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Why were the planes used in the two theaters of WWII different?

Discussion in 'Theaters of the Second World War' started by ElistonCole, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. ElistonCole

    ElistonCole New Member

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    I just watched a TV show about WWII, and it talked about the P-51 in Europe and the Hellcat in the Pacific, and the B-17 in Europe and the B-29 in the Pacific. What made these and other planes more suited for one theater than the other?

    **Edit by Otto: to remove spammy links.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2020
  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, the B-17 was in action in the Pacific before it was in action in Europe - excepting the early RAF testing of course. The P-51 and P-47 did fight in the Pacific, but not until later in the war. The B-24 fought well in all theater s. Meanwhile, the P-38 performed better in the Pacific than Europe.

    All of the USN aircraft also fought in Europe under Royal Navy colors - not much need for masses of carrier aircraft in Europe.

    However, it mostly boiled down to increased range needed for the Pacific and the usually lowers altitudes at which Pacific air actions occurred.
     
  3. OpanaPointer

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

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    Infrastructure was a consideration. We had to have the B-29s in the Pacific, so making it THE long range bomber simplified the supply chain and the supply system.
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    And it was not really needed in Europe, but was mandatory for the very long range necessary to bomb Japan.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

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

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    Airstrip One was conveniently located, yes.
     
  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    The Hellcat was a naval carrier-based fighter, so naturally saw most of its action in the Pacific. As @Takao mentioned, it was also used by the RN in European waters, and two American escort carriers with Hellcats took part in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France.

    The P-38 was not as effective as the -47 or -51 against German fighters, especially at high altitudes where most of the bomber-escort action took place, but it did well in the Pacific. I suspect the ability to get home on one engine was particularly appreciated in the Pacific, where one was usually over water, jungle, or the Japanese.

    The B-25 and -26 medium bombers had comparable performance, but the -25 was better suited for rough airfields or extreme climate. B-26s were used in the Pacific in the first year of the war, mainly by a group operating from Australia and Port Moresby, but after that they were reserved for the European theater.

    With the B-17 and -24, no theater had all one or the other. Early in the war, air groups tended to be sent wherever they were most urgently needed as they became available. Over time, the B-24 with its longer range became more common in the Pacific, while the 8th Air Force in England came to have mainly the rugged Flying Fortresses.

    Logistically it might be easier to assign aircraft types entirely to one theater, but operational requirements and simple availability usually dictated otherwise.
     
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  7. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Agree with Carronade, I think that every aircraft in the US arsenal was used in every theater depending on what was on hand. Something else to consider is many of the planes used late in the war were not available when the war began. And those are the ones we hear more about.

    The B29 didn't become operational until 1944 (B24 in 1941) and the P51 didn't come into it's own until late 1943 (P47 late 1942). Same for the P38. It's arrival was not considered as an improvement over existing aircraft due to lack of power etc. But improvements greatly enhanced it's performance later.
    The Mustang is continually depicted as the "premier" fighter plane of the Second World War but in reality was just another weapon platform that did it's job and depending on the circumstances did it very well. It's main advantage was in the extended range.
    The Mustang was a 'pretty' plane but the old ugly P47 was a workhorse and in ground attack role the "Jug" ran circles around the P51 due to it being more stable and capable of "taking a pounding and keep on going". Not to mention the two additional .50 caliber guns! In one of my talks with my uncle he said the P51 was fun to fly but in strafing runs tended to buffet or 'waffle' when low to the ground. AND he missed the feeling of all that airplane surrounding him with the P47. :D
    It is well known but seldom mentioned that a large number of US Navy aircraft were flown from land bases, particularly if not mainly in the Pacific Theater. My guess is several hundred, possibly thousand?, and I'm sure R. Leonard or Takao can get closer than I can on that. The versatility of Navy aircraft being used on Land and at Sea was a contributing factor to winning the War with the land based Navy squadrons being largely overshadowed by the carrier battles.
     
  8. OpanaPointer

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

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    PBYs operated from shore facilities frequently.
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    For 1944-45, Pacific only, aircraft on hand were as follows.
    Land-based Marine a/c were 13,873 and land-based USN a/c were 6,751

    Carrier-based Marine & USN a/c were 25,236

    Naval Aviation Combat Statistics-World War II.
     
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    As did the PBJ(navy B-25), PB4Y(navy B-24), PV-1 Ventura, PV-2 Harpoon, and all land based carrier types.
     
  11. OpanaPointer

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

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    I agree that all land based carrier types operated from land. But why were they carrier types if they operated from land?
     
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  12. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    .......the first B29s were in ''small'' operations about mid 1944....? the first B29s in the Marianas were late 1944? and it is my understanding they still had problems because it was ''new''.....so you have many, many B17s already based in the European theater [ and Pacific ] ---with spare parts/crews more than familiar with the B17/etc --the system is running ''perfectly'' --so why bring in an ''untested'' aircraft and replace the sure thing? why replace a ''fine tuned'' working system? when at this time--late 1944, a lot of people thought the European war was almost over?

    B-29s | American Experience | PBS
     
  13. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    I watched something fly over a few years ago and just like when you see a Sasquatch didn't have a camera. Found out they fly from somewhere out West to Duluth Minnesota for flight instruction. Amazing watching it go by at 100 feet above the treetops and about 80 yards away.

    It was a lot like this;

    upload_2020-1-18_10-56-51.jpeg
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The CAF Lake Superior Squadron is in the process of getting one airworthy and restored to WW2 appearance. They have taken the fuselage of a wrecked PBY and mated it with the wing and engines of another whose fuselage was to corroded to save.
     
  15. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    The AAF removed all B-17s from the Pacific by the end of 1943 leaving only B-24's there in "Heavy" category. (the B-29 was "Very Heavy") All B-17's were in Europe from that point, mostly in the 8th AF with one Wing in the 15th.
     
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  16. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..very interesting...were they redeployed to Europe?
    ..in Europe you had the ''main/static airbase = England--where the B17s could reach the enemy ..no need to build an airbase, then move it, then move all the supplies, etc like what was needed in the Pacific ....the Pacific was not conducive for efficient ''big'' bomber/B17 bases/operations--....?? [ until the B29 had the range to reach Japan from the Marianas ] the front lines kept changing...then in 1944, the frontlines moved far and '''faster'''......and Tinian/etc distance to Japan about 2400 miles? so, they were not much use--efficiently--considering the supplies/shipping/etc needed....?
    ..where as in Europe, the B17s could reach Germany for the duration of the war

    ...I thought the B17s didn't contribute much based on Guadalcanal/Espritu Santo/etc--except for recon maybe...they couldn't hit ships much ....and there weren't a lot [ if any ] ''big'' forces/industry/railroads/etc to hit....per my above statements, they weren't ''permanently'' based on the Canal for many reasons = the Pacific was not conducive for efficient B17 operations/bases/etc
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  17. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I see flying boats semi regularly here in Darwin...Paspaley Pearls...a local business selling some of the best pearls in the world...the family have made a serious amount of wealth...this is one of their flying boats...A Mallard
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    The key factor was the range of the B-29, about twice that of the -17 or -24. They were the only aircraft which could conduct strategic bombing of Japan in 1944, from the Marianas or briefly from China.

    The B17/etc could only bomb Japan after the capture of Okinawa in April-June 1945. As with the Marianas, captured June-August 1944, it would take a few months to build up bases and supplies and get an ongoing bombing campaign underway.
     
  19. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    .....yes, per my post # 16--they could reach Germany but not Japan ....I'd like a discussion on the B17s worth in the Pacific vs how much effort was used to keep them operating--and compared to the B25s/etc...damage done by B17s vs the dive bombers/etc
     

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