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Subject: Historically ... a 3 day break between missions? rss

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David Janik-Jones
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I'm struggling to find any specific info about the historic number of days between missions for a B-17 crew during 1942 or 1943. Just trying to better record my upcoming missions days on my records, so that it is somewhat correct from a history point of view.

Does 3 days between bombing missions seem about right? That was one source I found.
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Garen Evans
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I don't know the answer to that, but I think it would have an impact on long term mission success, as least as far as weather is concerned. So, if you started during a month of good weather, and when the next month was bad weather, then you could get in about 10 missions during good weather. During that time you might have several crew upgrade as Bomber Aces, which would help down the road.
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Ted Leiker
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http://www.303rdbg.com/missions.html

That's every mission the 303rd flew. That will give you an idea of how often they flew on missions. Weather (time of year) probably played the biggest factor.

Most of the reading I've done indicates that a crew completed their tour in about 6 months and that included a couple of 10 day R&R periods to an estate designated for that exact purpose.
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E Githens

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According to Combat Crew by James Comer (a top turret gunner/engineer with the 381st BG), here are the dates he flew:

1943

Aug 15 (mission aborted in-flight), 16, 19, 24, 31
Sep 3, 6, 9, 16
Oct 2, 8, 9, 14
Nov 3, 5, 7, 26
Dec 1, 5, 11, 13, 20, 22, 24, 30

1944
Jan 5

That would at least give you a real-world example of what the tempo was like for one crew.
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Garen Evans
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atleiker wrote:
http://www.303rdbg.com/missions.html

That's every mission the 303rd flew. That will give you an idea of how often they flew on missions. Weather (time of year) probably played the biggest factor.

Most of the reading I've done indicates that a crew completed their tour in about 6 months and that included a couple of 10 day R&R periods to an estate designated for that exact purpose.


That's some great information! However, I'm not sure it really answered the question. The data is on the entire Bomb Group: the average for the group was 2.43 days between missions. My understanding is that a single B-17/B-24 aircraft was part of that group, so isn't possible that a single aircraft would have flown less? That is, not every plane in the group flew every mission? Surely command would have assigned squadrons so they were fresh. One of those days in the logs shows two missions on the same day.
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giwiganz wrote:
atleiker wrote:
http://www.303rdbg.com/missions.html

That's every mission the 303rd flew. That will give you an idea of how often they flew on missions. Weather (time of year) probably played the biggest factor.

Most of the reading I've done indicates that a crew completed their tour in about 6 months and that included a couple of 10 day R&R periods to an estate designated for that exact purpose.


That's some great information! However, I'm not sure it really answered the question. The data is on the entire Bomb Group: the average for the group was 2.43 days between missions. My understanding is that a single B-17/B-24 aircraft was part of that group, so isn't possible that a single aircraft would have flown less? That is, not every plane in the group flew every mission? Surely command would have assigned squadrons so they were fresh. One of those days in the logs shows two missions on the same day.


I would treat the B17 crew like a starting pitcher in the major leagues. Some rest required, but might come back early and ready.

After a complete mission, require 2 days rest + 1d6 additional days. You're talking an entire crew ready to go, so illness, concussions, etc. could all be healing.

You could even do DMs for length of previous mission too.

1-5 +0
5-10 +1
11-15 +2

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Ted Leiker
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giwiganz wrote:
atleiker wrote:
http://www.303rdbg.com/missions.html

That's every mission the 303rd flew. That will give you an idea of how often they flew on missions. Weather (time of year) probably played the biggest factor.

Most of the reading I've done indicates that a crew completed their tour in about 6 months and that included a couple of 10 day R&R periods to an estate designated for that exact purpose.


That's some great information! However, I'm not sure it really answered the question. The data is on the entire Bomb Group: the average for the group was 2.43 days between missions. My understanding is that a single B-17/B-24 aircraft was part of that group, so isn't possible that a single aircraft would have flown less? That is, not every plane in the group flew every mission? Surely command would have assigned squadrons so they were fresh. One of those days in the logs shows two missions on the same day.


Yes, not every bomber flew on every mission. The basic idea when the bomber groups were formed was that 3 squadrons would fly while 1 stayed home (4 squadrons made a group), constantly rotating the off squadron. In practice that didn't happen due to a variety of reasons.

A group was 48 aircraft (12x4), but generally a full commitment to a mission was somewhere between 21 and 28 aircraft, depending on the period and the box being flown.

Take this mission to Schweinfurt in Feb 44 as an example. The group put up 20 aircraft in their own box and then another 7 joined a composite group as part of another box. http://www.303rdbg.com/missionreports/112.pdf

Edit:

Oh btw, are you the same Garen Evans that had/has a virtual airline some years ago? If so I used to fly for your VA!
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That's more like it! That's 4 to 8 missions per month, with 80% of the months only 4 missions: average of 5.7 days between missions, with min and max from 1 to 20.

How about this: after every mission, roll 1d10 to determine how many days until next mission. On a roll of 1-8, then roll 1d6: for days of rest. On a roll of 9 to 10, days of rest = 15 + 1d6 days.

AFIntel wrote:
According to Combat Crew by James Comer (a top turret gunner/engineer with the 381st BG), here are the dates he flew:

1943

Aug 15 (mission aborted in-flight), 16, 19, 24, 31
Sep 3, 6, 9, 16
Oct 2, 8, 9, 14
Nov 3, 5, 7, 26
Dec 1, 5, 11, 13, 20, 22, 24, 30

1944
Jan 5

That would at least give you a real-world example of what the tempo was like for one crew.
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Garen Evans
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atleiker wrote:
giwiganz wrote:
atleiker wrote:
http://www.303rdbg.com/missions.html

That's every mission the 303rd flew. That will give you an idea of how often they flew on missions. Weather (time of year) probably played the biggest factor.

Most of the reading I've done indicates that a crew completed their tour in about 6 months and that included a couple of 10 day R&R periods to an estate designated for that exact purpose.


That's some great information! However, I'm not sure it really answered the question. The data is on the entire Bomb Group: the average for the group was 2.43 days between missions. My understanding is that a single B-17/B-24 aircraft was part of that group, so isn't possible that a single aircraft would have flown less? That is, not every plane in the group flew every mission? Surely command would have assigned squadrons so they were fresh. One of those days in the logs shows two missions on the same day.


Yes, not every bomber flew on every mission. The basic idea when the bomber groups were formed was that 3 squadrons would fly while 1 stayed home (4 squadrons made a group), constantly rotating the off squadron. In practice that didn't happen due to a variety of reasons.

A group was 48 aircraft (12x4), but generally a full commitment to a mission was somewhere between 21 and 28 aircraft, depending on the period and the box being flown.

Take this mission to Schweinfurt in Feb 44 as an example. The group put up 20 aircraft in their own box and then another 7 joined a composite group as part of another box. http://www.303rdbg.com/missionreports/112.pdf

Edit:

Oh btw, are you the same Garen Evans that had/has a virtual airline some years ago? If so I used to fly for your VA!


How true you are - small world my friend!
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Tony Holt
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I'm not sure where I found it, whether it was here on TfT or in the B17 QotS forums, but someone had posted the mission dates for several different squadrons and Groups.

I did the math, and it came out to an average of 6 days between missions. Granted, the data was not granular at the individual plane level, but rather at the squadron or group/wing level. It DID incorporate the 10, 20 and 30 days layoffs some units saw.

For my campaign, I am using a 2d6-1 for the # of days between missions for my squadron, and I am playing the full group game, with currently 21 bombers in my squadron, with a max of 24. Only 18 fly on any given mission, and I have the planes numbered from 1-24 (well, currently 21) and I use a random # generator on the Internet to give me a random list of the #'s. Whichever bomber numbers come out at 19-24 on that list do not fly the current mission.

Tony
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I'm playing Campaign 1 now and what I did was create a daily calendar spanning from August 1, 1942 to April 30, 1943. I use the sum of 2D10 to separate each mission. The 2D10 gives a bell-curve of probabilities with the most likely sum being 11. That's likely longer than the average historical span between missions but is long enough that the campaign will go through some number of months and will experience the weather impacts of the different seasons.

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In my campaign, also campaign 1, using the 2d6-1 method, I am 7 missions and 8 sorties (one mission was called recalled due to weather) in, and I am at Sept 24th. So, so far I am averaging 6.875 days between missions.

Tony
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Kurt
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AFIntel wrote:
According to Combat Crew by James Comer (a top turret gunner/engineer with the 381st BG), here are the dates he flew:

1943

Aug 15 (mission aborted in-flight), 16, 19, 24, 31
Sep 3, 6, 9, 16
Oct 2, 8, 9, 14
Nov 3, 5, 7, 26
Dec 1, 5, 11, 13, 20, 22, 24, 30

1944
Jan 5

That would at least give you a real-world example of what the tempo was like for one crew.



I'm using 1 + 1d6 which seems to be consistent with the 381st dates.
 
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My grandfather was a radio operator with the 429th BS, 2nd BG, 5th BW, 15th AF. Here are the dates of his missions he flew on.

1944
Sept
20 and 22
Oct
12, 17, 23
Nov
4, 5, 6

The hole here could be explained by a story I was told about burns that were caused by a camp stove in his tent. Winters at Amendola could get very cold. Per the group's history, they flew 34 missions during this period. Interestingly, this included several night pathfinder intruder raids and several daylight raids with less than a dozen bombers.

Dec
27 and 28

1945

Jan
15, 19, 31
Feb
5, 13, 16, 17, 22
Mar
4, 12, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 26, 31
Apr
5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16
 
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Tony Holt
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Doing some quick math on that, and not including the long break in Nov/Dec '44, that works out to an average of 4.8 days between missions. If you include the long break, it's 6.2 days.

I'm still liking my 2d6-1, with another roll if a 12 is rolled (1-7=1 day, 8-9=3 days, 10=15 days, 11=20 days and 12=30 days). I can see where other methods would also be accurate, with less chance of variability.

Tony
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There is a lot that went into the days between flights for a Bomber/crew, crewman or even a squadron. The disposition of the plane, crewman's wounds, number of planes flyable or even mental state.

I have read where an individual crew men would volunteer to go on planes missing a crew man to catch up with his crew as he missed a few missions being sick/hurt. Or maybe he just wanted to get it over with too.

along with all the previously mentioned reasons.

During my missions, personal or campaigns I ran, I would factor in the previous days weather and squadron losses to determine the next day for the mission. In my BGG 281st BG(H) campaign I followed the historical missions date. So we were flying with fewer days off than in real life.
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Gunners often missed missions because their usual bomber was tasked to carry observers or command personnel. Those people would either directly bump the gunners or bump officers who in turn bumped gunners.

For example, if the aircraft was carrying a "command pilot" (say the group or division commander), typically that officer would sit in the cockpit. The copilot would then take the tail gunner's position from which he could observe the rest of the formation. The tail gunner was then left on the ground. Also in many groups an experienced pilot would fly with the crew on the first mission, typically bumping the pilot to the copilot's seat and causing the copilot either to miss the mission or bump a gunner. This was pretty common for the formation's lead aircraft.

Other personnel such as staff officers might get to fly on a mission and would typically replace one or both waist gunners, who again were left on the ground. Camera crews also frequently took up the waist gunner positions; there might be one per box.

Getting bumped caused the gunners to fall behind on mission count. The officers, flight engineer, and radioman usually got to fly each mission would meet their mission quota more or less together. Meanwhile the gunners would be languishing with just a couple of missions to go, begging to fly with any crew that would have them.

You can get the precise composition of each crew as it flew the missions from the "loading lists" on many bombardment group veterans' associations' websites.
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