Bomber Casualties rates

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Pips
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Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Pips » 05 Jun 2022 04:23

Almost everyone has heard of, or read, of the horrendous losses suffered by Bomber Command during the war. Figures from differing sources do vary, but are roughly 55,000 KIA, 8,000 WIA and almost 9,500 POW out of a total of 125,000 aircrew. A 58% loss rate. Frightening. I'm assuming that those figures do include those crew lost through accident in training and on Ops.

To put the above figures in perspective I'm very curious at to the bomber crew losses suffered by the US 8th,9th and 15th Air Forces, as all operated over Europe. I have read that the 8th AF lost 26,000 air crew KIA over Europe, with a further 28,000 POW; but I believe that figure is for the whole of the 8th Air Force, not just VIII Bomber Command.

And if anyone has any figures for Luftwaffe Bomber crew loss totals, would be very interested in those too.

paulrward
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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by paulrward » 05 Jun 2022 06:06

Hello Mr. Pips :

I expect you are going to get something of a shock. KIA was much higher in Bomber
Command than in USAAF Heavy Bombers, because the Lancasters and Halifaxes
were almost impossible to get out of in an emergency. The men in the front
of a Lancaster had to leave their posts and go through the Bomb Bay to get
to the rear fuselage where the only entrance door was. On a Mosquito,
you had to leave the cockpit, go through a narrow 'tunnel' to get to the nose
compartment, and then put on your parachute and bail out through a very small
hatch.

With an aircraft spinning down, out of control, in flames, with the interior of
the aircraft in pitch darkness, very few RAF bomber crewmen managed to
get out- survivors were generally those who survived the crash of the aircraft.


USAAF Bombers, both four engine and two engine, on the other hand, usually
had better escape possibilities for the crewmen. Gunners went out of their
side windows, or bailed out through the Bomb Bay, or improvised other escapes,
and since the USAAF were operating in daylight, at higher altitudes, there was
more time for an American crewman to get out alive.


Growing up, I knew two men, both co-workers of my father, who survived
the downing of their B-17s. One was a Flight Engineer/ Dorsal Gunner who
helped the pilot and co-pilot of his aircraft get from the flight deck to the
nose compartment, where, along with the navigator and bombardier, all
five successfully bailed out and survived. The five men in the back of
the aircraft, which had been ripped in half just aft of the wing, did not
survive.

The other was a tail gunner. His B-17 was also ripped apart, and he found
himself in the extreme rear fuselage and tail section, tumbling down out
of control. He told me that he did not remember how he bailed out, or
pulling his ripcord, and that all he really remembered was that, after hitting
the ground very hard, he was so bruised and stunned that he simply wrapped
himself up in his parachute and lay on the ground for several hours until some
German civilians found him. He said they apparently thought he was so young
that they took pity on him, and basically carried him to a police station.

For both men, ' Your war is over ' . They were both put in enlisted men's
POW camps, and survived the remaining months of the war - which meant
cold, hunger, filth, lice, and occasional bouts of sickness. Both men used the
G.I.Bill to pay for their training as A&P, I&R, and IA mechanics, which led
them to working for United Airlines, where my father worked, and ultimately
they were all promoted to being Maintenance Instructors.

Respectfully :

Paul R. Ward
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pugsville
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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by pugsville » 05 Jun 2022 06:39

Would the operating a day or night have a significant effect on successfully bailing out? (not saying it would explain these figures or reduce then more thought bubble)

Richard Sands
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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Richard Sands » 05 Jun 2022 10:04

Consideration should also be given to the fact that the first RAF Bomber raid took place August 25th 1940 and the first American raid from England took place August 17th 1942.

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Takao
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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Takao » 05 Jun 2022 10:37

paulrward wrote:
05 Jun 2022 06:06
The men in the front
of a Lancaster had to leave their posts and go through the Bomb Bay to get
to the rear fuselage where the only entrance door was.
This is false.
There was a small hatch behind the bomb aimer's position of the Lancaster for those in front of the Lanc. Unfortunately, most of those who had to go out this way, had to struggle to get around the main wing spar to reach it. This complicated matters in a rapid emergency egress, where every second counts.

Further, the hatch was too small to make a safe quick exit. There were plans to enlarge this hatch, but it required redesign of the nose & retooling for nose construction. The delay in production, in 1943, was deemed not worth the cost in lives possibly saved. So, it was never carried out as Lancaster losses were decreasing

paulrward wrote:
05 Jun 2022 06:06
Gunners went out of their
side windows, or bailed out through the Bomb Bay, or improvised other escapes...
Also false.
As a rule, gunners never went out their side windows. The windows tended to be to small for a gunner in his flight suit & parachute to get out of, and the gunner would have had to take the time to dismount the gun that blocked this exit. Gunners in American bombers always had a nearby floor hatch, fuselage door or bomb bay to bail out of(as per bailout procedure for American bombers).

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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Takao » 05 Jun 2022 10:41

Richard Sands wrote:
05 Jun 2022 10:04
Consideration should also be given to the fact that the first RAF Bomber raid took place August 25th 1940 and the first American raid from England took place August 17th 1942.
For total bomber crew KIA this would matter. However, it does not matter for percentage of crewmen bailing out...Which IIRC, was.
Lancaster 15%
Halifax 25%
American types 50% or more

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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Takao » 05 Jun 2022 10:45

pugsville wrote:
05 Jun 2022 06:39
Would the operating a day or night have a significant effect on successfully bailing out? (not saying it would explain these figures or reduce then more thought bubble)
To an extent, it helps to see where you are going, but only to an extent.

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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Richard Sands » 05 Jun 2022 16:16

Takao wrote:
05 Jun 2022 10:41
Richard Sands wrote:
05 Jun 2022 10:04
Consideration should also be given to the fact that the first RAF Bomber raid took place August 25th 1940 and the first American raid from England took place August 17th 1942.
For total bomber crew KIA this would matter. However, it does not matter for percentage of crewmen bailing out...Which IIRC, was.
Lancaster 15%
Halifax 25%
American types 50% or more
The original post was about total losses, nothing about bailing out.

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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Takao » 05 Jun 2022 17:00

Richard Sands wrote:
05 Jun 2022 16:16
Takao wrote:
05 Jun 2022 10:41
Richard Sands wrote:
05 Jun 2022 10:04
Consideration should also be given to the fact that the first RAF Bomber raid took place August 25th 1940 and the first American raid from England took place August 17th 1942.
For total bomber crew KIA this would matter. However, it does not matter for percentage of crewmen bailing out...Which IIRC, was.
Lancaster 15%
Halifax 25%
American types 50% or more
The original post was about total losses, nothing about bailing out.
Look at the proportion of British KIA to POW, and look at the American proportion of KIA to POW.

The British had a far greater chance of becoming KIA than POW. The Americans had a slightly better chance of becoming a POW than KIA.

All things being equal, the British proportion of KIA to POW should be roughly equal to the American proportion. Length of time is irrelevant.

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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by paulrward » 05 Jun 2022 19:58

Hello All :

The forward hatch on a Lancaster was 22" x 26.5"- If you are wearing an Irvin Jacket
and an Irvin Seat Pack Parachute, you are NOT going to fit through that opening !

As for USAAF gunners going out through that side doors, there are a number of
accounts of them doing just that. Remember, the airplane is CRASHING ! In
this situation, you get out through the nearest available opening in the aircraft !

Respectfully

Paul R. Ward
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Takao
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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Takao » 05 Jun 2022 20:40

paulrward wrote:
05 Jun 2022 19:58
Hello All :

The forward hatch on a Lancaster was 22" x 26.5"- If you are wearing an Irvin Jacket
and an Irvin Seat Pack Parachute, you are NOT going to fit through that opening !
Funny thing to say, for the person that said
Remember, the airplane is CRASHING ! In
this situation, you get out through the nearest available opening in the aircraft !
Apparently, this only applies to American aircrew, NOT to British aircrew(They take the scenic route).
Oddly enough, Lanc crew did indeed fit through the small hatch.

paulrward wrote:
05 Jun 2022 19:58
As for USAAF gunners going out through that side doors, there are a number of
accounts of them doing just that.
None of the bomber gunners I have had the pleasure of talking to ever did.

Well, except for one, who's B-17 caught fire on landing...Without a parachute though.

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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by paulrward » 05 Jun 2022 21:27

Hello All

Interestingly enough, I spoke to a Ball Turret Gunner on a B-24 who bailed out of his ball
turret, NOT by rotating the turret to the guns down position and then climbing back
into the fuselage, the way it said in the manual, but rather by just opening the hatch
on the turret, undoing his strap, and then slithering out of the turret, into the slipstream,
and then into open space.

He had made it a practice ( and he was a SMALL guy ! ) of cllmbing into his turret, having
his belly pack parachute handed to him, and attaching it to his B-3 jacket via clips that he
had secured to the outside of his B-3 Jacket. He had also modified his jacket so that it
had a strap that went from the lower back of the jacket, under his crotch, and attached
with a buckle to the front of his jacket.

He had done this because he was afraid that, if the B-24 he was in was hit, there might not
be any electric power to move the turret to the correct position, and he would be trapped
inside it !

He said that when the parachute opened, it snapped the leather strap right into his crotch,
and that, " I was in pain all the way to the ground ! "

But he DID survive !

Mr. Takao, as Brer Rabbit once said, " Necessity is the Mother of Invention......And They are
STILL Looking for the Father ! "




Paul R. Ward
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Takao
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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Takao » 05 Jun 2022 22:02

As to Brer Rabbit - Living in the Briar patch ain't what it appears. Sooner or later, you've got to face your fears.

Curiosity is the father of invention.

Not the first time I have heard of a ball turret gunner taking his parachute with him into the turret. Although, for one ball turret gunner, his preparedness was all for naught...When his B-17 finally went down, it ditched.

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Pips
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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by Pips » 06 Jun 2022 00:43

All very interesting guys, can certainly appreciate that bailing out of a US bomber was easier than a RAF one.

But does anyone have hard figures on USAAC bomber crew losses that cover the 8th, 9th and 15th AF's?

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Re: Bomber Casualties rates

Post by pugsville » 06 Jun 2022 00:53

Takao wrote:
05 Jun 2022 17:00
Richard Sands wrote:
05 Jun 2022 16:16
Takao wrote:
05 Jun 2022 10:41
Richard Sands wrote:
05 Jun 2022 10:04
Consideration should also be given to the fact that the first RAF Bomber raid took place August 25th 1940 and the first American raid from England took place August 17th 1942.
For total bomber crew KIA this would matter. However, it does not matter for percentage of crewmen bailing out...Which IIRC, was.
Lancaster 15%
Halifax 25%
American types 50% or more
The original post was about total losses, nothing about bailing out.
Look at the proportion of British KIA to POW, and look at the American proportion of KIA to POW.

The British had a far greater chance of becoming KIA than POW. The Americans had a slightly better chance of becoming a POW than KIA.

All things being equal, the British proportion of KIA to POW should be roughly equal to the American proportion. Length of time is irrelevant.
I read that Night fighters tends to get closer and inflict substantially more damage than day fighters. (as they are often not reallty under fire from an often unsuspecting bomber) It would explain a smail amount of difference,

but I do think the poor escape options are the dominate factor

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