Top Five: Most Important Bombers of WWII

Note: “most important” not “best.” This isn’t a list based on capability, but on accomplishment. The most technologically advanced bomber of World War II was, without doubt, the B-29, yet it wasn’t the most important, simply because it didn’t do as much to influence the outcome of the war as some others. We’re also excluding attack aircraft that were designed primarily for battlefield support. Thus the Ju-87 Stuka, the IL-2 Sturmkovik, the Douglas A-20 Havoc and the magnificent Douglas A-26 Invader are not considered.

No German bombers on the list because it wasn’t a very accomplished or impressive group. The best of the bunch was the Heinkel He-111 and it was nothing more than an under-armed medium bomber that didn’t fare all that well in the Battle of Britain. After that, it was pretty much all downhill. I couldn’t find room on the list for North American’s B-25 Mitchell, Martin’s B-26 Marauder and the Vickers Wellington, all of which don’t usually get their due historically. With that caveat, here we go:

#5: Nakajima B5N “Kate” Torpedo Bomber – Without the Kate, Japan wouldn’t have stood even a slim chance of winning the Pacific War via a lightning strike against the US Navy. Kates were responsible for a lot of the havoc at Pearl Harbor and severely damaged our offensive capabilities early on by playing key roles in sinking the carriers Yorktown, Lexington and Hornet. The pace of wartime development meant that the Kate would grow obsolete rather quickly, but the devastating effectiveness of this bomber, its skilled pilots and the deadly Type 91 torpedo it carried – at a time when our torpedoes sucked – made the Kate a fearsome weapon during a critical, albeit short, time during the start of the Pacific War.

#4: Boeing B-29 Superfortress – A technological leap forward in aircraft design, the B-29 has earned a place in the history of aviation. It was pressurized, had a central fire-control system and could fly faster and higher than most of the Japanese fighters that chased it. But, the rush to get the B-29 into production with all that new technology led to a lot of teething problems – problems that would have otherwise been dealt with in development – most related to the Superfort’s engines. LeMay finally figured out how to use the B-29 effectively against Japan, but even as devastating as those fire-bombing missions were, they were hardly game-changers. Still, it was one impressive aircraft in its day and it’s also the platform that delivered Fat Man and Little Boy, and those two missions were indeed game-changers, in more ways than one.

#3: Avro Lancaster – The workhorse heavy bomber of the RAF. The Lancaster was a follow on to the successful Wellington design, with more size, firepower and capacity. One may argue about how effective the Brits night, area bombing campaign was, but at the very least it kept the Luftwaffe busy round the clock and made it easier (eventually) for the more precise missions of the 8th Air Force to get through. Without the Lancaster, the RAF’s part in the strategic bombing effort would not have been nearly so worrisome for the Nazis. Specially modified Lancasters carried out Guy Gibson’s dam-busting raid and delivered Tallboy and Grand Slam – the earthquake (deep penetrator) bombs that shattered U-boat pens, destroyed railroad viaducts and helped sink the Tirpitz, the Bismark’s sister ship.

#2: Douglas SBD Dauntless – Its pilots said that the “SBD” stood for “slow but deadly,” one indication of the high esteem that those who flew the sturdy dive bomber had for the bird. The Dauntless accounted for more enemy shipping tonnage destroyed in the Pacific theater than any other aircraft. It also – and here’s something you didn’t know – ended up the war with a “plus” air combat ratio. That is: Dauntless’ shot down more enemy aircraft than enemies shot down SBDs. One legendary Dauntless pilot, Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa, was jumped by three Zeros early in the war. He blew them all away. It was Dauntless’ that delivered the killing blows in the Battle of Midway, the decisive naval action of the Pacific War. When it was replaced by the heavier, faster Helldiver at the end of 1944, naval aviators were not happy: they had grown to love the tough old bird and its record justifies that affection.

#1: Consolidated B-24 Liberator/Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress – Consumed by a contrarian mood, I briefly contemplated putting the Dauntless in the top spot, but there could be no justifying such an injustice. Nor would it be right to choose between the B-17 and the B-24. The capabilities of the two aircraft, along with their missions, were much too similar to choose one over the other. The B-17 was sexier and tougher, but the B-24 was faster and packed a (slightly) larger punch in terms of bomb load. How can one choose? Between the two, the 8th Air Force was able to carry the air war deep into the Third Reich. B-17s and B-24s crippled the Nazi transportation network before D-Day, helped to enable Bradley to break-out of hedgerow country during Operation Cobra and blew away Hitler’s oil refining capacity late in the war. It’s not often that legend meets reality, but in the case of these two WWII workhorses, that is indeed the case.

213 comments to Top Five: Most Important Bombers of WWII (UPDATED!)

  • It’s interesting that you would consider the SBD a (dive)bomber, but the Stuka is not. Fritz will be on your ass about this I’m sure.

    It’s your list and you are free to do with it what you wish, but I think you are being inconsistent at best.

    Nice job at putting the Brits in there just to avoid angry letters from across the pond, aside from dropping bombs in the dark, burning Dresden to the ground and blowing up a couple of dams…they accomplished what exactly?

    1. B-17/B-24 they were used interchangably, usually the 17 gets most of the credit even though there were more B-24s made and used.
    2. B-25 Mitchel from Dolittle’s raid on Toyko till the end of the war they were used in every theater in the war and even sunk a Japanese destroyer with it’s guns during the battle of the Phillipine Sea.
    3. JU-87 Stuka, vital to the German blitskreig, the sound of its approach struck fear in its enemies.
    4. Kate torpedo bomber, I was considering leaving this off given that this aircraft wouldn’t have been a factor if it wasn’t for the Zero…but what the hell.
    5. B-29…you’ve got to put the bomber in there that ended the war.

    • Jawohl! SBD=Stinking Dive Bomber= not really a bomber in the true sense of the word. It was very effective at it’s assigned task, but still…

    • HJ

      The Lancaster alone dropped as great a weight of bombs in Europe as the entire USAF.

      There is no evidence that USAF bombing was more accurate than night time bombing largely carried out by the Avro Lancaster. The Norden bomb aimer theoretically allowed precision bombing from high altitude, but the reality was very different. Lancaster accuracy gradually improved especially after the RAF started to use Mosquitos as pathfinders and after the introduction into Lancasters of technologies such as H2S. As we know, the Lancaster was also very versatile and could deliver specialist armaments with great precision (The Mohne and Eder dams, the Tirpitz, Peenemunde).

      What is also overlooked is that because of its much greater bomb bay size and bomb carrying capability, the Lancaster could not only carry more bombs, it could carry bigger bombs. Bigger bombs do proportionately more damage as several high ranking Germans acknowledged after the war.

      There is no doubt that the Lancaster was easily the most effective heavy bomber in Europe.

      • HJ

        Actually, I was incorrect in my assertion.

        The Lancaster dropped as great a weight of bombs on Germany (not Europe as a whole) as the entire USAF.

        Nevertheless, it did drop a greater weight of bombs in Europe than any other type of bomber. This was largely due, of course, not to sheer numbers, but to the Lancaster’s phenomenal bomb carrying ability compared to other heavy bombers.

    • Christopher Oberg

      I think he omitted the Stuka but included the Dauntless because the Stuka was not a war winner. It’s participation in Poland/Russia/France proved invaluable, but proved obsolete in the Battle of Britain; it was far outclassed by Allied fighters and lacked offensive tactics and armament. If it was my choice, I would take on a whole flight of Stukas in an SBD before I even climbed into a Stuka.

    • Christopher Oberg

      I agree with the psychological warfare aspect of the Stuka, however, it lacked offensive armament.

    • Wotabelta

      I would like to point out that us Brits did far more than you lot did! We didn’t sit on our arses until someone blew up our major naval base….but I digress ur American you wouldn’t understand this post as most words have more than two syllables!!!!

      • You’re welcome for still being a marginally relevant country.

      • Texacalirose

        That would be “we Brits,” if you want to write in proper English. Let me know if you’d like me to help you with your shoddy punctuation, as well. God bless America.

        • Wotabelta

          Actually it depends in which context you use the word and thankyou for your offer of advice, however when I choose to take literacy advice I may ask a 5 year old as opposed to an American since they can manage to spell colour


          • Nice attempt at pot stirring. Shouldn’t you be cowering in your home hiding from Muslim mobs or getting out the vote to keep Scotland in the UK fold or something?

          • Texacalirose

            “Context” my arse. It depends on whether it is nominative case or objective case. You used the objective case incorrectly; the nominative case is proper, as I just told you. Go ask your five year old girlfriend. And BTW, you used the plural pronoun “they” with its singular antecedent, “5 year old,” another indicator of your illiteracy. Let me know if you’d like me to explain the correct way to write numbers 1-10 in sentences (hint: numbers less than 10 should be spelled out; eg. “five”). You did that wrong, too. Tsk. Tsk. Her Majesty would not be impressed. And even if you’re on yours, it is best to use a period at the end of sentences. I have a question: is the phrase “thank you” just one word in your threadbare country as you’ve written it above?

            That you can write in English at all is courtesy of the United States of America. Without her, you’d be speaking German.

  • Goatherd

    Yeah, this is a can of worms you have opened here. (another reason I love this site). The purpose of the bombardment aircraft is rein destruction upon your enemies, physical destruction and psychological destruction, as well as to support other destructive activities fielded against your enemies. To call all German bombers out immediately, is to ignore this stated purpose off the bat. No bomber aircraft of WW2 operated in a vacuum, all was dependent on the air superiority won by the fighter air arm. No Zeke, Val and Kate useless. No Bf109, He111, Ju 87 & Ju 88 deathtraps (as proven over England). Even the much deserving of mention B-17, B-24 and to a lesser extent the B-29 depended heavily on air superiority won by the fighters.
    Most “Important” Bombers of WW2. That’s gonna take some figuring. I’ll be back………

    • Well, at least for a while the B-17s/B-24s went in alone without fighter coverage. They weren’t a real factor till the P-51s went with them to the target however. B-29s went alone, as did the Brit bombers (that’s why they went at night). The B-25s went it alone quite often. The aliies didn’t have air superiority until 1944 at best. The Nazis only had air superiority during the begining of the war. The Japanese had it for while in the Pacific especially in the CBI theater.

      While we are talking about important bombers the Japanese Betty was important just for the fact that one of that type was carring ADM Yamamoto when he was hunted down and killed by two flights of P-38s. Arguably a real turning point in the Pacific war.

      • Goatherd

        Yes, that is the point. The B-17’s and B-24’s and pinpoint daylight bombing was going to be decisive in this war. The raids of 1942 and 1943 had an impact on German munitions and fuel production, but the loss rate was unsustainable. The P-47’s and a little latter the P-51’s altered this equation in 1944, but this was interrupted for pre- and post invasion support missions.

        Granted the B-29’s did go it alone, in formation. But Japan was so bled by the spring of 1944, they could offer only token resistance to the swarms. As well Japan quickly ran out of strategic pinpoint targets. The B-29’s were quickly pressed into lower level incendiary raids. The Japanese eventually just tried to crash into them, rather than attempt to shoot them down.

        If England had fallen, the B-29, operating from Iceland, Would have proven to be the number 1 bomber aircraft of WW2. As the world’s first true strategic bomber it belongs on this list. As the deliver of the world’s first atomic weapons, and the subsequent surrender of Japan, by means of those attacks. It can be argued that it should, in fact be, the number 1 most important bomber of WW2. We should consider the invasion of Japan, and the untold American and Japanese casualties resulting there from as the most important event to not have occurred (estimates of casualties I’ve seen range from 1 to 8 million men, women and children).

        So I’ve convinced myself……number 1 — Boeing B-29 Sperfortress.

        • HJ

          The theory was that daylight ‘pinpoint’ bombing raids would be decisive, but the reality was very different. In fact, the evidence is that daylight high altitude bombing was highly inaccurate even with the Norden Bomb sight for many reasons, including cloud cover.

          The B17/B24 bomb raids of 1942 and 1943 really had very little impact on German production for the simple reason that the entire USAF dropped only about 1,500 tons of bombs in 1942 (a trivial amount) and only 44,000 tons in 1943. The RAF figures for these years are 45,000 tons and 157,000 tons respectively. It really wasn’t until 1944 that USAF bombing had a significant effect.

          Any discussion of the impact of allied bomb raids needs to acknowledge that it was the effect of round-the clock bombing raids (largely USAF by day and RAF by night) that wore down the German defences, industry and capacity to fight. The RAF raids certainly did more damage (the Avro Lancaster alone dropped as many tons of bombs as the entire USAF – and it dropped fewer, but heavier bombs, which cause proportionately more damage) but the attritional effect of USAF daylight bombing accompanied by fighter cover did more damage to the Luftwaffe.

          For sheer performance, it’s hard to look beyond the Mosquito as the best bomber, but if we’re talking about ultimate damage caused and versatility, the Avro Lancaster has to be considered the greatest bomber of the European war by some margin. Its ability not only to deliver huge bomb loads but to carry out specialist attacks such as those on the German dams and the Tirpitz make it the stand out heavy bomber.

          • Well, considering that German war production actually increased during the bombing campaign the effect of strategic bombing no matter who was doing it back then is somewhat debatable.

            Your knowledge of this subject is obviously much more extensive than mine and I readily admit that much of what I write is nothing but pot stirring hyperbole.

            • HJ

              That German war production increased is not really the issue. How much more slowly did it increase than it would have otherwise, and how much of that production went into producing aircraft and other material to fight the bombing campaign? How many men were tied up by the bombing campaign? The evidence is that it had a major effect.

              To take just one example. The Mohne and Eder dams were repaired in just a few months. But to do this, huge resources were diverted away from building defences in…. Normandy. Many allied servicemen owe their lives to that raid, without knowing it.

              • “We don’t know” is the real answer. We can suppose all sorts of things, and a lot of what captured Germans told their interrogators after the war is what they thought they wanted to hear. Most of this is speculation at best and you really can’t quantify anything that is being stated here as outright fact so we could continue this argument forever.

                The point about production increasing during the war is relevant if you consider what might have happened if the airpower had been used closer to the front lines. Would the breakout in France after D-Day occurred faster, would they have gone farther even ended the war sooner if more tonnage had been devoted to interdiction and not the strategic campaign? We don’t know but it is something to think about.

          • Loyal Goatherd

            Your point is valid in the eto. Pinpoint bombing was not decisive in the eto, due to many factors laid out in the comments already on this page. But the pto was a more “clinical” trial, shall we say. The fact is that pinpoint bombing of Japanese industry did halt most war material production in Japan. Switching to low level incendiary attacks was required simply because all large scale industrial output of Japanese factories had been curtailed. The new incendiary raids were intended to destroy the cottage industries, kill civilians and destroy the Japanese peoples’ will to fight. The bushido code of death before dishonor did make this strategy problematic. Fortunately, the atomic bombs were so shocking, the emperor resolved to bow to the inevitable despite threats of a military coup. Again, the first time in history, that air power applied to the enemy’s homeland, without land force invovlement on that homeland, was victorious.

            Your point on the Lancaster is not lost on us. It is perhaps a bit of cultural arrogance that it was not arrayed with our heavy bombers on the listings of this page. An error, we hereby acknowledge.

            • I don’t know that I would call anything that was done in WWII besides the “Dambusters” mission “pinpoint”. The primary reason we switched to low level incendiary attacks is that high altitude bombing wasn’t achieving what we thought it would…and General Lemay wanted to bring the Japanese to their knees.

      • I have to go sentimental and side with the B-17. My grandpa jumped out of the tail of one over Magdeburg in May 1944 and spent a year under the gracious hosting of Col. Klink. Funny I don’t think there were hot blond secretaries there… he did love the hell out of Hogan’s Heroes though.

        • Goatherd

          Yes… Helga would have buoyed every man’s morale.

        • Please, no one, because of Floyd’s insensitivity toward my avatar character, take any thought to me being anything like those who were in charge of the camps! Quite the contrary. I’m a peaceful, happy German. Also…Mum’s the word about Helga in front of Mrs.-fritz-! Thank you very kindly! :-)

  • Dr.Schplatt

    If making a list of allied bombers then maybe, just maybe the B-29 makes the list. However, in an overall list, the B-29 does not make my list. They simply came into use too late in the conflict. I personally would put the 17 and the 24 in two different groups with the 17 holding a slight edge. I know more 24s were made and even dropped more munitions. But the 17 was put into production in 1935, basically setting the stage for the design, production and use of every long-range US bomber used later in the war.

    If you’re putting the SBD in there, you have to find room for the JU-87. Without that plane, we wouldn’t have been fighting a war.

    • Part of the reason the B-29 entered late was the lack of airfields for it to be operated from in the Pacific, it would have been pretty much over-kill to ty and introduce it in Europe by the time it was ready to go. Regardless it arrived in 1944 and dropped 90% of the ordinance expended on the Japanese mainland.

      The B-24 first flew in 1939.

      Obviously your opinions are as valid as mine, just pointing out some relevant facts.

  • Goatherd

    Also worthy of contemplation, in a reverse logical sense. The Me 262, world’s first operational jet fighter. the proto-type flew for Hitler in 1942. He was impressed, that sucker was fast… The fuhrer ordered it put into production as soon as possible…. as a bomber. A schnell bomber!!! He was told making it into a bomber would slow it down to the range of piston aircraft speeds and the conversion of the design would add a year to the lead time. No Matter, it’s my schnell bomber. Only later did he relent. Most agree the Me 262 was revolutionary in Oct 1944 when it began to be delivered to the luftwaffe. Imagine if it had been delivered in Oct 1943 instead. Would there be allied air superiority for operation overlord? Certainly a most important bomber of WW2!

    • We should thank the Lord every day for all the STUPID decisions Hitler made during the course of the war…because otherwise the Germans may have won.

      • Stephanie

        A little unknown factoid helped in this issue boys: General Walter Waver, Luftwaffe, had a four engine bomber program and he was killed in a plane crash in I believe 1938. Goering out his “Brilliance” and strategic and tactical “genius” abandoned the program thinking the big bombers were too cumbersome. And by the time they started the program for the 4 engine bombers later in the war it was far too late. I’d say God didn’t want the Germans to have a big bomber. No way. No how.

  • Stephanie

    I love it! My Daddy’s bomber, the B 24. Jimmyt Stewart earned hero status flying the stubby fellers. Love it.

  • Goatherd

    Also, overlooked aircraft contributed mightly to allied victory. Consider the lowly fairey swordfish mkIV . A bi-plane? introduced in 1936 obsolete even then. What great contribution could it have made?
    Swordfish – flying from the British aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious – made a very significant strike on 11 November 1940 against the Italian navy during the Battle of Taranto, Italy, sinking or disabling three Italian battleships and a cruiser lying at anchor. The successful Taranto attack may have given inspiration or confidence to the Japanese who would later attack Pearl Harbor. The Italian fleet never again sortied in strength, giving the British a free hand in the Mediterranean sea, and sealing the fate of Rommel’s Afrika Corps.

    In May 1941, a Swordfish strike from HMS Ark Royal was vital in damaging the German battleship Bismarck, preventing it from escaping back to France. The low speed of the attacking aircraft may have acted in their favor, as the planes were too slow for the fire-control predictors of the German gunners, whose shells exploded so far in front of the aircraft that the threat of shrapnel damage was greatly diminished. The Swordfish also flew so low that most of the Bismarck’s flak weapons were unable to depress enough to hit them. The Swordfish aircraft scored two hits, one which did little damage but another that disabled Bismarck’s rudder, causing the ship to steam in circles, thus sealing its fate. The Bismarck was destroyed less than 13 hours later.

    The Attack on Mers-el-Kébir, British Fairey Swordfish aircraft from Ark Royal raided Mers-el-Kebir the morning of 6 July 1940. One torpedo hit the patrol boat Terre-Neuve, which was moored alongside Dunkerque and was carrying a supply of depth charges. Terre-Neuve quickly sank and its charges triggered in a huge explosion, causing serious damage to Dunkerque. The French had just capitulated, Churchill ordered the French fleet to be captured or disabled, so the Germans could not use it against them. A rational fear, in violation of the armistice terms, on 27 November 1942, the Germans attempted to capture the French fleet based at Toulon as part of Case Anton, the military occupation of Vichy France by Germany. All ships of any military value were scuttled by the French before the arrival of German troops. The lowly swordfish demonstrated English resolve. Every bit as important as the B5N Kate.

  • justjack

    I just think the B-17 is a most beautiful airplane. It’s just plain sexy gorgeous.

    Years ago when my boy was 9 or 10 we visited the local airfield to see some vintage war planes that were briefly on display. As far as I’m concerned, the men who flew in the B-17’s and B-24’s were the same kind of brass-clanking he-men that used to sail in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Open to the elements, tinier and more cramped than you can imagine compared to modern planes, and ferchrissakes, especially in the B-24, if you wanted to travel the length of the plane the only way to do it was to clamber over the bomb load.

    • I agree, justjack. The B-17 is a beautiful machine! No doubt about it.

    • Goatherd

      No Doubt….. The B-17F remains the most beautiful of bombers. A formation of such with P-51D escort must have been the most glorious of sights over occupied Europe. Now the B-17G had that ugly chin turret, most needful due to head-on attack tactics, but the beauty was slightly marred by it.

      • Fortress Under Fire

        As a kid I always liked the look of the G over the F…probably why I ended up flying something that it so ugly it beats the air into submission.

        • Goatherd

          Hey one man’s mole is another man’s beauty mark.

        • Outlaw, a helicopter can be and is a thing of great beauty when it’s coming in doing support with the rockets going off and the troops on the ground get to live another day. same goes for those rescue runs to get wounded. I’m sure you’ve seen them both. God bless you and your beautiful bird!

  • The Stuka? Really? Not even the third best ground support aircraft of the war in my book and the design was obsolete by 1943. The IL-2 was much better at ground support – more heavily armed, much better armored and carried almost twice the bomb load. Both the IL-2 and the P-47 were much better aircraft in ground attack, IMHO. Hell a case can be made that the P-39 was better at ground support – the Russians thought so.

    So the Stuka isn’t on my radar screen anyway, but the distinction I was trying to make was between bombers designed to attack strategic assets (like factories and ships) and attack aircraft designed to add firepower on the battlefield. Yeah the Stuka and the SBD used the same tactic (dive bombing) but they had quite different missions. The Ju-87 was a light attack aircraft equipped with an air horn. The SBD was a bomber that carried almost four times as much of a payload as the Stuka, was a hell of lot tougher, and accomplished much more – against opponents a whole lot tougher than the Polish and French air forces.

    • I thought you said important not better than or best at (yep, scrolled to the top you said most important). If the Germans aren’t successful in Poland or French we don’t have WWII…I’d say that’s pretty important. Don’t get mad because we use your own criteria against you. :)

      • Dude you are the expert (I’m just a nerd who reads a lot) so I’ll defer to you, but only after I take one last shot!

        My impression is that the opposition in the air was so light in Poland and France that the Stuka could operate with impunity. Or, in other words, it wasn’t that Skuka was particularly important, it was the lack of enemy fighters that allowed it do its thing, but any decent attack aircraft could have done the same. (As opposed to the Il-2 and the P-47, which were sterling in ground support even when the skies were contested). When the Stuka ran into tougher opposition (Battle of Britain and Russia) it’s shortcomings became all too apparent. My read of the attack on Poland has always been that superior German artillery and mechanized tactics were the bigger game changers, and that Guederian’s audacity at Sedan won the Battle of France. Not saying that the Ju-87 wasn’t a factor in either case, but I always thought it wasn’t nearly as important a factor as you suggest. Again, however, I humbly acknowledge my amatuer historian status here!

        • Just because I’m in the Army it doesn’t mean I know more about WWII than you. We don’t study that stuff unless we take it upon ourselves.

          I would say that the combined air/ground operation in Poland, France and North Africa was the key to the blitzkrieg’s success. I do know that particular air/ground teaming was used as an inspiration for the US Military’s joint warfighting doctrine in the late 80’s early 90’s.

  • Jake Was Here

    My grandfather flew a B-17 in WW2. Thirty missions over Germany and a DFC to show for it.

    He’s never talked that much about it, but when he realized he might have something to offer he sat down at his typewriter and churned out thirty pages of as many reminiscences as he could gather.

  • Goatherd

    Last stab at this, I was hoping the swordfish post would make the point again. The swordfish was even more obsolete than the stuka. All light bombers can be lumped together, unhindered, they were very effective. Dive and level bombers more so than the torpedo bomber. The torpedo bombers got their licks in well in harbor against stationary or slow targets at sea. I wonder about your stat on the SBD’s positive kill ratio, might it include aircraft destroyed on the ground? The SBD was lightly armed, 2 fixed 30 cal and 1 flexible 30 cal rear gun. Stuka, kate, val, avenger, helldiver, swordfish, tbd all lighly armed as well. If contested all suffered great loss (torp squad 8 anyone?) The medium and heavy bombers were more heavily armed, but still suffered heavy losses without close escort. A reminder the stuka humbled france despite the Raf fighters being based in France. The German fighters could close escort them in France, but not in the skies over England. So the final verdict from me is:

    5. FW 200C not a great bomber, but by exploiting its long range and lack of allied fighters in the north atlantic, its bomb load was more of a harassment, but its accurate reports of convoys re-radioed back to the wolf packs at night almost brought England to its knees. Churchill called it the “scourge of the atlantic”.

    4.All medium and heavy night bombers, idled many a factory by killing their workers in their beds. Exclude the Mosquito.

    3. All light bombers, level, dive and torpedo. Previously discussed at length. Include the Mosquito here, probably the best of all light bombers.

    2. B 17 and B 24 heavy day bombers. Also discussed before.

    1. B 29 Very heavy day bomber. Game changer, winner of war. A reminder, never before nor since, has aerial bombardment alone, without a land war besieging nor invading, caused such a capitulation.

  • 67Cougar

    Trying to come up with a list of ‘the best’ of anything during WWII is an exercise in frustration. Why – because there were at least 3 different phases of WWII, and the hardware that kicked ass in the first phase was marginal in the second phase, and obsolete death traps in the third phase. Second phase stars were just starting to come off the lines at the beginning of the war. Third phase stars were just starting development at the beginning of the war.

    I’ve never been able to discern exact dates for the three phases, but general common sense should prevail.

    All the aircraft listed deserve some place in the lists. The one exception I would say is the ‘Kate’. It’s great claim to fame was the damage caused at Pearl Harbor – and that damage was due to the weapon used, the specific variation of torpedo developed by the Japanese to counter the shallow waters of the harbor. The Kate was merely the truck to get it there. Decent airplane for its purpose, yeah … but the star was the torpedo itself.

    The SBD is known for the destruction of 4 Japanese carriers at Midway. Circumstance was more to do with its inclusion than the airplane itself. Don’t get me wrong – a very good airplane, probably the ‘best’ overall dive bomber of WWII. But, if those carriers hadn’t been sunk because of situation the Dauntless pilots found themselves in, most people wouldn’t know what a SBD was.

    The B-25 was the greatest medium bomber of the war. Not the fastest, not the most capable, but the most numerous, most heavily modified, most flexible in configuration – and it scored the most important mission of the war to the point it happened – the Doolittle Raid.

    The Mosquite was fast, heavily armed, flexible – one seriously bad-ass machine.

    It might be easier to come up with the list of the worst airplanes, rather than the best?

  • do I need a website for this? sorry about the computer illiteracy

  • Never mind that last post. It was just a test to see if I was gonna be able to do this before writing a bunch. (really am computer challenged)

    Anyway, about the airplanes (of which I am a little literate).

    Gotta agree with many of these comments. especially those about the criteria (you know, the attack types being excluded from the criteria, then included in the list) – but then again I’ve seen “top ten” TV shows that seem to violate their own criteria, too. One that comes to mind was a “top 10 fighters” show that included the F-117 (when I’ll bet everyone here knows that it’s really an attack plane with no fighter capabilities at all). Also don’t think I’d exclude certain US attack planes (such as A-20, A-26, etc…) from the WWII bomber category as, despite their “A” nomenclature, they were really light bombers and would have been considered to be so in any other air force in the world at that time.

    Really agree with 67cougar’s point about different hardware being supreme at different stages of the war. In that spirit, I would like to propose the following time-line of best STRATEGIC bombers of the war (and, judging from all the intelligent commentary here, I trust we are all expert in the meaning of strategic bomber – which is all I’m limiting my comments to):

    The B-17 was by far and away the best strategic bomber in the world at the time of its introduction in 1935 (In fact, I think it is considered to be the worlds first strategic bomber). It was so far ahead of its time that it was still the best model in service with any country when America entered the war in 1941.

    When the B-24 became operational in 1942, it marginally surpassed the B-17 in most every performance aspect, except looks. And let’s not forget its value as a maritime patrol bomber, in which role it is generally considered to have tipped the balance in the Battle of the Atlantic. So now the B-24 would have to be #1 and the B-17 #2 (which is still impressive, considering the 17’s advanced age by this time).

    At about that same time, the Avro Lancaster came into service. It couldn’t match the US bombers in some aspects of performance (particularly, range), but it did trounce its American counterparts in the all-important category of bomb load capacity (what with the tall boy, the blockbuster, and even normal bombs). The Lancaster is generally considered to be the best bomber of the European Theater (I read that in a book – but, then again, it might have been a British book). That would make the Lancaster #1, the B-24 #2 and the B-17 #3 at that time in the war (still, for B-17 fans, that’s in the top 3 for a 1935 bomber, when every other 1935 airplane in the world was hopelessly obsolete to the point of irrelevance by now).

    Do I even have to say that when the B-29 entered service in 1944 it was a generation ahead of anything else in the world at that time? Despite some teething problems, it was so far ahead of any of it’s contemporaries in every single aspect of performance that there is no point in mentioning the atomic bomb (which is just icing on the cake). Obviously #1, Lancaster now #2, Liberator # 3 & Flying Fortress #4 (still damned impressive for a plane invented 10 years earlier in a time of hyper-accelerated advancement in aviation technology).

    OK, that’s only 4. Wanted to pick a top 5, but can’t really find another competitive example in WWII strategic bombers. If I had to pick 1 more, I would guess it would be either the B-25 or B-26 – though those were only medium bombers and not true strategic bombers. Speaking of which, let’s not forget the amazing Arado 234. Though also a medium (or maybe only a light) bomber, it WAS the world’s first true jet bomber. That deserves some respect!

    • HJ

      “the Avro Lancaster came into service. It couldn’t match the US bombers in some aspects of performance (particularly, range)”

      A few minutes research would have revealed that the Lancaster had an appreciably longer range than either the B-17 or the B-24.

  • Oh, and I forgot to add one comment for trzupr. Thanks for the opportunity. I don’t really get many opportunities to speak with many people who are as interested in WWII aviation as I am (being an old school guy who normally just speaks to people face-to-face – just learning about computer stuff). Despite all the carping about criteria (some of which I must agree with), I still must respect your opinions and your intent. And you are most right in many of your observations. After all, you are the reason for this whole discussion – which I have enjoyed immensely! So go on…do your best to destroy my argument.

  • Dave the bulldog

    QUOTE: Nice job at putting the Brits in there just to avoid angry letters from across the pond, aside from dropping bombs in the dark, burning Dresden to the ground and blowing up a couple of dams…they accomplished what exactly?

    What did you lot achieve exactly ????????? Bomb freindly’s , Vietnam say no more ,Atrocities only reason you came into the last war was because of Pearl Harbour we had been at it for years!!! along with the Canadians , Australians and the only thing you lot provided was numbers , and the only way you could beat the Japs was by dropping 2 Bombs lmao.How many times did the Brits bale out the Yanks during WWII , ANSWER: to many to times , How many times did Yanks kill Brits with “Friendly Fire” ANSWER: Too may times

    Again another yank who thinks they won the war all on there own JOKE , Bastiogne Battle of the Bulge it was the Polish who came
    from the rear and actualy kicked Jerry’s arse and baled out the Yanks , who’s inventions did the Yanks pinch British , how many war criminals did the good old USA take back to America ?? How do you think you got into space === the German Scientists/War Criminals
    most of your aviation advancement came from Germany and England !
    The only reason Eisenhower was in charge because you lot could provide the equipment and men , half of our blokes had already been killed while the Yanks looked on,our industry was flattend by the Germans you lot were safe you were to far away for them to reach , if they had have been close they would have overun the good old USA quicker than Europe,
    So the question is :::WHAT DID THE YANKS ACCOMPLISH ==== THE ANSWER IS WAIT FOR IT ======================================= YEP YOUR RIGHT ,=========== NOT ALOT
    The reason that there is all the dramatised footage of the Yanks at “War”is because you lot take Hollywood film crews every where you go , I mean come. when it showed the USMC coming ashore with green/brown camo paint and mohicans lmao on a BEACH , THATS HOLLYWOOD.

    • Wow, that’s a lot of bitterness, even for a post from last August. Thanks for visiting, Dave, but your last name wouldn’t happen to be Cornwallis, would it?

    • Rufus

      This has to be a joke, right? Is today April 1st?

    • Rufus

      Dave, I’ve never heard anyone, American or otherwise, claim “the Yanks” won WWII singlehandedly.

      Didn’t our countries fight each other in 1776? How did that turn out?

      Regarding aviation innovation, do the names Orville and Wilbur Wright ring a bell? The French did more for aviation innovation than the Brits, although the Brits did do a lot, but I can’t imagine any sane person believing the United States did little for “avation advancement.” First powered flight. First transatlantic flight. First solo transatlantic flight. Second to get a man in space. Second to orbit Earth. First to make it to the moon.

      And what military historian believes the Yanks were losing the war in the Pacific until the atomic bomb came along? I’ve never heard anyone deny that America was not on the march, and would not eventually be victorious. The only sincere debates I know of are which method would result in the lowest loss of life; dropping the bombs or continuing the ground war.

      I’m sure the “Yanks killing Brits with friendly fire” would have much preferred to be back home, rather than helping to liberate Europe and of course no Brits ever made any fatal mistakes in WWII. Remind me again of the wars in which the British came to the aid of the U.S.

      So, according to your circular logic the U.S. sucks because we did not come to England’s aid soon enough in WWII, but we also suck at warfare, and the Brits didn’t need us in WWII and we suck at innovation, but we beat the Japs with innovation. Did I summarize your stance correctly?

      • HJ

        Silly squabble and perhaps it would have been best if you hadn’t responded.

        However, just to point out a small inaccuracy in your post – the first transatlantic flight was by Alcock and Brown(who were British) in a Vickers Vimy bomber.

        • Come on HJ… the silly squabbles are the best! Like… Newfoundland to Ireland doesn’t really count does it? ;-P

          All kidding aside… that’s a hell of an achievement in 1919.

          And welcome to Threedonia! I’m glad you stumbled onto our little neck of the Interwebs.

        • Rufus

          Actually, the first successful transatlantic flight was by Yanks under the command of Albert Reed in a U.S. Navy Curtiss NC-4. I think you mean first non-stop transatlantic flight and I, obviously, meant first solo, non-stop, transatlantic flight.

          Silly squabble. Perhaps it would have been best if you hadn’t responded. :-)

          • HJ

            If it takes more than one flight to cross the atlantic, then none of the flights can be described as ‘transatlantic’ can they?

            So the first transatlantic flight (singular) was by Alcock and Brown.

            I wasn’t squabbling, incidentally, just correcting an error.

            • Rufus

              So, if it takes more than one step to cover a distance one can’t say it has been traversed by foot? By your logic no human has walked more than three feet. I say if it can be proved that Alcock and Brown weigh as much as a duck then we give them the prize, otherwise we give it to Lindbergh. Fetch the scales!

              • HJ

                No. If it takes more than one step to cover a distance, then you cannot say that that that distance was covered by a step. A series of steps, yes, but not by a step. The difference is between the singular and the plural.

                Similarly, if you cross the Atlantic by more than one flight – landing, refuelling and taking off again, en route – then you have not made a transatlantic flight, you have made a sequence of flights in order to cross the Atlantic. You can reasonable say that you crossed it by air, but not by a flight (flights, yes).

                Alcock & Brown made the first transatlantic flight. Lindbergh made the first solo transatlantic flight.

                • Rufus

                  So, if Columbus stopped at the Canary Islands he didn’t traverse the Atlantic?

                  There is a reason they put the words, “non-stop” in the aviation record books. Maybe you ought to familiarize yourself with one.

                  • HJ

                    There is a reason why we put an ‘s’ at the end of words to denote the plural.

                    Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with English grammar.

                    A flight – singular
                    Flights – plural.

                    Now, if you said the first to traverse the atlantic by air, that would be fair enough. But it was not the same thing as the first transatlantic flight.

                    • Rufus

                      So, what portion of the Atlantic must one fly over in one stop to qualify? It’s a little over 5,400 miles from Tampico, Mexico to Tangier, Morocco and a bit over 1,900 miles from St. John’s Canada to Gallway, Ireland. Or can you simply go to Greenland or Iceland? Sounds like the Brits took the Nancyboy’s route, if you ask me.

      • HJ

        As an aside, the US didn’t ‘beat the Japs’ on their own. There was a substantial British contribution in Burma and elsewhere (not least in the development of the atomic bomb from the MAUD report onwards). Let’s also not forget the contribution of China, India, etc.

        It was an allied effort but, of course most of the naval/air resources in that theatre were American.

        • Rufus

          …and I think some of the American GIs had parents who were German immigrants, and some of the oxygen breathed by the Allied soldiers in the Pacific theater was produced by trees cultivated by locals on the Japanese mainland, so let’s not ignore the contributions by the AXIS powers.

          Are you a barber, HJ? ‘Cause you sure like to split hairs.

    • Winston Churchill disagreed with everything you wrote. Prick.

    • Stephanie

      Hey Dave…
      Say that crap to my face. I dare ya! Jackass. Prick doesn’t even cover you bottom feeding brain dead leftwing zombie asshat! YOu insulted my DAD. You ungrateful cringing little coward so safe in your momma’s basement picking the fritos out of your fat rolls. Yeah you. Bring it on you chicken sh*t piece of waste…..people like you aren’t worth teh o2 you take up. I cannot imagine the wasted resources that went into growing such a foul excuse of humanity such as you. I could say something about where the best part of you went but I ain’t a Marine Gunnery Sergeant however I know my father who was in the 8th Air Force and saw all that go on would say it.

  • You’re welcome, Dave…you ungrateful bastard. And thanks for showing up to a post almost a year old, ya dolt.

    Here’s a book that ought to put your kickers in a knot…I mean assuming you can read.

  • Dr. Schplatt

    American people invented the Philly Cheese Steak.

    British people invented Yorkshire Pudding.

    That right there puts the advantage to the Americans :)

  • B'Josh

    Just read this great post today but thought I would put my in my belated two cents anyway…sorry if its long winded.

    To answer the question, Most Important Bombers of WWII, one must differentiate overall contribution to the success of strategic/tactical bombing in the war vs. Technological specifications and performance. This is consistent with arguments above regarding the B-29, for example.

    #5 I’m a little surprised no one mentioned the Heinkel He 111 but very understandable since it was virtually obsolete later in the war (first flown in 1935). The reason it makes my list is its origin story, early use and for being the most recognizable Nazi bomber (Dive bombers are a different genre, IMO). Since Germany was under arms restrictions due to the Treaty of Versailles, the He 111 was designed to be a ‘transport’ ship. Since they’re Nazis, they were really designing an instrument of death for world domination and did so under this veil and did it well. This early medium bomber was a massive contributor to the early successes of the Blitzkrieg and inflicted pure fear in its opponents with clever/pioneering flight tactics and being one of the first Medium bombers used for warfare in history (Spanish Civil War). Furthermore, it was rightfully demonized by the British during the Battle of Britain becoming the main target for all RAF defensive sorties.

    #4 Technically, the B-29 is the superior heavy bomber in all aspects during WWII. However, it was primarily used in the Pacific theater beginning only in 1944. Though obviously a big contributor to ending the war, it had little to do with bringing down the Third Reich, which kicks it down a notch on the overall contribution end.

    #3 The B-24, introduced in 1941 by Consolidated, was a massive improvement over the B-17 with a bigger bomb load, improved avionics and protection. It was used in all theaters of the war, popular amongst its crews and extensively used. Though, not as important as the Lancaster and B-17, in my opinion as I hope you’ll read on.

    #2 The Lanc was the best overall bomber in the European theater and a biggest contributor to the Allied strategic bombing in terms of tonnage of bombs dropped. Obviously, the RAF and the USAAF combined to force Nazi industrial slowdowns, keep the Luftwaffe off the Ruskie’s backs and damage national moral and the Lanc is arguably the biggest contributor to that. With the Lanc’s bomb load capacity and specialty design for larger munitions, it the had the best performance capabilities in terms of what an ideal heavy bomber can do. A remarkable plane but it only entered the fray in early 1942 (Remember, Brits were fighting since 1939). By then, avionic and strategic bombing had advanced incredibly compared the the old B-17, first flown in 1935. Giving the Lanc a huge advantage over any previously designed bombers.

    The Lanc was heavily used in the European theater as it was designed for that reason. Anyone familiar with avionics knows how important that little detail is as varying climates and air moisture content severely affects flight performance. Hitler was Britain’s main priority and it wasn’t readily used in the Pacific operations (I know it was used, not saying the plane didn’t do anything there it just wasn’t nearly as impactful to US bombing in that region).

    The biggest aspect of success for the Lancaster is more of how it was used than the machine itself. By the time the US entered the war, Britain was in the early stages of adopting a night bombing only doctrine to stem considerable losses. This was incredibly successful campaign utilizing better Radar technology, flight tech and persistence.

    Oh, and the night itself. You can’t shoot what you can’t see, right?

    Luftwaffe fighters still harassed the brave flight crews but were severely hampered by the night. This directly lead to increased numbers of bombers reaching their targets and guys landing safely. Though, the assessment of damage was relatively uncertain. Only through successful (if successful) recon missions could there be any assessment. This bodes true for the daylight campaigns as well but the day light raids provided slightly better intelligence since crews could often see where their bombs actually hit. Its incredibly difficult to determine the true successes of strategic bombing then, and still is today, let alone the fact of ‘WHICH PLANE ON WHICH SIDE DID THE MOST DAMAGE’. Point of this paragraph being is that it should be factored in that the Lancaster’s massive advantages with the night and technology that surely boosted its results sheet. However, as agreed by all the Allied Generals, daylight bombing had to be conducted to continue the attrition inflicted on Germany.

    #1 Is the B-17. Simply put, it is the granddaddy of all heavy bombers. This is due to the fact that is was the benchmark of the era for this type of aircraft since it was virtually the only long range heavy bomber designed/available at the beginning of the war(the Brits bought the earliest models with poor results). This fact alone is the single biggest contribution to strategic bombing in WWII. Keep in mind, it was first flown in 1935 with no particular adversary in mind (likely for Japan but as the US found out, it didn’t know squat about their capabilities)to design against. It was extensively used in all theaters of the war and participated throughout. Without the B-17, all the aforementioned aircraft (Sans He 111) might of never been developed and deployed in time to effectively reach deep into Fortress Europe.

    Though, its capabilities compared to the B-24 and Lanc are almost laughable, it remained a relevant aircraft though out the war via improvements and sheer durability. Durability and design of the aircraft sets itself apart from the others which is incredible considering it was much older technology.

    Finally, it and the B-24 were burdened with the horror of daylight bombing that needed to be conducted resulting in terrible losses up until early 1944 when the ‘Cadillac of the Sky’ P-51 finally provided long range escort. In fact, daylight bombing was suspended in late ’43 to stop the bleeding but it didn’t stop the B-17 which roared back to assist in demolishing Nazi oil refineries – which Speer himself confirmed was a (not the) fatal final blow to any hopes for a Nazi resurgence on either front.

    So, for being involved in all phases of the war throughout its entirety yet remaining relevant and effective despite increasing technology and war time demands AND being the first Allied heavy bomber used and assessed for future models, the B-17 is the most important (and iconic) bomber of WWII.

  • Moving this to the top…this thread will not die! :)

    • Anonymous

      I see dead horses!!!! Where’s my whip?

      • Loyal Goatherd

        So, That was me!

      • Dead horse, my ass…like annything has actually been decided here? :)

        • Loyal Goatherd

          Your ass will have to get in line, this horse won’t stay dead.

          And plenty has been decided, The B-17 won because Gregory Peck flew one in a movie ( ) . Steve Mcqueen flew one in another movie, and it’s got sexy curves around its tail feathers. Now the Brit’s think, the Lancaster won because its made of wood (huh huh, he said wood!) and killed more Nazis in their beds.

          Oh, and Rufus is the king of snark. All this is amply displayed and quite established. Did I miss anything?

    • B'Josh


      My grandfather flew bombers (A-26, B-57) in Korea and Vietnam. He taught me a lot about aircraft that only pilots understand and about 20th century conflicts.

      Only addition I would add would be to emphasize more on the fact that it was the daylight raiders that face the full force of the best trained air force in the world at that time. Plus the increased Flak shot at them. God bless ’em all.

  • JohnFN

    I have two favorite World War II bombers. The B-17, which my grandfather was assigned to at the beginning of the war as a tail-gunner, before getting a hernia a week before deployment and having to sit out the war. Fortunate for me, because the average flight-life of a tail-gunner at that point was around three hours.

    Second favorite the B-25. My grandfather-in-law was a navigator in one, before getting shot down over France being smuggled out by the underground. He went on to work on the Apollo-11 program as engineer at General Electric in Cincinnati. His name is on the project monument at the, what he would call, the Cape.

  • Dr. Schplatt

    Zombie thread!

  • Kit

    Congrats, Trzuper on your appearance before the Committee. Can’t see the video myself but I’m sure you swayed somebody.

  • Bill Rance

    Well gentlemen! I have read all your comments and from a neutral stance find the bickering amongst the children of the “allies” as to who was the best, quite pitiful. I am sure that the German members of this forum can only shake their heads at such ‘mother and daughter’s’ bad attitude towards each other, only wishing that they could have relied on a dependable ally as the Anglo-American franchise (for Anglo read the Dominion nations too!) My vote for the best fighter of WW2 goes to the ‘Foo’ it out-witted both sides! As for the best bomber – no contest, it has to be Dr. Who’s Tardis. That little beauty can fly anywhere any-time! Its even bigger on the inside than on the outside.
    Being British I feel quite proud of it. There again, and quite rightly, my American cousins are no less proud of USS ‘Enterprise’ capable of going bodily forth where no man has been before. However, I feel its time to move on – who was best, Captain Kirk or Dan Dare? Dan who? Mm! I think there is no contest on that one. Jim sure visited a lot of places, poor old Dan never left the Eagle comic, such a waste. Ah well there’s only 60 million or so of us Brits! We have to use our brains because we are a bit short on brawn.

  • BMasterjerry

    Can anyone tell me what the Stars represent painted on the side of a bomber? TIA

  • Don X

    Not 1 post metions the Mossie…really gentlemen!

  • HOien

    The bomber categories in this discussion should actually be broadened somewhat as the discussion mixes medium bombers; B-25 and B-17, with heavy bombers; Lancaster, B-24 and B-29.

    The B-17 operated as a medium bomber at maximum range due to reduced bomb load delivery over greater distances. Although the Flying Fortress was legendary, in reality it was a medium bomber. The best medium bomber in history, without question, but still a medium bomber tactically.

    My heavy bomber pick is the B-24 for both the ETO and PTO. The B-24 attacks by the USAAF 15th Air Force on Ploesti ended the war for Germany. They had planes but no aviation fuel to fly them.

    Among it’s many historic missions, the B-24 had the range and payload to close the Bomber Gap in the North Atlantic and helped terminate the U-boat threat to American supplies vital to the war effort. The B-24 changed the outcome of World War II in Europe by making it possible for Allied convoys to make it safely to Great Britain and, following D-Day, directly to continental Europe.

    In the Pacific, the B-24 had the range and payload to operate as a heavy bomber and it was the B-24s winning the war until the spring of 1945 and the launch of fire bombing B-29 attacks on Japan. The B-17 was limited by range and payload to medium bomber attacks in the Pacific.

    The B-24 was faster, carried more bombs, flew farther and filled more combat roles than the B-17. Objectively speaking, between the B-17 and B-24 it was the B-24 that was clearly the one bomber of the two that was essential to winning World War II.

  • Anonymous

    *Goatherd Yes, that is the point. The B-17?s and B-24?s and pinpoint daylight bombing was going to be decisive in this war*

    ..Which they didn’t do.

    The USAF made its warplans on the (rather stupid) assumption that bombers over Europe would have skies as clear as the US deserts they practiced over, and that they would be able to maneouver individually for aiming over the target. In reality, Europe has heavy cloud cover, and bombers had to stay in formation for protection and to avoid collsions.

    • Loyal Goatherd

      Why yes we do love this thread! The B-17?s and B-24?s and pinpoint daylight bombing was going to be decisive in this war.

      Oh but they did, not on aircraft Production as much as Oil Production

      It wasn’t night area bombing taking out german oil production and transport, that was daylight precision and interdiction. But why ask me, let’s hear it from the Germans:

      The following testimonies[6] of the German Reich’s ex-leaders make clear why oil and logistics were one of most important reasons in losing the war.

      Generaleutnant Adolf Galland, Chief of Fighters, GAF: “In my opinion, it was the Allied bombing of our oil industries that had the greatest effect on the German war potential. Even our supplies for training new airmen were severely curtailed–we had plenty of planes from the autumn of 1944 on, and there were enough pilots up to the end of that year, but lack of petrol didn’t permit the expansion of proper training to the air force as a whole.

      General Jahn, Commander in Lombardy: “The attacks on the German transport system, coordinated with the serious losses in the fuel industry, had a paralyzing effect not only on the industries attacked but on all other German industries as well.”

      Generalmajor Albrecht von Massow, A.O.C. Training, GAF: “The attack on German oil production opened in 1944 was the largest factor of all in reducing Germany’s war potential.”

      General Feldmarschall Karl Gerd von Rundstedt, Commander-in-Chief in the West before German surrender: “Three factors defeated us in the West where I was in command. First, the unheard-of superiority of your air force, which made all movement in daytime impossible. Second, the lack of motor fuel oil and gas — so that the Panzers and even the remaining Luftwaffe were unable to move. Third, the systematic destruction of all railway communications so that it was impossible to bring one single railroad train across the Rhine. This made impossible the reshuffling of troops and robbed us of all mobility. Our production was also greatly interfered with by the loss of Silesia and bombardments of Saxony, as well as by the loss of oil reserves in Romania.”

      Generalleutnant Karl Jacob Veith, A.O.C. Flak Training: “The Allied breakthrough would have been utterly impossible without strategic as well as tactical bombing. The destruction of the oil industry and the simultaneous dislocation of the German communication system were decisive.”

      Generaloberst von Vietinghoff, Supreme Commander in Southwest (Italy): “Insofar as it is possible to judge from Italy, it is generally recognized that Allied air attacks [on the aircraft and fuel industries] were extremely successful. This is especially true with reference to attacks on the fuel industry, which by the end of the war proved to be the decisive factor.”

      Christian Schneider, manager of Leuna Works, one of Germany’s largest synthetic gasoline and oil plants: “Up until a week ago (middle of April 1945), the Leuna plant was still operating, turning out a pitifully thin trickle of fuel. The output was so small compared with its capacity potential that production officials had difficulty plotting it on a chart. The 8th Air Force twice knocked out the plant so that the production was nil for a period of 15 days, and once the RAF did the same. Once after the attacks started, the plant got back to 70 percent capacity production for a period of 10 days. Another attack, and the plant got hack to 50 percent. But from then on it never got more than a mere drop in comparison to its capacity.”

      War Diary of the 7th German Army High Command (General Dollman), 11 June 1944: “Troop movements and all supply traffic by rail to the army sector must be considered as completely cut off. The fact that traffic on the front and in rear areas is under constant attack from Allied air power has led to delays and unavoidable losses in vehicles, which in turn have led to a restriction in the mobility of the numerous Panzer units due to the lack of fuel and the unreliability of the ammunition supply…

      Hermann Goering, long-time chief of the Luftwaffe, made the following remarks during the course of several interrogations: “Allied attacks greatly affected our training program, too. For instance, the attacks on oil retarded the training because our new pilots couldn’t get sufficient training before they were put into the air.”

      “Allied selection of targets was good, particularly in regard to oil. As soon as we started to repair an oil installation, you always bombed it again before we could produce one ton.”

      “If I had to design the Luftwaffe again, the first airplane I would develop would be the jet fighter, then the jet bomber. It is now a question of fuel. The jet fighter takes too much. The Me-264 awaited only the final solution of the fuel-consumption problem. According to my view the future airplane is one without fuselage (flying wing) equipped with turbine in combination with the jet and propeller.”

      “Without the U. S. Air Force the war would still be going on elsewhere, but certainly not on German soil.”

      …..And the US was already prepared to have these conclusions. How?

      Just look at the summary of a US Treasury Department Inter Office Communication dated December 6, 1941 on “Estimates of the German Oil Position”:

      “All the available estimates indicate that Germany has been forced to dip into her oil reserves for the Russian campaign. The two up-to-date estimates, those of the British and Russians, both conclude that, as a result, Germany will be forced to restrict her military oil consumption. The British believe that the Germans will be able to do this fairly easily, whereas the Russians state that it may reduce German armored operations.”

      The source for that below

    • It would be interesting be hear where Mr. Annon heard that American daylight bombing wasn’t intended to be carried out in mass formations but by single bombers adjusting their routes to manually bomb their assigned targets.

      It has always been my impression (and I admit I am somewhat late to this topic having only begun to read about it in the mid to late 1970’s) that the AAF always intended to employ their bombers in a mass formation. The thing that nearly caused them to give up daylight bombing were the losses that were being suffered until constant fighter escort to and from the target was achieved in 1944.

      Opinions of course are like a-holes, everyone has one and they all stink except mine.

      It is amusing to me how every few months an Anglophile stumbles upon this post and in a rage they post an angry missive complaining about how “you yanks are so stupid because you think your nation won WWII all by yourself…and by the way your Air Force was bollocks!” It almost reminds me of a Monty Python skit. If only someone would post as a retired Col of the RAF.

      There is an excellent chart and a good summary of the WWII bombing campaign at this website:

      Yeah I know it’s wikipedia, but it looks to be actually well researched and referenced. For those who claim that the RAF dropped more bombs than the AAF, you might be in for a big surprise, especially considering the head start our cousins had on us.

      Well, that’s all I’ve got to say on this topic for now. Until the next two months! Cheers!

      • Loyal Goatherd

        Good stuff Outlaw. I wonder why it’s the bomber post and not the fighter post that will not die? English bomber pride, I guess. The vociferous support for the English aircraft is appreciated. Debate we like. But commenters, please note, we talking about most important bombers, not the best, not the biggest, nor the fastest. The first line of text is : Note: “most important” not “best.” This isn’t a list based on capability, but on accomplishment.

        Impotant: Adj.
        1. of much or great significance or consequence
        2. mattering much
        3. entitled to more than ordinary consideration or notice
        4. prominent or large

        We don’t care about Viet Nam or Hollywood or national pride, we want important and here’s the fun part, you have to tell us why each aircraft type is important. Then we debate your points. And when everyone has had a chance, we let it go. The end. See you in 2013 again I’m sure.

  • Philip

    I’m reading this early morning and find the input fascinating.
    I spend my summer vacation in Norfolk and have visited Thorpe Abbots, Wendling to name but two. Thorpe being a B17 base and Wendling a B24. Also visited the home of the 44th.
    What strikes you is the quiet of those places which would have roared to the sounds of Pratt and Whitney in the times mentioned in this thread.
    My take on it at these locations is that I am present on a battlefield where
    Young men, all volunteers, came from a land far away and believed that whichever aircraft took them to war was the best instrument to do so. Therefore I reject the idea that there was one above all others that made the greatest contribution, but it was the fly boys in each nationality that made the difference.

  • Pete

    If you want to come home, DeHavilland Mosquito. It ushered in a whole new concept (the fighter bomber), it was the most accurate. German Pilots were awarded two kills for getting 1. It was made of wood, when metal was at a premium and the skills of metal working. It achieved the theoretical maximum flying speed for a propeller driven craft and could get 95% top speed on one engine.

    Oh and one final thing, there wasn’t a bomber that had a better survival rate. 11 lost per 1000 sorties.

  • Zaps

    The Japs probably surrended because they didn’t want to be partioned between east and west being more of a reason than two A bombs. The Britsh and American carpet bombing destroyed the German economy enabling the defeat of their Armys by the Russuians mainly, and also by the Americans and British. The Germans soldiers were always better man for man.(better trained and better junier officers and NCO’s.) The Americans only really got going on the carpet bombing towards the end of the European war. The Russians did 3/4 of all the fighting against the Germans. The mosquito bomber carried nearly as much bombs as a B17 or B24 (the Lancaster could carry more than twice as much.) The mosquito bomber could fly over 400mph and was genrally two fast to be intercepted, Could bomb Berlin twice in a night with different crews. Had far fewer losses than other types per sortie and only needed two crew not ten as per B24 and B17. Also with Oboe targeting system the British could bomb blind to an accuracy of a few meters with a mosquito bomber. They hit a hut which was their target point when they first tested Oboe. Moseqitoes where used to mark targets for other bombers. Sorry you have to put the mosquito in there. Besides strategic bombing the moseqito was used for neally everything else you could use a fighting plane for. The Poms and Canadians produced over 7000 mosquito bombers. Yeah I know, to be fair the allies would have got no where without American production and a very generous lend lease arrangement, For instance they gave the Russians 150,000 GM trucks this made the Russians far more mobile than the Germans. They had 45 aircraft carriers by the end of the war and produced 4000 planes a month. They had more troops envolved in Europe than the British from 1944 onwards. THe Americans simaltaneosly ran two largly separate campagns (Army under MCCarther and Navy/Marines under Nimitz in the pasfic as well as having a similar sized forces in Europe. And I as a New Zealander I would not be alive now if it wasn’t for the US of A winning the battle of the Coral sea.

    • Thanks for your input on the thread that never dies, Zaps.

    • Rufus


      Once the manufacturing might of the U.S. was coupled with the human capital of Russia the war was unwinnable for the Axis. Not to minimize the role of all the Allied powers, but there was no way the Axis could win against a U.S. cranking out over 8,000 military aircraft a month (and huge numbers of tanks, and ships and weapons…) coupled with the troop losses the Russians were willing to sustain. The Axis were running out of men and machines.

      There have been volumes written about Hitler’s decision to violate his treaty with Russia and wage a two front war. The outcome may have been different had he not, but once he did the die was cast.

      From what I’ve read the double impact of the devastation on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in such quick succession was incredibly demoralizing to the Japanese people. Also, they did not know if we had more, or how quickly we could manufacture and deploy additional atomic bombs. It’s almost impossible to imagine that any nation would not surrender under such an onslaught, especially an isolated, island nation like Japan.

  • Zaps

    Sorry can’t spell, Pacific not Pasfic

  • is the website owned by outlaw13? i think all the brave men who flew into combat in all classes of aircraft are to be applauded and many 10s of thousands who died would have loved to commented on this website but it was not to be i think the mosquito was the finest light bomber of the war due to 3 things its great speed its survivability and it being able to fill most roles

  • laura Ortiz

    My favorite is avro lancaster bomber

  • B17 Guy

    Its ALIVE!!!! 1.B-17. 2.B-24 3.Lancaster 4. B-25 5. B-26 (credentials….reading the WHOLE thread, and playing Warthunder.Yall should join the fun, fyi.)

  • tamotu

    Not to let the thread die

    But isnt the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley the most important bomber of ww2, it was sent to bomb Berlin (after a few bombs fell on London) that caused Hitler to order the change of tactics from bombing airfields/radar stations etc to bombing London and other cities (the blitz)

    This was at a point when fighter command was close to collapse, with the possible result of British surrender or defeat, leaving Hitler to attack the USSR on one front, along with access to the British military designs which were more advanced in some areas and would have helped to create newer better weapons faster and the US with no where to base an invasion from ( yes they could have bombed from Iceland but to invade fortress Europe they needed a short hop)

    There would have been no raid on pnenudme (sp) and so the terror weapons would have advanced quicker, and possibly they would have been able to go atomic around the same speed as the US (particularly with the British knowledge that helped the US)

    So even though it was not a fast bomber, a heavily defended bomber, had no extraordinary range or payload and was effectively outdated the day war broke out, its actions surely make it important

  • It’s like the Energizer Bunny. Merry Christmas to all fans of the WWII Bomber thread!

  • edibleshrapenl

    Hope its not to late to throw my 2 cents in, but here are my personal opinions.

    1. B-17, besides being the forerunner for a whole line of great aircraft, it won the hearts and minds of the american people, forever being immortalized as a piece of americana. To give technical reasons, it was the first plane to deliver true “strategic bombing” in ww2. I say it like that because most “strategic bombing” in the beginning skirmishes of the war were delivered by medium bombers and light bombers i.e. Douglas A-20 “havoc” , Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, and Dornier Do 217. Not to mention dive bombers like the Ju-87, but it was lightly armoured and easily shot down by allied pilot in the European theatre of war. Anyways, the B-17 could return to an airfield with 1 engine and a fuselage riddled with bullets, hence the title ”
    flying Fortress, and it carried a great payload.

    2. B-29, although it was developed in 1942 and began being produced in 1943, it still managed to make a difference in the ultimatum of ww2. It carried the largest payload for an american bomber, and was capable of maintaining a speed of about 350 Mph at the altitude of about 31850 feet. This was great for the crewmen, because most Japanese fighters at the time were not pressurized like the B-29, and could not reach that altitude, let alone maintain the speed.

    3.Ju-88, I find it confusing about how the lot of you is prejudiced with favouring the american planes. The Junkers Ju 88 was not highflying like the B-29, and not sexy and advanced for the time like the B-17. It excelled in the role of being good at every role. Men who have piloted it would tell you the same thing. It was a good bomber/night bomber/ reconnassiance plane/Dive bomber/ Torpedo bomber/ Heavy fighter/ Ground support plane, and in the closing stages of the war, a flying bomb. Kamikaze! Herman Goerring himself commented on it saying it was one of the Luftwaffe’s most important asset’s.

    4. B-24/25, The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was designed to be a better version of the B-17, and it technically was. However, some serious flaws included complicated controlling and handling, creating an inability to fly in a formation, and the placement of its fuel tanks(upper fuselage) made it liable to catch on fire easier then other designs, otherwise it was a fine aircraft. The North American B-25 Mitchell is like that kid in class who doe’s everything right, listens to the teacher, and doe’s not really stand out from other students. The B-25 was rugged,(not as much as the B-17)had a decent payload, good speed, good max altitude, and an almost untarnished service record. It served in all the theatres of war, and it was topped to the brim with machine guns. An over-all good medium bomber.

    5. Nakajima B5N “kate”, this Japanese torpedo bomber was not a great aircraft. it was lightly armed, and armoured, it didn’t have much “pizzaz” to it. Never the less, it was one of the work horse’s of the IJN. It singe-handedly brought the americans to war when it bombed pearl harbour, and effectively did what it was designed for, destroying ships. Examples of this feat can be seen at(of course) Pearl harbour, Mid-way, Coral sea, and the Santa Cruz islands.

    Hope I didn’t bore anybody, and its not often I get to share my opinions in a undying thread like this. Peace out.

  • tiredteddy

    Just a thought……which of all the aircraft mentioned above could fly from UK to Berlin,carrying a reasonable bomb load (say 2000/4000lbs), during daylight,alone and without fighter escort, and have any chance of getting back home?

    I don’t claim any expert knowledge but from what I have read in various journals/websites etc it seems to me that the DH Mosquito is the only one that that would have any real hope of completing its mission.

    ALL other WW2 bombers (whatever country), and that includes Lancasters, B17s 24s and 29s, would stand little chance of reaching Berlin let alone getting back.

    Therefore as a stand alone bomber…ie without the help of nightime (Lancasters etc) or large formations/heavy fighter escort (US types)….the Mosquito reigns supreme.

  • Despite the updated time stamp this post is over three years old. I haven’t seen nor heard word one from Rich Trzupek — the guy who posted this in over three years — this post is the gift that keeps on giving.

    Thanks! :-)

  • edibleshrapenl

    I beg to differ. The Doolittle raid was launched from an aircraft carrier deep in the western Pacific ocean, with the intent of bombing Japan and Honshu. The aircraft used was a B-25 Mitchell. After the bombing raid, they flew and landed in Western China, approximately 1892 miles away, not including the distance from the aircraft carriers to Mainland Japan. Now to your point, there were allied airfields across the english coast, but we will approximate and say that the given plane i.e. De Havilland Mosquito, will take off from the London based airfield, bomb Berlin, and fly back. The distance between London and Berlin is approximately 577 miles, double that and you get 1044 miles. thats a little more then half the distance of china to Japan, thus proving that the B-25 could make it. AND the B-25 was just a medium bomber. The heavy bombers such as the B-17 and B-29 were designed to carry large payloads across large distances. Therefore the B-17, B-24, B-25, B-29, Avro Lancaster, and pretty much any heavy bomber could traverse London to Berlin. Also, PLENTY of raids were undertaken by the RAF during ww2, 363 to be exact, and they were mostly undertaken by Avro Lancaster’s and De Havilland Mosquito’s. The Avro Lancaster’s lost in these raids were mostly due to flak or fighters, not fuel shortage.

  • tiredteddy

    Sorry edible….seems I didn’t make myself very clear.
    The thrust of my discussion wasn’t about range but about survivability. My contention was that, apart from the DH Mosquito, all the other types mentioned,American British or others, would stand little chance of survival flying a DAYLIGHT raid ALONE without fighter escort.
    I’m fairly sure that Mosquitos carried out a number of daylight nuisance raids deep into Germany with acceptable survival rates. This was at the time when German defences were at their strongest. Hence, in my view, the Mosquito was the best bomber of WW2.
    Look forward to any response………….Happy New Year.

  • edibleshrapenl

    Happy New Year as well! And sorry for misunderstanding you. I don’t quite understand where your coming from. Why doe’s it matter if the bomber makes it too Berlin without fighter escort and back? The whole purpose is to hinder enemy resources, and movement, and thats exactly what the Berlin Raids did, don’t quite know why your creating this new criteria for bombers…..

  • edibleshrapenl

    Just noticed that the wackjob who created the dumb criteria for this thread also made another thread about WW2 fighters! Go check that out!

  • edibleshrapenl

    And another thing. Even if I am misunderstanding you about the “no fighter escort” policy, wouldn’t it come down to max speed, max altitude, armour, and defensive armaments? Now if my historical retainment serves me right, the DH.98 Mosquito was first used in the role of a NIGHT fighter, not a bomber, and the only armaments it carried were r 20mm Hispano cannons and 4 7.7mm Browning machineguns. May I add NO defensive armaments. Lets take the whole american B series for example. Each one was loaded to the brim with’s, and it was mandatory! Also, the Mosquito carried a bombload of only 1000 lbs, not much to be proud of.

  • tiredteddy

    Edible….the whole concept of the Mosquito was as a light bomber that relied on speed and agility without the need for defensive armaments. Scary, I know, but it seemed to work
    Although a ‘light’ bomber the end result (with some variants) was that it could deliver a 4000lbs bomb load to, say, Berlin which, I understand, is not much less than a B17 could haul over the same distance. This at a build cost of 1/3rd (at most) and a crew of 1/5th of a B17.
    Quite where you got the bombload of 1000lbs from I don’t know… must be the Fighter/Bomber version you are thinking about (although I think even that version could lug 2000lbs).
    Lost the point you made about the night fighter version not having any defensive armament….surely 4 cannon and 4 MGs is defence enough for any fighter?

    • @tiredteddy: Your points on the mosquito are valid, however, the debate is not about capabilities, but is about importance. Almost all the mossie protagonists argue superior attributes, but not importance. As pathfinders, their contribution can be argued. Argue it!

  • edibleshrapenl

    Tiredteddy, first of all, I can understand that the Mosquito relied on its speed and manueverability, but the B-17 and basically all the other B models were designed for Max altitude without fighter escort, the reason for so many crewman because of all the 50.cals that needed to be operated. Now the real question I see here, If you were going on a long range bombing sortie, would you rather have a plane which is faster,(manueverabilty doesn’t really matter on a bombing sortie), or has a better max altitude, larger fuel capacity, and defensive armaments? Remember, after the design of the FW 190, Mosquitos lost their edge because the FW 190 had great armaments, great fuel capacity(for a fighter), and most importantly a great climb rate. Not to mention a powerful BMW 801 air-cooled radial engine.

    P.S. The B-17 could haul a payload of 17600 lbs, a little over 4x the amount that the Mosquito could haul.

    • John Miles

      In your PS. the bomb payload can be qualified a little by the fact that, when fuel payload was taken into account, both aircraft carried roughly the same bomb payload to Berlin.

  • tiredteddy

    Goatherd- I agree I appear to a bit ‘off piste’ on this debate relative to importance/capabilities but I’m having trouble identifying ‘importance’ in this context.
    The bulk of the earlier responses plump for B17 or B24 (presumably the writers are from the ‘wrong’ side of the pond) but it seems to me that they…B17/24…were just as much a failure in the original concept of unescorted missions deep into enemy territory as were our (British) attempts a couple of years earlier. Statistics suggest that the German fighters didn’t get it all their own way but, nevertheless, until the Mustang arrived, losses incurred weren’t sustainable. Presumably any ‘Heavie’…Lancasters/Halifaxes…would have been just as ‘succesful’ had they been surrounded by swarms of Mustangs. Admittedly the defensive armament was hopeles compared with the Americans…our Top Brass were too thick to consider re-arming with heavy MGs…but, as I understand it, they would be carrying a heavy bombload. I was trying to make a point here but have completely lost the plot. New Year is close and the thought of a few pints is fogging the brain. Will get back to this later …after I have dealt with Edible. PS…the Mustang had a great engine (Good old Blighty).

    Edible…even without the fogged brain mentioned above you lose me sometimes. I know the B17/24s were designed to defend themselves without fighter escort but were found wanting in that respect within a few months…see above. Mustangs baled them out (great engine by the way. LOL).
    If I was going on a long range mission (as you asked)I’d rather be able to outrun the opposition thanks. Doubt that the Bs had a much better max altitude anyway…Mossies could get to 30000ft I think. I would hope they (the Bs) had a better fuel capacity…they had twice as many engines (as said before Mossies could lug 4000lbs to Berlin AND get back home which suggestd they had sufficient fuel capacity).
    As for maneouverability (is that spelt correctly)allied with speed I would think that it IS important. If I had been a Mossie pilot jumped by a 109/190 I would have dumped the ordnance (hopefully not on friendlies) and run for cover. Unless they (the 109/190s) were the souped up versions I would have a better chance than a stray B17/24.
    Mention of the BMW engine reminds me that my Mossie has TWO great engines (good old blighty).
    Your PS….doubt the poor old B17 could hump 17600lbs much further than the other side of the Channel and get back home. Certainly not to Berlin and back.
    Notwistanding all of the above ….if I were a German fighter pilot I have to admit I’d rather bump into a unarmed Mossie than a B17/24 bristling with heavy MGs. I’d probably have to report to my bosses that the little blighter (the Mossie) had put his foot down and left me trailing in the exhaust fumes of TWO Merlins (great engines don’t you know)

    Anyway guys 2014 is only 6 hours away from me so need to prepare for my couple of pints…or more.

    Happy New Year and look forward to any responses.

  • From 18 JAN 2012: ““We don’t know” is the real answer. We can suppose all sorts of things, and a lot of what captured Germans told their interrogators after the war is what they thought the (Allies) wanted to hear. Most of this is speculation at best and you really can’t quantify anything that is being stated here as outright fact so we could continue this argument forever.”

    But it’s all in good fun…happy new year!

  • edibleshrapenl

    Tiredteddy, I’m tired of your constant argument on how the mosquito could outmaneuver and outrun the german aircraft. Remember, the whole point of this argument is to decide the top 5 bomber of WW2, and it is based on accomplishment, not ability. Yes, the Mosquito was a very fine aircraft, but what exactly did it do to influence the war? JACK SQUAT. Besides 2 daylight Berlin raids, the bombing of Pont-a-Vendin, and Operation Jericho, the Mosquito Mosquito has a nearly blank service record. BUT, it served well in Europe and North Africa as a fighter and night fighter, the purpose for which it was designed for. The Mosquito did not have much to show in the bombing department, agreed?

  • edibleshrapenl

    My mistake, there were various raids on Berlin, not just two. Still, not really anything.

  • Here the genius of this post can be seen, importance makes this about what we each consider important about our choices. (And the reason the fighter post is such a mess). And be careful edible, accomplishment is important, but importance is not necessarily accomplishment.

    “As for maneouverability (is that spelt correctly)allied with speed I would think that it IS important.”

    Why? Admittedly, bomber aircraft rarely enjoyed both attributes, but how was the wedding of those attributes in the Mosquito important? The Arado Ar 234B was just as fast and almost as maneuverable. It was the first operational bomber to combine jet engines and swept wings, truly an indicator of the future of bomber aircraft. That’s important, but not top five material in my book.

    Attributes are sticky things, there were too many trade offs to get a real feel for each aircraft. The manufacturers were eager to sell their wares, so the best numbers were reported regardless of the practical considerations. The service ceiling was how high it could fly with no bomb load and the minimum of fuel required for the flight. The Bomb load was the maximum bomb load the plane could lift with full fuel tanks. Taking that load to operational heights reduced the operating range significantly. To fly to maximum range was to fly with no bomb load. Nasty little things, those facts. So, quite intelligently, Trzuper asked for the top five most important bombers of world war II. I standby my list for the reasons I stated there and earlier in the thread. Although, I would consider moving the mosquito from 3. to 2. if I could get a more convincing argument from its supporters. Remember this was almost four years ago and all my initial conclusions were reached in one afternoon.

  • edibleshrapenl

    I think you should consider revising your list. at the fourth and third position you placed ALL medium bombers and light bombers in the categories. Various Bi-planes should not be considered as light bombers and medium bombers varied greatly in effectiveness. For example, the Fairey battle was a light bomber, the first british british monoplane bomber, to grace the battlefield. Unfortunately I can’t say “grace” with honesty because the aircraft was a flounder. It had a relatively decent payload(1000 lbs) and its armour was decent as well. Its major flaws were its incredibly slow speed, and virtually no offensive or defensive armaments(2 rifle calibre guns). In fact, a lot of aircraft that Fairey produced were flops i.e. the Swordfish and the Fulmar. other examples, the Breda Ba.88 Lince(Lynx), the PZL .30 Zubr, Me 210, BlackBurn Botha, BlackBurn Roc, Douglas TBD Devastator, Vought SB2U Vindicator, and last and probably least, the Me 163 Komet, known by all as the first and last rocket-powered Schnell bomber of WW2. Remember, we are trying to be specific here, thats the whole point of “Top five”.

    P.S. You failed to tell me why maneuverability is important in a bomber.

  • edibleshrapenl

    Another thing, how do you guys keep changing your Avatar?

  • edibleshrapenl

    Let’s see…

  • edibleshrapenl

    didn’t work.

  • edibleshrapenl

    how bout now..

  • edibleshrapenl

    What the?

    • I don’t see any text after your typing… are you trying to link to a YouTube video? You should be able to post a link or two though we don’t allow commenters to embed vids or photos. If you paste the link into the comment box it should show up.

  • edibleshrapenl

    No, I was changing my avatar.

    • ah… it looks like he showed up!

    • And it looks good, too. I am considering changing my list, percolating some ideas for a few days, yet stay tuned.

      Oh, technical note: The Me 163B and the Me 263A were both rocket powered interceptors, not bombers, Both could carry air to air rockets but not air to ground rockets. quite an impressive machine, to bad it liked to blow up.

  • edibleshrapenl

    ha ha, it liked to blow up, that is if it was still in the air with it’s 4 minutes fuel load.

  • tiredteddy

    Edible- Frozen up? Petty argument? Bet you wouldn’t think it was petty if you had a 109 on your tail and you had to fly straight and was unable to maneouvre !!!!
    How IS maneouvre spelt? Must check it out.

  • tiredteddy

    Checked it…..MANOEUVRE

  • edibleshrapenl

    If I was in a bomber I wouldn’t need to worry about 109’s because
    1. I could out-speed because I’m a heavy bomber that can maintain good speed at high altitudes
    2. 109’s had an unsatisfactory engine and it became obsolete as the war progressed
    3. If I had a 109 on my tail, how would I out- manoeuvre him? Do random barrel rolls? Maneuverability in bombers matters about uhhhh….. say JACK SQUAT.

    • The Bf 109 went through several models. The Bf109E was the terror of 1939-1940, and yes it became obsolete. But there were many models,the F, the G , but the penultimate, Me109 K-14 had a high climb rate, pressurized cockpit, 470+mph top speed, decent agility, service ceiling above 40,000 feet. It was nothing to laugh at either.

  • edibleshrapenl

    Me 109 k-14? That model was the last prototype of the last variant of the 109 series, in other words it is not confirmed to have actually flown.

  • tamotu

    The 109 was along with the spitfire the best fighter aircraft at the outbreak of the war, and technically speaking at the end of the war both had received enough upgrades to keep them competitve with most things fling

    However the 109 suffered from terrible build quailty due in small part to the bomber offensive, along with sabotage and lack of raw materials.

    The luftwaffe was also very low on fuel (again thanks to the bomber offensive) and so was not always able to intercept all the raids they identified, they preferred to send large groups of fighters fw190 with a top cover of 109s

    The 109s were faster and more agile than any heavy bomber, except maybe the mosquito, the 109 engine was not a bad engine they problem they had was lack of raw materials again, especially rare metals, which lead to them getting a lot of their increased power from playing around with the fuel.

    Maneuverability mattered a lot, if you were caught in a searchlight cone, then you wanted to be able to throw that plane around to try and lose it, before that flak came flying directly at you.

    I think with these kind of things it is impossible to get an agreeable answer, as we will all prioritise things differently, and none of them worked independently anyway.

    But the Lancaster destroyed the tirpitz, (sp) which freed up a large chunk of the RN for the Indian/Pacific oceans, along with the dambuster raids, so it was not just a night bomber and was capable fo precision daytime raids, or tactical raids, it was merely the lack of a long range fighter that led to the RAF concentrating on night time raids

  • edibleshrapnel

    You can count on the fact that a lot of Brit pilots are pissed off at you for choosing the Spitfire over the Hurricane. The 109 and the Spitfire were fine as the models progressed but they eventually became outclassed by specialty fighters i.e. the FW 190 and the Typhoon(forget the crappy engine it had). The Spitfire and 109 served as workhorses and they did well as those.

  • edibleshrapnel

    Looking forward to that tuned up list Loyalgoatherd.

  • tamotu

    the 190 was a better fighter than the spitfire when it was first encountered yes, but at the end of the war, the spitfire was better than the 190 due to the development program being better, the spitfire of 1945 was very different plane to the spitfire of 1939.

    The hurricane was a good fighter and was able to take on the 109, but it was a level below the 109 and the spitfire, hurricanes were sent into the battle of France where as all spitfires were kept back for the battle of Britain (and dunkirk)as they knew they would need everything they had

    During the battle of Britian ideally Fighter command directed Hurricanes against bombers and Spitfires against fighters, obviously a lot of the battle did not go ideally

    In several ways the hurricane was better, its turn around time was about 10 minutes quicker, it was much easier to build, partly due to it being an earlier less advanced design, but in a fight with a 109 in 1939 there is only one plane in the world you would have wanted to be in

  • edibleshrapnel

    The Hurricane was robust, simple, and scored the majority of air kills during the Battle of Britain. In a dogfight I would actually prefer the Hurricane. Its turn time, Stable gun platform, and Merlin III engine speak for itself.

  • tamotu

    the hurricane scored the majority of airkills during BOB as there were a lot more of them then there were spitfires, in fact there was in general about double the number

    “Battle of Britain Day (15th September 1940)
    Weather: fine

    Fighter Command Serviceable Aircraft as at 0900 hours:

    Blenheim 47
    Spitfire 192
    Hurricane 389
    Defiant 24
    Gladiator 8
    Total 660

    Also Hurricanes were targeted at the bombers were the one aim was to shoot them down, the german bombers were also not so well defended to make that an unenviable task, like later allied bombers were

    Spitfires were targeted at the fighters were the aim was to get them away from the bomber, to allow the hurricanes to fight the bombers, with killing obviously being important as well, but they often ran out of fuel and turned for home before a ‘victory’ was decided one way or the other

    both spitfire and hurricane had a merlin III engine in the majority of their models during BOB.

    Yes the Hurricane had a better turn rate than a spit or 109 but it had a worse top speed, was worse a t diving, had a worse climb rate, so if a bf 109 was behind a hurricane his one viable option was to turn , not that great if there were two of them, if a hurricane was behind a 109 it could choose to dive, climb accelerate out,

    The sspit was able to out turn the 109, out climb and depending on variation was faster and had better acceleration, it gave you more options in the dogfight

    Intrestingly until about 1944 that any plan in the world was able to outdive the 109

  • edibleshrapnel

    Perhaps your forgetting the various models of the 109, there were quite a few. And why stop there? The FW 190 was a much better aircraft, and if I had more time I would name more.

  • tamotu

    Because we were on about during BOB, after then hurricane was completely outclassed

    The 190 was a better aircraft at introduction, not at end of the war, in fact at the end of the war, the build quality of the luftwafe aircraft made them pretty obsolete, the lack of fuel, the quality of the fuel, the training level of the pilots

  • edibleshrapnel

    Technical reasons will be ignored 😀
    The build quality from say 1941 to 1945 varied how exactly? Are you purporting that the constructors put quantity over quality? Der Fuhrer would be dissapointed.

  • tamotu

    First of all, the workforce changed from a small trained highly skilled workforce pre war, in to a a larger force that was centred around the skilled core, this skilled core over time was whittled down through mostly being called up into the army. They were replaced originally by women, and in later time by forced workers, and then workers from prison camps, their level of work was not the same, there was attempts at sabotage, the ss had to be bought in to try and ‘motivate’ them. the german pilots were astonished by the workmanship of 109s that they received from the czechs in 1944

    Secondly at the outbreak of the war, about 50% of aircraft production was spares, and this was on the low sustainable limit for example the Raf was about 60%, near the end of the war about 15% of production was aircraft spares, this meant that they were unable to keep the aircraft in good working order, many aircraft had to be canabalised to allow them to at least send some up.

    Fuel became so short that many pilots had never flown a 109 before their first engagemnt, guess waht most of them dies on their first engagement

    The luftwaffee ended up with neither quantity or quality

  • edibleshrapnel

    … I was not being serious but whatever floats your boat. And towards your statements about production from ’41 to ’44, production in all countries were high, climaxing in ’44.

  • Rufus

    I like airplanes.

    And kites.

    And balloons.

    Airplanes are shiny.

  • Rufus

    Once I was on an airplane and they served shrimp.

    Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.

    On the airplane it was shrimp cocktail.

  • jim

    The fact is the Avro Lancaster was the Fastest,Carried the Heaviest bomb load and was the best to fly to say anything other than the Avro Lancaster bomber was the Best or most important bomber of ww2 is stupid big headed Shit!, the fact is the RAF had already defeated the Luftwaffe and won air superiority which the Luftwaffe never regained….. oooh yea there USAF did some day light raids WOW with barley any Ariel resistance my grandmother would have done air raids…..,

    • Rufus

      Thank you. I think I now understand.

      The aeroplane was invited by Brits on British soil. All innovation in lighter than air craft has been done by the English. The English single-handedly defeated the Third Reich, the Kaiser, Attila the Hun and the Fourth Reich. British cuisine is superior to all other cultures and the Queen Mum is a hotty.

      Did I miss anything?

    • HJ

      While I agree that the Avro Lancaster was easily the most effective heavy bomber of WW2, it is not true to say that the RAF had already gained air superiority over the Luftwaffe. It had defeated the Luftwaffe once (over the skies of Britain), but the Luftwaffe retained air superiority over Germany to the extent that USAF daylight bombing raids were disastrous until the advent of long range fighter cover.

  • jim

    The fact is the Avro Lancaster was the Fastest,Carried the Heaviest bomb load and was the best to fly to say anything other than the Avro Lancaster bomber was the Best or most important bomber of ww2 is stupid big headed Shit!, the fact is the RAF had already defeated the Luftwaffe and won air superiority which the Luftwaffe never regained….. oooh yea there USAF did some day light raids WOW with barley any Ariel resistance my grandmother would have done air raids…..,vv

  • jim

    The fact is the Avro Lancaster was the Fastest,Carried the Heaviest bomb load and was the best to fly to say anything other than the Avro Lancaster bomber was the Best or most important bomber of ww2 is stupid big headed Shit!, the fact is the RAF had already defeated the Luftwaffe and won air superiority which the Luftwaffe never regained….. oooh yea there USAF did some day light raids WOW with barley any Ariel resistance my grandmother would have done air raids….., vvvvv

  • edibleshrapnel

    Yes, the observation that you posted thrice signifies and reflects the seriousness of this patriotic limey. It’s been awhile since one has come out of the frameworks.

  • tiredteddy

    Why has this discussion stalled?
    How come a debate about Hurricanes and Spits?
    What happened to Goatherds revised list?
    Waiting with bated breath.

  • tiredteddy

    Nice one Fritz.

  • edibleshrapnel

    The reason why this discussion has stalled is due to either
    1. Reasonable people who like to take time(say 5109 years) to revise their lists and comments before they post them or
    2. ignorant and quite frankly lazy idiots who have a journalism magazine shoved so far up their ass that when they open their mouths, all that comes out is putrid, vile, excrement. Plain and simple.

    F.y.i No names, just pointing out people who have prejudiced opinions or only bother to share and discuss them once.

  • tiredteddy

    Come on someone. Liven up!

  • edibleshrapenl

    Victory at all costs, Victory in spite of all terror, Victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival- Winston Churchill, one of the greatest men who ever lived.

  • edibleshrapnel

    I believe I dephribilated it for the time being, but the ol bugger has had its time.

  • Darren Bewick

    Sorry team USA/B17, B24,plus the A’s. Lancaster #1in every way except defensive armerment, it also flew a large number of daylight raids in 44 and even more in 45. It dropped the highest tonnage of bombs than any other bomber plus 51 million incendiary devices, now that is fact, not whatfreedomor could be, but actually was. And as for tactics and accuracy the USA bomber commanders dropped thier tactics in favour of area bombing both in Europe and against the japanese. The Mosquito which first flew as an unarmed bomber, flew with 4000 pounds of bombs to berlin or any where else in germany.Top bomber pilots like D. Bennett said at the time end production of all other bombers and only build the Mosquito, and Britain flew all USA bombers because anything was better than nothing but the USAAF wanted and flew the Mosquito, and if you allow a none nationalistic view, it makes sense. Oh and in a post some one mentioned about the American war of independence and beating the British, the ‘Americans’ were British, or at least their parents were, plus at the same time they were rather busy closer to home fighting the french and the spanish.
    Now having said all that, I have to give the deepest of respect and total admiration to all Allied fighting men and those who supported and armed them, together they worked brilliantly and got the job done no matter where they came from what weapons and craft they used. Thank you for my freedom and God bless them.

  • Darren

    Sorry team USA/B17, B24,plus the A’s. Lancaster #1in every way except defensive armerment, it also flew a large number of daylight raids in 44 and even more in 45. It dropped the highest tonnage of bombs than any other bomber plus 51 million incendiary devices, now that is fact, not what could be, but actually was. And as for tactics and accuracy the USA bomber commanders dropped thier tactics in favour of area bombing both in Europe and against the japanese. The Mosquito which first flew as an unarmed bomber, flew with 4000 pounds of bombs to berlin or any where else in germany.Top bomber pilots like D. Bennett said at the time end production of all other bombers and only build the Mosquito, which if you look at it in a non nationalistic way,makes sense, and Britain flew all USA bombers because anything was better than nothing but the USAAF wanted and flew the Mosquito.
    Oh and in a post some one mentioned about the American war of independence and beating the British, the ‘Americans’ were British, or at least their parents were, plus at the same time they were rather busy closer to home fighting the french and the spanish.
    Now having said all that, I have to give the deepest of respect and total admiration to all Allied fighting men and those who supported and armed them, together they worked brilliantly and got the job done no matter where they came from what weapons and craft they used. Thank you for my freedom and God bless them.

  • Darren

    Sorry for doing it twice I made some typo errors and tryed to correct them not realizing I had posted it. First time I’ve done this.
    By the way I love USA aircraft tanks and warships,including the modern stuff. I build models of the best ones.

  • edibleshrapnel

    The Lanc was a great aircraft, But what did it do during WW2? Break down a few dams? Set a few houses alight? The B-17 served throughout the war on all fronts and overall Contributed more to the “Cause” then the Lancaster. Also, the Lancaster is Ugly. :-/

    • Rufus

      A stat that I still find nearly impossible to fathom; the US went from manufacturing about 3,000 military aircraft/year in 1939 to almost 100,000/year in less than 5 years!

    • HJ

      The Lancaster dropped a greater weight of bombs on Germany than the entire USAF – that’s what it did. And those bombs were much bigger thanks to its better load-carrying capability than any other aircraft – and big bombs do proportionately more damage.

      It also destroyed two key dams, sank the Tirpitz,destroyed the fortified (and supposedly impregnable) V2 launch bunker in France and destroyed several key viaducts with earthquake bombs that were too heavy for the B-17.

      It is also a handsome aircraft, unlike the B-17 which simply looked (and was) outdated.

  • Danny English

    Wow, what a funny thread. It got a little warm in the middle there!

    My personal opinion, which is all that anyone can offer, is that the Lancaster was the most beautiful plane of WW2. Standing underneath a Lancaster in a museum with a B24 parked next to it, both with bomb bays open, you can’t help notice that the Lancaster is SERIOUSLY designed for dropping a shed load of pain. The American planes seem to have a lot of wasted space, by which I mean not bomb carrying space but just fuselage bulk, it’s like they made big planes and then put a bomb bay in them. The Lancaster looks like a HUGE bomb bay that had a minimal amount of plane built around it. It was the British ability for designing a plane for a specific purpose that led to the Spitfire being so successful in the battle of Britain and subsequently being asked to create the spec for the development of the P51. Even here when people argue about which of those 2 planes was best, the answer is ‘Horses for courses’.

    The Mosquito was in my opinion, the best conceived and best all round plane of the whole war. Hermann Georing attested to that when he said:

    “It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminum better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I’m going to buy a British radio set – then at least I’ll own something that has always worked”

    Now I must confess that my knowledge of the WW2 planes is biased in as much as I’ve learned more about the British planes than the American ones (that’s down to sentimentality). That seems to be a common problem by the ratio of folk that argue the case for their own Air Forces superiority. So I acknowledge that I may be doing an injustice to some.

    But basically, I’m immensely proud of what Britain achieved in the war and grateful for what America brought when they did. Together we kicked some serious arse and all sides, both axis and allied showed what human beings can achieve when they work together. Alas, they also showed what can be achieved when they work against each other.

  • edibleshrapnel

    I refuse to accept the innovations of British aircraft engineers. Murica won da war.

  • JimmyC

    Man, this is the Jason Vorhees of Threedonia posts.

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