Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 3/19/2006 10:23:34 PM EDT
I was watching Memphis Belle the other day with my dad, and I was wondering how long it took the crews to fly the required 25 missions before rotating home.

I figure that a crew wouldn't have been flying every day, because that would only mean that they would have been in the war for less than a month. At the same time, they couldn't have been flying 1 mission per week, which would have been about 6 months.

Does anyone know about how long it took a crew to fly 25 missions? How often were these crews flying?
Link Posted: 3/19/2006 10:27:43 PM EDT
I thought it rounded out to 6-9 months.
Link Posted: 3/19/2006 10:29:10 PM EDT
i think it depended a lot on the op tempo. if we were making a push you would fly more, but there were probably dry times as well
Link Posted: 3/19/2006 10:44:27 PM EDT
The vast majority didn't make it that far. 10 was pushing the odds, prior to total allied air superiority around the time of Overlord. At that point, numbers climbed--40, 50 easy, usually more. Following Big Week, the Luftwaffe (and large portions of Germany in general) were so bombed to shambles that resistance to even daylight bombig trailed off to almost nothing by 4/45--the only big op they pulled together for the Battle of the Bulge, Operation Bodenplatte, was a last gasp and a failure.

And yes, not counting aborts or cancellations, they did fly nearly every day. Bomber crews usually did one hop a day; single engine or CAS crews sometimes flew twice or more, if they chose to. Navy crews rotated, but flew a hell of a lot--there was ALWAYS a few fighters in the air over a carrier, and a few out doing something.

On top of that, '25' was not a universal magic number. The Belle is famous because it was the first where everybody on board that last run happened to hit 25 at the same time, and they were the first batch to do so. Remember, this was in 43, before Allied air superiority, the up-gunned B-17G, and the refined variants of the major escort fighters had arrived. Crewmembers came and went (not always on the ground), transfers happened.

More often than not, 25 was closer to a halfway point, especially past 6/44. '25' might have ment a hell-or-high-water ticket home to one CO, but to another it was just two digits. Policy was inconsistant. As were crews.

Our Gal Sal, for example, had a string of mission marks that ran literally from the nose to the tail--a least a hundred, probably twice as many. Flak Bait had hundreds of missions before it was sent to the Smithsonian. Belle got her ticket home with just the 25, but more because of circumstances and coincidence.

PS--That was a great movie, but as usual, it was pretty well Hollywoodized. I'd read something like Pierre Clostermann's The Big Show for a better first hand look at the air war. Ulrich-Ruedel's autobiography is a very thorough account, too (nearly 2,000 missions? I'd hope so...), but be forewarned Ruedel was a sworn Nationalist-Socialist to the grave, so it has its writer's bias overlaid in some places.
Link Posted: 3/19/2006 10:52:00 PM EDT
Also that 25 number kept increasing.

It started lower and was gradually increased to where it was difficult to achieve.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 12:31:33 AM EDT
Four or so months was the norm- give or take a month. My grandfather was sent home after his obligatory 30 missions were over. Fortunately for us, he didn't arrive in the Pacific Theater until well after the most potent Japanese air power had been obliterated. He only encountered enemy aircraft once. I think he would've encountered a lot more Japanese pilots if he'd stayed in his combat unit until the end of the war. This would've been good for his kill tally, but bad for his life expectancy.

The mission limits were a big advantage for the Allies. Axis pilots flew until they died or the war ended. This is one reason why Allied ace kill numbers seem so small in the face of Axis kill numbers. The Axis pilots were also always outnumbered- a 'luxury' allied aces rarely had in the latter half of the war.

Galland
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 12:36:46 AM EDT
My great uncle flew in B-24's. (belly and tail gunner) 47 missions before he was wounded enough to go home, took about a year. His tempo was VERY weather dependant. I took him to see that movie in the theaters and he was pretty quiet throughout, and I asked him afterwards if all that happened. His answer was, "yes, but not all at once!!"
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 12:42:32 AM EDT
My father was a radio man on a B17 during WWII. He never talked about his time in the Army AirCorps. He made it back without being wounded.

My mom told me he was on the B17.


______________________________



Link Posted: 3/20/2006 2:19:21 AM EDT
In the Pacific the rules were different. I think 300 hours was the amount before they went home. My Grandfather flew (as a bombardier) around 53 missions in 43-44.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 2:26:28 AM EDT

Originally Posted By inferno715:
In the Pacific the rules were different. I think 300 hours was the amount before they went home. My Grandfather flew (as a bombardier) around 53 missions in 43-44.




300 hours would not be all that many missions, I think.

Less than 30 at 10+ per mission.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 4:42:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Johninaustin:
. His tempo was VERY weather dependant. |]



What he said. Remember, this was England and northern Europe. Remember all the weather trouble with Overlord ??? They would still fly if the target was supposed to be clear. Mid-air collisions were not uncommon over England flying in the 'Pea Soup'. Recalls were also common or going to secondary targets.

rj

Link Posted: 3/20/2006 4:45:44 AM EDT
it was bad to be on the reciveing end of this..

video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2522332309187641888&q=ww2+gov
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 5:13:33 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/20/2006 5:13:56 AM EDT by Tanker06]
My cousin who just recently died was a bombadier in a B-17. He was shot down over France,
rescued by Resistance (he gave his chute to the ladies to make underwear out of), and managed to
get back to Britain.

According to what he said, the powers-that-be weren't going to let him fly anymore, since he'd already
been shotdown once, and gone through the Resistance network. They figured that he were downed
again and captured, the Germans might be able to get info from him on the network.
However, the war effort need for good bombadiers over-rode the security concerns, and he was flying
again soon. Finished the rest of the war w/o a hitch.

In his study, he had a pristine Luger, P-38, an officer's dagger, and his silk escape map from Europe
displayed on the wall. When he came home, the customs people made him take the swastika
inserts off the dagger and Luger grips. When the guy turned to get some paperwork, Joe stuck them
in his pocket, then put them back on when he got home.

When he died, his oxygen-thief son got the collection. I'm sure the collection went to the pawn shop
a few days after the funeral......
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 5:25:33 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Ring:
it was bad to be on the reciveing end of this..

video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2522332309187641888&q=ww2+gov


Man,thats hard to watch even after all those years. Still sad to me to see Americans die.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 5:30:45 AM EDT
My grandfather did 36 missions between June 1944 and November 1944 as the bombadier of a B-24 "Dragon Lady" with the 15th AAC. This included three air campaigns...if I remember correctly they were Rhine/Arno/Southern France.

His first mission they were shot up so bad they had to crash land. He flew on the "Dragon Lady" from that point on. He ended up earning a Distinguished Unit Citation, an Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. In his flight journal he commented on winning the DFC, "missed the damn target and scrapped a line of ME-109's"!

The "Dragon Lady" was shot down over Austria in January of 1945.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 5:44:54 AM EDT

Originally Posted By coondog:

Originally Posted By Ring:
it was bad to be on the reciveing end of this..

video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2522332309187641888&q=ww2+gov


Man,thats hard to watch even after all those years. Still sad to me to see Americans die.



The last one, vs DB3, is Russians. The DB3 was their name for the C-47.

The Bf110's that did so bad in the Battle of Britian, were upengined, and seriously upgunned later in the war, and used as heavy fighters to attack bombers.

Off the top of my head, the 190A-8/9's shown would have 2 MG's, and 2 cannons.

The earlier 190A-4's would have 2 13mm MG's, and 4 20mm cannons. But some had 30mm Mk103/108's instead of the outboard 20's. Bad news for a bomber.

The Me190 was TINY compared to US fighters, weighed about 1/2 as much as a P47. The Fw190 was smaller than the US fighters it faced. But was heavily armed and armored.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 7:11:19 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 7:16:38 AM EDT

Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
The last one, vs DB3, is Russians. The DB3 was their name for the C-47.



This is a DB3 medium bomber:

Early variant:
avia.russian.ee/air/monino/db-3.jpg
Late variant:
www.info4.ru/airspace/images/il/db3f.jpg


It was a native Russian design. The licensed copy of the DC-3 you're thinking of is the Li-2.

www.douglasdc3.com/li2/li2.jpg

I imagine shooting down either aircraft was equally challenging. Both were typical early Soviet attempts at building a bomber- extremely underarmed for defense against enemy fighters.

Galland


Link Posted: 3/20/2006 7:39:22 AM EDT

Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:

Originally Posted By coondog:

Originally Posted By Ring:
it was bad to be on the reciveing end of this..

video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2522332309187641888&q=ww2+gov


Man,thats hard to watch even after all those years. Still sad to me to see Americans die.



The last one, vs DB3, is Russians. The DB3 was their name for the C-47.

The Bf110's that did so bad in the Battle of Britian, were upengined, and seriously upgunned later in the war, and used as heavy fighters to attack bombers.

Off the top of my head, the 190A-8/9's shown would have 2 MG's, and 2 cannons.

The earlier 190A-4's would have 2 13mm MG's, and 4 20mm cannons. But some had 30mm Mk103/108's instead of the outboard 20's. Bad news for a bomber.

The Me190 was TINY compared to US fighters, weighed about 1/2 as much as a P47. The Fw190 was smaller than the US fighters it faced. But was heavily armed and armored.



The Fw-190 A8/A9 would have two 13mm MG's, four 20mm cannon as a standard loadout. Some variations would have two of the MG151 20mm cannons removed and MK108 30mm cannons installed. Some other variations would have four additional MG 151's installed in a pod under the wing and finally some variations would have two Mk 103 high-velocity cannons in pods mounted under each wing, IIRC the 20mm cannons were removed as the Mk103's were heavy but utterly devastating with excellent ballistics.

The pods made the Fw-190 only usable for bomber interception as they were very touchy to fly and they lost the ability to turn. The Mk108's were a much better setup as no wing pod was needed but the Mk108 had a very low muzzle velocity so one had to get into the hornets nest to fire The Mk103 was slow firing but drove the same 30mm HE projectile of the Mk108 at approx. the velocity of a .50 cal which enabled the fighter pilot to engage bombers outside of the bombers defenses. Both 30mm cannons only needed to land about 3 projectiles on a B-17 to turn it into scrape, the projectiles had the explosive power of a grenade. It is pretty easy to identify 30mm cannon's in the German gun camera footage, when you see a projectile land and huge chucks of plane coming off, it was a 30mm.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 7:44:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By motown_steve:
I was watching Memphis Belle the other day with my dad, and I was wondering how long it took the crews to fly the required 25 missions before rotating home.

I figure that a crew wouldn't have been flying every day, because that would only mean that they would have been in the war for less than a month. At the same time, they couldn't have been flying 1 mission per week, which would have been about 6 months.

Does anyone know about how long it took a crew to fly 25 missions? How often were these crews flying?



There's a very good book in paperback called: 'Half a Wing, Three Engines and a Prayer'
It's biographical and factual and an excellent read. You simply can't read that book and not shake your head in amazement at the incredible balls those bomber crews had, especially in the early part of the war! Get it. It's really worth it!

ThirtyCal
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 7:51:58 AM EDT
I would also have to think that acquiring the obligatory mission count was made more difficult in that it had to be completed missions, I would think. I would have to think that a lot of missions were scrubbed after getting airborn, then there was bad weather, mechanical problems that caused planes to have to return early, etc. etc.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 9:31:00 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/20/2006 11:23:37 AM EDT by Makarov]
FWIW- I just talked to my Dad. He was part of the 15thAF in Libya and later Italy. He said that when he got into the theatre it was 25 "points" but as the supply of bomber crews ebbed it went to 35 "points" in order to be eligible to rotate out of the combat missions. Then it went back to 25. You earned a "point" by completing a combat mission. You got no point if the operation was cancelled before you reached the target or if your plane returned prior to making the run due to mechanical failure. On some particularly dangerous targets a returning aircrew might be given two "points". For the record, my Dad flew 28 missions as a Tailgunner on a B-24 before being shot-down. His ear-drums burst from the free-fall before his chute opened and hit the ground in Yugoslavia and brought back to Allied lines by Partisans. He spent the remainder of the war recovering and training for a B-29 crew.

ETA- He said it took him about 6 months to complete his 28 missions.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 9:47:16 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/20/2006 9:48:46 AM EDT by CFII]
Well, in that hell my grandfather flew his B17, the "Princess Azul". Over 25 missions, including top secret mission with the Aphrodite program. He never was shot down, and lost 3 crewmembers in the war. The job of a bomber pilot in the 8th AF was more dangerous than any job in the entire war. God bless, and rest, his soul. He was one hell of a pilot.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 9:53:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/20/2006 9:57:52 AM EDT by Yossarian]
Whatdaya mean....25 missions???

That fucker Colonel Cathcart kept raising it till it got to 75....Damn that Life Magazine.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 10:12:01 AM EDT
My grandpa went into the air corp in 1941. NEVER talked about it as we could never understand..

He went through several B-17s, but he said his worst time in the air was off the China coast flying an unarmed B-17 weather reconnasaince mission. A Japanese fighter came up just outside of 50 caliber range and flew parallel to them for a "long time" before chickening out and left for home.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 10:26:45 AM EDT
My G'pa flew 32 missions in a B-24 as a co-pilot in early '43 through early '44. He bombed Japanese shipping mostly in the "Slot". It took him over 14 months doing bombing runs before he was rotated to "chaufer" duty (he volunteered, the pay was "too good" he said). He flew a certain General Millard Hammond around the South Pacific for another 8 months before being shipped for home in early 1945. He was about ready to go to B-29 school in Montana when the Japs surrendered in Aug of '45.

Lt Col Darrel "Bud" Gray (Ret) United States Air Force

Rest In Peace, G'pa {Salute}

Link Posted: 3/20/2006 10:41:20 AM EDT
It took my father about 3 1/2 months to get his required 30 missions.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 10:51:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/20/2006 10:53:45 AM EDT by LWilde]

Originally Posted By Yossarian:
Whatdaya mean....25 missions???

That fucker Colonel Cathcart kept raising it till it got to 75....Damn that Life Saturday Evening Post Magazine.



(Fixed it fer ya!)

Ya...but only because that fat fuck General Dreedle told him to raise the number! Besides, Doc Daneeka was in on it too.

Question is though...was the general's Buxom Nurse in on the deal? Did she know Yossarian was crazy?
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 10:56:06 AM EDT
I have an uncle that flew over 40 missions. He flew about 31 or 32 combat missions and then flew the remainder in food drop missions after the war.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 10:57:48 AM EDT
Earlier in the war in Europe (I think until end of 1943 or early 1944) the crew had to fly 25 mission before being sent home. Later this number was increased to 30 and then more towards the end of the war (up to 40 I think). Some (very few planes flew many more missions since they were kept flying until shot down or damaged beyond repair). Also, you have to remember that the entire crew did not start and finish 25 missions together. If a crew member was wounded or killed the replacement guy had to keep going until 25th mission... while other original crew may have gone back home.

I had a lady here at work who's brother was a B-17 pilot in Europe during WWII. He's plane and the entire crew dissappeared after the plane got hit by AA during Christmas time raid over France in 1943. Her brother was 23 years old at the time and was on his 14th mission. All 10 member crew died that day.

Link Posted: 3/20/2006 11:05:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/20/2006 11:12:37 AM EDT by pdg45acp]
May dad was in one of the crews who did 30 missions in an 8th Air Force B17.



His first mission was on 28 Jan 1945 - Cologne

His last mission was on 16 Apr 1945 - Regensburg

His mission list is here - Crew of 2nd Lt L.J. Stephens - interesting reading..

He just recieved a combat related disability for PTSD... According to his shrink he's still somewhere over Europe in a crippled B17 flying at 800ft off the ground.. fighting off FW190s with his twin 50s in the top turret gun position.. He never really came home...
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 11:12:04 AM EDT
How many guys were on a B-17?
In pdg45acp dad's pic above there are 9 guys but the pic I 've seen of a co-worker's brother had 10 man crew.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 11:17:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By yobo:
How many guys were on a B-17?
In pdg45acp dad's pic above there are 9 guys but the pic I 've seen of a co-worker's brother had 10 man crew.



Pilot
Copilot
Navigator
Togglier
Radio operator
Engr / Top Turret gunner
Ball Turret Gunner
Tail Gunner
Waist Gunner


Radio operator was usually the 2nd waste gunner

The lead planes had Bombardiers... the rest of the planes just had toggliers to drop the bombs when the lead planes did...
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 11:22:51 AM EDT
Here is picture of my Dad's B-17 Rampant Pansy - the character from Lil Abner comics... He was a pilot. He did 35 missions.



I have all his stuff - his A-2 flight jacket, escape map, briefing materials, photos, uniform stuff etc... and it will never be sold! Like most from that generation, he never talked about his experiences - I was luck to be able to get the full download from him on what the missions were like. Flying and maintaining formation into the shitstorm of flak and fighters - that was tough!
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 11:34:00 AM EDT

Originally Posted By pdg45acp:

Originally Posted By yobo:
How many guys were on a B-17?
In pdg45acp dad's pic above there are 9 guys but the pic I 've seen of a co-worker's brother had 10 man crew.



Pilot
Copilot
Navigator
Togglier
Radio operator
Engr / Top Turret gunner
Ball Turret Gunner
Tail Gunner
Waist Gunner


Radio operator was usually the 2nd waste gunner

The lead planes had Bombardiers... the rest of the planes just had toggliers to drop the bombs when the lead planes did...



Thank you for that info... I never knew.
Now I really want to know who that 10th guy was in the picture.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 11:36:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/20/2006 11:38:07 AM EDT by pdg45acp]
heron163 - Looks like your dad and his crew went through hell..

This is from the 457th Bomb Group web site -www.457thbombgroup.org/





The plane was finally scrapped due to flack damage....

Link Posted: 3/20/2006 12:41:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By yobo:

Originally Posted By pdg45acp:

Originally Posted By yobo:
How many guys were on a B-17?
In pdg45acp dad's pic above there are 9 guys but the pic I 've seen of a co-worker's brother had 10 man crew.



Pilot
Copilot
Navigator
Togglier
Radio operator
Engr / Top Turret gunner
Ball Turret Gunner
Tail Gunner
Waist Gunner


Radio operator was usually the 2nd waste gunner

The lead planes had Bombardiers... the rest of the planes just had toggliers to drop the bombs when the lead planes did...



Thank you for that info... I never knew.
Now I really want to know who that 10th guy was in the picture.



Later in the war they used the radio operator as a waist gunner, earlier there was two waist gunners. The radio operator had his own .50 cal to handle.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 12:42:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/20/2006 12:44:15 PM EDT by KA3B]

Originally Posted By CFII:
Well, in that hell my grandfather flew his B17, the "Princess Azul". Over 25 missions, including top secret mission with the Aphrodite program. He never was shot down, and lost 3 crewmembers in the war. The job of a bomber pilot in the 8th AF was more dangerous than any job in the entire war. God bless, and rest, his soul. He was one hell of a pilot.



He was part of the 388th Bombardment Group.
Do you know what squadron he belong to?
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 2:23:43 PM EDT
Here is a famous printed picture taken from my grandfathers bomber during a mission. I still have an original.

Link Posted: 3/20/2006 2:44:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By CFII:
Here is a famous printed picture taken from my grandfathers bomber during a mission. I still have an original.

img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/akscott60/210B17.jpg



Is that a cannon hole right next to the "H"?

Link Posted: 3/20/2006 2:52:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ARDunstan:

Originally Posted By CFII:
Here is a famous printed picture taken from my grandfathers bomber during a mission. I still have an original.

img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/akscott60/210B17.jpg



Is that a cannon hole right next to the "H"?




Its that or Flak. Either way its not good. At least that good ol bird came home every mission.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 2:57:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ARDunstan:

Originally Posted By CFII:
Here is a famous printed picture taken from my grandfathers bomber during a mission. I still have an original.

img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/akscott60/210B17.jpg



Is that a cannon hole right next to the "H"?




Flak... I think..... the Aluminum is sticking straight up...
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 3:05:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By pdg45acp:
heron163 - Looks like your dad and his crew went through hell..

This is from the 457th Bomb Group web site -www.457thbombgroup.org/

www.457thbombgroup.org/Accidents/bba006.jpg

www.457thbombgroup.org/Accidents/bba119.jpg

The plane was finally scrapped due to flack damage....




My Dad was in the 457th BG . 748th Squadron . That website is awesome .
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 6:38:52 PM EDT
Read "The Wild Blue Yonder" by Stephen Ambrose. Mostly about George Mcgovern and his B-24 crew, but included the B-24 missions in Southern and Eastern Europe. Gives a pretty good description on how the 25 mission count was counted.

Also talks about how after the fighter threat dropped off the radio man replaced the 2nd waist gunner.

My Grand-dad was a patternmaker for Consoldiated and made most of the B-24 casting patterns and the original wind tunnel models. His brother was one of the lead design engineers. My neighbor across the street was a B-24 gunner in the Pacific. He once recounted how they had a newbie arrive who was a know-it-all and claimed he didn't need to be checked out in the belly turret. He did. Unfortunately instead of lowering it, he dropped it all the way out of the A/C at altitude.
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 8:28:04 PM EDT

Originally Posted By pdg45acp:

Originally Posted By ARDunstan:

Originally Posted By CFII:
Here is a famous printed picture taken from my grandfathers bomber during a mission. I still have an original.

img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/akscott60/210B17.jpg



Is that a cannon hole right next to the "H"?




Flak... I think..... the Aluminum is sticking straight up...



That German bird is probably a Me 410A2-U4 which was outfitted with a 50mm BK5 cannon, a single projectile would have torn the wing right off.

Here is the same pic but with USAF caption
Link Posted: 3/20/2006 8:32:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By LWilde:

Originally Posted By Yossarian:
Whatdaya mean....25 missions???

That fucker Colonel Cathcart kept raising it till it got to 75....Damn that Life Saturday Evening Post Magazine.



(Fixed it fer ya!)

Ya...but only because that fat fuck General Dreedle told him to raise the number! Besides, Doc Daneeka was in on it too.

Question is though...was the general's Buxom Nurse in on the deal? Did she know Yossarian was crazy?



Errr....you got me! Thanks for the correction.
Top Top