USAAF Bomber Formations




The basis of the USAAF tactics was formation flying. Formation flying was gruelling and dangerous. Tremendous physical effort was required from the pilot to keep his station in the turbulence generated by hundreds of propellers. The pilots flying in wing positions depended completely on the skill of the various leaders from element to comgat wing level. Poor flying by the leaders and the constant see-sawing of positions added to the pilots' fatigue and courted the risk of collisions or the shaking out of part of a formation to provide 'cold meat' for the Luftwaffe.


Flying in formation was basically sliding around. Banking was considered too dangerous because of the closeness of the other planes. There were frequent throttle changes causing excessive fuel consumption especially by those in the higher squadrons. Surprising similar problems were encoutered by WWI bombers, on a smaller scale. But those lessons were forgotten and had to be relearned.