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Old March 19th, 2017, 07:14 AM   #1
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American ingenuity -B24

At the peak, they produced 1 B24 an hour in Willow Run Michigan.
Think about that for a minute. It seems like an amazing feat to me.

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Old March 19th, 2017, 08:45 AM   #2
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I believe that was Ford Motor Company factories that pulled that off.

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Old March 19th, 2017, 08:52 AM   #3
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One B24 per hour is astounding.

I wonder what our manufacturing capacity is now that we've turned our back on heavy industry.

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Old March 19th, 2017, 09:00 AM   #4
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The genius behind the ramp-up in production were Charles Sorensen, and then Mead Bricker. Sorensen had a genius for industrial design, but having all the manufacturing concentrated in one facility proved to be a real problem. To boot, the workers were automobile by training, and that didn't translate well to aircraft.

However, the manufacturing was decentralized to a point, with sub-assembly done at off site plants, then delivered to point of installation, similar to today's auto assembly methods.

From Detroit, Willow Run was a long way, and it was a real financial burden for workers to get there, considering gas rationing, and no new car production. I-94 was purpose built to connect Detroit and Willow Run.

Most folks don't realize just how difficult it was for a peace time economy to turn on its heels and concentrate on war materiels.

FDR thought early on, that a centralized bureaucracy, with price controls could get the job done. However, most manufacturers said no, and no amount of government control could work. If manufacturers didn't get to make a profit, we may well have lost WWII in the first year, or so.

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Old March 19th, 2017, 09:01 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Capona View Post
At the peak, they produced 1 B24 an hour in Willow Run Michigan.
Think about that for a minute. It seems like an amazing feat to me.
Since it wasn't nearly the airplane the B-17 was I can readily believe it could be built quicker. But whenever a bomb group got B-17's in place of B-24's the morale went up considerably. No one wanted a plane that lit up quicker than a Zippo!

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Old March 19th, 2017, 09:23 AM   #6
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My next door neighbor when I was a boy was a gunner on B-24's during the war although he passed away several years ago . I remember him telling me " our aircraft was a triple threat, we could bomb them ,strafe them , and fall on them"

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Old March 19th, 2017, 04:05 PM   #7
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Since it wasn't nearly the airplane the B-17 was I can readily believe it could be built quicker. But whenever a bomb group got B-17's in place of B-24's the morale went up considerably. No one wanted a plane that lit up quicker than a Zippo!
The B-17 could not be produced as fast as the B-24 was due to the fact that the B-17 was not designed with high rate production in mind. But, it came close.

And, the one B-24 every 63 minutes was an average for the monthly production. They didn't actually roll an aircraft out the door every 63 minutes.

Interestingly, of the two, the B-17 and the B-24, the British preferred the B-24. And the 93rd Bomb Group the first B-24 equipped group, maintained a per-sortie loss rate lower that any other bomb group in the 8th AF, except for three B-17 groups, two of which did not enter combat until after the middle of 1944 and one that entered the war in November 1943, fourteen months after the 93rd flew its first mission. For the majority of 1942 and 1943, there were only two B-24 groups in England.

Between the B-24 and B-17, neither was "better", they were different. The B-17 was by and large remove the the Pacific due to it shorter range and smaller bomb load. The B-24 was not used against Germany from England for the most part because its longer range would have been largely wasted. B-24s were prioritized to the Pacific and North Africa, because the benefit of better range and speed.

The main thing the B-17 had that the B-24 did not was publicity.....

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Old March 19th, 2017, 04:50 PM   #8
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The Arsenal of Democracy

https://www.amazon.com/Arsenal-Democ.../dp/0547719280

Not that I've read this, but thats what they called WWII era Detroit.
How far we've come.

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Old March 19th, 2017, 05:26 PM   #9
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The B-17 could not be produced as fast as the B-24 was due to the fact that the B-17 was not designed with high rate production in mind. But, it came close.

And, the one B-24 every 63 minutes was an average for the monthly production. They didn't actually roll an aircraft out the door every 63 minutes.

Interestingly, of the two, the B-17 and the B-24, the British preferred the B-24. And the 93rd Bomb Group the first B-24 equipped group, maintained a per-sortie loss rate lower that any other bomb group in the 8th AF, except for three B-17 groups, two of which did not enter combat until after the middle of 1944 and one that entered the war in November 1943, fourteen months after the 93rd flew its first mission. For the majority of 1942 and 1943, there were only two B-24 groups in England.

Between the B-24 and B-17, neither was "better", they were different. The B-17 was by and large remove the the Pacific due to it shorter range and smaller bomb load. The B-24 was not used against Germany from England for the most part because its longer range would have been largely wasted. B-24s were prioritized to the Pacific and North Africa, because the benefit of better range and speed.

The main thing the B-17 had that the B-24 did not was publicity.....
I have to respectfully disagree:

Boeing B-17 History

The Boeing B-17 is by far the most famous bomber of World War II. In 1934 the Boeing Aircraft Company of Seattle Washington began construction of a four engine heavy bomber. Known as the Model -299, first flight was achieved on July 28th 1935. As a result, the U.S. Government placed an order for production of 13 of these aircraft and began to take delivery of the 13 production aircraft between January 11th and August 4th 1937.

The B-17, dubbed the "Flying Fortress" as a result of her amount of defensive firepower, underwent a number of improvements over its ten-year production run. B-17 Models ranged from the YB-17 to the B-17G model. Throughout the war the B-17 was refined and improved as the combat experience showed the Boeing designers where improvements could be made. The Final B-17 production model, the B-17G was produced in the largest quantities (8,680) than any other previous model and is considered the definitive "Flying Fortress". With its 13 .50-caliber machine guns, Chin, top, ball and tail turrets; waist and cheek guns the B-17 was indeed an airplane that earned the respect of its combatants. In addition, the flight crews loved the B-17 for her ability to take and withstand heavy combat damage and return safely home.

During WWII, the B-17 saw service in every theater of operation, but was operated primarily by the 8th Air force in Europe and participated in countless missions from bases in England. A typical B-17 Mission often lasted for more than eight hours and struck targets deep within enemy territory. During the war, B-17's dropped 640,036 tons of bombs on European targets in daylight raids. This compares to the 452,508 tons dropped by the B-24 and 464,544 tons dropped by all other U.S. aircraft. The B-17 also downed 23 enemy aircraft per 1,000 raids as compared with 11 by B-24's and 11 by fighters and three by all U.S. medium and light bombers.

There were a total of 12,732 B-17's that were produced between 1935 and May 1945. Of these 4,735 were lost in combat. Following WWII, the B-17 saw service in three more wars. B-17's were used in Korea, Israel used them in the war of 1948 and they were even used during Vietnam.

Today, fewer than 100 B-17 airframes exist and fewer still are in airworthy condition. At one time, more than 1000 B-17's could be assembled for mass combat missions, now fewer than 15 of Boeing's famous bombers can still take to the sky.

http://www.libertyfoundation.org/b17history.html

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Old March 19th, 2017, 05:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capona View Post
At the peak, they produced 1 B24 an hour in Willow Run Michigan.
Think about that for a minute. It seems like an amazing feat to me.
Thanks for this most interesting post, and all of the replies. It is truly amazing what our nation did in WW2.

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Old March 19th, 2017, 05:58 PM   #11
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Obviously our fighting forces won the war, but if not for the productivity and engineering prowess they could not have won the war, in short our Nations ability to muster our mfg. abilities were far superior to either the Germans or the Japanese military/nations. Any nation that intends to go to war and win must have an economic engine beyond imagination to do so. I think the idea to place females in the work force as much as they did was of great aid in our military production. We have to give lots credit to the girls you know for they do rule the world. Driving around town and seeing the large groups of young people gathering in the evenings at the local quick shop, moping round the street corners at night gives me pause to think that we as a Nation could muster a dedicated, reliable work force that it would require in a major war. The few percentage wise that enlist in the military today and master the required skills, attitude, dedication, etc. that it requires are indeed a special breed of U.S. citizens and thank God for them.

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Old March 19th, 2017, 06:09 PM   #12
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WWII’s B-17 “All American” Separating Fact and Fiction
in Articles – by WarbirdsUpdate – June 27, 2013

Stricken B-17 "All American" miraculously flying after collision with a German fighter, photographed by the crew of another bomber in her formation.

(Guys, click on the link at the bottom, the photos will amaze you! HH)

We got this email in our inbox the other day, purporting to tell the story of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, “All American.” The story, accompanied with some incredible pictures, told of the plane, mortally wounded, getting her crew home safely. We were pretty sure we had seen this email, sent from a friend (who got it from a friend, who got it from a friend, ad infinitum) before at some time in the past, but reading it over, some things about the chain email just didn’t make sense, so we decided to do some research.

We’ve decided to reproduce the email, as it’s certainly compelling prose, however it’s fiction.

––––––––––––––
B-17 All American 01
B-17 “All American”
(414th Squadron, 97BG) Crew:
Pilot- Ken Bragg Jr.
Copilot- G. Boyd Jr.
Navigator- Harry C. Nuessle
Bombardier- Ralph Burbridge
Engineer- Joe C. James
Radio Operator- Paul A. Galloway
Ball Turret Gunner- Elton Conda
Waist Gunner- Michael Zuk
Tail Gunner- Sam T. Sarpolus
Ground Crew Chief- Hank Hyland

B-17 in 1943
A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of WWII. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Flying Fortress named “All American”, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through, connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunner’s turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still miraculously flew! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

B-17 All American 02When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

B-17 All American 03Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the “All American” as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the appendage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been “used” so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane to land it.

Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear. When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed. This old bird had done its job and brought the crew home and all in one piece.

I love these old war stories especially the ones with a happy ending!

Maybe pass this on to someone who will also appreciate this amazing story.

––––––––––––––––––—

Well it is an amazing story, that much is certain. Though in reading it, the damage pictured didn’t seem to align with the damage described, a bombing mission to Tunis in northern Africa, dispatched from England is an impossibility (not to mention having to overfly the entirety of Axis-occupied Europe to do it), and the plane appears to be on the ground in a desert, which to the best of our knowledge, England is most decidedly not. There are several other problems within the story both large and small, but to completely dissect it would take forever and it would time away from the REAL story of the “All American.”

The “All American” was actually based near Biskra, Algeria, a much more reasonable +/- 300 miles from Tunis. On the fateful day in question, the All American was part of a formation of bombers attacking the German-controlled seaport. Braving heavy flak and German fighters on the way in, the “All American” and her crew managed to drop their bombs and were on their way back to base when the German fighter planes began attacking again, pursuing them to the fighters’ maximum return range, when the attacks ended. However, two more Messerschmitts appeared and came in for the attack.

One of the fighters went straight for the nose of the lead bomber of the formation and the other came for the nose of “All American.” The crew of “All American” fired at the plane coming for them from their nose turret while firing at the fighter heading for the lead bomber from the right side nose gun. Between the fire of All American and the lead bomber, the fighter going after that plane was disabled and sent down, smoke pouring from it as it descended. The fighter that was attacking the “All American,” head-on and guns blazing, began a roll to pull away, but halfway through the maneuver, gunfire from either “All American” or the lead bomber must have killed or incapacitated the fighter pilot and the plane never completed the collision-avoiding maneuver.

The fighter passed over ‘All American,” to say with inches to spare would be inaccurate as the plane tore a significant hole in the rear of the fuselage and removed the left horizontal stabilizer. The remaining parts of the tail section, the vertical and right stabilizer seemed like they could shake loose at any moment. Miraculously, none of the B-17’s crew were injured and the men all donned their parachutes, ready to abandon the plane should the tail break off.

The other crews in the formation, seeing that the B-17 was crippled, but remaining aloft, slowed to a speed the injured bird could maintain and formed a formation around her until they were out from enemy territory. Once the formation was outside of the maximum range for the German fighter planes, the rest of the formation went on ahead and “All American” limped on alone. The Flying Fortress landed safely, though without her tail wheel which unsurprisingly was inoperative.

As one would imagine making it safely to the ground was an emotional experience for both the flight and ground crews, a testament to the bravery of her crew, her compatriots and the legendary robustness of the Boeing B-17, that stands quite well all on its own without the additional fantastical embellishments.

There is an excellent article with an interview with Ralph Burbridge, the bombardier on “All American” in which you can read his first person account of this mission, as well as his other wartime experiences, though the article incorrectly introduces a bit of misinformation of its own.* Sadly, Burbridge passed away earlier this year at the age of 93.

*The Harold Adamson and Jimmy McHugh song “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer” was not written about “All American.” The hit song, released in 1943, recounted the amazing survival of another 97th Bomb Group B-17, “Thunderbird.” The plane had been given up as lost on a January 12, 1943 mission to Tripoli but her pilot, Lieutenant John Cronkhite managed to get her back to Biskra though thoroughly shot up, with both starboard engines out and fuel tanks nearly dry. He landed with no brakes and ground-looped the plane when he ran out of runway, but that’s a story for another day.

http://www.warbirdsnews.com/warbird-...t-fiction.html

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Old March 19th, 2017, 07:38 PM   #13
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Yes it was amazing.
Think about a Kaiser ship yard that could produce a Liberty ship every 4 and a half days.
We could do it again with the same rules.
Unlimited funding, raw materials and no government intervention.
The free enterprise system without red tape and greed kept in check is a productive machine.

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Old March 19th, 2017, 09:07 PM   #14
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My grandfather was a nose-gunner/togglier on a B24 with the 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force (the memorial on my profile page was taken by me at Attlebridge, near Norwich, England, which was the home of the 466th Bomb Group (Heavy) during WWII where my grandfather was stationed).

Back in 2005, at that time the only remaining flying B24, "Witchcraft" was here in the Twin Cities. I and some professional pilot buddies of mine went to take a first-hand look at it before an air show. Impressive, especially the size of it. However, I simply have no idea how my grandfather could ever squeeze himself into the nose-gunner position. All that was there was literally a 2x6 board for a seat, and there is no way I could fit into it.

Here are some photos that were taken:













I like the warning sign here:







Working on an engine:





Remember how small I said the nose-gunner position was? This is all I could fit into it!


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Old March 20th, 2017, 03:03 AM   #15
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The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress vs. the Consolidated B-24 Liberator

The Great B-17 – B-24 Controversy

Comparisons of the Consolidated B-24 and the Boeing B-17

Both had their strengths and weaknesses.

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