WWII Aviation- The cost of war/surprising domestic losses

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by Voyeurger, Jan 13, 2011.

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  1. Jan 13, 2011 #1

    Voyeurger

    Voyeurger

    Voyeurger

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    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Statistics from Flight Journal magazine.[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot]THE COST of DOING BUSINESS[/FONT][FONT=&quot] ---- [/FONT][FONT=&quot]The staggering cost of war[/FONT][FONT=&quot].[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]

    [/FONT][FONT=&quot]THE PRICE OF VICTORY[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]B-17 $204,370. P-40 $44,892.
    B-24 $215,516. P-47 $85,578.
    B-25 $142,194. P-51 $51,572.
    B-26 $192,426. C-47 $88,574.
    B-29 $605,360. PT-17 $15,052.
    P-38 $97,147. AT-6 $22,952.

    [/FONT][FONT=&quot]ON AVERAGE[/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]6600 American service men died per MONTH, during WWII (about 220 a day).[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot]PLANES A DAY WORLDWIDE[/FONT][FONT=&quot] From Germany's invasion of Poland Sept. 1, 1939 and ending with Japan's surrender Sept. 2, 1945 --- 2,433 days.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]From 1942 onward, America averaged 170 planes lost a day.[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Nation Aircraft Average
    USA 276,400 113
    S Union 137,200 56
    G Britain 108,500 45
    Germany 109,000 45
    Japan 76,300 31

    How Many is a 1,000 planes?
    B-17 production (12,731) wingtip to wingtip would extend 250 miles. 1,000 B-17s carried 2.5 million gallons of high octane fuel. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Lifting 10,000 airmen to deliver 2,000 tons of bombs.

    [/FONT][FONT=&quot]THE NUMBERS GAME[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    9.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed, 1942-1945.
    107.8 million hours flown, 1943-1945.
    459.7 billion rounds of aircraft ammo fired overseas, 1942-1945.
    7.9 million bombs dropped overseas, 1943-1945.
    2.3 million combat sorties, 1941-1945 (one sortie = one takeoff).
    299,230 aircraft accepted, 1940-1945.
    808,471 aircraft engines accepted, 1940-1945.
    799,972 propellers accepted, 1940-1945.

    [/FONT][FONT=&quot]WWII MOST-PRODUCED COMBAT AIRCRAFT[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]II-2 Stum0vik 36,183
    Yak 1, 3, 7, 9 31,000+
    Bf 109 30,480
    Fw 190 29,001
    Spit/Seafire 20,351
    B-24/PB4Y 18,482
    Thunderbolt 15,686
    Mustang 15,875
    Ju 88 15,000
    Hurricane 14,533
    P-40 13,738
    B-17 12,731
    Corsair 12,571
    Hellcat 12,275
    Pe-2 11,400
    P-38 10,037
    Zero 10,449
    B-25 9,984
    LaGG-5 9,920
    Avenger 9,837
    P-39 9,584
    Oscar 5,919
    Mosquito 7,780
    Lancaster 7,377
    He 111 6,508
    Halifax 6,176
    Bf 110 6,150
    LaGG-7 5,753
    B-29 3,970
    Stirling 2,383

    Sources:
    Rene Francillon, Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific war; Cajus Bekker, The Luftwaffe Diaries; Ray Wagner, American Combat Planes; Wikipedia.

    BALL PARK AVERAGE:
    Chief of Staff to General, "Hmmm; 331 men killed and 308 aircraft destroyed. That's 11 people and 10 planes per day."
    "Uh, yes, sir. It's still the ballpark average."
    "I'd like to see an improvement in bomber losses, those really add up."
    "Were working on it, General. But it's sad to think that 10 young men alive today will be dead tomorrow."
    "You know that's the price of doing business. Now then, what about the overseas and combat losses?"

    According to the AAF Statistical Digest, in less than four years (December 1941- August 1945), the US Army Air Forces lost 14,903 pilots, aircrew and assorted personnel plus 13,873 airplanes --- [/FONT][FONT=&quot]inside the continental United States.[/FONT][FONT=&quot] They were the result of 52,651 aircraft accidents (6,039 involving fatalities) in 45 months.
    Think about those numbers. They average 1,170 aircraft accidents per month---- nearly 40 a day. (Less than one accident in four resulted in totaled aircraft, however.)
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] Those colossal losses cost the Axis powers nothing; not as much as one 7.7 mm bullet.[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    It gets worse.....
    Almost 1,000 Army planes disappeared en route from the US to foreign climes. But an eye-watering 43,581 aircraft were lost overseas including 22,948 on combat missions (18,418 against the Western Axis) and 20,633 attributed to [/FONT][FONT=&quot]non-combat causes[/FONT][FONT=&quot] overseas.
    In August 1943, 60 B-17s were shot down among 376 losses. That was a 16 percent loss rate and meant 600 empty bunks in England. In 1942-43 it was statistically impossible for bomber crews to complete a 25-mission tour in Europe.
    Pacific theatre losses were far less (4,530 in combat) owing to smaller forces committed. The worst B-29 mission, against Tokyo on May 25, 1945, cost 26 Superfortress, 5.6 percent of the 464 dispatched from the Marianas.
    On average, 6,600 American servicemen died per month during WWII, about 220 a day. By the end of the war, over 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theatres and another 18,000 wounded. Some 12,000 missing men were declared dead, including a number "liberated" by the Soviets but never returned. More than 41,000 were captured, half of the 5,400 held by the Japanese died in captivity, compared with one-tenth in German hands. Total combat casualties were pegged at 121,867.
    US manpower made up the deficit. The AAF's peak strength was reached in 1944 with 2,372,000 personnel, nearly twice the previous year's figure.
    The losses were huge---but so were production totals. >From 1941 through 1945, American industry delivered more than 276,000 military aircraft. That number was enough not only for US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but for allies as diverse as Britain, Australia, China and Russia. In fact, from 1943 onward, America produced more planes than Britain and Russia combined. And more than Germany and Japan together 1941-45.
    However, our enemies took massive losses. Through much of 1944, the Luftwaffe sustained uncontrolled hemorrhaging, reaching 25 percent of aircrews and 40 planes a month. And in late 1944 into 1945, nearly half the pilots in Japanese squadrons had flown fewer than 200 hours. The disparity of two years before had been completely reversed.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Experience Level:[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Uncle Sam sent many of his sons to war with absolute minimums of training.
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Some fighter pilots entered combat in 1942 with less than one hour in their assigned aircraft.[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    The 357th Fighter Group (often known as The Yoxford Boys) went to England in late 1943 having trained on P-39s.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]The group never saw a Mustang until shortly before its first combat mission.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]A high-time P-51 pilot had 30 hours in type. Many had fewer than five hours.[/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Some had one hour.[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    With arrival of new aircraft, many combat units transitioned in combat.
    The attitude was, [/FONT][FONT=&quot]"They all have a stick and a throttle. Go fly `em."[/FONT][FONT=&quot] When the famed 4th Fighter Group converted from P-47s to P-51s in February 1944, there was no time to stand down for an orderly transition.
    The Group commander, Col. Donald Blakeslee, said, [/FONT][FONT=&quot]"You can learn to fly `51s on the way to the target[/FONT][FONT=&quot].
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot](Note: Gone West HNL QB Brewster Morgan (Morgan's Corner up in Nuuanu off of Old Pali Road), a Honolulu boy and a member of the 4th Fighter Group, told me that they actually did stand down one day to transition from the P47 to the P51. They were pissed that the old groups still had the P47 [Brewster was with the Eagle Squadron in the Spitfire......later in the P47 when the US got into it in '42] and the newer groups coming over from the US all had P-51s.
    Blakeslee finally convinced AF to let them convert by standing down just one day.
    An interesting side note...Brewster was shot down over France in '44 and became a POW...his roommate?...Douglas Bader...top English ace with two wooden legs...Bader lost one of his legs when he bailed out and was captured.......[FONT=&quot]the Germans asked the Brits to send him another leg......which they did[/FONT]).
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]
    A future P-47 ace said, [/FONT][FONT=&quot]"I was sent to England to die."[/FONT][FONT=&quot] He was not alone.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Some fighter pilots tucked their wheels in the well on their first combat mission with one previous flight in the aircraft. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Meanwhile, many bomber crews were still learning their trade:
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]of Jimmy Doolittle's 15 pilots on the April 1942 Tokyo raid, only five had won their wings before 1941.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]All but one of the 16 copilots were less than a year out of flight school.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    In WWII flying safety took a back seat to combat.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]The AAF's worst accident rate was recorded by the A-36 Invader version of the P-51: a staggering 274 accidents per 100,000 flying hours.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Next worst were the P-39 at 245, the P-40 at 188, and the P-38 at 139. All were Allison powered.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    Bomber wrecks were fewer but more expensive.
    The B-17 and B-24 averaged 30 and 35 accidents per 100,000 flight hours, respectively-[/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]a horrific figure
    considering that from 1980 to 2000 the Air Force's major mishap rate was less than 2.
    The B-29 was even worse at 40; the world's most sophisticated, most capable and most expensive bomber was too urgently needed to stand down for mere safety reasons. The AAF set a reasonably high standard for B-29 pilots, but the desired figures were seldom attained.
    The original cadre of the 58th Bomb Wing was to have 400 hours of multi-engine time, but there were not enough experienced pilots to meet the criterion.
    Only ten percent had overseas experience.
    Conversely, when a $2.1 billion B-2 crashed in 2008, the Air Force initiated a two-month "safety pause" rather than declare a "stand down", let alone grounding.
    The B-29 was no better for maintenance.
    Though the R3350 was known as a complicated, troublesome power-plant, no more than half the mechanics had previous experience with the Duplex Cyclone.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]But they made it work.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Navigators[/FONT][FONT=&quot]:
    Perhaps the greatest unsung success story of AAF training was Navigators. The Army graduated some 50,000 during the War. And many had never flown out of sight of land before leaving "Uncle Sugar" for a war zone. Yet the huge majority found their way across oceans and continents without getting lost or running out of fuel --- a stirring tribute to the AAF's educational establishments.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Cadet To Colonel:[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]It was possible for a flying cadet at the time of Pearl Harbor to finish the war with eagles on his shoulders.
    That was the record of John D. Landers, a 21-year-old Texan, who was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 12, 1941.
    He joined his combat squadron with 209 hours total flight time, including 2 ½ in P-40s.
    He finished the war as a full colonel, commanding an 8th Air Force Group --- at age 24.
    As the training pipeline filled up, however those low figures became exceptions.
    By early 1944, the average AAF fighter pilot entering combat had logged at least 450 hours, usually including 250 hours in training.
    At the same time, many captains and first lieutenants claimed over 600 hours.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]FACT:[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    At its height in mid-1944, the Army Air Forces had 2.6 million people and nearly 80,000 aircraft of all types.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Today the US Air Force employs 327,000 active personnel (plus 170,000 civilians) with 5,500+ manned and perhaps 200 unmanned aircraft.
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot] [/FONT][FONT=&quot]The 2009 figures represent about 12 percent of the manpower and 7 percent of the airplanes of the WWII peak.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT][FONT=&quot]IN SUMMATION:[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
    Whether there will ever be another war is doubtful, as fighters and bombers have given way to helicopters and remotely-controlled drones over Afghanistan and Iraq. But within living memory, men left the earth [/FONT][FONT=&quot]in 1,000-plane formations[/FONT][FONT=&quot] and fought major battles five miles high, leaving a legacy that remains timeless.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot][/FONT] [FONT=&quot][/FONT] [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
     
  2. Jan 13, 2011 #2

    tab380

    tab380

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    Very good reading, Thanks
     
  3. Jan 13, 2011 #3

    orion

    orion

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    And the point is? What would've been the cost of not joining that fight?
     
  4. Jan 13, 2011 #4

    Robby

    Robby

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    Amazing.
    What was accomplished by all is simply amazing - and inspiring.
     
  5. Jan 13, 2011 #5

    TFF

    TFF

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    Douglas Bader had a man who took care of him after he lost his legs. That man became a voluntary POW as he accompanied the legs to Germany;for the rest of the war. As a side note, a friends father was office personal for Bader's group and noticed that there was an extra man in the Squadron with no real use. He wrote a transfer to send him off. After the orders were delivered in no time he was having to explain why he has transfered Bader's leg man.
     
  6. Jan 13, 2011 #6

    Topaz

    Topaz

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    I'll second Orion's point. What would've been the cost of allowing Germany to take over all of Europe and the UK?

    As for the losses in human terms, the same question still stands. How many millions did we save with those losses? War is hell. It's why you only do it when it's really necessary.

    I always pose that question to those who say dropping the two nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the wrong thing to do. I point out to them that the only alternative was invasion of the Japanese mainland. 130,000 people died directly from the atomic bombings (probably another 30,000 later from radiation poisoning). The Japanese were arming every man, woman, and child to fight the invasion. Many of them got cheap swords. Projected civilian casualties alone topped two million. It's a horrible calculus, but how many lives were actually saved by dropping the bombs? Millions.

    At that point, I usually get "Well, we shouldn't have gone to war in the first place!" At which point I remind them that we didn't start it.
     
  7. Jan 13, 2011 #7

    Voyeurger

    Voyeurger

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    What I gleaned from this was the stunning accomplishments of what was, and certainly appears now will always be, our greatest generation. Breathtaking in scope and accomplishment. I get Orion's point. This could be taken as "what a waste", "What if we gave a war and nobody came?" spiel. Lord knows, our country's contributions have lately been ignored/forgotten. We are considered money grubbing colonialists in many quarters BECAUSE WWII is ignored. We saved the world's (the WORLD'S) bacon. No doubt.
    My father-in-law flew bomber escort in a P-51 Mustang becoming an ace with 11 confirmed kills. He mustered out at wars end AT THE AGE OF 21 years. Awsome generation. They are to be revered.
     
  8. Jan 14, 2011 #8

    lurker

    lurker

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    the full quote, which puts a completely different spin on it, is: "Suppose they gave a war, and nobody came? Why then, the war would come to you!" by Bertold Brecht
     
  9. Jan 14, 2011 #9

    Voyeurger

    Voyeurger

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    Ahhhh. I like the full quote much better. Thanks.
     
  10. Jan 14, 2011 #10

    Mac790

    Mac790

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    This is one of "those" threads which might develop into uncontrollable discussion. I won't go deep into this, but I'll say something that I believe 99.9999% percent of people here don't know, there was a proposition from one European country ( I won't write from which one, and don't ask me about it, this info is out there, but it's rather hard to find) to remove hitler out of power in 1933, when Germany were still weak after Treaty of Versailles, but unfortunately this proposition was abandoned by French and British governments, French were siting behind their Maginot line and didn't have much care, what was British concern don't remember exactly, but I think they just have same policy in 1933 like in 1938 when they sold Czechoslovakia and agreed to Austria Anschluss.

    Seb
     
  11. Jan 15, 2011 #11

    autoreply

    autoreply

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    "Appeasement" is the term you're looking for.

    About half a million German civilians were killed by allied strategic bombings/genocide, the phrase used depends on whom you're speaking to...
    Inhumane for sure. But war is inhumane, unfortunately and Topaz makes a valid point about the trade-offs involved, no man or country should have to take those

    decisions, but unfortunately, life comes with difficult decisions.


    As for the political discussions; they easily can get out of hand, if an understanding of the view of the other lacks, which is the reason (I think) Jake rather not has them here.

    It's great that I've been able to get many, many different perspectives. Hearing the view of a Chinese, Frenchman and American in the same discussion really gives you a much broader understanding and a more objective view, which by definition lacks if you're only watching/reading the same books/programs/shows. That's my advice for tonight. If you want to understand things, listen to people who oppose your ideas. That gives you much more than listening to likewise-minded people
     
  12. Jan 15, 2011 #12

    PTAirco

    PTAirco

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    Oh, don't get me started on that. This isn't the venue for it. I know; but allow me a paragraph and I'll shut up about it:

    I'm technically British, living in the US, having grown up in Germany, with a German mother and grandparents who fought on opposite sides. My English grandmother built gun turrets for Lancasters, while my German grandfather slogged through Russian mud and snow. I think that allows me some kind of unbiased perspective. I have heard a thousand times how, it wasn't for the US , my father would have grown up speaking German. I do not deny the US contributed a VAST amount of help to defeat Germany. But in the summer of 1940, when it really counted, they stood on their own. On their own they convinced Hitler to abandon all plans to invade Britain by the end of the year. The only US help they had at that time was that time were 50 WW1 destroyers, that played no part in the battle, a large number of rifles voluntarily sent over by private American citizens (thank you very much, btw!) and a handful of American individual volunteers flying for the RAF. (Defying their own government incidentally.)
    Hitler never again seriously considered invading Britain. Were they totally safe after that? No, of course not. Sporadic bombing continued, but compared to what the British dished out, it was almost insignificant. In a single night raid on Hamburg, for example, more Germans were killed than the entire amount of British bombing casualties during the Blitz. The later V weapons were a deadly nuisance, but had zero strategic value. Britain would have survived on its own, with its overseas dominions, but the war would probably have dragged out into an indefinite stalemate.

    But this idea that almost all Americans have of - what? -GIs standing on the cliffs of Dover with Tommyguns blazing away at hordes of invading Nazis ? "Thank you Joe, you really saved our bacon!" It only happened in the minds of movie directors in Hollywood and sadly most people just never to bother reading real history.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  13. Jan 15, 2011 #13

    Robby

    Robby

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    Topaz, I couldn't agree more with the atomic bomb / Hiroshima / Nagasaki argument and have used something similar myself.

    Heard once ( in a movie, I think - yeah I know, movie - ugh, but the statement is still valid and script writers aren't ALWAYS wrong ! )
    It was a discussion about the human cost of invading Japan and someone said something to the effect -

    'The Japanese will eat rocks before they'll surrender that island'

    Any estimate of the human cost alone that I have ever heard or read has always been in the 7 digit range !!
     
  14. Jan 15, 2011 #14

    Topaz

    Topaz

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    While I absolutely agree that in American media, our contribution to the defense of Britain has been hugely overplayed, and the role of the British (excepting the Battle of Britain) has been underplayed, you're neglecting a huge factor in the survival of the UK prior to the US entry to the war: Material supply across the Atlantic, for which the Lend-Lease warships played a key part in the early Battle of the Atlantic. Germany planned direct invasion, sure, and the bombing program was part of that. The other part was cutting the UK's supply lines with the U-Boat fleet, to be augmented by the Tirpitz, the Bismarck, Scharnhorst, etc. The latter threat never really developed, mostly thanks to the RAF and Royal Navy (If you've never read of the X-craft raid on the Tirpitz, do so!), but without constant convoys across the Atlantic, Britain would've been starved out of the war, more on materiel than actual food. The U-boats nearly accomplished that anyway, in the early Battle of the Atlantic. Without the Lend-Lease destroyers, old though they may have been, I have my doubts that the situation would've worked out. Once the US entered the war and extended convoy protection all the way across the Atlantic, that threat started to subside and Britain could breathe again. It was a very close thing.

    With the rest of Europe fallen, the UK wouldn't have been able to survive alone. And you can look at it the other way - if Britain hadn't had the fortitude to hold off Germany in the early war, there would've been no invasion of Europe - no D-Day. If the UK had fallen, there would've been no place from which to stage the invasion, and Germany would've consolidated their grip on all of Europe. It was the UK and USA pressing in from the West and South while destroying Germany's infrastructure through day and night bombing, while the Soviets were simultaneously pressing in from the East, that finally killed the Nazi war effort. To paraphrase a line from a TV show, "Only a fool fights on two fronts at once. Only the heir to the Kingdom of Fools fights on four."

    The entire Allied war effort was probably the best example of international collaboration ever seen. No one nation played an absolutely decisive role. We all sank or swam together.
     
  15. Jan 16, 2011 #15

    Voyeurger

    Voyeurger

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    But, absent the USA's full commitment, ALL of Europe would be speaking a different language today.
     
  16. Jan 16, 2011 #16

    Topaz

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    Yes, but as I said, without Britain's ability to "hold the island", the same would be true - All of Europe would've remained lost, for lack of a staging point for something like the D-Day invasion.

    And at this point, we're well into hypotheticals and far, far away from aviation, wouldn't you say?
     
  17. Jan 16, 2011 #17

    Voyeurger

    Voyeurger

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    Totally agree.
     

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