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Thread: Survival rate two tours Bomber Command

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    Default Survival rate two tours Bomber Command

    Has any member seen any figures relative to the chances of air crew surviving two complete tours of operations in WWII

    I am looking at a Pilot serving mid 1940 to late 1942 periods.

    I will be interested to hear of any statistics/opinions thank you.

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    Hi Colin,

    from my records I know there were several members of Czechoslovak airforce who finished two tours, in very few ocassions in 1945 they started the third (fighters) and some from 311 Sq who finished one with BC and second with CC or were in the middle of the second.

    As there were approximately 800 crew members through the war with 311 Sq and I think there were approx 8-10 who finished 2 tours. So you can count...

    BUt on the other hand I think that in the period 1940-42 the number will be not so high.

    Another example - from 37 observers sent to UK in December 1940 approx 50% got killed by the half of 1942 and till the end of the WWII only 12 of them were alive...

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Pavel.

    Thank you these all appear to equate with the opinions I have seen. The Commands do make a fifference as does the years in which flown.

    In general I am led to think that the figures of 1 in 6 survived first tour in bombers and 1 in 40 survived a second tour.

    These are sad numbers when you think of these men in a standing line.

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    This is something that interests me, as well. I've read similar figures, but does anybody know if a researcher somewhere has worked out the maths behind the survival rates? I suppose I am most interested in 1943-1944, but other periods of the war would also be useful.

    It seems to me that the survival rate must have varied quite a lot depending on where and when you were flying. In the case of the aircraft I have been researching, which went down in August 1944, the squadron had not lost a crew for six weeks. That would imply to me that the aircrew who were serving in that squadron at that particular time, would have had a pretty good chance of making it through a tour; whereas I am sure that would not be the case generally across Bomber Command at that date.

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    Default Survival rate

    I would be interested in seeing that sort of research as well...

    Ref 1944 loss rates by then we had a much better grip of Air Supremacy so we were losing a fewer crews on all the squadrons than in 1942. Still too many though I would say..

    Dee

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oggie2620 View Post
    I would be interested in seeing that sort of research as well...

    Ref 1944 loss rates by then we had a much better grip of Air Supremacy so we were losing a fewer crews on all the squadrons than in 1942. Still too many though I would say..

    Dee
    Dee

    While I would agree with you that air supremacy was better in 1944 than 1942, if you stand the 1942 and 1944 volumes of Bill Chorley's Bomber Command Losses side by side, you will see that a lot more crews were lost in 1944. The overall percentage loss rate against number of sorties may have been lower than when compared with 1942 but 1944 (particularly in the first half of the year) was a trying time for Bomber Command aircrew.

    Best wishes

    Douglas

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    Air superiority, as the experts would term it, was a relative term. As the Luftwaffe declined, it pulled its forces back from the occupied countries to concentrate on defending the fatherland. Also, despite the concerted efforts of Bomber Command and the USAAF, fighter production actually increased during this time. With Bomber Command focusing on German production centres, this meant attacking the enemy where he was still strongest.

    Nightfighters were very effective, especially with their radar and Schrage musik, so they continued to take a toll, even though there was much less resistance elsewhere.

    It didn't last, of course, but there was still plenty of fight left in the Luftwaffe until they ran out of fuel and pilots. And the flak concentrations also increased as the defenders retreated.
    Last edited by dfuller52; 15th April 2010 at 13:20.
    David

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    I think that the only way some sort of definitive statement can be made on survivability rates in Bomber Command is if someone or other goes through every ORB and relevant document to account for every operational flight by every crew member flown by Bomber Command.

    There were no simple answers on the reasons why the chop rate was higher during different periods but state of aircrew training and experience, quality of equipment, weather, and the German defences all played a part.

    If one looks that the percentage monthly loss rate of aircraft in Bomber Command over the winter of 1943/44 for example, it can be seen that the rate reached a peak of 5.6% in January 1944 and then began to decrease in February and March 1944 - perversely these being months when the Command suffered many of the highest numerical losses on individual raids - the % loss rate for the last three months of 1943 and the first five months of 1944 being 3.9%, 4.0%, 5.3%, 5.6%, 5.2%, 3.6%, 2.4%, 3.2%, 2.4%. Yet this was supposedly a period (i.e. Jan-Mar 1944) before the invasion when the German defences were at their peak, yet they saw the start in the decline of the percentage loss rate. Source: 'The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany 1939-1945 Volume IV.

    Cheers

    Rod

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    And the reason for the thickness of the BCL volumes is simply that there were far more air crews flying, so even if the loss rate declined, it was still high in terms of absolute numbers.

    The whole question of odds for survival was a sensitive one. The crews did their own calculations on the chances of getting the chop. Harris and his staff were very careful to avoid putting out any figures like that, although they certainly knew what they were.
    David

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfuller52 View Post
    And the reason for the thickness of the BCL volumes is simply that there were far more air crews flying, so even if the loss rate declined, it was still high in terms of absolute numbers.

    The whole question of odds for survival was a sensitive one. The crews did their own calculations on the chances of getting the chop. Harris and his staff were very careful to avoid putting out any figures like that, although they certainly knew what they were.
    David

    I had tried to get this point over in my reply earlier today re more crew sorties. It is fair to say that the percentage loss rate in 1944 was lower than in earlier years and so statistically there was a greater chance of a crew finishing their tour. However, there were some horrendous losses on individual raids in 1944 and I suppose if anyone was in a bomber being attacked by fighters or the aircraft was terminally damaged by flak, what use were statistics.

    Douglas

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