As you know, former President George Herbert Walker Bush, father of former President George W. Bush, was a U.S. Navy pilot during World War II. He flew Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers from an aircraft carrier in combat. He was the youngest Navy pilot and once said in passing that he was the sole surviving pilot in his squadron. [The rest were killed in action.]
One day, I was visiting the U.S.S. Intrepid, an Essex-class aircraft carrier, which is a museum. On the hangar deck there was/is a perfectly restored Avenger.
A small plaque said that * 13,000 of these planes were built.
I wondered for a long time why so many were built. We only had a relatively small number of aircraft carriers.
A few years later, I was reading some book or article [can’t find it anymore] that during World War II, the loss rate for carrier-based aircraft was something like 10% per week and the loss rate for carrier-based pilots was something like 10% per month. I don’t recall the exact numbers, so don’t quote me exactly, but the number was totally shocking to me. And it explained why we built so many carrier-based planes: the loss rates were staggering!
I guess a lot of pilots ran out of fuel before they could find the carrier on the return from their missions and crashed in the ocean and were lost.
In the air war over Europe, the loss rate PER MISSION could be 6% or 10% of the planes that took off! There were ten men on each bomber! During WW2, the 8th Air Force had the highest loss rate of any unit [possibly excepting the German U-Boat crews that lost 75% of their total number].
There were times when the U.S. Army Air Corps ran out of bombers and missions had to be suspended until more planes could be ferried over from the United States.
Attrition among German fighter pilots was so high, that by the time the D-Day invasion of Normandy took place, there were very few German planes available to oppose the landings.
Anyway, you need to keep in mind these unromanticized numbers.
[Perhaps as a research project, you could search around for the actual numbers to verify the order of magnitude figures I recall from my previous reading.]*