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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 johnwalker1, Apr 11, 2020.

  1. johnwalker1

    johnwalker1 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?
     
  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The air war in the Pacific was waged at low to medium altitudes, while in Europe high altitude combat was fairly common. As such the F6F Hellcat was specifically designed to be most effective at in low to medium altitudes

    The P-51 could be flown from carriers, however...The difference between the stall speed of the P-51 and the landing speed at which the arrestor wire snapped was only 8-9 knots. This was considered to narrow a margin to routinely land the Mustang aboard a carrier safely.

    The B-17 could get the range needed to fight in the Pacific only by sacrificing some of it's bombload for "Tokyo Tanks", whereas the B-24 had the range without too much sacrifice in bomb weight. So, while the B-17 fought early in the Pacific War, it was quickly phased out in favor of the B-24.

    As for the B-29, it was the only bomber with long enough range to hit Japan from the Marianas. The B-24 was only capable of bombing Japan after airfields on Okinawa were captured.
     
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  3. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ....carrier planes are ''different'' from land based.....land based usually have longer ''runways''/etc ....carrier planes need a ''sturdier'' frame for the hook, if I'm not mistaken?? /etc
    ....the F111 Aardvark is a classic example of ''different'' needs of the USAF and US Navy --one of which is speed which Takao mentioned ..also--length of the airplane--which is in this article below---plus folding wings so more can be carried on the carriers...this is a significant difference in engineering/etc
    General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark - Wikipedia
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Firstly you were watching a TV show. Some producer thought it was a good idea to pick a fighter and a bomber from each theatre as a device to structure a documentary.

    The war in Europe and the Pacific fought against different enemies, in different topography and at different times timescales.

    The air war against Germany lasted from 1939 - May 1945. The P51 was a key aircraft for the last 18 months. The Spitfire, Me109 and Fw190 were more important fighter aircraft until January 1944, and from January 1945 the Me262 made all the piston engined fighters obsolete. The air war in Europe was a mixture of Soviet, British and US Army air forces against the Germans and Italians . If you wanted to pick a single aircraft that had the greatest impact in Europe there is a good case for nominating the Il2 ground attack aircraft. As important as the daily bread to the Red armies that decided the land war. The B17 is the symbolic American bomber aircraft, but there were more B24 produced - about as many as there were IL2. The B24 played a key role closing the mid Atlantic gap and winning the battle of the Atlantic. No victory in the North Atlantic no second front. The P51 was designed to a British specification and only became effective once fitted with a Merlin engine.

    The air war against Japan lasted from Dec 1941 to August 1945. The dominant allied force in the Pacfic was the US Navy. The US Navy commissioned its own aircraft optimised for naval operations. The F6F and F4U were designed as carrier aircraft for the Navy and Marines. There were USAAC aircraft in the Pacific, but it was a secondary effort compared to the ETO. . The US Navy didn't go in for strategic bombing.
     
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  5. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Obviously the USAAF in the Pacific preferred twin-tailed aircraft:

    B-24 vs. B-17
    B-25 vs. B-26
    P-38 vs. P-47, -51

    Yes, I'm being a bit facetious ;)
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    And, of course, the Navy got the best planes.
     
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  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The soviet il2 strategy was to support ground troops. Not bomb railroads. That is why the Finns got their troops to Carelia unharmed. Instead the western Allied bombed railroads and for instance during Ardennes stopped the supplies behind the lines to the front by bombing German railroads.Not really an answer to the Question but ├žlear difference in strategy.

    Also in Asia the strategy was island hopping. This demanded a different strategy as well.
     
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  8. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..yes, until they got to the Philippines, the battle areas were not built up......islands/no ''major'' roads/no factories to bomb/no major cities/...no big armies
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Yes, in the Central Pacific, the next target was usually it of range of land-based aircraft, so carriers were necessary to gain local air superiority and perform attack missions until an airfield could be constructed.

    In the South West Pacific, carriers were only necessary for capturing the first island, Guadalcanal, and then for the big jump to the Philippines. With the exception being the large carrier raids on Rabaul, where, although land-based air had the range, the necessary mass could not be achieved.
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    The carrier forces obviously had the option of being anywhere. They didn't have to form up over a known location (Like "The Fox and Hounds") and proceed in a certain direction over an enemy held coast. If land bombers were used the Japanese would have been watching one or so known approaches.
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Land-based bombers formed up close to their home field and then headed out to bomb the enemy. Early in the war carrier aircraft formed up over the carrier and then headed out to attack the enemy, later they formed up on their way to attack the enemy in what was called a "running rendezvous."

    However, I believe you are thinking of the IP, Initial Point, where land-based bombers turned a flew on a straight line to bomb their target.

    Still, land-based bombers could and did dog leg to keep the enemy guessing as to their target.

    The Japanese didn't need to. They monitored known bomber(B-29) radio frequencies, and when an increase in traffic was detected, a land-based bomber attack was in the offing.

    In the SWPA, the Japanese also had their own coastwatchers, but they were not as effective as those used by the Allies.

    Radar was also used, but it was most effective against the B-29s.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    My point was there was no way the enemy could determine where the carriers were short of a lucky intercept. Planes on islands had to approach from somewhere near the islands, too long a dog-leg would deplete their fuel.
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Multi-engine bombers had plenty of range, however the escort fighters did not. Which is why they took the direct route to attack Guadalcanal. Escorts were more favoured than surprise.

    Look too at Ploesti, the "feet dry" point is hundreds of miles north of "as the crow flies." Difference, no escorts.
     
  15. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    My two cents...
    Forget the twin tails, it was more a matter of twin engines, P-38 as an example - This was for reliability, the Navy has always liked (but not always received) twin engine aircraft, if you lose an engine over water your screwed if you have only one engine. (Makes the F-35 an interesting choice.)
    Further to this the US Navy made the decision (pre-war) that the radial was more reliable than the inline engine, which at the time it was...by the time WW2 rocked up this was probably no longer the case, but the Navy had already made the decision that its aircraft would use radials.
    Rule of thumb:
    Radials are work horses.
    Inline engines are thoroughbreds.
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Pilots hate walking home from work.
     
  17. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Walking home from work, they don't mind...Because they are walking home from work.

    Now, swimming home from work, they care less for.

    But, both beat the last option, not coming home.
     
  18. Riter

    Riter Well-Known Member

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    B17 and P51 was used in both theatres.
    B-29 were longer ranged and considering the distance, it made more sense to deploy them in the Pacific. There was no need to use the B-29 in Europe; unless it was determined to grow mushrooms over Germany. Thankfully that did not happen.
    F-6 was naval aircraft. Hence it's use predomoninantly in the Pacific. However, some that were lend-leased to the UK went to the RN and the RN used a few in the European theatre.
     
  19. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    The best ones that the Army Air Force didn't need. HA!!!!
     
  20. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    B-17s were used in the Pacific in the early part of the war, but were phased out by the end of 1943. See post #15 in this thread on a similar topic:

    http://www.ww2f.com/threads/why-were-the-planes-used-in-the-two-theaters-of-wwii-different.74192/

    With Navy aircraft it's important to use the second letter, e.g. F6F. For example the F4F and F4U were two completely different aircraft, built by Grumman and Vought respectively. At various times there were F4Bs, F4Cs, F4Ds, F4Hs, F6Bs, F6Cs, and a proposed F6D.

    During WWII additional manufacturers were brought in to provide the numbers needed, but the practice of designating aircraft by manufacturer remained. For example F3As and FGs were F4Us built by Brewster or Goodyear.

    The number 1 was not used, e.g. FG not F1G, I suppose on the grounds that the Navy might never order another aircraft of that type from the same company.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020

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