Author Topic: WWII AC Facts  (Read 2636 times)

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« on: March 12, 2012, 06:09:35 AM »
A friend sent this to me, and I'm passing it on.  It had pictures, but I'm not sure how to take an email and post it with pictures here.  Interesting stuff.

"Amazing WWII Aircraft Facts 

No matter how one looks at it, these are incredible statistics.  Aside from the figures on aircraft, consider this statement from the article:  On average 6600 American service men died per MONTH, during WWII (about 220 a day). 

Most Americans who were not adults during WWII have no understanding of the magnitude of it.  This listing of the aircraft facts gives a bit of insight to it.  276,000 aircraft manufactured in the  US .

43,000 planes lost overseas, including 23,000 in combat. 

14,000 lost in the continental  U.S. 

The  US  civilian population maintained a dedicated effort for four years, many working long hours seven days
Per week and often also volunteering for other work.  WWII was the largest human effort in history.

Statistics from Flight Journal magazine.


---- The staggering cost of war.
THE PRICE OF VICTORY (cost of an aircraft in WWII dollars)

B-17       $204,370.     P-40       $44,892.
B-24       $215,516.     P-47       $85,578.
 B-25       $142,194.     P-51       $51,572.
B-26       $192,426.     C-47       $88,574.
B-29       $605,360.     PT-17     $15,052.
P-38         $97,147.     AT-6       $22,952.


From Germany's invasion of Poland  Sept. 1, 1939 and ending with  Japan 's surrender Sept. 2, 1945 --- 2,433 days.   
From 1942 onward,  America  averaged 170 planes lost a day.

How many is a 1,000  planes?  B-17 production (12,731) wingtip to wingtip would extend 250 miles.  1,000 B-17s
Carried 2.5 million gallons of high octane fuel and required 10,000 airmen to fly and fight them.

9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed, 1942-1945.
107.8 million hours flown, 1943-1945.
459.7 billion rounds of aircraft ammo fired overseas, 1942-1945.
7.9 million bombs dropped  overseas, 1943-1945.
2.3 million combat sorties, 1941-1945 (one sortie = one takeoff).
299,230 aircraft accepted, 1940-1945.
 808,471 aircraft engines accepted, 1940-1945.
799,972 propellers accepted, 1940-1945.


Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik                                  36,183
Yakolev Yak-1,-3,-7, -9                               31,000+
Messerschmitt Bf-109                                  30,480
Focke-Wulf Fw-190                                      29,001
Supermarine Spitfire/Seafire                        20,351
Convair B-24/PB4Y Liberator/Privateer       18,482
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt                          15,686
North American P-51 Mustang                     15,875
Junkers Ju-88                                              15,000
Hawker Hurricane                                        14,533
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk                                 13,738

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress                         12,731
Vought F4U Corsair                                      12,571
Grumman F6F Hellcat                                  12,275
Petlyakov Pe-2                                             11,400
Lockheed P-38 Lightning                              10,037

Mitsubishi A6M Zero                                    10,449
North American B-25 Mitchell                        9,984
Lavochkin LaGG-5                                         9,920
 Note: The LaGG-5 was produced with both water-cooled (top) and air-cooled (bottom) engines.

Grumman TBM Avenger                                9,837
Bell P-39 Airacobra                                        9,584
Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar                                    5,919
DeHavilland Mosquito                                   7,780
Avro Lancaster                                              7,377

Heinkel He-111                                              6,508
Handley-Page  Halifax                                     6,176
Messerschmitt Bf-110                                    6,150
Lavochkin LaGG-7                                         5,753
Boeing B-29 Superfortress                            3,970
Short Stirling                                                   2,383
According to the AAF Statistical Digest, in less than four years (December 1941- August 1945), the US Army
Air Forces lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and assorted personnel plus 13,873 airplanes --- inside the continental United States.  They were the result of 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.

Think about those numbers. They average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month---- nearly 40 a day.  (Less than one accident in four resulted in totaled aircraft, however.)

It gets worse.....

Almost 1,000 Army planes disappeared en route from the  US  to foreign climes.  But an eye-watering 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 against the Western Axis) and 20,633 attributed to non-combat causes overseas.

In a single 376 plane raid in August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in  England .  In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in  Europe .

Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed.  The worst B-29 mission, against Tokyo  on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortresses, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the  Marianas .

On  average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day. By the end of the war, over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theatres and another 18,000 wounded.  Some 12,000 missing men were Declared dead, including a number "liberated" by the Soviets but never returned.  More than 41,000 were captured, half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in German hands.   Total combat casualties were pegged at 121,867.

US  manpower made up the deficit.  The AAF's peak strength was reached in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year's figure.

The losses were huge---but so were production totals.  From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft. That number was enough not only for US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but for allies as diverse as Britain , Australia , China  and  Russia .  In fact, from 1943 onward, America produced more planes than Britain  and  Russia  combined.  And more than  Germany  and  Japan  together 1941-45.

However, our enemies took massive losses.  Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained uncontrolled Hemorrhaging, reaching 25 percent of aircrews and 40 planes a month.  And in late 1944 into 1945, nearly half the pilots in Japanese squadrons had flown fewer than 200 hours.  The disparity of two years before had Been completely reversed.

Experience Level:
Uncle Sam sent many of his sons to war with absolute minimums of training. Some fighter pilots entered Combat in 1942 with less than one hour in their assigned aircraft.  The 357th Fighter Group (often known as The Yoxford Boys) went to  England  in late 1943 having trained on P-39s.   The group never saw a Mustang until shortly before its first combat mission. 

A high-time P-51 pilot had 30 hours in type.  Many had fewer than five hours.  Some had one hour.

With arrival of new aircraft, many combat units transitioned in combat.  The attitude was, "They all have a stick and a throttle.  Go fly `em." When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in February 1944, there was no time to stand down for an orderly transition.   The Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said, "You can learn to fly `51s on the way to the target. 


(Note:  Gone West HNL QB, Brewster Morgan, Honolulu born and raised and former Eagle Squadron Spitfire  pilot was a member of the 4th when they converted from the P47 to the P51, stood down one day to transition, flew combat the next day in the P51...BD)
A future P-47 ace said, "I was sent to  England  to die."  He was not alone.   Some fighter pilots tucked their wheels in the well on their first combat mission with one previous flight in the aircraft.  Meanwhile, many bomber crews were still learning their trade:  of Jimmy Doolittle's 15 pilots on the April 1942  Tokyo  raid, only five had won their Wings before 1941.   All but one of the 16 copilots were less than a year out of flight school.

In WWII flying safety took a back seat to combat.  The AAF's worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000 flying hours.   Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38 at 139.  All were Allison powered.

Bomber wrecks were fewer but more expensive.  The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, respectively-- a horrific figure considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force's major mishap rate was less than 2.

The B-29 was even worse at 40; the world's most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to stand down for mere safety reasons. The AAF set a reasonably high standard for B-29 pilots, but the desired figures were seldom attained. 

The original cadre of the 58th Bomb Wing was to have 400 hours of multi-engine time, but there were not enough experienced pilots to meet the criterion.  Only ten percent had overseas experience.  Conversely, when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force initiated a two-month "safety pause" rather than declare a "stand down", let alone grounding.

The B-29 was no better for maintenance. Though the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, no more than half the mechanics had previous experience with the Duplex Cyclone.   But they made it work.

Perhaps the greatest unsung success story of AAF training was Navigators.  The Army graduated some 50,000 during the War.  And many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving "Uncle Sugar" for a war zone.  Yet the huge majority found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel --- a stirring tribute to the AAF's educational establishments.

Cadet To Colonel:
It was possible for a flying cadet at the time of  Pearl Harbor  to finish the war with eagles on his shoulders.  That was the record of John D. Landers, a 21-year-old Texan, who was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 12, 1941.  He joined his combat squadron with 209 hours total flight time, including 2½ in P-40s.  He finished the war as a full colonel, commanding an 8th Air Force Group --- at age 24.

As the training pipeline filled up, however those low figures became exceptions.  By early 1944, the average AAF fighter pilot entering combat had logged at least 450 hours, usually including
250 hours in training.  At the same time, many captains and first lieutenants claimed over 600 hours.

At its height in mid-1944, the Army Air Forces had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types.  Today the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000 civilians) with 5,500+ manned and perhaps 200 unmanned aircraft. 
The 2009 figures represent about 12 percent of the manpower and 7 percent of the airplanes of the WWII peak.

Whether there will ever be another war like that experienced in 1940-45 is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones over Afghanistan and Iraq . But within living memory, men left the earth in 1,000-plane formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a
legacy that remains timeless.
Here is one of the best summaries of WW 2 military aviation statistics I have seen. The production numbers of airplanes world wide is unbelievable. Note the costs of each and compare those with the cost of modern fighters, from a few million to a billion and a half! And, most important what WW 2 cost in terms of lives lost. "


Offline Martok

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Re: WWII AC Facts
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 07:18:36 AM »
Wow.  Those are some amazing (and somber) statistics.  Thanks for sharing, Epee

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Offline mirth

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Re: WWII AC Facts
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 12:11:21 PM »
Interesting that in the top 5 produced aircraft models none is from the US. Also I didn't see the Ju-87 Stuka on the list, of which about 6500 were produced.

Staggering numbers nonetheless.
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Offline Steelgrave

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Re: WWII AC Facts
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 12:46:23 PM »
Great thread, Epee. Some of those numbers are staggering. And the promotion statistics? It's pretty amazing that Ike went from Lt. Colonel to five stars in such a short time, but cadet to bird colonel is just as mind boggling. And Colonel at age 24? Sounds like the promotion pace of the Civil War. Coolness.

Offline besilarius

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Re: WWII AC Facts
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 04:51:38 PM »
Epee, this is really good stuff.
Cannot really add to it, but there are a few interesting factoids that might be fun.
The SB2C Helldiver dive bomber, was supposed to replace the old Dauntless SBD (Slow but Deadly), famous for Midway and Guadalcanal.
When the carrier Yorktown worked out its batch of Helldivers, there were so many flaws that the captain, Jocko Clark, turned them back in and exchanged for the SBD.  Among other faults, was the landing hook (a real necessity for carrier ops) in the early production models could work loose and come out of the plane, when it snagged the arresting gear. l It would be funny except a lot of crew lost their lives.
The Corsair at one point had over seventy fixes required by the squadron maintenance crews, before they were to be flown.
McDonnell aircraft's contract was for aircraft delivered in flightworthy condition.  Within a very short time, there was a massive problem with spare parts.  Old man McDonnell just didn't have to produce them, so did not.
It reached a point that the field outside of the Long Island plant was full of brand new planes, that the Navy would not pick up until the spare situation was fixed.
If they weren't flown away, the planes weren't paid for.  Caused a lot of problems between the two sides.
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