Economics of Large-Scale Raids

With bombing raids getting larger and larger both in number of aircraft and bombs, the observer often questions the economics of the 1,000-plane raids, especially where losses in men and aircraft are concerned. The United States Air Forces so far have not made any raids which would compare with the 1,000-bomber excursions which the RAF has made to key points in Germany, and the following figures therefore are good only for the British methods of large-scale raids.

Current expenditures for the war in Britain are hitting $50,000,000 a day, and every 1,000-plus raid slices about $14,000,000 out of the budget. This amount is computed on the basis of a 5 percent plane loss — which adds up to $11,250,000 — the cost of training the lost crews is figured at some $1,300,000 and bombs and gasoline used complete the item. The figures do not include pay to the returning crews, upkeep and repair of the aircraft and the payments to the members of the ground crew.

It is generally felt that a large bomber of the Lancaster class will cost about $300,000, while one of the lighter types will run around half that. Training of crews is costing the Empire around $4,000 per man, and the seven-man crew of a Stirling therefore represents an investment of $28,000, or $28,000,000 for the 1,000 planes of a large-scale raid.

Photographs made by RAF observation planes have indicated that this cost is well worth while, since damage to enemy territory, especially if long-term damage is figured out, generally runs many times the original outlay.

This article was originally published as part of the "Aviation Abroad" column in the December, 1942, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 41, no 12, p 287.