A guest article for Next Big Future by Joseph Friedlander
When history, tech and industrial capacity studies collide, you get an awesome venue for geeky statistical comparisions.
I was just comparing the bomber forces of the USA during World War II and the Cold War and trying to come up with a measure of just how big they were (dwarfing those of today) and I think I have come up with such a measure: A square mile of aircraft. (Or square kilometer). This is measured, for purposes of this article by the simple square of the wingspan times the length, and taking that square as ‘Wingtip to Wingtip Square Area’ for purposes of measurement of a hypothetical giant array (‘All in One Ground Formation Area’) of every model of that aircraft ever built (Of course in a real aircraft production history, particularly for the long construction runs, many early examples will be long gone by the time the last one rolls off the line, so this is a strictly theoretical measure)
Field of B52
All data is from Wikipedia.
WORLD WAR II – USA Heavy Bomber Force
Number Produced 12,731
Length 74 ft 4 in (22.66 m)
Wingspan 103 ft 9 in (31.62 m)
Wingtip to Wingtip Square Area 716.5092 square meters
All in One Ground Formation Area 9.121878 square kilometers
9.121878 (square kilometers) = 3.52197679 square miles
9 square kilometers or 3.5 square miles of B-17s.
B17 production in WW2
Consolidated B-24 Liberator– Most-produced heavy bomber; most-produced multi-engine aircraft.
Number Produced 18,482
Length 67 ft 8 in (20.6 m)
Wingspan 110 ft 0 in (33.5 m)
Wingtip to Wingtip Square Area 690.1 square meters
All in One Ground Formation Area
12.7544282 (square kilometers) = 4.92451226 square miles
12 square kilometers or 5 square miles of B-24s!
Number Produced 3,970
Length 99 ft 0 in (30.18 m)
Wingspan 141 ft 3 in (43.06 m)
Wingtip to Wingtip Square Area square meters 5159216.676
All in One Ground Formation Area square kilometers 5.159216
5.159216 (square kilometers) = 1.99198443 square miles
5 square kilometers or 2 square miles of B-29s.
Cold War Era Jet Bombers
Number Produced 2,032
Length 107 ft 1 in (32.65 m)
Wingspan 116 ft 0 in (35.37 m)
Wingtip to Wingtip Square Area square meters 1154.8305
All in One Ground Formation Area square kilometers 2346615.576
2.346615576 (square kilometers) = 0.906033339 square miles
2 square kilometers or ~1 square miles of B-47s.
Number Produced 744
Length 159 ft 4 in (48.5 m)
Wingspan 185 ft 0 in (56.4 m)
Wingtip to Wingtip Square Area square meters 2735.4
All in One Ground Formation Area square kilometers 2035137.6
2.0351376 (square kilometers) = 0.78577102 square miles
2 square kilometers or about .8 square mile of B-52s.
737 vs 747 for Comparison