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View Full Version : Why separate bombardier and navigator functions in US and GB bombers?



mandrill7
07-20-2006, 07:35 AM
I notice that in German and Russian bombers there was a lot of duplication of roles. For instance, the Il-4 featured only 4 crew members: pilot, bombardier-navigator, gunner-flight engineer and gunner-radio op.

The ? occurs how busy some roles in the US or Brit bombers crews actually were. For instance, was the W/O in a Lanc actually transmitting or receiving most of the time? And what did he do when he wasn't?

Also the bombardier: couldn't he have worked as navigator when the plane wasn't over the target area?

And how busy was the co-pilot in a B-17?

mandrill7
07-20-2006, 07:35 AM
I notice that in German and Russian bombers there was a lot of duplication of roles. For instance, the Il-4 featured only 4 crew members: pilot, bombardier-navigator, gunner-flight engineer and gunner-radio op.

The ? occurs how busy some roles in the US or Brit bombers crews actually were. For instance, was the W/O in a Lanc actually transmitting or receiving most of the time? And what did he do when he wasn't?

Also the bombardier: couldn't he have worked as navigator when the plane wasn't over the target area?

And how busy was the co-pilot in a B-17?

danjama
07-20-2006, 07:38 AM
Many of those that weren't busy all of the time (Radio operators, gunners), were often trained to be in-flight engineers, or medics...

Ernst_Rohr
07-20-2006, 08:24 AM
US bomber doctrine stressed redundancy in a lot of roles, which is why there is a pilot and copilot compared to the German/Russian single pilot position in most planes.

Additional crew increased the AC survivability, and lessened the amount of crew work on the bombers, which was crucial for long range operations since it reduced crew fatigue. The Germans and Russians were not as concerned with long range operations, since they were flying much shorter missions.

Even in US bombers, there was still a lot of overlap in crew function, with the exception of the pilots.

B-17 crew
Bombadier/gunner (jr. officer)
Navagator/gunner (jr. officer)
Pilot (officer)
Co-Pilot (officer)
Engineer/gunner (senior NCO)
Radio Operator/gunner (enlisted)
Ball Turret Operator (gunner) (enlisted)
Right Waist Gunner (enlisted)
Left Waist Gunner (enlisted)
Tail Gunner (enlisted)

All crew with the exception of the pilots were usually trained in gunnery in the mid to late 17's. The Engineer was trained in the mechanics of the AC, and usually had some basic flight knowledge as well.

Interstingly enough, there was not "offical" medic responsibility on the AC, that was left to the individual crews, although the radio operator was often tasked with basic first aid for the rear of the AC since he was usually the least occupied.

German crews were very task intensive.
He-111;
Navigator/Bombadier/Gunner
Pilot
Radio Operator/Gunner
Ventral Gunner
Waist Gunner (later models)

Much like US bombers, there were no designated medics, and in fact, the cramped quaters in the 111 meant getting around the AC in flight was rather restricted, which limited the amount of movement of the crew. There was also no flight engineer, with all the mechanical responsibilites falling to the pilot.