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The Mitchell vs. the Marauder

Discussion in 'Aircraft' started by the_diego, Apr 28, 2019.

  1. the_diego

    the_diego Active Member

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    A surprising 9,800 B-25s were built compared with 5,300 for the B-26. Also, the new USAF seemed to find use for the Mitchell after the war whereas the Marauder was "said" to have been scrapped right afterwards. I'm not sure whether all of the above statements are accurate (mostly wiki and aircraft fora.) From my own readings, I had the impression the B-26 found greater use as WW2 progressed. I also remember some pictures of Marauders being used during the Korean War.

    From stats I got the B-26 had more powerful engines (actually comparable with those for the B-17 and B-24). It was faster and carried a heavier load. The B-25 had longer range and higher ceiling. The Mitchell was definitely easier to fly, but the Marauder gave a crew bigger insurance because of its speed. I have a bias for the Mitchell because of the G-version. And it just looks better.

    I'm guessing an aircraft expert would give both planes a stamp of approval coming out of the assembly plant. War (and peace) exigencies just favored one over the other.

    What say the forumers?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    AFAIK, there were no Mitchell or Marauders used in Korea. The photos you saw were most likely the B-26 Invader, which had been redesignated from it's original A-26 in 1947.

    Both the Mitchell & Marauder had their advantages and disadvatages. However, the Mitchell was the easier aircraft to fly, which is why the USAF held on to it, to use as a multi-engine trainer. Although, it did see some use as a reconnaissance aircraft post-war. Still, with the end of the war, it's bombing days were done.
     
  3. harolds

    harolds Member

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    After WW2 some other countries used it. I believe France and S. Africa were two of them. The French may have used it Vietnam. It may have
    also been used in some clandestine ops such as the Bay of Pigs (I have a hazy memory of a news film clip of Cuban soldier shooting at B-26s but like I said, that's been a long time ago.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Watched the Dutch Air Force's B25 ragging about the sky over Leicestershire a few years back.
    Genuinely astonished at it's ability, They really could chuck it about, pretty much matching its fighter escort for playing wonderful silly-buggers.

    DSC05576.jpg DSC05575.jpg DSC05680.jpg

    I know next to nothing about aircraft, though.
    Just got a soft spot for it now.
     
  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Bay of Pigs was also the Invader, the WWII A-26 redesignated B-26 as Takao mentioned.
     
  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    The B-25 was more suited to rough-surfaced airfields and extreme climates like the desert, Russia, or the Aleutians. After early war experience, mainly that of a B-26 group which operated in Australia and Port Moresby, the -26s were mainly used in the European/Mediterranean theater. The USAAF medium bomber force in England was all -26s, although the RAF used B-25/Mitchells. Eisenhower also had a B-25 as a personal transport.

    American mediums in the MTO were about half-and-half.
     
  7. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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  8. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Who was it that flew the B/A 26 and came up with a training regimen that drastically reduced the accident rate. Was it Doolittle?
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Just B-26...Yes, it was Doolittle and his technical advisor Captain Vincent W. Burnett. Other problems were that the aircraft was easily overloaded, as the weight had increased by some 5,000 pounds with no increase in horsepower. Also, poor maintenance was also determined to be a factor. Martin also sent teams out to the various training fields to show crews the do's and don'ts of the aircraft.
     
  10. the_diego

    the_diego Active Member

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    I understand that the widow-maker moniker was a temporary condition, upon introduction. Yes, flying the B-26 required some re-training. Wiki seems to take special pains to point out that the Marauder incurred the lowest combat loss of any US bomber during the war. I wonder how this should be qualified.
     
  11. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I prefer the Mitchell over the Marauder too. Something about it, probably the Doolittle Raid and seeing them in the movie "Midway" when I was a kid did it for me. Man that Sensurround was pretty neat.

    I've read that once the wing span of the B-26 was extended much of the difficulty of flying it was reduced along with the casualty rates. It had acquired the dubious nickname of "Widow maker" by aircrews. Something about 6 feet sticks with me for some reason. Not sure if was 6 feet for each wing or 6 feet total. Whatever it was it worked out and made it much more flyable. That coupled with more in-depth training, proper load distribution and maybe a few other things helped.

    Harding Field here in Baton Rouge was an Army Air Force training station, and the B-26 was one of the planes new crews trained on. The first squadron that deployed to England flew out of Harding Field. Not directly, but northeast towards Newfoundland, then over to Iceland then to Britain. Some of the Marauders overshot England and crash landed in Nazi occupied Holland due to being drawn off course by radio homing signals generated by the Germans. Novice navigators on the incoming Marauders locked in on the wrong signals and missed their destinations in the UK. Supposedly one of the bombers crash landed and was captured intact. It was turned over to the Luftwaffe for evaluation.

    I came across this information in the book "Harding Field" many years ago. It is now called Baton Rouge Metro Airport. Harding Field sounds better I think.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
  12. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    [​IMG]
    A B25 flying low in a valley near Rabaul on return...
     
  13. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I am reminded of something I once read about another aircraft, the Fokker Tri-plane of WWI fame. A 'unstable' air frame, while more difficult to fly, offered a skilled pilot a more responsive plane to evade enemy fire.

    Like Bobby, I have something of a soft spot for the B 25. I too saw the beginning of Midway on opening weekend and was wowed by the launch sequence. I was also fortunate to see them often at the Houston Air Show at Ellington Field. One year they had 4 in flying condition and doing several flyby's. Sadly I have never seen a B 26 except on film.
     
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  14. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The main problem found by Squeak Burnett was simple inexperience that exacerbated the danger associated with the flight characteristics of the B-26. In short, when the nine new Medium Bombardment Groups equipping with the B-26 were activated, many of the pilots assigned to the Groups had ZERO multi-engine flight experience. The Air Training Command program for Advanced twin-engine training did not begin until spring 1942 and it was fall 1942, before any graduated from the program. Similarly, as already mentioned, many of the mechanics in the newly formed units were inexperienced.

    The aircraft itself had a high wing-loading and stall speed, which meant landing and take-off speed were high, something the pilots without twin-engine experience had never encountered. Add to that a major problem...the propellers on the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-5 Double Wasp of the B26A and early B-26B tended to runaway and feather on takeoff...typically on one engine only. Te affected plane then would tend to flip over towards the affected engine on take off and go inverted into the ground. A second problem was the decision by the War Department change over from 100-octane to 100-octane aromatic fuel (with toluene and benzine additives)...unfortunately the result was damage to the diaphragm of the carburetors, which was realized until after the engines began failing in flight. The third problem was the additional weight of the aircraft, service aircraft added more and more equipment, armament, fuel, and armor, so that by early 1942, it's normal gross weight went from from its original 26,625 pounds to 31,527 pounds with no increase in power.

    After investigating the problem Burnett demonstrated how to solve them to the various units, incorporating TTPs for transition training in order for pilots to handle the single-engine operations, slow-flying characteristics, and recoveries from unusual flight attitudes. He even demonstrated how to turn into a dead engine, proving to skeptical crews that it was possible - they had been warned to never even attempt such a maneuver. Later, Doolittle also demonstrated proper emergency procedures by cutting an engine on takeoff, rolling over, then flying the plane upside down at an extremely low altitude, then righting it safely.

    The idea the enlarged wing, first produced in the Omaha-production B-26C and then in the Baltimore produced B-26B-10-MA, "solved the problem of the Widow Maker" is incorrect. While the new wing width increased from 65 to 71 feet and area increased from 602 to 658 square feet, the overall gross weight continued to climb to 36,000 pounds. So wing loading went from 52.37 pounds-per-square-inch to 54.71 pounds-per-square-inch...it actually increased rather than decreased.
     
  15. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure that follows. A total of 5,157 B-26 were accepted by the USAAF during the war, compared to 9,815 B-25 (and 1,014 B-34, 24 B-23, and 18 RB-37). As of 31 August 1945, there were 2,683 medium bombers of all types in service in CONUS and 1,866 overseas, of which it is known 717 of those overseas were B-26. Of those 717, about 500 overseas were scrapped in the ETO at Landsberg, Germany at the end of the war. Another roughly 1,000 B-26 were scrapped postwar at Walnut Grove, Arkansas. Proportionately, that likely accounts for virtually all the surviving B-26 at the end of the war. Many B-25 were also scrapped in the earlier series, but much of the late-production J-series were retained in inventory as late as 1959. (It's impossible to be more precise since the USAAF Statistical Digest did not account for medium bomber losses by type.)
     
  16. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Here you are, Adam - just for you. The Brabant B-25 at Duxford's Flying Legends, 2007. No Photoshoppery or messing about here - it really is going right over.......

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a542518.pdf

    Table 214 on p 310 lists the accident rates of the B25 and B26 in the US. There were more fatalities and accidents flying the B25, but there were a lot more B25s in service.
    The rate of accidents was rather different.
    B25: 33 accidents per 100,000 hours
    B26: 55 accidents per 100,000 hours
    There were around 60% more accidents flying the B26 than the B25 for the same flying time.

    The accident rates for both aircraft types dropped dramatically between 1942 and 1945 for both types of aircraft: from 104 to 24 for the B25 and 167 to 31 for the B26. This reflects improvements to the technology procedures and training, However, in every year the accident rate for the B26 significantly higher than that for the B25.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
  18. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, I wasn't clear. I wasn't disputing that the B-26 was more accident prone than the B-25; that is obvious. When I said "I'm not sure that follows", I was referring to the latter part of your comment. The "relative numbers still airworthy three quarters of a century later" is simply explained by the fact that at the end of the war. essentially all of the B-26 manufactured were either lost in action, lost in accidents, or scrapped. The accident rate differential did not really change that...except in that it likely affected the USAAF decision to scrap them. The reason that there are relatively more B-25 still around is because more were built, its accident was lower, and the USAAF decided not to scrap all the remainder at the end of the war. It was the last decision - how many of each to scrap - that resulted in the numbers of each that we see around today. That relative number is not a verdict on anything other than the USAAF decision to scrap them...I suspect if the decision was made to hang onto the 1,000 in CONUS (which is pretty much what happened with the B-25) then there likely would be quite a few more around today.
     
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