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How low

Discussion in 'Aircraft' started by Hairog, Apr 7, 2016.

  1. Hairog

    Hairog Member

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    How low could a 4 engine bomber comfortably fly for 25 miles or less? I know that LeMay had them flying below 7000 over Japan. I've seen Fifi and B17s at airshows flying probably below 2000 in flybys.

    B-29

    B-24

    B-17

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Flying low has little differences from any other altitude...obviously the pilot has to have his wits about him, as cross winds and downdrafts and even the odd air pocket can change the altitude quickly...also the air is thicker so one gets more lift...Its possible obstructions: Mountains, power lines and towers etc etc that would be the worst danger...these days a computer/radar keeps and aircraft at a close to the ground altitude following the geography...
    The lowest ive seen in WW2 was the dambusters...just feet from the surface...
     
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  3. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    I'm with CAC here. Its a question of how difficult the task would be due to the factors mentioned above. I guess in your case, this comes down to what the pilot would consider "comfortable". I doubt you'd find any pilot willing to kick back and drink his coffee while his bomber is flying at 25 feet while on analog autopilot. But I'm sure you'd find pilots willing to fly that path themselves - in a state of extreme alertness, ready to react to any environmentally-induced changes in altitude - in the right environmental and geographic conditions.

    If you want historical context, I believe that >25 mile segments of the Polesti Raid were flown at ~50 feet. I don't think the aviators received special training for this (anxiously awaiting someone to correct me).

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I can't speak for US aircraft, but certainly 617 Squadron flew their Lancasters at around 100ft ( very occasionally rising to just under 500ft to take GEE navigational fixes and to avoid power lines ) the entire way across Holland and into Germany at 200mph on the night of 16/17 May 1943.
     
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  5. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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  6. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    Over water or other flat terrain, the only real limit is keeping the props out of the water/dirt. As long as you're not having to dodge towers or power lines, etc., flying low is not inherently more difficult that flying at altitude. And, if you get the aircraft down into ground effect, lift increases and drag decreases.

    The Ploesti raiders did fly several practice missions over the desert prior to Tidal Wave.
     
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  7. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    I thought over water a little more demanding because of vertigo? but the Yamamoto mission, Operation Vengeance,had no problems.....but bombers not as easy...?

    '''The P-38 mission entailed flying 600 miles (965 km) at wave top level with a return trip of 400 miles (644 km)''

    return trip not at wavetop level
    I've read the book and thought I remember reading ocean spray splashing on the cockpits.....can't find the actual height now .....still looking...can anyone give the actual height for the movement to contact flight?

    of course, these are not bombers.......
     
  8. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Low indeed, it looks like a landscape shot which happens to have a B-25 in it. You know the attack is low when the bombs are deploying parachutes "parafrags".

    I'd imaging parachute bombing requires a completely different skill set from conventional bombing. Would likely only be accurate from very low level as well.
     
  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    You also need to make sure you're high enough, fast enough, or combination of the two, to avoid your own bomb burst radius (fragmentation, blast effect, debris).
     
  10. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Dolittle ordered his pilots to hedge-hop from their bases in the East to the West Coast to get practice at low level flying. I don't know how many actually flew the whole distance that way, if any. I can imagine that kind of flying would wear on the nerves after a while.
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Yep, fly low enough and an over correction can turn you into a lawn dart.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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  13. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Yes - a 1,000lb bomb could loft fragments up to 5,000 feeet...! Which we'd regard as a decent "medium" delivery altitude. Quite often in the ETO B-17s and others were lightly...or seriously...peppered by their own ordnance
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm pretty sure I've read and maybe even seen a picture of a bomber damaged by it's own bombs that bounced up and hit it before detonating (probably delayed action fuse). Of course it could be that the bombs were from another bomber but ...
     
  15. lance shippey

    lance shippey Member

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    DAM BUSTER RAIDS.
    Dr. Roger Altountyan recipient of the Air Force Cross (U.K.) was sent to Rhodesia for training
    as a fighter pilot. On his return to Britain, he was retained as a bomber pilot, He became an
    Instructor, and then an Instructor of Instructors. He was awarded the Air Force Cross for his
    work in the dangerous task of developing new techniques of low level night flying over reservoirs,
    and in the Welsh mountains, probably used later in the Dam Buster raids.
    (Source. The Allergy Archives . Pioneers and Milestones, Sheldon Cohen, Editor April 2005)

    Roger was immortalised in the book "Swallows and Amazons" and as Physician and Pharmacologist
    after his flying career during WW11 discovered a remedy for asthma. Intal, a powder delivered by
    a spinhaler. Roger got the idea of the spinhaler from his flying, and the back draught from an
    aircraft propeller.
    (Source. My own recollections of Roger, and his German wife, Hella, from whom l learnt German).

    Lance Shippey
    U.K.
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    You can see the bomb at the bottom of the shot, it has just bounced for the second time, I think.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    I have Dugan and Stewart's great book about Ploesti. Some aircraft returned with sunflowers caught in the underbelly "and something which looked suspiciously like grass."
     
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  18. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I think mcoffee's analysis makes sense. Flying over known flat terrain or water is quite different than flying low level over unknown terrain. I'd imagine these raids were planned out well in advance with the best routes for low level flying understood to some degree in advance.

    I'd also note that some of the attack photos here might have the aircraft attacking at ultra low altitudes, but target ingress and egress would have been performed at much higher levels.
     
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  19. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I don't anybody would hedgehop all the way to a target.

    Now someone will come in and make me eat that statement.
     
  20. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    98th BG down in the weeds over Ploesti, 1 August '43, Operation Tidal Wave. The lead aircraft is "Li'l Jughaid" of the 415th Squadron piloted by Robert Nicholson.
    tw-lil jughaid.jpg
     
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