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View Full Version : Bail Out!..Would you survive in WW2?



MB_Avro_UK
01-31-2008, 04:45 PM
Hi all,

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the chances of Bailing Out of an RAF Lancaster Bomber was about 7%. The RAF Halifax had a slightly better average of 10%. The doors on a Halifax were slightly bigger?

Any more information regarding WW2 aircraft?

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Zeus-cat
01-31-2008, 04:55 PM
The Lancaster is a horrible example to use. It flew many missions at night and at low altitude. Some of the planes hit trees, power lines, etc. Crews of planes that were hit by AAA or night fighters would have little chance to bail out if they were at low altitude. There was also a problem that anyone trying to bail out of the side door could hit the large tail.

The Lancaster was a good plane and it was tough, but if it was going down your odds of survival were poor.

Airmail109
01-31-2008, 05:01 PM
Yeah Id probably do what my Grandad did, be a dispatch rider dodge most of the action and sleep with as many women as I could.

That or I'd have been a sniper.

Schwarz.13
01-31-2008, 05:53 PM
Most pilots (fighter pilots anyway) prefered to attempt a belly landing rather than to bailout (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO4OHlVpApU). I believe that while both had their inherent risks, bailing out was seen as more risky and harrowing; and also that a pilot sometimes felt compelled to try to save his 'kite' if at all possible.

In combat though, one didn't necessarily have any choice other than to try (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNvpF-9nFfs&feature=related) http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif

leitmotiv
01-31-2008, 06:05 PM
See Middlebrook's classic: THE NUREMBERG RAID. The problem with the Lanc was not low altitude missions, which were a tiny fraction of its mission tally in Bomber Command, but awkwardly placed hatches compared to its stable mate, the Halifax, which were hard to reach in a crisis (esp for the pilot, the Lanc pilot was usually found in the wreck of his airplane). Middlebrook has more fascinating statistics (he was once an insurance man, and was used to using such data!) in THE BERLIN RAIDS about aircrew survival in the Merlin Lanc, Hercules Lanc, Stirling, Merlin Halifax, and Hercules Halifax. Ultimately, the Merlin Lancs gave their crews the best odds during the B of Berlin because they could cruise at over 20,000 feet. The German night fighters went after the easy pickings Merlin Halifaxes and the Stirlings which cruised several thousand feet lower. Airborne Darwinism.

DuxCorvan
02-01-2008, 09:30 AM
I'm good at survival. It's not that I'm skilled nor sensible, I guess I'm just lucky. Unfortunately, surviving is not always the most wanted choice.

If I lived through a war, I guess that I'd survive some terrible danger against all odds, just to be a witness of something horribly awful for myself or my loved ones. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

As for the topic, statistics always seem a little silly in these cases. You survive or you do not, you just know it isn't likely, but giving exact numbers (7%, 10%) is just for those with an accountant heart.

Kernow
02-01-2008, 10:08 AM
I understood that relatively few crew got out of a Lanc partly because of the main spar, which was quite an obstacle for the navigator and wireless operator to get past. But, as leitmotiv pointed out, they were less likely to be shot down in the first place.

I thinks it's one of Middlebrook's books that says you were roughly twice as likely to get out of a Halifax, as opposed to a Lancaster.

Pluto8742
02-01-2008, 12:55 PM
I once had a look inside the RAF memorial flight Lancaster. I was just wearing a suit and still found it hard to get around inside. Wearing a flying suit and airborne it must have been very, very difficult indeed.

Cheers,

P8.

LEBillfish
02-01-2008, 01:03 PM
A lot of the issues I understand with bombers were, once they got out of control the G-forces simply were too difficult to overcome at times...Past that you could move freely somewhat, and once out dependant on where you ejected potentially clear.

You'll not a lot of fighters pop the top as they roll over then tumble out (though probably more jumping) As otherwise you're having to climb out into an intense slipstream fighting it, and try to miss the tail section.....and wasn't it P-38 pilots that were supposed to walk the wing then jump?....Nuts.

For myself, I most likely would of been fine as long as I landed out to sea.....Rubber dingy be da*ned, have it or not I could float for days http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/winky.gifhttp://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

Aaron_GT
02-01-2008, 01:05 PM
WW2 bombers seem to have a reverse Tardis effect.

What were the survival rates in a Hampden? Fewer crew, but very tight quarters. Ditto A20 series.

DuxCorvan
02-01-2008, 01:47 PM
Originally posted by LEBillfish:
For myself, I most likely would of been fine as long as I landed out to sea.....Rubber dingy be da*ned, have it or not I could float for days http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/winky.gifhttp://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

If you fall from a high speed, low flying plane out to the sea, your old days parachute most likely won't open, you'll rebound and splash into a water hard wall, and your "floaters" will only serve for body search purposes ("floating for days"), unless they pop out of your body with impact... http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

But hey, your theory explains the casting in "Baywatch". http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

MB_Avro_UK
02-01-2008, 06:25 PM
Originally posted by DuxCorvan:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by LEBillfish:
For myself, I most likely would of been fine as long as I landed out to sea.....Rubber dingy be da*ned, have it or not I could float for days http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/winky.gifhttp://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

If you fall from a high speed, low flying plane out to the sea, your old days parachute most likely won't open, you'll rebound and splash into a water hard wall, and your "floaters" will only serve for body search purposes ("floating for days"), unless they pop out of your body with impact... http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

But hey, your theory explains the casting in "Baywatch". http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Dux,

I don't want to insult you, but your humour is very British http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

For a long time, you have exhibited 'British Humour' in your posts. This has to stop. We British can't have 'Johnny Foreigners' playing our game of humour.

(This is getting far too close to a 'Monty Python' episode).

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v82/MB_Avro/colonel.jpg


Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

buzzsaw1939
02-01-2008, 06:46 PM
Aimail... LEBillfish...Dux...all in one thread!

Your killing me!.... stop, stop!
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif

MB_Avro_UK
02-01-2008, 06:56 PM
Originally posted by buzzsaw1939:
Aimail... LEBillfish...Dux...all in one thread!

Your killing me!.... stop, stop!
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif

Hey buzzaw1939,

I have the same concerns...

But Dux is the real threat to this thread IMO..

As is Ms.Fish and Aimail. Where did they get those handles from?

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Schwarz.13
02-01-2008, 07:50 PM
Originally posted by LEBillfish:and wasn't it P-38 pilots that were supposed to walk the wing then jump?....Nuts.

Actually, they were supposed to climb out on to the wing, lie down and let the slipstream carry them off and under the tail section (otherwise roll it onto its back and fall out, of course).

But in a combat situation, still, as you said - "Nuts".

Airmail109
02-01-2008, 08:46 PM
Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by buzzsaw1939:
Aimail... LEBillfish...Dux...all in one thread!

Your killing me!.... stop, stop!
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif

Hey buzzaw1939,

I have the same concerns...

But Dux is the real threat to this thread IMO..

As is Ms.Fish and Aimail. Where did they get those handles from?

Best Regards,
MB_Avro. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I mispelled mine. Twice.

DuxCorvan
02-02-2008, 05:18 AM
Originally posted by buzzsaw1939:
Your killing me!.... stop, stop!


Hit the silk!
http://www.yeocheowtong.com/Graphics/spanking_Photo.jpg

leitmotiv
02-02-2008, 05:25 AM
http://www.pollyticks.com/media/1/Spanking-superheros-b_WEB.jpg

MB_Avro_UK
02-02-2008, 06:20 PM
Hi all,

The year is 1940..my squadron is involved in an unescorted daylight Operation over Germany..

We have taken heavy casualties again from Luftwaffe fighters..we are heading back to England...

The crate is holed badly. Engines are loosing power and fuel is enough for maybe 5 minutes...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v82/MB_Avro/wellington-bomber.jpg

What are the chances of hitting the silk? (no women on board).. or should I attempt a dead-stick landing?

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

Blood_Splat
02-02-2008, 06:35 PM
Dead stick landing. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

buzzsaw1939
02-03-2008, 01:21 AM
MB... All things conciderd, you probably have wounded, and sense empty tanks don't burn, I would put it down while I had fuel and a choice where! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Pluto8742
02-03-2008, 03:02 AM
Originally posted by MB_Avro_UK:
What are the chances of hitting the silk? (no women on board).. or should I attempt a dead-stick landing?

Statistically, it's a no brainer. Even WWII parachutes had an excellent success rate (probably better than 99%). The chance of getting killed in a crash landing anywhere other than an airfield must have been much higher.

I'd jump (unless it was over water).

Cheers,

P8.

MEGILE
02-03-2008, 03:04 AM
Originally posted by Pluto8742:


I'd jump (unless it was over water).

Cheers,

P8.

IIRC water landings could prove deadly in some planes.. The Mustang and Tempest Spring to mind.

MB_Avro_UK
02-03-2008, 05:19 PM
Hi all,

My Wellington post related to an ideal situation.

Airframe intact and time enough to bail.

The Wellington had a crew of 5 IIRC. In that situation even the pilot (RAF bombers had only 1 pilot) would probably have been able to bail even though he would have been the last one.

How were the figures calculated for a 11% chance of bailing out of a Halifax for instance?

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

leitmotiv
02-03-2008, 07:02 PM
The percentages provided by Middlebrook were survival odds for the various aircrew, not odds of making it to a hatch. The hatch business is all anecdotal---from stories from aircrew. As far as I know, the RAF never ran scientific surveys on chances of reaching hatches---but you never know. You can bet sheer terror of chucking yourself headlong into "the central blue" deterred some. Would have deterred me. And, there are cases enough to demonstrate most crews preferred to throw the dice in their airplane unless given no other option by fire or airframe disintegration. As for the Welly example, I'd stay with the old bird, especially if it appeared we were going down at sea.

leitmotiv
02-03-2008, 07:08 PM
What doomed many pilots was simple, as demonstrated by the fate of a Stirling pilot in Deighton's superb Bomber Command novel, BOMBER. This was structural damage which made the bomber flip out of control the minute the sweating pilot took his hands off the yoke. He would have next to no chance of making it anywhere while pinned to the side of the fuselage by centrifugal force. Some were saved by explosions which threw them out, or by catastrophic airframe breaking which threw them clear. Centrifugal force isn't modeled in 46---as you can see aircrew prettily bouncing out of even spinning bomber wrecks.

Patriot_Act
02-03-2008, 08:17 PM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
What doomed many pilots was simple, as demonstrated by the fate of a Stirling pilot in Deighton's superb Bomber Command novel, BOMBER. This was structural damage which made the bomber flip out of control the minute the sweating pilot took his hands off the yoke. He would have next to no chance of making it anywhere while pinned to the side of the fuselage by centrifugal force. Some were saved by explosions which threw them out, or by catastrophic airframe breaking which threw them clear. Centrifugal force isn't modeled in 46---as you can see aircrew prettily bouncing out of even spinning bomber wrecks.

USAAF bombers had autopilot. Trick was to engage the autopilot and bail.
It often failed to work, but it also often worked. B-17 and B-24 were not bad to get out of.
Hatches were well placed and detachable. Most at risk were the tail and ball turret gunners.
Did the British bombers have two sets of controls? Nearly all US Bombers had
a pilot and co pilot with full controls.

P.A.

leitmotiv
02-03-2008, 08:32 PM
As noted in BOMBER and Middlebrook---autopilot did you no good when the tip of your wing was missing or other kinds of massive damage where only brute strength and the experience of the pilot was holding the airplane level. The autopilot was never designed to compensate for massive damage. Hollywood films show pilots lashing yokes with rope to hold airplanes level, but that's Hollywood.

In 1942 RAF Bomber Command switched from two pilots to one to increase the number of pilots. The second pilot, who was also the bomb aimer, was replaced by a flight engineer and a dedicated bomb aimer. Prior to this, some bombers had two yokes, but not the Wellington or Hampden. The Manchester and early Lancasters had two yokes. As far as I know, the Halifax never had two yokes. Do not know about the Stirling and Whitley.

jadger
02-04-2008, 03:26 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Mynarski

In the aftermath of D-Day attacks, on 12 June 1944, the 13th "op" of the crew, Mynarski was aboard VR-A, taking part in a raid on northern France. After encountering flak over the coastline and briefly being "coned" by searchlights, the Lancaster was attacked by a Ju-88 enemy night fighter over Cambrai, France. Raked by cannon fire with major strikes on the port engines and centre fuselage, a hydraulic fire engulfed the bomber. Losing both port engines, the captain, F/O Art de Breyne, ordered the crew to bail out. As Mynarski approached the rear escape door, he saw through the inferno in the rear that his close friend, the tail gunner, Pilot Officer Pat Brophy, was trapped in his turret. The tail turret had been jammed part way through its rotation to escape position.

Without hesitation, Mynarski made his way through the flames to Brophy's assistance. All his efforts were in vain, first using a fire axe to try to pry open the doors and finally, resorting to beating at the turret with his hands, with his own clothing and parachute on fire, Brophy eventually waved him away. Mynarski crawled back through the hydraulic fire, returned to the rear door where he paused and saluted. He then reputedly said "Good night, sir," his familiar nightly sign-off to his friend, and jumped.

Except for Brophy, all crew members of the Avro Lancaster managed to escape the burning bomber. Five were in fairly good condition; however, one had been knocked out while trying to bail out. Jack Friday, the crew's bomb aimer, had tried to release the front escape hatch in the aircraft's nose but the rushing wind ripped it from his hands. The hatch caught him above his left eye. Flight engineer Roy Vigars finding Friday unconscious, quickly clipped on Friday's parachute and tossed his limp body out the hatch while controlling the crewman's rip cord. Vigar's actions likely saved everyone on board who were descending though the front escape hatch. Only Andy Mynarski managed to leave via the rear door.

Mynarski's descent was rapid due to the burnt shroud lines on his parachute with a resulting heavy impact on the ground. He landed alive, though severely burned with his clothes still on fire. French farmers who spotted the flaming bomber found him and brought him to a German field hospital but he died shortly afterwards of severe burns. He was buried in a local cemetery. Pat Brophy remained trapped in the bomber and remained with the airplane when it crashed. He survived the crash and the subsequent detonation of the bomb load and was propelled, alive, from the tail turret.

Four of the crew members: Brophy, navigator Robert Bodie, radio operator James Kelly and pilot de Breyne were hidden by the French and, except for Brophy, returned to England shortly after the crash. Vigars and the wounded bomb aimer Friday were captured by the Germans and interned until they could be liberated by American troops. Pat Brophy joined French Resistance fighters and, after waging war on the ground behind enemy lines, made it back to London in September, 1944 where he learned of Mynarski's death. It wasn't until 1945 when Pat Brophy was reunited with Art de Breyne and the rest of the crew, that the details of his final moments on the aircraft were revealed. He related the story of the valiant efforts made by Mynarski to save him.

Schwarz.13
02-04-2008, 03:49 AM
Originally posted by jadger:
He survived the crash and the subsequent detonation of the bomb load and was propelled, alive, from the tail turret.

Unbelievable! Talk about irony.

It must have been hard for him to come to terms with his own survival and Mynarski's death.

Schwarz.13
02-04-2008, 03:54 AM
Has anyone seen this great film:

http://www.sofacinema.co.uk/guardian/images/products/7/1117-large.jpg

This topic reminds me of the start of the film when David Niven is forced to bail out of his stricken Lancaster at night - all you can see through the escape hatch are the clouds they are flying through in the dark.

It must have been terrifying to jump into the unknown like that. An abyss that might have been frightfully shallow...

leitmotiv
02-04-2008, 04:22 AM
This story was in a book by Arch Whitehouse, a WWI RFC/RAF airmen who wrote about the feats of British bomber crews in WWII, can't recall the title (probably was THE YEARS OF THE WARBIRDS, 1960), read it 40 yrs ago. A British bomber was hit over the UK by a German intruder. The crew had to bail. The guy in question hurled himself out of the aircraft at high altitude---and discovered in his haste he had forgotten to grab a 'chute. He fell a long way contemplating his demise. As chance would have it, he first impacted small branches on tall trees which helped brake his fall, then smashed through a greenhouse roof, and then hit a flower bed or some such thing. In sum, he was banged up, but alive. He was in hospital briefly, released, and the same day fatally run down by a lorry. I thought this was unique, but over the years I've come across a small number of equally bizarre absurd escapes from certain death by flyers who fell from on high without a parachute.

Schwarz.13
02-04-2008, 05:01 AM
Originally posted by leitmotiv:
I thought this was unique, but over the years I've come across a small number of equally bizarre absurd escapes from certain death by flyers who fell from on high without a parachute.

1 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_4520000/newsid_4528900/4528958.stm?bw=bb&mp=wm&news=1&nol_storyid=4528958&bbcws=1)

2 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3594996.stm)

3 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/jersey/6196481.stm)

4 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/5277778.stm)

5 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/bradford/4015207.stm)

<span class="ev_code_BLUE">...senses workin' o-ver-time!</span>

DuxCorvan
02-04-2008, 05:50 AM
Originally posted by Schwarz.13:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by leitmotiv:
I thought this was unique, but over the years I've come across a small number of equally bizarre absurd escapes from certain death by flyers who fell from on high without a parachute.

1 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_4520000/newsid_4528900/4528958.stm?bw=bb&mp=wm&news=1&nol_storyid=4528958&bbcws=1)

2 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3594996.stm)

3 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/jersey/6196481.stm)

4 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/5277778.stm)

5 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/bradford/4015207.stm)

<span class="ev_code_BLUE">...senses workin' o-ver-time!</span> </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Note that none of those accidents were without a chute. They happened with a chute 'that didn't work properly', but worked in some way, spiraling uncontrollably till ground. There's a noticeable slowdown in fall, and although such accidents are likely to be fatal, there's a small but significant chance for survival.

It's not the same *without a chute* or anything to slowdown your fall, spiraling or not. The chance to survive extreme altitude falls like that is mostly 0%, except in extremely miraculous-like occasions like the one Leitmotiv tells, which can occur only in an extremely fortunate chain of circumstances and coincidences.

MB_Avro_UK
02-04-2008, 04:23 PM
Originally posted by jadger:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Mynarski

In the aftermath of D-Day attacks, on 12 June 1944, the 13th "op" of the crew, Mynarski was aboard VR-A, taking part in a raid on northern France. After encountering flak over the coastline and briefly being "coned" by searchlights, the Lancaster was attacked by a Ju-88 enemy night fighter over Cambrai, France. Raked by cannon fire with major strikes on the port engines and centre fuselage, a hydraulic fire engulfed the bomber. Losing both port engines, the captain, F/O Art de Breyne, ordered the crew to bail out. As Mynarski approached the rear escape door, he saw through the inferno in the rear that his close friend, the tail gunner, Pilot Officer Pat Brophy, was trapped in his turret. The tail turret had been jammed part way through its rotation to escape position.

Without hesitation, Mynarski made his way through the flames to Brophy's assistance. All his efforts were in vain, first using a fire axe to try to pry open the doors and finally, resorting to beating at the turret with his hands, with his own clothing and parachute on fire, Brophy eventually waved him away. Mynarski crawled back through the hydraulic fire, returned to the rear door where he paused and saluted. He then reputedly said "Good night, sir," his familiar nightly sign-off to his friend, and jumped.

Except for Brophy, all crew members of the Avro Lancaster managed to escape the burning bomber. Five were in fairly good condition; however, one had been knocked out while trying to bail out. Jack Friday, the crew's bomb aimer, had tried to release the front escape hatch in the aircraft's nose but the rushing wind ripped it from his hands. The hatch caught him above his left eye. Flight engineer Roy Vigars finding Friday unconscious, quickly clipped on Friday's parachute and tossed his limp body out the hatch while controlling the crewman's rip cord. Vigar's actions likely saved everyone on board who were descending though the front escape hatch. Only Andy Mynarski managed to leave via the rear door.

Mynarski's descent was rapid due to the burnt shroud lines on his parachute with a resulting heavy impact on the ground. He landed alive, though severely burned with his clothes still on fire. French farmers who spotted the flaming bomber found him and brought him to a German field hospital but he died shortly afterwards of severe burns. He was buried in a local cemetery. Pat Brophy remained trapped in the bomber and remained with the airplane when it crashed. He survived the crash and the subsequent detonation of the bomb load and was propelled, alive, from the tail turret.

Four of the crew members: Brophy, navigator Robert Bodie, radio operator James Kelly and pilot de Breyne were hidden by the French and, except for Brophy, returned to England shortly after the crash. Vigars and the wounded bomb aimer Friday were captured by the Germans and interned until they could be liberated by American troops. Pat Brophy joined French Resistance fighters and, after waging war on the ground behind enemy lines, made it back to London in September, 1944 where he learned of Mynarski's death. It wasn't until 1945 when Pat Brophy was reunited with Art de Breyne and the rest of the crew, that the details of his final moments on the aircraft were revealed. He related the story of the valiant efforts made by Mynarski to save him.

That is so very saddening.

Best Regards,
MB_Avro.

DmdSeeker
02-04-2008, 08:28 PM
Now here's some relevant reading:

http://www.greenharbor.com/fffolder/ffallers.html

"In March of 1944, Nicholas Alkemade was the tail gunner in a British Lancaster bomber on a night mission to Berlin when his plane was attacked by German fighters. When the captain ordered the crew to bail out, Alkemade looked back into the plane and discovered that his parachute was in flames. He chose to jump without a parachute rather than to stay in the burning plane. He fell 18,000 feet, landing in trees, underbrush, and drifted snow. He twisted his knee and had some cuts, but was otherwise alright. "

R_Target
02-04-2008, 08:40 PM
Originally posted by Schwarz.13:
<span class="ev_code_BLUE">...senses workin' o-ver-time!</span>

XTC. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif