WWII Aircraft Facts

Discussion in 'History' started by 25-5, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. 25-5

    25-5 New Member


    Amazing WW2 Aircraft Facts

    These are very moving statistics.

    On average 6600 American service men died per MONTH, during WW2 (about 220 a day).

    People who were not around during WW2 have no understanding of the magnitude. This gives some insight.

    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 staggering cost of aircraft in 1945 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 until Japan 's surrender on Sept. 2, 1945 = 2,433 days.
    America lost an average of 170 planes a day.

    A B-17 carried 2,500 gallons of high octane fuel and carried a crew of 10 airmen.

    9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed.
    108 million hours flown.
    460 thousand million rounds of aircraft ammo fired overseas.
    7.9 million bombs dropped overseas.
    2.3 million combat flights.
    299,230 aircraft used.
    808,471 aircraft engines used.
    799,972 propellers.


    Russian 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 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
    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

    The US lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and support personnel plus 13,873 airplanes --- inside the continental United States . There were 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.
    Average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month---- nearly 40 a day.

    It gets worse.....
    Almost 1,000 planes disappeared en route from the US to foreign climes. But 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 in Europe ) and 20,633 due 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 the intended 25-mission tour in Europe .

    Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed. The 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. Over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat and another 18,000 wounded. Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including those "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 121,867.

    The US forces peak strength was in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year's figure.

    Losses were huge---but so were production totals. From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft. That was not only for US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but also for allies as diverse as Britain , Australia , China and Russia .

    Our enemies took massive losses. Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained hemorrhaging of 25% of aircrews and 40 planes a month.

    Experience Level:
    Uncle Sam sent many men to war with minimum training. Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than 1 hour in their assigned aircraft..
    The 357th Fighter Group (The Yoxford Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on P-39s, then flew Mustangs. They never saw a Mustang until the first combat mission.

    With the arrival of new aircraft, many 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 Feb 44, 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".

    A future P-47 ace said, "I was sent to England to die." 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 co-pilots were less than a year out of flight school.

    In WW2, 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 per 100,000 hours; the world's most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to be able to stand down for mere safety reasons.

    (Compare: when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force declared a two-month "safety pause").

    The B-29 was no better for maintenance. Although the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, only half the mechanics had previous experience with it.

    Perhaps the greatest success story concerned Navigators. The Army graduated some 50,000 during WW2.

    Many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving "Uncle Sugar" for a war zone. Yet they found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel - a tribute to the AAF's training.

    At its height in mid-1944, the USAAF 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. That's about 12% of the manpower and 7% of the airplanes of the WW2 peak.

    Another war like that of 1939-45 is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones, eg. over Afghanistan and Iraq . But within our living memory, men left the earth in 1,000-plane formations and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless.
  2. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

    I have some memories of WWII and have studied it extensively, but a lot of this article was news to me. Thanks for posting it and adding to my knowledge and my appreciation of the men and women who fought that war.

    My father was a shortsighted 33-year-old war correspondent who hit Omaha Beach with the first wave (one of the first outfits ashore, an engineer company) on D-Day. Unarmed. After having an amphibious vehicle shot out from under him as it neared the beach. He would never talk about it, but I have some of his clippings.

    I have quite an interest in what Studs Terkel called "the good war".

  3. 25-5

    25-5 New Member

  4. TimL2952

    TimL2952 New Member

    Completely inconceivable to my mind....what incredible numbers.

    Truly an example of the wonders of production and carnage that man is capable of...

    My favorite plane, just for fun.

    Attached Files:

  5. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

  6. 25-5

    25-5 New Member

    I heard Yamamoto did not your choice of fighter. ;)
  7. 25-5

    25-5 New Member

    A lot of the guys did not talk about it. I read that changed a bit after "Band of Brothers".
    My uncle flew C-46 & C-47 (DC-3). Then B-29 for SAC.
    My dad would say his brother could fly the crates the planes came in.
  8. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

    "My uncle flew C-46 & C-47 (DC-3). Then B-29 for SAC.
    My dad would say his brother could fly the crates the planes came in."


    That reminds me of something I hadn't thought about in years. I used to work with a guy who had flown many missions as bombardier in B-24's. He said they used to say the Libeators were the crates they shipped the more glamorous B-17's in.:)
  9. 25-5

    25-5 New Member

    That reminds me of something I hadn't thought about in years. I used to work with a guy who had flown many missions as bombardier in B-24's. He said they used to say the Libeators were the crates they shipped the more glamorous B-17's in.:)[/QUOTE]

    B-24's deployed in CBI amoung other theaters.
    My uncle taught me about firearms. That's why I am here. Still learning! Even from some of the yougins. Pleasantly surprised.
  10. shadecorp

    shadecorp Active Member Supporter

    My memories of WWII
    The blackouts.
    The Search Lights,
    The balloons over the harbors,
    The Anti-Aircraft Gun near my home,
    And the nightly fear that "those" people would attack my home some night.
    My Dad,
    A WWI Vet.
    Was Ready for "them"
  11. primer1

    primer1 Well-Known Member Supporter

    It's hard to put those numbers in perspective. Good post. I wish my grandfathers were here to show them these numbers.

    Both served in the army in Europe in ww2. One said he didn't care if he ever touched a gun again, even though he shot blanks in memorial day services. The other believed in self defense, and was prepared.
  12. F4U

    F4U Well-Known Member Supporter

    They landed a B 17 for an over night stay at our local airport quite a few years ago. Word got out that it was there and people went to see it. When I stopped after work there was an old guy there with has daughter and her young kids. He had been a crew chief on them in England during WW2. The kids were too young to appreciate his stories, but I followed them as close as I could without intruding and soaked up every word.

    Only could get my grandfather to talk about war once, he was in the pacific in WW2 and his reserve unit got called up for Korea. I am pretty sure the story he told was from Korea, but he never talked about any of it except that once shortly before he died.
  13. alsaqr

    alsaqr Well-Known Member Supporter

    The Russians loved their lend lease P-39 Air Cobras. The 37mm gun made the Air Cobra a fine tank killer.
  14. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

    Most folks today are surprised when they learn that aircrew losses were greater than infantry losses.
  15. MoreAltitude

    MoreAltitude New Member

    Great read OP! I have loads of special respect for aircrew guys. I used to volunteer years ago at the "Mighty 8th Air Force Museum" outside Savannah, where I literally heard thousands of really amazing stories from the vets themselves. Even got to meet Gen Tibbits who piloted the Enola Gay once. Simply amazing job those guys did. Imagine being in an aluminum can with .50cal and 20mm or flak coming at you at any angle, nowhere to hide, over enemy territory, and being 30000ft up = BALLS OF F'n STEEL!!!
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  16. ScottA

    ScottA FAA licensed bugsmasher Lifetime Supporter

    Thank you for posting this.

    One of my great uncles was a co-pilot on a B-17. He was killed when they had an engine failure on take off. Full fuel, full bomb load. No hope for any kind of engine out procedure.

    Another great uncle was a navigator on the B-24. He came home.

    Interesting piece of trivia. As attested by their production numbers, the B-24 had the lion's share of the American bomber campaigns. It was faster, newer design, had longer range, but a slightly lower bomb load. So why did the B-17 get all the fanfare? The airbase closest to London (where all the reporters lived) was a B-17 base. It was the media that turned the B-17 into the hero.
  17. Bob Wright

    Bob Wright Member

    The Air Force evaluated both the B-17 and the B-24. The B-24 was faster, had greater range, and carried a heavier bomb load. So why did 8th Air Force select the B-17? Because of its low wing design and less likely to have fires on board. (During testing, several B-24 developed on board fires.) The B-17s low wing design made it more likely to survive a crash landing and be more readily repaired.

    In early testing, a B-17 was flown from Seattle to Wright field, Ohio. It was fitted with stress recording instruments. It encountered a storm in route and endured stresses above the recording level of the instruments.

    Bob Wright
  18. DrumJunkie

    DrumJunkie New Member

    Outstanding OP Great read! My Dad was a WWII vet (on the ground not in the air). He didn't talk a whole lot about it but after years of reading about it I can understand why. Still to date the toughest man I have ever met. That whole generation though....Sometimes I wonder if I was just born a little late. Listening to some stories form people that knew him when he was "young and cool" I bet he was a total blast to hang out with back then. sure was when he was around when he was old and not so cool.

    Thanks for the dug up memories.:)
  19. F4U

    F4U Well-Known Member Supporter

    My grandad was already in the army when wwII started, by the end of the war he was in charge of an artillary unit. He got called up from the reserves for Korea. He only told one story about his war experiences and the story was about Korea. My middle brother is a doctor and Grandad was convinced that my brother had saved his life during an illness. My brother was the only person Grandad would dredge those memorys up for.

    These guys were double heroes, they saved the free world without thinking twice about it. Then they came home and went about the rest of their lives. They didn't brag or swagger they got back to their lives,
  20. chuckusaret

    chuckusaret Member

    I lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and remember all vehicle headlights were blacked out over the top half of the lens cover and of course the rationing, and turning in our used cooking oil to the local grocery store. My dad switched our car over from gas to what i believe was LP gas. Hey, I see that there are a few old members on the forum.:D