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B-29 in Europe


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#1 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 08:37 PM

How much difference (if any) would there be if the US had deployed the B-29 to Europe instead of the Pacific? Some points to consider on this:
* The B-29 flying at 25 - 30,000 feet and around 300 mph would have rendered the 88 virtually worthless as an AA gun. This would have also reduced the value of other heavy flak pieces undermining the cornerstone of German air defenses to a great degree.
* It's height and speed combination would have also reduced the effectiveness of heavy bomber destroyer aircraft which were primarily based on the Fw 190 whose performance at such altitudes was not as good as 10,000 feet lower.
* The B-29's gun systems were more effective than those on the B-17 or 24, having gyroscopic lead computing gunsights. How much effect would this have on attacking aircraft?

#2 Friedrich

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 09:28 PM

I had never considered this based on the things you state, which I think are worth advantages and details. But I think the main issue here is range. B-29s were designed for very long distance raids - i.e. the PTO - and it would have been a waste to use them in Europe, where they could reach Berlin and come back with half tank...
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#3 Martin Bull

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 09:33 PM

It's an interesting 'what if?' and one I've pondered before - a B-29 was certainly brought to England late in the war and toured the East Anglian airbases, causing much interest.

Friedrich is of course correct - the B-29 had to be used in the Pacific due to the distances involved. But OK, if the Americans had had loads available instead of the B-17/B-24, then the result would have been daylight carpet-bombing of Germany as well as by night....

One can see very little of Europe from 30,000 feet for about 80% of the year. So, bad for Germany and Occupied Europe, but heavier bomb tonnage and fewer losses for the 8th Air Force I think would have resulted.
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#4 Friedrich

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 09:46 PM

The thing is that precise strategic bombing at 30.000 feet is not that precise... The same as actually happened in Japan. It wasn't until they were used in low-altitude night carpet-bombing that they had an effect. Though the Japanese cities were mostly made of wood... Don't know if that amount of incendiary bombs on Germany would have been as effective. But the point is that in low altitude raids, B-29s would have been exposed to heavy AA and fighters with substantially heavily armed, which, unlike Japanese fighters, had larger possibilities of shooting them down.
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#5 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 09 December 2003 - 02:21 AM

Bombing from altitude wasn't nearly as problematic in Europe as it was in Japan. In the later's case, the combination of frequently present jet stream winds and trade winds at lower altitudes caused the inaccuracy.
If this was a problem in Europe it would already have shown up from the use of B-17 and 24 aircraft that flew at nearly the same altitudes. A few thousand feet more height with a B-29 would make no difference.
Now, the range issue was the reason that the 29 went to the Far East. The USAAF felt that the war in Europe could be won with the B-17 and 24 (this is at the beginning of 1944) and that the b-29 should go to the Pacific and used in the theater for which it was designed.
Had the 29 gone to Europe it could have been in action as early as March or April of 1944.

#6 Martin Bull

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Posted 09 December 2003 - 07:11 AM

The visibility problem was precisely why 'precision bombing' in the truest sense was frequently not achieved in Europe.For their most successful raids, eg the Focke-Wulf factory etc, the 8th AF had to go in low, certainly 15,000ft or less. So, the point I really meant to make was that with a higher bomb-load and at a higher altitude, the B-29s would have laid waste to more of Germany.
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#7 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 09 December 2003 - 10:51 PM

By 1944 clouds only made a difference in precision not in being able to bomb. Where clouds were a problem (or night for that matter) both the USAAF and RAF were using H2S, BTO, APQ-7 and, other similar centimetric radars for bombing prediction. Clouds just meant a wider CEP than visual means gave.

#8 Martin Bull

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 07:04 AM

Have you ever seen an H2S trace of, say, Berlin ? Most of these early radar systems were only of use where very clearly-defined shorelines were visible. Otherwise, why were so many 'targets of opportunity' bombed by the 8th ? I think the B-29s at high altitude would have been quite satisfied to hit.....Germany.
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#9 TA152

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 07:37 AM

Anouther factor about the B-29 was the politics that would have gone on over who would control the missions it was sent on. In the Pacific the joint chiefs of staff and General Arnold had to create a new airforce group, the 20th Air Force to operate the B-29. Many generals and admirals did not understand strategic bombing and would have used the B-29 in a tactical role. There was some hard feelings in RAF bomber command and the 8th Air Force (US) over the use of heavy bombers in tactical missions leading up to D-Day and the period afterward. These missions were forced on them by their "superiors". In the Pacific some naval people would have liked to use the B-29 as a long range recon. aircraft.

Anouther potential problem that happened in the Pacific was a B-29 had problems of some type and landed in Russia. Stalin had it copied and produced. The same could have happened in Europe if a B-29 had been forced down in German occupied land. In the Pacific they would more likly to crash in the ocean and not be avaiable for recovery to Japan.

I know it would have taken some time for the Germans to copy and produce a B-29, but they did some pretty amazing things toward the end of the war with their large labor force and they needed a large bomber for their airforce, since the He-177 was a flop. :(
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#10 KnightMove

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 02:25 PM

But indeed the question is... what difference?

Lower casualties on Allied side? Certainly.

War ends remarkably earlier? I don't think so.

With arrival of the Mustang, the result of the air battle over Germany was clear. As the Allied controlled southern Italy, all parts of the Reich could be bombed. So I don't think the B-29 would have had an additional, decisive impact.
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#11 Vermillion

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 03:21 PM

Originally posted by TA152:
Anouther potential problem that happened in the Pacific was a B-29 had problems of some type and landed in Russia. Stalin had it copied and produced. The same could have happened in Europe if a B-29 had been forced down in German occupied land.

The Soviets, with their economy FAR stronger than late war Germany, still took until 1947 to produce the Tu-4, the copy of the B-29. Given that, it is exceptionally unlikely that Germany could have produced a copy in the 1 year left to them, with their economy, industry and country under seige.


I think the real point has been made by Knightmove, but I would even go a step further. By une 1944 the Allies had air supremacy anyways, so what would the value added have been of deploying the B-29 in Europe? Longer range and Higher altitude were pretty much both useless by that point, and heavier bombloads would also have been not that important, other threads on this board duiscuss the wisdom of the city busting raids late in the war, I hardly think MORE bombs were what was required.

#12 Friedrich

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Posted 10 December 2003 - 03:35 PM

A possibility might have been that the Germans copied some aspects of the B-29 - if they captured one - and added them to their useless He-177. I then see Hitler and Göring with some ideas to bomb Moscow or the Urals... :rolleyes:
"War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." - Jean Dutourd, French veteran of both world wars

"A mon fils: depuis que tes yeux sont fermes les miens n’ont cessé de pleurir." - Mère française, Verdun




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