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Discussion Starter #1
I will apologize to all that find this topic too OT. But I thought somebody here might know. A few years ago I could have expected an answer from someone who actually flew or built B-24s, but we don't have many of those still with us.

The question is not about which was better, B-17 verus B-24. It is about the fact that the B-24 may have been the most produced combat airplane in history. From what I can tell, it was so because the B-24 a much easier plane to mass produce than say the B-17. Lot's of companies were making them, including Ford Motor Company at what was then the world's largest production facility.

So, what made them easier to mass produce?
 

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Don't know why, but here is a picture of each plane.

The B-24......




The B-17............




And a special thanks to the men who flew them!

Hauxfan!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Good point Supershot. And the gunners were taught to lead targets by shooting skeet. Many of the top shots of the era served as aerial gunnery instructor.
 

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The B-24 was supposedly a longer range bomber with better performance than the B-17. It was also said that since the B-24 was able to be mass produced it kept the cost lower than the B-17 and thus made the manufacture of the B-17 lower the price to save money. Also with the ability to mass produce the B-24 at different factories around the country the production of that plane produced many more jobs for people in need all around the country.

Did Rosie the Riveter work on the B-17 or the B-24?
 

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According to Dad, though his opinion might have been biased, the B-17 could take more punishment and still make it back.

That's him, standing, third in from the left under the chin turret.

Tim
 

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Look at them. Got to be easier to make something as ugly as the 24. Even though the 24 may have been the real workhorse, treetop bomb runs over Ploesti and at altitude with the 17's, the Fortress gets all the glory.
My Father had 50 combat mission as a bombardier in a 17 and swore it could take more hits than the 24. 24 crews were told when fire broke out they had seconds, not minutes to get out.
Something as simple as drop tanks on the P-51's probably changed the outcome of the airwar. Until they had escort all the way to the target, 17 and 24 bomb groups were being decimated.
God Bless those people. May we never forget their sacrifice.
 

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had an uncle who just recently passed away, was a top gunner on a b 24, on their 23 mission they got shot down over yugoslovia. was behind lines for lil over 7 months before they were rescued. he allways said that he seen b 17's come back shot to pieces but still flying and that if a b 24 was hit just a lil bit especialy on the tail section, it was going down. whenhe was flown back to the states, that was the last time he was ever in a airplane, he never flew again. he passed away last week at 82 yrs of age.
 

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We just lost a dear friend and great gentleman trap shooter recently who was a pilot in WWII.

Lester Radcliff flew these planes with distintion and courage receiving if I recall 2 or 3 silver cross's. Forgive me if I don't remember the right name of the medal's they were silver. He would sometimes on request bring to shoots pictures of different missions and in the pictures was so much flak around the planes it's just amazing these guys made it home at all. They flew so close togather you could see the crews faces in the near planes windows.

Boy I really miss this guy. These men are truely irreplacable. I think Lester was 82 or 83 at the time of his passing.

Someday if I feel I can type it I'll tell you all the neatest story he related to me and Jerry Grimes about him and a fellow pilot Dusty Rhodes.

Glad he didn't see the ACLU "victory" in court today.

Mike Sudz
 

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My reports indicate the 17 was sturdier, took more hits and was easier to fly. But the 24 was easier to produce and was made all over the country so was more politically popular. Any pilot, crewman of either plane has my respect and thanks. The 332nd fighter group flying P-51`s never lost a bomber to enemy fighters. They were the Tuskeegee airmaen. THEY REALLY get my Thanks as they got my dad home!! I have shot with a Luftwaffe Pilot, ME anything. He hated the P 51, we have one that flys out of a nearby airport, I can recognize the sound. He can too; he turns a little pale when that Mustang roars from above. Thanks fathers.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the replies. Let me give you some information I discovered since I first posted.

B-17 v B-24 - The general consensus is that the B-17 was much more rugged and could sustain more battle damage than the B-24. B-24s were really susceptible to wing damage and fuel tank fires (probably related). I guess the rectangular body of the B-24 was not as durable as the tube-shaped B-17 (all the engineers can jump in here). I found one picture of a B-24 with the whole tail section shot off by fighters, not flak.

The B-24 had more range. The B-24 was also physically harder to fly (cable and pulley era), and much harder to control (big problem in close formation flying).

The B-24 was born in the run-up to WW-II. Consolidated was asked to make B-17s under contract from Boeing. After a trip to the Boeing plant, Consolidated asked if they could instead make an up-dated version of a plane that lost out to the B-17 in the original competition. They were going to use a new wing design that would give much more range to the B-24. That wing probably did that, but wasn’t as durable. They turned out a prototype in QT, and everything seemed to indicate the B-24 would be better than the B-17. So they were told to start making them. The battle damage deficiencies and tendency to burn probably weren’t apparent when the decision was made to start building. There wasn’t much time to ponder decisions then.

The experience of the 8th Air Force made them prefer the B-17, but when Boeing was committed to the B-29 project, few resources were available for increased B-17 production. 8th Air Force got what B-17s were made, but that wasn’t enough, so they made do with the B-24. Evrybody else got B-24s.

B-24 was probably better where range was desired, e.g. maritime patrol, anti-sub work, Pacific theatre. Special long rang anti-submarine B-24s were a critical factor in winning the Battle of the Atlantic.

Something new for me. I learned where the name Flying Fortress came from. It wasn’t what I thought, i.e. because of its heavy defensive armament. I was named while it was still pretty lightly armed. When they first came out they were seen as primarily to provide long-range maritime protection to the US coast. Life magazine did an article and had a picture of a B-17 flying coastal patrol with one of the old coast artillery forts in the background. They called the B-17 a Flying Fortress.

Isn’t Google great?

I haven’t learned anything about why the B-24 was a simpler plane to mass-produce.

I guess it is sort of like a BT-99 versus 1100. Many would argue a BT-99 is a better trapgun. Maybe so. But an 1100 can make a pretty good trapgun, and it can be also adapted a many more others uses (skeet, hunting) than a BT-99.
 

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I was told that B24's were all hydralic operated controlls and the 17's were cable. When the 24's were hit with incendiary ammo, the hydralic fluid burst into flames. That is why they were easier to fly and also easier to shoot down.

Gary
 

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kolar12, That agrees with what Dad said.

Here's a couple of links to some good info:

http://www.457thbombgroup.org/

http://www.b24.net/

Dad was in the 457th bomb group in the 751st squadron based in Glatton, England. Not sure how many missions he had flown before his plane was shot down, but it was nearing 30. He was shot down on 2 November 1944 over Merseburg, Germany, took some flak in the buttocks, got "generally" good medical care from the Germans, spent his 22nd birthday, and the rest of the war in Stalag Luft 1 near Barth, Germany.

He was, and remains, my hero.

Frankly, I'm lucky to even exist.

They were so young, yet all of them I have ever talked to said the same thing. They didn't feel like heroes, they were just doing what they knew they had to do...doing their job.

Tim
 

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A long time friend of mind was a tail gunner in the B-24 during WW2, This is his responce to this thread.

Interesting. Partially right in many areas, some off base. The 24 had a Davis wing, it was faster than a 17 and carried a bigger
bomb load. The 17 was definitely a more durable one. In the water the 24 sank quickly. The gun positions on a 24 were better
because of range and location. I feel I was in a better postion as a tail gunner on a 24 than those on a 17. Very little is said
about gunners and the real tough spot was the ball. Yes we shot skeet in training and tow targets in the air. We also shot
what were called "Splash missions". At a couple 100 feet shoot a burst in the water and then swing quickly to try and hit
the same spot. The first use of the 50's on the ground in training was from the back of a truck moving pretty fast on a rough
road shooting at fixed targets as they flew by. Ah yes !! Tyndall Field Florida !!
Pass on if you wish. george
 

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One of our retired teachers, and a good friend, here was a B-24 pilot. He's not in very good health, but he coffeed with my group for about 20 years until a few years ago.

A few of the kids at the high school could be shits to him, but he took it, was too nice of a guy. He liked me when I was in high school, and he was my senior class advisor.

We have been friends for mre than 40 yeras.

I guess he'd done most everything so I assume that's why he never got really excited about most things.

WW
 

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The B-24's wings would break (fold up) at the fuselage juncture when it got hit there a lot easier than the B-17 - they don't fly so well after that.
 

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This is the only picture I have ever seen of a 24 where the ball gun postion was shown in flight.
I would have included it, but just remembered I had it. If weak memory right it was taken during
Ploesti raid and I have no idea where it came from. If you look at the gun positions and add on the
top turret, not visible, we had very few blind spots. From George Hannes
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Using Google, I am finding lot's of information, but nothing about simpler manufacturing for B-24. I must have been wrong about that. I found several references that suggested when the decisions where made about what plane was to be mass-produced, the B-24 seemed to be better.
 

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Which was better? The B-17 could take more damage (more dead space to punch holes in and not hit vital systems) and was easier to handle with 40 other planes in close formation at 25,000 feet. The B-24 had longer legs, was faster, and could haul a few more bombs. War couldn't have been won as quickly if we hadn't had both aircraft.

Someone mentioned Consolidate making B-17s.... Boeing, Douglas, and Vega made B-17s. Consolidated and Ford made B-24s.

Michael
 

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Discussion Starter #19
This subject had really caught my interest. I picked up a book at the library yesterday about the bomber war in Europe. I perused it last night looking for info about the original question. I didn’t find anything new about that.

But I did notice this. I’ll share it.

The 8th Air Force suffered 26,000 fatal casualties. That’s more than those suffered by the entire Marine Corps in the course of the war. Ponder that.

One of the links posted above lead to another link which lead to an answer regarding whether the B-24 was cable-and-pulley and consequently hard to fly; or if it had hydraulic controls and was easy to fly. The answer is yes. Early models were cable-and-pulley, later models hydraulic.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Finished "Air War in Europe", Baily. Astounding.

Nobody knew what they were doing, USA, nor Brits, nor Germans. Nobody did this before. So it was try this, then this, then this. If we did this, the Germans would do that to counter, then we would try something else.

Cruel math was used. Europe was mostly covered with clouds, so bombing accuracy was never good. We had radar bombing later in the war, but you could only bomb a city with that.

But by then we were learning the most serious damaged to the Germans was being done to their Air Force. Lots of resources going into building fighters...which could not be used elsewhere...AA crews, and lots of German planes being lost.

So somebody figured there would be no more turning back or staying on the ground because of bad weather. If we couldn't see to hit a factory, we'd hit a city. It didn't matter. The German Air Force would come up either way, and they'd have to take their losses. They'd run out of planes and pilots before we did.

That's cruel math.
 
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