It was not until the late summer of 1942 that American heavy bombers began operations over Western Europe from bases in England. Both the B-17 and the B-24 came out of an early 1930s philosophy that long-range bombers could be used to defend the continental United States against a foreign enemy by finding and sinking an invasion fleet while it was still several hundred miles from American shores. • 300 mph (483 km/h) airspeed. You can always go back and Compare any two aircraft in our database. Similarly, vets experienced with the Consolidated B-24 Liberator say the same thing about their airplane. They reported that the planes might be useful as night bombers. Yet, in spite of the higher losses in the first few months of operations, the overall loss rate for the 44th Bomb Group was no higher than those of the B-17 groups. The Fifth Air Force converted a B-17 into an executive transport for General MacArthur’s personal use. The legend of the superiority of the Flying Fortress over the Liberator was born. While the B-17s managed to hold their own in combat with the Japanese, design deficiencies, particularly in armament and armor, very quickly became apparent. As the numbers of LB-30s declined, the remainder joined the converted B-24As that were in the theater in transport duties, flying cargo to and evacuees from Java and Mindanao. • 35,000 ft (10,668 m) ceiling. This isdue to many fortuitous happenings for the Boeing aircraft: 1. By the end of the war, 28th B-24s were flying missions from the Aleutians against targets in the northern home islands of Japan. Yet no preference was shown for B-17s in the Fifteenth Air Force, where the proportion of Liberators to Forts was reversed from that of the Eighth in England. Three weeks later, after several low-flying training missions over England, the three groups pulled up stakes for North Africa, leaving most of their ground echelons behind. In the Pacific, both B-17s and B-24s were converted for transport use after they were replaced in combat units. While the Liberator proved to be an extremely versatile airplane, the Flying Fortress was also used for other roles, though in much more limited fashion than its sister bomber. Kenney had no point to prove in regard to daylight bombing, and often his crews struck the most heavily defended targets at night, thus further reducing the exposure of the aircraft and crews. Which is better? Because of their longer range, General George Brett recommended, in the fall of 1941, that several B-24s be redirected to British forces in North Africa from those scheduled to go to England. Due to the B-24's range and payload capabilities, it was able to perform well in the maritime role, however the C-87 proved less successful as the aircraft had difficulty landing with heavy loads. First deployed in February 1941, a lack of power quartered its bomb load during long range flights and performance issues meant that it sustained particularly heavy casualties. Consequently, B-24s in the Pacific flew missions at much lower altitudes than heavy bombers in Europe, and thus achieved much greater accuracy with their bombs. This is one area in which the B-17 possessed something of an advantage over the B-24. 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 radial piston engines developing 1,200 horsepower each driving three-bladed propeller units. Just to be contentious, there was a certain other bomber about in WW2, which had the range and payload of the B24 and B17, but about 100 mph on speed and just 2 crew. What Made the German Luger the Most Famous Pistol in Modern Warfare, The Essential Role of Navy PBR Boats in the Vietnam War, Band of Brothers’ Buck Compton: One Man’s Call of Duty, P-40 Fighter Pilot: Fighting for His Life, The Real Story of General George Patton, Jr’s Death & Final Days, Daylight Precision Bombing: Dangerous Doctrine of the Eighth Air Force, Operation Frantic On Eastern Front: Preview Of the Cold War, Bomber Gunner Ben Kuroki: “Most Honorable Son”, Jimmy Stewart’s rise from Private to Colonel. Since the war, the argument that the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was the better bomber of the two has often been perpetuated by aviation authors and historians whose personal knowledge of airplanes and aviation in general consists only of what they have read or been told. It was heavy on the controls, armed to the teeth and saw action in every theater of operations in World War II. Weights: 32,605 pounds empty, … only range, speed and payload matter for a bomber), the B-24 should have been used exclusively in the ETO, with the B-17 used elsewhere. For several weeks the 93rd was the only B-24 group flying combat from English bases. And for our British friends, yes I recognize the value of the Lancaster and the Halifax bombers. The extremely long-range missions flown in the Pacific would have been impossible with the shorter legged B-17s. Now, the B17 had a range of 2,000 miles, a typical payload of 5-8,000 lbs. The range with 4000 lbs was approx. The terrible losses of August 17 were repeated on October 14 when a 360-plane force of B-17s went back to Schweinfurt and 60 failed to return. It was and is the most produced war plane in … Advocates of the superiority of the B-17 are surprised to learn that their per-sortie overall loss rate was nearly half a percent higher among Eighth Air Force groups than that of their peers who flew B-24s. Rumors abounded, and many B-17 crew members who had bought the line that their airplanes were superior probably believed the B-24s were gone because they couldn’t “hack the mission.” They were probably ignorant of the fact that their own type had been withdrawn from combat duty in the Pacific because of its shorter range capability in comparison to the longer legged B-24s. In the Pacific Theater, there was no doubt as to which type was “best” because it became an all-B-24 region by the end of 1943. Missions were long and required considerable distances over water, conditions for which the Liberator had been created. The Short Stirling was the RAF’s first four-engined bomber, meeting pre-war specifications that required a 14,000 lb bomb load capacity and a challenging range of 3,000 miles. Along with the HALPRO diversion, Tenth Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton was ordered to the Middle East from India with as many of his heavy bombers as he could muster. Your selected aircraft are compared in side-by-side arrangement below. This was only a handful of battle-weary B-17s. Prior to America’s entry into the war, both the Flying Fortress and the new Liberator were tested in combat by the Royal Air Force. This is the period that is most often addressed by the TV documentaries and literature about the bombing campaign in Europe. But there’s NEVER been anything like THIS before. Which was the better airplane? Senior Air Corps strategists wanted a long-range bomber with a 5,000-mile range, a concept that led to the design and development of the B-15 and then to the even more ambitious B-19. The fall of France led to the cancellation of deliveries of all airplanes destined for France, and the Liberators, which had been designated as LB-30s, were diverted for British use. The returning pilots, most of whom had flown B-17s, reported that the B-17 had stood up better to Japanese fighters, though they evidently failed to take into consideration their own losses and the fact that several of the LB-30s were lost to ground attack and accident. Shortly after the 44th entered combat, three squadrons of the veteran 93rd were sent south in support of the North African campaign while the fourth was placed on a special assignment. On the other hand it was a low velocity weapon and its effective range was shorter than the 20-mm cannon forcing German pilots to fly even closer to get hits. While U.S. Army Air Forces commanders in other theaters were not locked in to the daylight-bombing methodology, the leadership of the fledgling Eighth Air Force felt that it had a point to prove and all missions were planned for daylight operations. NOTES: Shapes below depict aircraft from wingtip-to-wingtip / nose-to-tail assuming aircraft are being viewed from overhead perspective (the nose pointing towards the top of the screen). By mid-October the American heavy bomber force in Palestine consisted of 53 B-24s and only 10 B-17s. Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry (prototype Model 299/XB-17) outperformed both competitors and exceeded the air corps' performance specifications. Overall losses of Mosquito? Another use of the Liberator that proved extremely valuable to the war effort was as a long-range transport. There have been countless thousands of published works devoted to all or of it. Yet, ironically, within a year the vaunted B-17 Flying Fortress would be on the way out of the war in the Pacific, and the B-24 Liberator would be in. 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