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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. The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) wanted a heavy bomber that would outperform a B-17 in speed, range, and altitude. Isaac M. Laddon, the head designer, went with a high wing design with twin tail fins.

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

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

Orders

In 1940 France ordered 120, Britain 164, and the United States Army Air Corps ordered 36.

Crew

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

Transports

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

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

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

Wings

The B-24 used the a wing designed by David R. Davis, who sold it to Consolidated in 1937. It was a slender wing, mounted high in the fuselage, with a sharp camber that gave the B-24 extremely good lift.

Landing Gear

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

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.

The XB-24 prototype first flew on December 28, 1939/December 29, 1939. The first flight by the prototype was on January 29, 1940.

The US Army ordered seven YB-24s in March 1939.

Production

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

The B-24 was the most produced American aircraft during the war as well as the most produced 4 engine aircraft ever.

  • Consolidated XB-24: 1
  • Consolidated YB-24: 7
  • Consolidated XB/YB-24N: 8
  • Consolidated B-24A: 9
  • Consolidated Liberator I: 20
  • Consolidated Liberator II: 139
  • Consolidated LB-30: 75
    • Delivered: December 10, 1941 - January 6, 1942
    • 23 sent to England
  • Consolidated B-24C: 9
  • Consolidated B-24D: 2,738
    • Built by Consolidated and Douglas.
  • Consolidated B-24E: 791
    • Built by Ford.
  • Consolidated Liberator III: 260
  • Consolidated B-24G: 430
  • Consolidated B-24H: 3,100
    • Manufacturer: Consolidated Aircraft Corporation, Douglas, Ford
  • Consolidated B-24J: 6,678
  • Consolidated B-24L: 1,667
  • Consolidated B-24M: 2,593
  • Total: 18,188, 18,313, 18,482, 19,256
    • Manufacturer: Consolidated Aircraft Corporation (San Diego and Fort Worth), Douglas (Tulsa), Ford (Willow Run), and North American (Dallas)
    • Production: ? - May 1945
  • Consolidated C-87: 280, 282
  • Consolidated C-87A: 6
  • Consolidated C.VII: 24
  • Bomber Production Comparison

 

Variants

  • Consolidated XB-24: Prototype. Had Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 engines (1,100 HP).
  • Consolidated YB-24: Test aircraft. Built in 1940. Had turbo supercharges for high altitude tests.
  • Consolidated B-24A: First model ordered for production. Only nine completed.
  • Consolidated B-24C: Engines (Pratt & Whitney R-1830) had turbo chargers. None were used in combat.
  • Consolidated B-24D: First main production version. First produced in 1941. 2,738 were used against Japan. Douglas, Ford, and North American became manufacturers. First to go into combat.
  • Consolidated B-24E: Had improved propellers.
  • Consolidated B-24G: From this model on, a nose turret was added.
  • Consolidated B-24H: First arrived on June 30, 1943. Variety of nose turrets used.
  • Consolidated B-24J: Major production version. Had a Motor Products nose turret, a new autopilot, and new bomb sight. Deliveries started in August 1943. Fuel system updated. Controls for the engines improved.
  • Consolidated B-24L: The rear powered turret was replaced by a manually controlled guns.
  • Consolidated B-24M: Had a Motor Products tail turret.
  • Consolidated B-24N: Had a single fin but was only prototypes were constructed.
  • Consolidated PB4Y: United States Navy model.
  • Consolidated C-87: Transport that could carry 25 passengers.
  • Consolidated C-87A: VIP transport that could sleep 10 passengers.
  • Consolidated C-87B: Was proposed to be an armed version.
  • Consolidated C-87C: Was to use the single fin of the PB4Y-2 Privateer.
  • Consolidated C-109: Tanker. Converted from 218 B-24Ds and B-24Es. Used primarily in India to support the B-29s. Could carry 2,400 gallons / 10,900 liters.
  • Consolidated RY-2: United States Navy designation for the C-87.
  • Consolidated RY-3: United States Navy designation for the C-87C.
  • Consolidated TB-24: Trainer.
  • Consolidated AT-22: Navigation trainer.
  • Consolidated XB-41: Escort. Carried fourteen 12.7 mm machine guns. Only a prototype.
  • Consolidated F-7: Reconnaissance.
  • United Kingdom
    • Consolidated LB-30: Produced for Britain. First six arrived in December 1940. Were used in ferry flights across the Atlantic.
    • Consolidated LB-30B / Consolidated Liberator I: Used in anti submarine patrols.
    • Consolidated Liberator II: Had powered turrets, self sealing fuel tanks, and a longer nose.
    • Consolidated Liberator VI: Bomber.
    • Consolidated Liberator VIII: Maritime.
    • Consolidated Liberator C.VII: Transport . The C-87.
    • Consolidated Liberator C.IX: Transport. The C-87C.

Usage

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

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

Pearl Harbor

There was one B-24 Liberator destroyed on the ground at Hickam Field, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. 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. Lieutenant Kunikiya Hira, from the carrier Shokaku was flying a Aichi D3A Type 99 "Val" dive bomber when he destroyed Faulkner's plane.

United Kingdom

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

41 / 42 RAF squadrons were equipped with the B-24.

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

The RAF Transport Command had three squadrons equipped with the Liberator C.VIIs. These were primarily used in the Far East from 1944 to 1945.

Pacific

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

Australia

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

Canada

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

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. These three LB-30s were part of the 7th BG (bomber group). 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.

United States First Use of the B-24

The first delivery to a combat unit was in April 1942.

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

Bomber Groups

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

Germany

A captured B-24 was used on covert operations.

Specifications

  Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Type Medium / heavy bomber
Crew 8 - 10
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney
HP 1,200 each
Dimensions  
Span 110'
33.53 m
Length 64', 66' 4"
20.22 m
Height 17' 11", 19'
5.46 m
Weight  
Loaded 41,000 lb
Performance  
Speed 300 mph
Speed at 25,000' / 7,620 m 303 mph
488 kph
Cruising speed 200 mph
322 kph
Climb to 20,000' / 6,096 m 22 minutes
Service ceiling 32,000'
9,754 m
Range 2,850 miles, 3,000 miles
4,586 km
Range with 4,000 lb
bomb load
3,000 miles
  Consolidated B-24D Liberator
Type Heavy bomber
Crew 10
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 Twin Wasp piston
OR 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp
Cylinders Radial 14
HP 1,200 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 110'
33.52 m
Length 66' 4"
20.22 m
Height 17' 11"
5.46 m
Wing area 1,048 ft2
97.36 m2
Weight  
Empty 32,605 lb, 34,000 lb
14,790 kg, 15,413 kg
Loaded 60,000 lb, 64,000 lb
27,216 kg, 29,030 kg
Maximum load 71,200 lb
32,296 kg
Performance  
Speed 300 mph
488 kph
Service ceiling 32,500'
9,900 m
Range 2,850 miles
2,896 km
Armament 10: 0.5" MG
Nose turret 1: 12.7 mm MG
Fixed nose (a few had) 1: 12.7 mm MG
Dorsal turret 2: 12.7 mm MG
Tail turret 2: 12.7 mm MG
Ball turret (retractable) 2: 12.7 mm MG
Waist positions 1: 12.7 mm MG each side
Normal bomb load 8,000 lb
3,629 kg
Maximum bomb load 8,800 lb, 12,800 lb
3,629 kg, 5,806 kg
  Consolidated B-24G Liberator
Type Bomber, Medium / heavy bomber
Crew 8 - 10, 8 - 12
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 Twin Wasp
4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
HP 1,200 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 110'
33.53 m
Length 66' 4", 67' 2"
20.47 m
Height 17' 11", 18'
5.48
Weight  
Empty 38,000 lb
17,237 kg
Loaded 60,000 lb, 65,000 lb
29,484 kg
Maximum load 71,200 lb
32,296 kg
Performance  
Speed at 25,000' 303 mph
Service ceiling 32,000
Range 2,850 miles
Armament 10: MG
10: 0.5" MG
Bombs 8,800 lb
Normal bomb load 8,000 lb
3,629 kg
Maximum bomb load 12,800 lb
5,806 kg
  Consolidated B-24J Liberator
Type Bomber, Heavy bomber
Crew 8 - 10
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
HP 1,200 each
Dimensions  
Span 110'
33.53 m
Length 67' 2"
20.47 m
Height 18'
5.49 m
Wing area 1,048 ft2
97.36 m2
Weight  
Empty 36,500 lb
16,556 kg
Loaded 65,000 lb
29,484 kg
Performance  
Speed at 25,000' 290 mph
Speed at 25,000' / 6,200 m 290 mph
467 kph
Speed at 25,000' / 7,620 m 278 mph, 290 mph
447 kph, 467 kph
Cruising speed 237 mph
447 kph
Climb 1,025'/minute
312 m/minute
Climb to 20,000' / 6,095 m 25 minutes
Service ceiling 28,000'
8,534 m, 8,535 m
Range 2,000 miles, 2,100 miles
3,219 km, 3,379 km
Range with 8,000 lb bomb load 1,540 miles
2,478 km
Range with 8,800 lb / 3,992 kg bomb load 2,000 miles
3,220 km
Armament 10: MG
Nose turret 2: 12.7 mm MG
Dorsal turret 2: 12.7 mm MG
Tail turret 2: 12.7 mm MG
Ball turret (retractable) 2: 12.7 mm MG
Waist positions 1: 12.7 mm MG each side
Bombs 8,800 lb
3,992 kg
Maximum bomb load 8,800 lb
3,992 kg
  Consolidated Liberator C-87
Type Transport
Tanker
Crew C-87A: 4
Passengers C-87: 25
C-87A: 25
OR C-87A: 8,000 lb freight
C-87A: 3,992 kg freight
Engine (Type) 4: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 Twin Wasp
Cylinders Radial 14
HP 1,200 each
Dimensions  
Span 110'
33.53 m
Length 66' 4"
20.22 m
Height 18'
5.46 m
Weight  
Empty 31,953 lb
14,486 kg
Loaded 56,600 lb
25,673 kg
Performance  
Speed 306 mph
492 kph
Cruising speed 200 mph
322 kph
Climb to 20,000' /
6,096 m
20.9 minutes
Service ceiling 31,000'
9,449 m
Range 2,900 miles
4,667 km
Armament  
Tail turret 1: 0.5" MG

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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