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  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator

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    Description

    The Consolidated B-24 Liberator is an American four engined heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California.

    General Information

    At its inception, the B-24 was a modern design featuring a highly efficient shoulder-mounted, high aspect ratio Davis wing. The wing gave the Liberator a high cruise speed, long range and the ability to carry a heavy bomb load. Early RAF Liberators were the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a matter of routine. In comparison with its contemporaries, the B-24 was relatively difficult to fly and had poor low-speed performance; it also had a lower ceiling and was less robust than the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. While aircrews tended to prefer the B-17, General Staff favored the B-24 and procured it in huge numbers for a wide variety of roles. At approximately 18,500 units – including 8,685 manufactured by Ford Motor Company – it holds records as the world's most produced bomber, heavy bomber, multi-engine aircraft, and American military aircraft in history.

     

    The B-24 was used extensively in World War II. It served in every branch of the American armed forces as well as several Allied air forces and navies. It saw use in every theatre of operations. Along with the B-17, the B-24 was the mainstay of the US strategic bombing campaign in the Western European theatre. Due to its range, it proved useful in bombing operations in the Pacific, including the bombing of Japan. Long-range anti-submarine Liberators played an instrumental role in closing the Mid-Atlantic gap in the Battle of the Atlantic. The C-87 transport derivative served as a longer range, higher capacity counterpart to the Douglas C-47 Skytrain.

     

    RAAF

    Australian aircrew seconded to the Royal Air Force flew Liberators in all theatres of the war, including with RAF Coastal Command, in the Middle East, and with South East Asia Command, while some flew in South African Air Force squadrons. Liberators were introduced into service in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1944, after the American commander of the Far East Air Forces (FEAF), General George C. Kenney, suggested that seven heavy bomber squadrons be raised to supplement the efforts of American Liberator squadrons. The USAAF transferred some aircraft to the RAAF, while the remainder would be delivered from the USA under Lend-Lease. Some RAAF aircrew were given operational experience in Liberators while attached to USAAF squadrons. Seven flying squadrons, an operational training unit, and two special duties flights were equipped with the aircraft by the end of World War II in August 1945.

     

    The RAAF Liberators saw service in the South West Pacific theatre of World War II. Flying mainly from bases in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, aircraft conducted bombing raids against Japanese positions, ships and strategic targets in New Guinea, Borneo and the Netherlands East Indies. In addition, the small number of Liberators operated by No. 200 Flight played an important role in supporting covert operations conducted by the Allied Intelligence Bureau; and other Liberators were converted to VIP transports. A total of 287 B-24D, B-24J, B-24L and B-24M aircraft were supplied to the RAAF, of which 33 were lost in action or accidents, with more than 200 Australians killed. Following the Japanese surrender the RAAF's Liberators participated in flying former prisoners of war and other personnel back to Australia. Liberators remained in service until 1948, when they were replaced by Avro Lincolns.

     

    Qantas


    In June 1944, Qantas Empire Airways began service with the first of two converted LB-30 Liberators on the Perth to Colombo route to augment Consolidated PBY Catalinas that had been used since May 1943. The Double Sunrise route across the Indian Ocean was 3,513 mi (5,654 km) long, the longest non-stop airline route in the world at the time. The Liberators flew a shorter 3,077 mi (4,952 km) over-water route from Learmonth to an airfield northeast of Colombo, but they could make the flight in 17 hours with a 5,500 pounds (2,500 kg) payload, whereas the Catalinas required 27 hours and had to carry so much auxiliary fuel that their payload was limited to only 1,000 pounds (450 kg). The route was named Kangaroo Service and marked the first time that Qantas's now-famous Kangaroo logo was used; passengers received a certificate proclaiming them as members of The Order of the Longest Hop. The Liberators were later replaced by Avro Lancastrians.

     

    For more details of the development, operational history and  variants of the B-24, click here.  For operational history of the RAAF Liberators, click here.

     

     

     

     

    Consolidated B-24 Liberator flyover.jpg

    Consolidated B-24J_Liberator 973.jpg

    Consolidated B-24J_Liberator RAAF A72-116.jpg

    Consolidated B-24L Liberator India - Air Force.jpg

    Consolidated C-87 Liberator Confederate Air Force Diamond Lil.jpg

    Specifications

    Seats:
    8 - 10
    Length:
    20.47 m (76 ft 2 in);
    Wingspan:
    33.53 m (110 ft 0 in)
    Height:
    5.48 m (18 ft 0 in)
    Wing Area:
    1,048 sq ft (97.4 sq m)
    Wing Loading:
    52.5 lb/sq ft (256 kg/sq m)
    Empty Weight:
    17 237 kg (38 000 lb)
    MTOW:
    Loaded 29 484 kg (65 000 lb)
    Fuel Capacity:
    2,344 US gal (1,952 imp gal; 8,870 l) normal capacity ; 3,614 US gal (3,009 imp gal; 13,680 l) with long-range tanks in the bomb bay ; Oil capacity 131.6 US gal (109.6 imp gal; 498 l) in four self-sealing nacelle hopper tanks
    Powerplant:
    Four 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp radial engines
    Vne:
    Max speed 483 km/h (260 kt)
    Cruise Speed:
    382 km/h (206 kt)
    Stall Speed:
    95 mph (153 km/h, 83 kn)
    Range:
    (3628 kg bomb load) 2478 km (1338 nm), Maximum 1,825 nm (3,379 km).
    Rate of Climb:
    1,025 ft/min (5.21 m/s)
    Service Ceiling:
    28,000 ft (8,534 m)

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    There was a B-24  being rebuilt in a WWI2 hanger at Werribee. I spent a few hours there watching a big team of old guys working on engines, making parts, and working on the airframe which looked about 3/4 built. The workmanship was top class but they were only building it to non-flying standard, probably because of cost, which seemed a bit of a waste to me because the workmanship going into it looked excellent and they were working from original drawings.

     

    Melbourne expanded, the all over field (for camouflage) the aircraft used to operate from was covered in houses and factories and the B-24 had to go. The last I heard of it was raising money to move it, but I've lost track of it.

    • Informative 1
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    The Liberator would be one of the most difficult Warbirds to resurrect.

    At peak production, massive factories churned out a B-24 every hour but today the cost of rebuilding a single one must be astronomical.

    Like all warplanes, when originally built they were expected to last a few months at most; now, eight decades later, enthusiasts try to make them last for posterity.

     

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