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Thread: Number of aircraft involved in D-day

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    Default Number of aircraft involved in D-day

    I'm currently close to completing the biography of one of the Met Office forecasters who contributed significantly to the forecasts for D-day, and would appreciate some advice. For an explanatory paragraph describing the enormity and complexity of the operation I would like to quote the number of vessels, men and individual aircraft (not the number of operational flights) involved on 6 June.

    A search of the Internet for the first two gives me about 7000 vessels and 156000 troops; so far as the aircraft are concerned the figure seems to be about 11000 (this includes transports, bombers and fighters); although I appreciate this total is not exclusively RAF it still seems an extremely high figure.

    Would anyone have a definitive figure (if there is such a thing), and the source of the information please? (I hate the Internet when sources aren't quoted.)

    TIA
    Brian

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    Hi Brian
    I don't know if this will help or hinder but in June 1994(50th Anniversary) a D-Day Encyclopedia was published. There were several editors but one Article attributed to John Terraine and entitled "Allied Expeditionary Air Force" gives the following totals incl both RAF and American a/c as available on D-Day.
    H Bombers-3440
    Med & Light Bombers-930.
    Fighter Bombers and Fighters-4190
    Troop Carriers and Transports-1360
    Coastal Command- 1070 incl 40 US a/c attached
    Recce- 520
    ASR-80
    This totals 11590
    Regards
    Dick

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    I don't know how you would accurately sort out the number of aircraft without checking each Squadron's records. In my father's case he flew on two different bombing operations on D-Day and just happened to use the same aircraft both times. Other crews in his squadron flew two operations that day and used different aircraft for each op. Some of the squadron aircraft only flew one operation that day, some flew two. The only way to determine it in that particular squadron would be to look at each aircraft in the ORB to see how many individual aircraft were used, which would be far less than the number of sorties flown by the squadron. I suspect the figure of 11,000 would have to be individual sorties and not individual aircraft, hence the high number.
    The other thing I have personally wondered about is how many were on board the Invasion fleet? We know about 150,000 troops were put ashore but there must have been a huge number manning all those vessels and I have never heard any estimates on how many people crossed the channel in the invasion fleet.
    Regards
    Dave

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    The phrase that needs clarifying is "available". Is this a simple addition of the unit strengths? In which case the 11,000 does not seem unreasonable. Or does it actually mean available as in serviceable on the day? This would be somewhat lower - although a higher than average serviceability percentage can be expected, given the circumstances. However, did every unit fly on the day, to its full capabilities? This would lower the number again. As David points out, the number of individual aircraft actually flown on the day would be more difficult to obtain precisely, although that level may not be actually worth chasing.

    I feel the number of sorties - which should be available somewhere - is a more reasonable measure.

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    Thank you gentlemen - why is nothing ever simple? I'm not sure if it comes from the same source Dick quotes (although the total figures are identical) but there is an Internet site that gives the number of sorties as 14674 in addition to 11590 available aircraft.

    Shucks, guess I'll have to use some weasel words.

    Brian

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    Hello Brian
    The book 'Aircraft for the many' by M Bowyer is a study of the RAF aircraft in June 44.
    In the introduction it state 'in the 24 hrs of the 6th June 14,600 sorties were flown by Allied aircraft'
    All of the RAF sorties and available aircraft are listed in the book.
    Regards
    Andy

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    For Bomber Command's direct and indirect support of D-Day, including the number of aircraft involved, targets etc:

    http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/jun44.html

    A

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    Thank you Amrit - looks like you were correct in your reasoning Graham. Your (Amrit's)reference quotes 1012 bombers involved on night 5/6 June and another 1065 the following night - even if they were all different aircraft (highly unlikely) that only totals 2077 bombers, considerably below the 4370 suggested by Terraine.

    I'm definitely going to use weasel words.

    Brian

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    Keep in mind the USAAF's Bombers were also operating on June 6th, I don't know how many sorties they made but it may bring you close to that total of bombers indicated.
    Regards
    Dave

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    Another set of stats lifted from 'Aircraft for the many'
    Bomber Command strenght at 1800 on 5 June 44 was as follows
    Mosquito IV/XX - 34
    Mosquito IX/XVI - 88
    Mosquito VI - 1
    Halifax - 513
    Lancaster - 896
    Stirling - 61
    100 Gp. & 192 Sqn (Bomber support) - 182 (Fortess, Mosquito, Anson, Halifax, Wellington & Stirling)
    3 Gp. (Special Duties) - 46 (Halifax, Hudson & Lysander)

    Grand total - 1821 Aircraft (Of which 1566 were operational)

    Andy

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