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What if B-29's had been used in Europe as well as Japan?


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#1 Bulldog1653

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 05:02 AM

Hello all,

Here's another question to think about. What if a squadron of B-29's had been sent to and used in Europe? This something I've thought about quite a bit over the years and thought I would bring this up.
My thoughts are that with the range and weapons capacity these planes had, they would have made a major difference in bombing raids over Europe.
The B-17's carried an average of 5,000 to 8,000 pounds of bombs and the B-29's carried 20,000 pounds. Besides the weapons capacity and differences in range, the B-29 was a pressurized aircraft, meaning that the crew didn't need oxygen masks or heavy clothing at high altitudes like the B-17.
Here's a few things that could have happened had the B-29 been used over Europe.
  • Given the ability to fly at high altitudes, the chances of a B-29 being lost from fighter or anti-aircraft fire were minimal.
  • With the massive bomb load, the devastation of an attack on an enemy target such as a factory or railyard would have been staggering.
  • There would have been fewer aircraft and crewmen at risk for various missions because the weapons load reduced the need for a huge number of planes for one target.
Keep in mind that these are my observations and opinions. I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts about this.

#2 Gromit801

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 11:28 PM

Well, by the time the B-29 was ready for use, they needed all they could get in the Pacific. It was a bomber designed for the Pacifc, with the long ranges involved there.

The entire bomber infrastructure in Europe (parts, etc) was based on the B-17's and B-24's, of which there were thousands. The allies also had near total air supremacy over Germany by the time the B-29 was ready for combat.

Why delay the bomber offensive in Europe, to completely revamp and retool the 8th Air Force?

As to the "What If," yes the B-29 would have packed a harder punch, and flown at altitudes quite high, but it might have actually given the Me-262 an advantage. The 262 would have performed better at the higher altitude than the P-51's.
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#3 brndirt1

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 11:42 PM

Another problem besides the logistics of supply is the massive weight of the B-29. As I recall only a few airfields in the UK were capable of allowing the B-29 to take off fully loaded. Landing when empty was not as much of a problem, but not breaking through the surface when loaded was.
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#4 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 12:44 AM

Another problem besides the logistics of supply is the massive weight of the B-29. As I recall only a few airfields in the UK were capable of allowing the B-29 to take off fully loaded. Landing when empty was not as much of a problem, but not breaking through the surface when loaded was.


This was the primary reason they weren't used in Europe. To deploy them there the USAAF would have had to construct new larger and more durable airfields from scratch. It would have actually taken more construction effort to upgrade existing bases than simply build new ones.
The new ones would have had longer, wider and, heavier duty runways, larger taxi ways, bigger hard stands, and required all the other infrastructure that goes into a military airfield.

Since the B-17 and 24 (along with mediums etc.) had already pretty much finished the Luftwaffe and were more than capable of reaching their targets on the continent, there was no justification for introducing the B-29 into the ETO.
On the other hand, building the same airfields in the PTO or China was going to take the same effort so there was no difference in that portion of introducing the plane. But, because of the need for range the B-29 was desirable for use in those theaters where it could reach Japan but the B-17 and 24 couldn't.

This was no small scale effort either. The USN and USAAF employed a half dozen asphalt plants, a half dozen concrete batch plants, over a dozen engineering and SeeBee battalions, several dredging machines, rock crushing plants and, a plethora of other major construction machinery to build bases in the Marianas. In China nearly a million workers were employed to do the same construction by hand.

#5 Peisander

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 09:55 AM

In fact USA warned Germany via Lisbon in July 1944 that unless Germany sued for peace and abandoned it's nuclear weapons project that Dresden would be nuked and this implied use of the B-29.

In response to fear of the B-29 Germany developed the Ta-152H with a service ceiling of 48,300 feet versus the B-29's approx 36,000ft. It was more than just a FW-190D since the washout on it's wings were designed such that the tips stalled before the root in tight turns at altitude.

As was pointed out by Grommit801, the B-29 would perhaps have lost cover from P-51s.

The P-51 may have had long legs at B-17 altitudes, but altitude impairs the range of an aircraft already operating at extreme ranges, by increasing fuel consumption. Any reciprocating engined aircraft of that era would have needed some form of supercharging the higher it went therefore, leading to more fuel consumption.

B-29s over Germany would have been far more vulnerable than high flying B-29s over japan where the Japanese struggled to field high flying interceptors at first.

#6 mcoffee

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 11:56 AM

As was pointed out by Grommit801, the B-29 would perhaps have lost cover from P-51s.

The P-51 may have had long legs at B-17 altitudes, but altitude impairs the range of an aircraft already operating at extreme ranges, by increasing fuel consumption. Any reciprocating engined aircraft of that era would have needed some form of supercharging the higher it went therefore, leading to more fuel consumption.

Clint and Mr. Gardner are exactly correct in why the B-29 was not deployed to Europe.

As for escort, the P-51 seemed to have no problems escorting B-29s over Japan. B-17s regularly bombed from altitudes in the low 30,000s.

Both the B-17 and B-24 uses turbochargers. The Merlin in the P-51 was fitted with a two-stage, two-speed supercharger and gave the Mustang a service ceiling in excess of 41,000ft. The P-47 had a service ceiling of 43,000ft.

Escort would not have been an issue, logistics was.
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#7 texson66

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 01:18 PM

From Wikipedia:

"Although considered for other theaters, and briefly evaluated in England, the B-29 was predominantly used in World War II in the Pacific Theatre. The use of YB-29-BW 41-36393, the so-named Hobo Queen, one of the service test aircraft flown around several British airfields in early 1944, was thought to be as a "disinformation" program intended to deceive the Germans into believing that the B-29 would be deployed to Europe. The Hobo Queen even seems to have been featured in a photo in the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter-the German newspaper's headline showing the photo of the Hobo Queen soon appeared in Boeing factory posters of the era."


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#8 ULITHI

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 02:29 PM

A little off topic, but I heard in high school that the reason that the B-29's and later B-17's did not have paint towards the end of the war was because of the total air supremacy and they didn't need camo.

Is that correct? Did the AAF really not care anymore that the glare of the sun could be seen off those planes from miles away anymore?
Have a good one,
Darren

#9 brndirt1

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 02:47 PM

A little off topic, but I heard in high school that the reason that the B-29's and later B-17's did not have paint towards the end of the war was because of the total air supremacy and they didn't need camo.

Is that correct? Did the AAF really not care anymore that the glare of the sun could be seen off those planes from miles away anymore?


While that was certainly a "popular" opinion, and may have had some validity, the truth is a bit less ego charging. The paint for either plane weighed in at hundreds of pounds, without the paint the plane was lighter, and flew faster, and carried a bigger load. I forget the amount for the heavy bombers, but it was pretty impressive when I read it once upon a time. If "mcoffee" doesn't answer this on his own, I'll look around and see if I can find the weight of the paint.
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#10 ULITHI

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 03:07 PM

While that was certainly a "popular" opinion, and may have had some validity, the truth is a bit less ego charging. The paint for either plane weighed in at hundreds of pounds, without the paint the plane was lighter, and flew faster, and carried a bigger load. I forget the amount for the heavy bombers, but it was pretty impressive when I read it once upon a time. If "mcoffee" doesn't answer this on his own, I'll look around and see if I can find the weight of the paint.


I kind of figured that as well. Paint can weigh a ton. When the space shuttle first went into service, they used to paint the external tank with a final coat of white until they figured out how much it weighed.

When the Queen Mary docked in Long Beach for good, they sandblasted parts of the ship, taking off as much as a quarter of an inch worth of paint that was put on over the years!
Have a good one,
Darren

#11 Erich

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 03:40 PM

the Ta 152H and other variants may well have entered service much earlier than in beginning of 1945 as a counter. hey extend the length of those English airfield tarmacs please.

Darren yes your case is valid the same can be said of the US fighters, weight of camo but who was going to come up and "play" ? the LW by 45 was a skeleton even throwing up new ideas was not helping, and fighting on two fronts being completely drained of it's former self
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#12 brndirt1

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 04:00 PM

the Ta 152H and other variants may well have entered service much earlier than in beginning of 1945 as a counter. hey extend the length of those English airfield tarmacs please.

Darren yes your case is valid the same can be said of the US fighters, weight of camo but who was going to come up and "play" ? the LW by 45 was a skeleton even throwing up new ideas was not helping, and fighting on two fronts being completely drained of it's former self


Wasn't there a joke making the rounds at the time as to aircraft identification? If they are green/brownish they are RAF, if they are silver they are USAAF, if you cannot see them they are Luftwaffe!

Something like that anyway.
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#13 Erich

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 04:08 PM

yes from the German Landser on the ground actually........so much for deep faith in the Lw airforce in 44-45, there was none at least over the Reichs large cities
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#14 mcoffee

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 05:20 PM

I have seen weight of paint for a B-17 estimated from 65 lbs to 500 lbs. The flat finish of the paint probably increased drag slightly over that incurred by an unpainted NMF (natural metal finish) aircraft. Weight and drag was one issue but a minor one.

The olive-drab (OD) paint was primarily intended for camo on the ground against air attacks. The undersides were painted a light grey to reduce air visibility when viewed from below, but its hard to miss a large formation of 4 engined bombers, especially when they are usually making contrails anyway.

The directive to stop painting was issued in January 1944. At that time, the threat of air attack on AAF bases was minimal and the OD camo was of little use. The primary advantages to delivering aircraft in NMF was time and cost savings during production. B-24s began to be delivered in February '44 in NMF.

I have read anecdotal evidence that when NMF ships first started appearing in operation groups, some veteran crews were reluctant to fly them. They were afraid that the shiny ship in the middle of an OD formation would scream "shoot me" to attacking fighters. I believe this to be a relatively short-lived fear as NMF ships became more abundant.

Edit:

I found a reference that stated that Willow Run built B-24s had a total of 90-120 lbs of paint, and that the NMF ships were 8-12 mph faster than the camo ships.

Edited by mcoffee, 22 September 2010 - 05:56 PM.
more info.

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#15 Erich

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 05:55 PM

now you can see why LW day and night fighters were painted in a huge array of camo assortments
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#16 Gromit801

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 09:44 PM

As was pointed out by Grommit801, the B-29 would perhaps have lost cover from P-51s.


Well no, that's not what I said. I said the Me-262 would have had better performance than the P-51 at 30,000+ feet in altitude.
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#17 Peisander

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 09:35 AM

Clint and Mr. Gardner are exactly correct in why the B-29 was not deployed to Europe.

As for escort, the P-51 seemed to have no problems escorting B-29s over Japan.


B-29s over Japan in 1945 were flying from Saipan, or Tinian to Tokyo for example, distances of just 1452 sm (2336km). From March 1945 they also had the luxury of an emergency field at Iwo Jima.

P-51s flew escort from Iwo and the distance for them to Tokyo was considerably shorter. Just 745 sm (1199km)



B-17s regularly bombed from altitudes in the low 30,000s. Both the B-17 and B-24 uses turbochargers.

Comparing apples with oranges since the Bombers had adequate fuel.


The Merlin in the P-51 was fitted with a two-stage, two-speed supercharger and gave the Mustang a service ceiling in excess of 41,000ft. The P-47 had a service ceiling of 43,000ft.

Not disputed that the Mustang could reach such altitude, but to sustain such altitudes over long distances is the problem. A serious dogfight in a Mustang at 34,000ft would exhaust fuel very quickly.

Escort would not have been an issue, logistics was.


Escort was an issue and for the reasons I have stated. With any aircraft excepting modern jets where a different issue takes effect (relative efficiency of jet turbines at altitude) the choice is still a trade off between range or altitude.

The other point is that the Mustang was entirely inferior to the Ta-152H at the B-29's service ceiling.

There is a famous story of Kurt Tank taking off in an unarmed prototype Ta-152. Tank was warned by the tower of two mustangs closing from behind so he gunned the throttle and outclimbed and outdistanced them.

Mustang pilots avoided tangling with the Ta-152

#18 Peisander

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 09:41 AM

Well no, that's not what I said. I said the Me-262 would have had better performance than the P-51 at 30,000+ feet in altitude.


Apologies if I misinterpreted.


I thought you were making a comment about the B-29.

You're possibly correct about the Me-262 as jets in general are superior at altitude, though I think the Germans actually preferred the Do-335 and Ta-152H as altitude fighters.

#19 mcoffee

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 12:51 PM

B-29s over Japan in 1945 were flying from Saipan, or Tinian to Tokyo for example, distances of just 1452 sm (2336km). From March 1945 they also had the luxury of an emergency field at Iwo Jima.

P-51s flew escort from Iwo and the distance for them to Tokyo was considerably shorter. Just 745 sm (1199km)


Okay, and your point is what? Berlin was about 600 miles from the AAF bases in East Anglia. Ploesti was about 600 miles from the AAF bases in Italy. Range was not a limiting factor in target selection in Europe by the time B-29s would have been available in the theater. What targets in Europe were beyond the range of the B-17 and B-24? What targets in Europe was the B-29 going to hit that was beyond the range of escort?


Comparing apples with oranges since the Bombers had adequate fuel.


Huh???

Not disputed that the Mustang could reach such altitude, but to sustain such altitudes over long distances is the problem. A serious dogfight in a Mustang at 34,000ft would exhaust fuel very quickly.


On what do you base that claim? B-29 service ceiling: 33,600 ft. B-17F service ceiling: 37,500 ft. B-17s could and did bomb from altitudes above the service ceiling of the B-29. If you don't believe that P-51s operated and fought at altitudes in the mid-30s, you should read some mission reports.

B-17 bombing altitudes were brought down into the upper 20s because higher altitude lessens bombing accuracy. It would have been no different with the B-29 - it used the same Norden bombsight.

Escort was an issue and for the reasons I have stated. With any aircraft excepting modern jets where a different issue takes effect (relative efficiency of jet turbines at altitude) the choice is still a trade off between range or altitude.


Once again, what targets in Europe were beyond the range of the B-17 and B-24? What targets in Europe was the B-29 going to hit that was beyond the range of escort?


The other point is that the Mustang was entirely inferior to the Ta-152H at the B-29's service ceiling.

There is a famous story of Kurt Tank taking off in an unarmed prototype Ta-152. Tank was warned by the tower of two mustangs closing from behind so he gunned the throttle and outclimbed and outdistanced them.

Mustang pilots avoided tangling with the Ta-152


Remind me again exactly when P-51s and Ta-152s engaged in combat?

The Mustang was entirely inferior to the Me-262 at the B-29's service ceiling. What effect did that have on the outcome of the air war?
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#20 Erich

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 02:14 PM

truth of the matter we only have Kurt Tanks word that he was followed by 4 Mustangs, there is no cross reference of any P-51 grp following an unknown LW craft on the date he described. only one incident is recorded with a P-51 falling to the guns of a Stab JG 301 Tank H-1 and even then this cannot be proven at the moment

the US fighter grps had not come across the Ta's in the past and did not know what they were even Dora-9's were called long nosed Fw 190's that was it due to the un-familiarity of the aircraft.
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#21 lwd

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 05:03 PM

In fact USA warned Germany via Lisbon in July 1944 that unless Germany sued for peace and abandoned it's nuclear weapons project that Dresden would be nuked and this implied use of the B-29.....

I'd like a source on that. Several things seem really questionable about it.
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#22 brndirt1

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 06:04 PM

I'd like a source on that. Several things seem really questionable about it.


Me too!
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#23 Erich

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Posted 23 September 2010 - 06:28 PM

sorry wrong answer P, not sure where you are coming up with this text but it must be back from the early 1960's, about as good as the myth that the TA 152 was created to take on the B-29 when it came to Europe
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#24 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 02:15 AM

The other point is that the Mustang was entirely inferior to the Ta-152H at the B-29's service ceiling.

There is a famous story of Kurt Tank taking off in an unarmed prototype Ta-152. Tank was warned by the tower of two mustangs closing from behind so he gunned the throttle and outclimbed and outdistanced them.

Mustang pilots avoided tangling with the Ta-152


With the possible exception of the ancedotial story this is completely untrue. While the Ta 152H had... when it was working right which wasn't often... an advantage over the P-51D it is no better, and in many ways markedly inferior, to the P-51H and only about equal to the P-47N. Of course, these two aircraft didn't see combat in Europe during the war having gotten into service just a bit too late. But, both were had become operational in fighter group strength by the end of the Pacific war even if they saw little service there. On the other hand, the Ta 152 production amounted to a mere handful of what were essentially prototype aircraft pressed prematurely into operational service by the Germans in the last desperate weeks of the war. Many of those "produced" were actually just rebuilt and re-serialed Fw 190D airframes as well.
The Ta 152 as a result was riddled with bugs and unreliablity whereas the P-51H and P-47N were both reliable and fully tested operational aircraft. I doubt you can find any cases of P-51 pilots deliberately avoiding combat with any German fighter in the last months of the war let alone the Ta 152 in particular. I doubt most Allied pilots could have told it from a Fw 190D in combat.
I think Erich could shed some details and light on the Ta 152 as well.
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#25 Peisander

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 09:20 PM

I'd like a source on that. Several things seem really questionable about it.


Sure:

Monogram Close-Up 24

Pilot Ofw Hans Sander flew to 45,920ft with a special Italian barograph fitted. Other flights were made to higher altitudes but without proper measuring equipment to verify their altitudes. The pilot reported “from 36,080ft on, I got pains and itching in the elbows and the knees and I had the sensation that my movements got stiff. Voice procedure became difficult... Slowly I climbed higher than ever before. My vision narrowed to a projector sized view. The sky took on a colour of midnight blue and then black, going through the horizon in all nuances of blue to blinding white. My right arm no longer responded to my mental commands so I continued by flying left handed. The aircraft became sloppier and sloppier, barely responding to rudder movement. After stalling twice in the thin air and when it became more and more difficult to hold or gain altitude, I gave up.”






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