquitos would it take to equal a long range 1,000 Bomber Raid with Lancs?)


It has been argued that Bomber Command could have done far more damage to Germany, with far less loss of life among its own crews and far less wastage of wartime production capacity, had it embraced the concept of the fast unarmed bomber earlier. Certainly, the Command’s post-war policy reflected this experience, with its jet bombers being designed around advanced H2S and electronic countermeasures and relying on speed and altitude for defence.

It takes fairly simple arithmetic to calculate that the Mosquito in its ultimate form could deliver more weapons over the same distance than the typical heavy bomber, when the two aircraft were compared on the basis of crew man-hours, total engine hours and fuel consumption; also, that the average Mosquito could be expected to deliver far more bombs during its far longer life expectancy, and its crew could expect to survive a far longer tour of operations. The only serious weakness of this argument is that the relative invulnerability of the Mosquito was itself indirectly brought about by Bomber Command’s own policies. Because the RAF concentrated on producing the four-engined heavy bombers, the Luftwaffe’s main task was to destroy these; Germany’s aircraft-production chief Erhard Mitch accordingly opposed production of the Heinkel He 219 night-fighter, which was faster than the Mosquito, in favour of the slower Ju 88G, which was adequate to deal with the heavy bombers and could be built more cheaply than the He 219. The practical difficulties of a shift to the unarmed bomber philosophy would have been enormous at any stage (including the need to train crews to the high standards demanded for the Mosquito) and would have given the Luftwaffe time to re-equip with the He 219, undoubtedly increasing Mosquito losses.

The final Mosquito bomber version was the B.35, basically similar to the B.XVI but powered by the high-altitude-rated Merlin 114. It remained in front-line service with the RAF until 1953, when the English Electric Canberra replaced it. Even the B.35, however, was restricted to operational weights and loadings in peacetime which were well below those of wartime B.XVIs; the “war emergency” weights at which the B.XVI operated were 4,000 lb (1,815 kg) higher than the peacetime weights, which limited the Mosquito’s bomb-load to 1,500 lb (680 kg). These restrictions could, of course, be lifted in wartime, and were an excellent indication of the abuse which the Mosquito would put up with in the hands of a skilled and dedicated crew.
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 08:48
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It was certainly the received wisdom at the time. I can recall in my youth aged, well-oiled cockney relatives bursting into wartime songs at family functions.

One I remember was to the tune of battle Hymn of the Republic (Glory glory allelluila (sp?)). Two of the verses were:

"The Yanks were flying Fortresses at forty fousand feet (x3)
With loads of ammunition and a teeny-weeny bomb"

followed rapidly by:

"The RAF were flying Lancasters at zero-zero feet (x3)
With no ammunition and a great bomb!"
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 09:36
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Typical war loads for the B17 were closer to 4000lbs.
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 11:43
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We're flying Flying Fortresses at forty thousand feet
We're flying over Germany to give the Huns a treat
We've bags and bags of ammo and a teeny-weeny bomb
And we drop the bastard from so high we don't know where it's gone
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 12:14
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For quite a long time it was too fast at high level with a normal bomb load for the Germans to shoot it down at night.
And with the introduction of Oboe, single aircraft raids could have devastating accuracy.


Last edited by India Four Two; 30th Apr 2007 at 12:16. Reason: added URL
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Old 30th Apr 2007, 18:14
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The Mosquito was certainly a wonderful aircraft, but don't forget that the single engine performance was not good, especially after take off. Single engine safety speed was in the order of 190 mph, with lift off at bout 130 mph. It took a long time to retract the undercarriage and clean the aircraft up. A lot of aircrew were lost in this way. It could bite very hard.
Read Neil William's account of dealing with an engine failure after tale off at Booker in "Airborne" and Don McVicar's book "North Atlantic Cat", the latter telling the story of ferrying (inter alia) Canadian built Mosquitos to Europe.
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Old 2nd May 2007, 03:45
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My Granfather 'acquired' a Mosquito due to engine failure. He had a farm in Norfolk and one night in 1944 (I think) an aircraft crashed nearby. My mother remembers hearing an aircraft crash that night, but as there was a German raid on Kings Lynn docks at the time, the assumed it was a German bomber as it sounded quiet and the thought it was a long way away. The next morning, it was confirmed a German aircraft had been shot down and had crashed on a nearby farm.

However, in 1975, my Grandfather decided to drain a patch of Fen which had never been touched which was only half a mile from the farmhouse. As the water level dropped, a propeller blade appeared out of the fen, so he called the RAF historical branch. It turned out to be a Mosquito which had taken off from Great Massingham (I think) on a raid to Germany. The wreckage showed that it had suffered an engine failure and the crew obviously couldn't found it hard to manage as they had crashed soon after takeoff. It had been listed as 'Missing in Action' so it was not known where it had come down and it probably wasn't suspected that it had crashed so close to home. The left side of the wreckage was almost intact, and having being submerged in peaty water which has very little oxygen in it, had suffered very little deeriation. The right side however, had taken the impact and was badly damaged. The wreck was complete with crew and armament and gave the RAF bomb disposal crew some problems dealing with the bombs due to their being parly submerged in a bog.

The left wing looked almost perfect. I remember the red of the roundel being almost as brilliant as if it had just been painted. The engine was in good condition and I gather it was restored to running condition. The tyre in that nacelle looked perfect and was still up to it's original pressure and the left nav light worked when a battery was connected. Some parts went to BAe to keep their flying example airworthy.

I had some parts to the aircraft for many years, but gave them to a friend who had a small aircraft museum.
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Old 3rd May 2007, 04:13
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IIRC, the bomb had the typical fixed offset fins that provide the spin stabilisation still in place and, as far as I can remember, no external mods (relative the versions on the side of the Clubhouse at Brooklands or, when I saw them, BAe Weybridge). Didn't the USAF remote control bombs have large box fins a la Fat Man?
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