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United States' Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber

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  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber
  • Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express transport

Design

In 1939 the development of the Consolidated Model 32 began and it became the XB-24 prototype.3,5 The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) wanted a heavy bomber that would outperform a B-17 in speed, range, and altitude.5 Isaac M. Laddon, the head designer, went with a high wing design with twin tail fins.5

The bombs were placed vertically in the twin bomb bays.1 The doors would retract into the fuselage when opened.1 There was a catwalk between the front and rear of the B-24 Liberator.1

Starting in 1944 most B-24s flew into combat without camouflage paint and went into combat with the natural metal finish.1

Orders

In 1940 France ordered 120, Britain 164, and the United States Army Air Corps ordered 36.3

Crew

The bombardier sat in the nose and aimed using the Norden bomb site.1

Transports

With the successful use of the B-24s sent to Britain as transports it was decided to have a dedicated transport version.3

The C-87 Liberator Express was based on the B-24D.3 It had all the armament removed except in the tail.3

A floor was installed in the bomb bay.3 The fuselage had a freight door installed.3

Wings

The B-24 used the a wing designed by David R. Davis, who sold it to Consolidated in 1937.1,3,4,5 It was a slender wing, mounted high in the fuselage, with a sharp camber that gave the B-24 extremely good lift.1,4

Landing Gear

The landing gear was in a tricycle pattern, which was unusual for the time.5 The landing gear under the wings retracted horizontally into the wings.5

Range and Bomb Load Comparison

  • Range and Bomb Load Comparison

 

Prototype

A contract was signed to build a full scale prototype on March 30, 1939.5

The XB-24 prototype first flew on December 28, 19394/December 29, 1939.2,3,4,5,7 The first flight by the prototype was on January 29, 1940.1

The US Army ordered seven YB-24s in March 1939.4

Production

In 1940 an order was placed for 36 aircraft with only 9 being built.5

The B-24 was the most produced American aircraft during the war as well as the most produced 4 engine aircraft ever.2,3,5,7

  • Consolidated XB-24: 13,4
  • Consolidated YB-24: 73,4
  • Consolidated XB/YB-24N: 83
  • Consolidated B-24A: 93
  • Consolidated Liberator I: 203
  • Consolidated Liberator II: 1393
  • Consolidated LB-30: 753,4
    • Delivered: December 10, 1941 - January 6, 19424
    • 23 sent to England4
  • Consolidated B-24C: 93,4
  • Consolidated B-24D: 2,7383
    • Built by Consolidated and Douglas.3
  • Consolidated B-24E: 7912,3,7
    • Built by Ford.3
  • Consolidated Liberator III: 2603
  • Consolidated B-24G: 4302,3,7
  • Consolidated B-24H: 3,1002,3,5,7
    • Manufacturer: Consolidated Aircraft Corporation5, Douglas5, Ford5
  • Consolidated B-24J: 6,6782,3,7
  • Consolidated B-24L: 1,6672,3,5,7
  • Consolidated B-24M: 2,5932,3,5,7
  • Total: 18,1885, 18,3132,7, 18,4823, 19,2561
    • Manufacturer: Consolidated Aircraft Corporation1,2,4,5,7 (San Diego4,5 and Fort Worth4,5), Douglas1,2,4,5,7 (Tulsa4), Ford1,2,4,5,7 (Willow Run4), and North American1,2,4,5,7 (Dallas4)
    • Production: ? - May 19453
  • Consolidated C-87: 2803, 2822,7
  • Consolidated C-87A: 63
  • Consolidated C.VII: 243
  • Bomber Production Comparison

 

Variants

  • Consolidated XB-24: Prototype.2,3,4 Had Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 engines (1,100 HP).4,5
  • Consolidated YB-24: Test aircraft.3,4 Built in 1940.3 Had turbo supercharges for high altitude tests.4
  • Consolidated B-24A: First model ordered for production.5 Only nine completed.5
  • Consolidated B-24C: Engines (Pratt & Whitney R-18305) had turbo chargers.3 None were used in combat.4
  • Consolidated B-24D: First main production version.2 First produced in 1941.2 2,738 were used against Japan.2 Douglas, Ford, and North American became manufacturers.5 First to go into combat.5
  • Consolidated B-24E: Had improved propellers.2,5,7
  • Consolidated B-24G: From this model on, a nose turret was added.1,3,5,7
  • Consolidated B-24H: First arrived on June 30, 1943.4 Variety of nose turrets used.7
  • Consolidated B-24J: Major production version.2,3,5 Had a Motor Products nose turret, a new autopilot, and new bomb sight.2,3,7 Deliveries started in August 1943.3 Fuel system updated.5 Controls for the engines improved.5
  • Consolidated B-24L: The rear powered turret was replaced by a manually controlled guns.1,7
  • Consolidated B-24M: Had a Motor Products tail turret.2,7
  • Consolidated B-24N: Had a single fin but was only prototypes were constructed.3
  • Consolidated PB4Y: United States Navy model.2,7
  • Consolidated C-87: Transport that could carry 25 passengers.2,5,7
  • Consolidated C-87A: VIP transport that could sleep 10 passengers.3
  • Consolidated C-87B: Was proposed to be an armed version.3
  • Consolidated C-87C: Was to use the single fin of the PB4Y-2 Privateer.3
  • Consolidated C-109: Tanker.3,5 Converted from 218 B-24Ds and B-24Es.3 Used primarily in India to support the B-29s.3 Could carry 2,400 gallons / 10,900 liters.3
  • Consolidated RY-2: United States Navy designation for the C-87.3
  • Consolidated RY-3: United States Navy designation for the C-87C.3
  • Consolidated TB-24: Trainer.3
  • Consolidated AT-22: Navigation trainer.5
  • Consolidated XB-41: Escort.3,5 Carried fourteen 12.7 mm machine guns.5 Only a prototype.5
  • Consolidated F-7: Reconnaissance.3,5
  • United Kingdom
    • Consolidated LB-30: Produced for Britain.3 First six arrived in December 1940.3 Were used in ferry flights across the Atlantic.3
    • Consolidated LB-30B / Consolidated Liberator I: Used in anti submarine patrols.3
    • Consolidated Liberator II: Had powered turrets, self sealing fuel tanks, and a longer nose.3
    • Consolidated Liberator VI: Bomber.3
    • Consolidated Liberator VIII: Maritime.3
    • Consolidated Liberator C.VII: Transport .3 The C-87.3
    • Consolidated Liberator C.IX: Transport.3 The C-87C.3

Usage

Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States used the B-24 Liberator.3

During World War II B-24 Liberators dropped 635,000 tons of bombs and shot down 4,189 enemy planes.5

Pearl Harbor

There was one B-24 Liberator destroyed on the ground at Hickam Field, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.1 Its mission was to be flown by 1st Lieutenant Ted S. Faulkner in reconnaissance flights over the Japanese held islands in the Marshalls and Caroline Islands.4 Lieutenant Kunikiya Hira, from the carrier Shokaku was flying a Aichi D3A Type 99 "Val" dive bomber when he destroyed Faulkner's plane.4

United Kingdom

A modified B-24 was used by Winston Churchill as his personal transport, the LB-30 Commando.1,3

413 / 42 RAF squadrons were equipped with the B-24.2,7

1,668 Liberator VIs and VIIIs were supplied to the Royal Air Force (RAF).3 A total of 1,694 B-24s were supplied to Coastal Command and Bomber Command.5

The RAF Transport Command had three squadrons equipped with the Liberator C.VIIs.3 These were primarily used in the Far East from 1944 to 1945.3

Pacific

It was decided to concentrate the use of B-24s in the Pacific due to its long range.7

Australia

Australia received 275 B-24Js, B-24Ls, and B-24Ms and 12 B-24Ds.3

Canada

1,200 B-24Js were delivered to Canada.3

First Use of the LB-30

During the night of January 16-17, 1942, three LB-30s, with two B-17Es, attacked targets in the Celebes.4 These three LB-30s were part of the 7th BG (bomber group).4 The mission was led by Major Austin Straubel, and the other two were piloted by 1st Lieutenant Jack Dougherty and 1st Lieutenant William E. Bayse.4

United States First Use of the B-24

The first delivery to a combat unit was in April 1942.5

In June 1942 B-24s based in Egypt were used to attack Romanian oilfields.3

Bomber Groups

At their peak usage there were 6,043 B-24s on active service in 46 United States Army Air Force bomber groups.3

Germany

A captured B-24 was used on covert operations.1

Specifications

  Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Type Medium / heavy bomber3
Crew 8 - 103
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney6
HP 1,200 each6
Dimensions  
Span 110'3,6
33.53 m3
Length 64'6, 66' 4"3
20.22 m3
Height 17' 11"3, 19'6
5.46 m3
Weight  
Loaded 41,000 lb6
Performance  
Speed 300 mph6
Speed at 25,000' / 7,620 m 303 mph3
488 kph3
Cruising speed 200 mph3
322 kph3
Climb to 20,000' / 6,096 m 22 minutes3
Service ceiling 32,000'3
9,754 m3
Range 2,850 miles3, 3,000 miles6
4,586 km3
Range with 4,000 lb
bomb load
3,000 miles6
  Consolidated B-24D Liberator
Type Heavy bomber1
Crew 101
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 Twin Wasp piston1,3
OR 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp3
Cylinders Radial1,3 143
HP 1,200 each1,3
Propeller blades 3 each1,3
Dimensions  
Span 110'1
33.52 m1
Length 66' 4"1
20.22 m1
Height 17' 11"1
5.46 m1
Wing area 1,048 ft2 1
97.36 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 32,605 lb3, 34,000 lb1
14,790 kg3, 15,413 kg1
Loaded 60,000 lb1, 64,000 lb3
27,216 kg1, 29,030 kg3
Maximum load 71,200 lb3
32,296 kg3
Performance  
Speed 300 mph1
488 kph1
Service ceiling 32,500'1
9,900 m1
Range 2,850 miles1
2,896 km1
Armament 10: 0.5" MG3
Nose turret 1: 12.7 mm MG1
Fixed nose (a few had) 1: 12.7 mm MG1
Dorsal turret 2: 12.7 mm MG1
Tail turret 2: 12.7 mm MG1
Ball turret (retractable) 2: 12.7 mm MG1
Waist positions 1: 12.7 mm MG each side1
Normal bomb load 8,000 lb3
3,629 kg3
Maximum bomb load 8,800 lb1, 12,800 lb3
3,629 kg1, 5,806 kg3
  Consolidated B-24G Liberator
Type Bomber5, Medium / heavy bomber3
Crew 8 - 105, 8 - 123
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 Twin Wasp5
4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp3
Cylinders Radial 143,5
Cooling Air5
HP 1,200 each3,5
Propeller blades 3 each3
Dimensions  
Span 110'3,5
33.53 m3
Length 66' 4"5, 67' 2"3
20.47 m3
Height 17' 11"5, 18'3
5.483
Weight  
Empty 38,000 lb3
17,237 kg3
Loaded 60,000 lb5, 65,000 lb3
29,484 kg3
Maximum load 71,200 lb3
32,296 kg3
Performance  
Speed at 25,000' 303 mph5
Service ceiling 32,0005
Range 2,850 miles5
Armament 10: MG5
10: 0.5" MG3
Bombs 8,800 lb5
Normal bomb load 8,000 lb3
3,629 kg3
Maximum bomb load 12,800 lb3
5,806 kg3
  Consolidated B-24J Liberator
Type Bomber5, Heavy bomber2,7
Crew 8 - 102,5,7
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp piston2,5,7
Cylinders Radial2,7, Radial 145
Cooling Air5
HP 1,200 each2,5,7
Dimensions  
Span 110'2,5,7
33.53 m2,7
Length 67' 2"2,5,7
20.47 m2,7
Height 18'2,5,7
5.49 m2,7
Wing area 1,048 ft2 2,7
97.36 m2 2,7
Weight  
Empty 36,500 lb2,7
16,556 kg2,7
Loaded 65,000 lb2,5,7
29,484 kg2,7
Performance  
Speed at 25,000' 290 mph5
Speed at 25,000' / 6,200 m 290 mph2
467 kph2
Speed at 25,000' / 7,620 m 278 mph3, 290 mph7
447 kph3, 467 kph7
Cruising speed 237 mph3
447 kph3
Climb 1,025'/minute3
312 m/minute3
Climb to 20,000' / 6,095 m 25 minutes2,7
Service ceiling 28,000'2,3,5,7
8,534 m3, 8,535 m2,7
Range 2,000 miles2, 2,100 miles3,5
3,219 km2, 3,379 km3
Range with 8,000 lb bomb load 1,540 miles3
2,478 km3
Range with 8,800 lb / 3,992 kg bomb load 2,000 miles7
3,220 km7
Armament 10: MG5
Nose turret 2: 12.7 mm MG2,7
Dorsal turret 2: 12.7 mm MG2,7
Tail turret 2: 12.7 mm MG2,7
Ball turret (retractable) 2: 12.7 mm MG2,7
Waist positions 1: 12.7 mm MG each side2,7
Bombs 8,800 lb5,7
3,992 kg7
Maximum bomb load 8,800 lb2
3,992 kg2
  Consolidated Liberator C-87
Type Transport3
Tanker3
Crew C-87A: 43
Passengers C-87: 257
C-87A: 253
OR C-87A: 8,000 lb freight3
C-87A: 3,992 kg freight3
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 Twin Wasp3
Cylinders Radial 143
HP 1,200 each3
Dimensions  
Span 110'3
33.53 m3
Length 66' 4"3
20.22 m3
Height 18'3
5.46 m3
Weight  
Empty 31,953 lb3
14,486 kg3
Loaded 56,600 lb3
25,673 kg3
Performance  
Speed 306 mph3
492 kph3
Cruising speed 200 mph3
322 kph3
Climb to 20,000' /
6,096 m
20.9 minutes3
Service ceiling 31,000'3
9,449 m3
Range 2,900 miles3
4,667 km3
Armament  
Tail turret 1: 0.5" MG3

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. B-24 Liberator Units of the Pacific War, Robert F Dorr, 1999
  5. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  6. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  7. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
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