My grandfather flew a B-17 in late 44 and 45. Flew 30 missions and after doing research on him and his flight paths I found this quote. “You had a better chance of surviving as an island hopping marine fighting the Japanese in the Pacific than as a member of a B-17 crew over Europe.” Is this true for the crews early in the war before the P-47 and P-51 escorts?
It is true, that the survival rate for bomber crews above were rather low compared to other military branches, though I’m afraid I can’t provide any further details:/
Wow…I didn’t know that. I’m sure my grandfather didn’t either. He wanted to fly to be ‘safer’.
There is a book out there that has a breakdown of the crew losses / injured positions for B-17’s during the war. I think it was one of the many done by Roger A. Freeman on the 8th Air Force, but I can’t tell you witch exact one. I worked at a specialty book store for military books for a long time and remember seeing this info in the book many times, but never got a copy for myself.
Anyway, the list showed that the tail gunner was the most likely to be wounded position. Ball turret gunner was actually the safest for getting injured (but if you were injured, it was almost always fatal).