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Defining the Breed - Bombers

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posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 10:49 AM
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Here we go again, this is even more difficult that the fighter thread I think as there are so many ideas about what bombers are, from the B-52 to the A-4 there are just so many different sizes and classifications. However for the purposes of this thread I elect to pick and choose as I want


1, Sikorsky Le Grand;

There was no real 'first bomber' like the Fokker Eindeckker was the first fighter, bombs were simply hurled from whatever plane was handy so therefore number one on this list has to be the first aeroplane ever designed and built expressly for the purpose of bombing the enemy, even if it was useless and even went backwards in a strong headwind!

This first ever four engined aeroplane, from Russia, created the template for the strategic bombers to come in WW1.

2 Gotha G.IV - However it took the Germans to recognize a good idea and make it work properly, far less vulnerable than airships the Gotha's were the worlds first successful strategic Bombers, the British Handley Page 'Bloody Paralyser' V/1500 etc were created as a direct response to the appearance of the Gotha's.

Bomber design stagnated as much as fighter design after WW1 and the Vickers Virgina of the 1930's was diffeerent from the 1918 Vickers Vimy only in the respect that it was bigger. This pattern was repeated globally so there is a big gap until we come to the next big hitter;

3 - The Martin B-10. This US bomber was to bomber design what the Boeing 247 was to airliners. Nothing like it had been seen before. a twin engined medium bomber it was an all metal monoplane with enclosed cockpits, powered gun turrets and retractable undercarriage. When it first flew in 1932 its max speed matched that of the worlds fastet Interceptor, the RAF's Hawker Fury, and you can imagine the uproar that caused. Although obsolete and largely retired by the time the war had begun, every operational bomber of the British and German air forces that went to war in 1939 followed the basic template set out by the B-10.

4 DH Mosquito - the first real departure from the B-10 formula to be successful (in design terms planes like the B-17 can be likened to scaled up B-10's - this does not diminish their legendary success and contribution, I am speaking purely in design terms. I can see the B-17 becoming the P-51 of this thread).


After the B-10 bombers got ever bigger, acquiring greater armour, greater firepower and more engines to cope with the greater weight, the B-17 and Avro Lancaster are the epitome of this trend and I wanted to include them both buit that is not the point of this thread. neither of them really brought about anything new, just improved past trends to the limit.

The Mosquito however was a breath of fresh air. This lightweight and lightly armoured fast bomber was a new concept. It had no defensive guns and relied on its speed and manouverability to avoid interception. It was really the first ever strike aircraft in the modern sense and thus the great grandaddy of the Tornado GR.4 and similar planes. Its basic concept of lightness and speed were so successful that versions of it were fitted with guns and flown as fighters, while the opposite transformation is very common the conversion of a bomber into a fighter is extremely rare.

5 Boeing B-29 - After a decade of building ever bigger and more capable bombers on the pattern of the B-10, the B-29 introduced genuinely new thinking to strategic bomber design. Its low aspect ratio wing and pressurised cabin allowed it to cruise out of the reach of fighters while its powerful engines also gave it the same top speed as the Mk 1 Spitfire and the bomb load of the Lancaster, an awesome combination. Its notoriety was ensured by it being the only aircraft ever to drop nuclear weapons in anger. It is also the only US heavy bomber to be bought by the RAF in peace time ansd was also copied to give the USSR its first practical strategic bombing capability.

6 Boeing B-47/B-52 I have had to lump these two together as although the B-52 is the very epitome of a strategic jet Bomber it was really only a scale up of the B-47 in its design philosophy.

7 Douglas A-4 Skyhawk - the A-4 redefined the class of naval attack bomber when it first appeared in 1954, it showed that bombers needn't be big and heavy and lumbering but could be just as small and agile as fighter aircraft and still be effective. Although fighters had been used toi drop bombs ever since WW1, actually designing a fighter sized bomber had seemingly not occurred to anyone before, even the WW2 Hawker Typhoon was a converted ex-fighter. Gave birth to the class of bomber we now call 'light tactical aircraft'.

8 HS Harrier - the first revolutionary new type of bomber since the A-4, the VTOL tree-sheltering forward based attack aircraft brought a new dimension to the battlefield when it was introduced to service in 1969. Suprisingly little appreciated away from the RAF and USMC the Harrier was reknowned for bringing the versatility of the helicopter to the high speed combat jet.

9 GD F-111 Operationally this was the DH Mosquito of the 1970's, a fast hard hitting long range strike bomber and very impressive with it, inspired the Su-24 and to a lesser extent the Tornado so deservedly takes the accolade as the definitive strike bomber of its age, but only because the TSR 2 was canned


GAP (wondering if, and how, the B--1 or F-117 can be described as definitive. I'm tempted to say yes, but need to think a little more or have the reasons spelled out by someone else)


12 Northrop B-2, the name says it all really, biggest change in the way bombers are designed and built since the Martin B-10.


[edit on 7-11-2005 by waynos]




posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 02:10 PM
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XB-35 deserves some creds for setting the stage for flying wing bombers. Despite it never reaching full production due to the limitations of current computer technology, I believe that if FBW existed back then, that it would be one hell of a bomber. Despite it possibly, remotely having some connection to the Horton Flying wings(just to cover those hardcore German Tech fans that say that the Horton flying wings are more influential than the original Northrop wings, which personally I think that Northrop had his own ideas in mind). Just a bit remotely.

Shattered OUT...



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 02:58 PM
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I'd have to include the the B-58 Hustler and possibly the the Tu-95 Bear in this group. The B-58 for being the first supersonic bomber and the Bear for being the first turboprop bomber.

As much as I love the A-4 and the Mosquito I think that we would be better off adding an attack aircraft catagory and putting both of them in that group along with the Stormovik



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 03:25 PM
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Originally posted by JIMC5499
I'd have to include the the B-58 Hustler and possibly the the Tu-95 Bear in this group. The B-58 for being the first supersonic bomber and the Bear for being the first turboprop bomber.

As much as I love the A-4 and the Mosquito I think that we would be better off adding an attack aircraft catagory and putting both of them in that group along with the Stormovik


Gonna disagree with you here Jim


For me, the Mosquito was undoubtedly one of the best ever examples of ingenious engineering and fully deserves its place. DeHavilland's train of thought for the concept (making a high performance aircraft that uses commonly available materials - i.e. freely available within the UK) behind the Mosquito was inspired, and the execution perfect.

[edit on 7-11-2005 by kilcoo316]



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 04:01 PM
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Originally posted by kilcoo316
Gonna disagree with you here Jim


For me, the Mosquito was undoubtedly one of the best ever examples of ingenious engineering and fully deserves its place. DeHavilland's train of thought for the concept (making a high performance aircraft that uses commonly available materials - i.e. freely available within the UK) behind the Mosquito was inspired, and the execution perfect.

[edit on 7-11-2005 by kilcoo316]


Everything that you say is true. The Mosquito was an excellant aircraft and was one of the first to have major structures made from composite materials. (Yes plywood is a composite) Where I have to differ is in the relation of the Mossie to the other aircraft mentioned. The others listed show the developement of strategic bombers while the Mosquito was in a class by itself. The only other aircraft that I can think to compair the Mosquito to would be the A-6 Intruder. This is why I feel that the Mosquito shold be the lead aircraft in the Attack catagory.



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 04:35 PM
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Originally posted by JIMC5499
I'd have to include the the B-58 Hustler and possibly the the Tu-95 Bear in this group. The B-58 for being the first supersonic bomber and the Bear for being the first turboprop bomber.

As much as I love the A-4 and the Mosquito I think that we would be better off adding an attack aircraft catagory and putting both of them in that group along with the Stormovik


And herein we see the very difficulty that I was on about at the beginning, many people see bombers as meaning strategic bombers whilst others see them as anything designed to drop bombs.

Again, out of a desire not to clutter the board with too many similar threads I elected to lump them all in just the one. While I understand and actually agree with your reasoning I hope you understand why I did it this way.

In considering the Tu-95 I came to the conclusion that it was basically of the same breed as the B-52 in a broad sense so, having already decided to pick just one plane from each era I couldn't really pick anything over the B-52, not even my beloved V bombers. I would have been crucified!
And rightly so.

I think I genuinely boobed by missing out the B-58 though. How on earth could I have forgotten that? I was probably too upset at the realisation I couldn't have the TSR 2 or I would have broken my own rule! Yes, the B-58 is definitely in at number 7.5!

Shattered, I couldn't put the B-35 in, though I came close to including the B-36! The B-35 was unique, until they fitted it with jets and called it the B-49 anyway
If I was doing a thread on the most impressive bombers then yes, it would be in, but in the grand scheme of bomber design it didn't really lead anywhere (and please don't give me the B-2 - that is utterly different in every respect except leading edge sweep and wingspan and this is not the thread for that particular discussion. I would be happy to debate it elsewhere with anyone who disagreees though.)



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 11:22 PM
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B-1B = Supersonic, low flying, slightly stealthy, and carries the largest weapons payload of any American bomber. It took Afghanistan and Iraq for the Air Force to really appreciate it and value it.



posted on Nov, 7 2005 @ 11:35 PM
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Originally posted by NWguy83
B-1B = Supersonic, low flying, slightly stealthy, and carries the largest weapons payload of any American bomber. It took Afghanistan and Iraq for the Air Force to really appreciate it and value it.


And almost as deadly to its crews as the F104 "widowmaker". I'd suggest that the Lancer doesn't belong anywhere on one of these lists for the fact that it was canned, resurrected at great cost and then had a short shelf-life.

AS for XB35, I thought they were Northrop YB 49s. Which were practically in full production before the AAF said "If it can't carry the bomb, no thanks."



posted on Nov, 8 2005 @ 01:14 AM
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I think your list should incorporate the Junkers Ju-87 (the most common "Stuka" and also the most famous german airplane ever). This aircraft introduced (not invented) the precision strike on the battlefield, and the whole concept was designed to that specific task. It incorporated some of the first true "autopilot" features (automated bomb release and dive recovery in case the pilot passed out), it literally kept the whole french army in check while the ground troops advanced, and - most outstanding - it was the first airplane that was intended to fight in cooperation with ground forces (the combined-arms-philosophy was the true reason for the initial superiourity of the german military, and not some fuzzy "Blitzkrieg" concept).

True, they were easy prey against the later allied fighter planes, but that is the fate of every bomber without air support. Above the novelty the Ju-87 was on the battlefield it was technically superiour to all its contemporary divebomber rivals, packing a higher bomb load, better flight characteristics and for a long time unrivaled 80+ degrees dive angle.

The Ju-87 was also the weapon of choice for Major Hans Ulrich Rudel, who is generally credited to be the most effective single soldier of all times who managed to score reported victories against more than 500 tanks and two ships, not to mention the hundreds of other succesful raids. I think some of this has to be credited to his formidable airplane.

[edit on 8/11/2005 by Lonestar24]



posted on Nov, 8 2005 @ 02:53 AM
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Originally posted by HowlrunnerIV
And almost as deadly to its crews as the F104 "widowmaker". I'd suggest that the Lancer doesn't belong anywhere on one of these lists for the fact that it was canned, resurrected at great cost and then had a short shelf-life.


Number of B-1B crashes in the past 10 years?



posted on Nov, 8 2005 @ 02:59 AM
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Originally posted by HowlrunnerIV
AS for XB35, I thought they were Northrop YB 49s. Which were practically in full production before the AAF said "If it can't carry the bomb, no thanks."


The YB 49 was essentially the XB-35 fitted with jet engines, they also had to add fins to the YB-49 to compensate for the lack of side area which had been provided by the propellers.


Originally posted by Lonestar24
I think your list should incorporate the Junkers Ju-87


And I agree with you too, see, I said this was a difficult one!

The impact of the Ju-87 on the early part of the war and the Spanish civil war before it was such that the very word 'Stuka' was feared throughout Europe, a defined breed if ever there was one. Very good shout!

[edit on 8-11-2005 by waynos]



posted on Nov, 8 2005 @ 06:55 AM
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Originally posted by ShatteredSkies
XB-35 deserves some creds for setting the stage for flying wing bombers. Despite it never reaching full production due to the limitations of current computer technology, I believe that if FBW existed back then, that it would be one hell of a bomber. Despite it possibly, remotely having some connection to the Horton Flying wings(just to cover those hardcore German Tech fans that say that the Horton flying wings are more influential than the original Northrop wings, which personally I think that Northrop had his own ideas in mind). Just a bit remotely.

Shattered OUT...


I would have to agree with you on that, Shattered Skies. The X/YB-35 and the YB-49 were the basis for the B-2. The Research data from those programs played a key role in helping Northrop design the structure of the B-2 and in developing the control laws that were used to develop thw FBW software fot the B-2's digital flight control system. Folks remember, the B-2 is the culmination of Flying Wing research at Northop that started back in 1928. There are 60 years worth of research and development that contributed the the B-2 Spirit! The B-2 is the culmination of countless years of reserch into many areas: Bombing, Flying Wings, Computer technology, Low Obserability (Stealth), ECT.

Tim



posted on Nov, 8 2005 @ 07:09 AM
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Originally posted by waynos
And herein we see the very difficulty that I was on about at the beginning, many people see bombers as meaning strategic bombers whilst others see them as anything designed to drop bombs.

Again, out of a desire not to clutter the board with too many similar threads I elected to lump them all in just the one. While I understand and actually agree with your reasoning I hope you understand why I did it this way.



There is no such thing as cluttering up the board with good threads. I ask that you reconsider and start an Attack thread. I'd do it myself but you have done such a good job that it wouldn't be right. I forgot about the Stuka and agree that it should lead the Attack catagory.



posted on Nov, 8 2005 @ 01:14 PM
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The first bombers were the airships of ww1 that was the start, what about the Lancster or Wellingiton or Betty (iirc the japanese bomber) and what no torpedo bombers?

that list is imcoplete missing the grandslam/bambusters, the anti-shipping pacific bombers, and the old/new bi/mono torpedo bombers.



posted on Nov, 9 2005 @ 05:41 PM
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Originally posted by Lonestar24
I think your list should incorporate the Junkers Ju-87 (the most common "Stuka" and also the most famous german airplane ever). This aircraft introduced (not invented) the precision strike on the battlefield,


Can't argue with that. They were designed after Ernst Udet saw the Curtiss dive bomber and took a couple to Germany. All other divebombers were maritime.



Above the novelty the Ju-87 was on the battlefield it was technically superiour to all its contemporary divebomber rivals,


Better than the Japanese Aichi (Val)? That's a big claim.

Really, after the BoB the only practical use the Stuka had was as a tankbuster. And then it has to compete with Ilyushin IL2 "Sturmovik", Henschel HS 129, Hawker Hurricane and (my favourite) Hawker Typhoon. None of which, with the possible exception of the Soviet flying tank, can be said to be definitive , because they were built for other purposes, which were not bombing.

And the Stuka had to have 37mm cannon strapped to its spats AND they only carried a few rounds each. Meaning you could kill a couple of tanks, but you couldn't strafe a column and create general mayhem. Which the Typhoon, while not nearly as deadly as its rep would imply, was perfect at, with its mixed armament of rockets and cannon.

Let's face it, the Stuka was the orginal tactical bomber. It could put a 250 kg bomb exactly where you wanted it, every time. It's a lot like the Panzer. German tanks were not a quantum leap over allied tanks, but tactics were.



posted on Nov, 10 2005 @ 03:05 AM
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Originally posted by Char2c35t
The first bombers were the airships of ww1 that was the start,


No, the first bombers were Voisin biplanes used by Turkey (Ottoman Empire) in 1911.


what about the Lancster or Wellingiton or Betty (iirc the japanese bomber) and what no torpedo bombers?


I've already said that all bombers before the B-29 were designed to the same principle set out by the Martin B-10


that list is imcoplete missing the grandslam/bambusters, the anti-shipping pacific bombers, and the old/new bi/mono torpedo bombers.


I think you have completely missed the point of the post, you may wish to read it again but in conjunction with the comments I made on the fighters thread.

I do however agree that I missed out Torpedo bombers. That was a mistake. Here the definitive article must, in my opinion, be the Fairey Swordfish. Despite being completely obsolete by 1939 the RN enjoyed stunning success with it and the Swordfish attack that crippled the Italian fleet at Taranto was used as a blueprint by the Japanese for Pearl Harbour. The Stringbag became a legend and served throughout the war, and with a top speed of 130 mph it must have been the slowest combat aircraft in the world!

[edit on 10-11-2005 by waynos]



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