Consolidated B-24 Liberator

B-24E Liberator

B-24E Liberator

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was a heavy bomber of World War II from American production. The four-engined high-wing monoplane with twin vertical tail was next to the B-17 strategic bombers of the most important USAAF in the European theater of war. Manufacturer was the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation (1943: Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Co. andConvair).


Actually wanted the U.S. Army, that also produced the Consolidated B-17. However, Consolidated offered a machine with better services, to which the U.S. Marine Corps ordered a prototype in March 1939 with the condition that it should fly by the end of 1939. According to the tender of the United States Army Air Corps, which called for an aircraft with even better performance than the B-17 Liberator which actually had a flying fortress to the greater range and payload, the service ceiling she could not reach, however. Thanks to this they had the Davis wing (wing by engineer David Davis with a large extension, less depth and high curvature). However, this airfoil also ensured that the slow flight characteristics and control left something to be desired. The B-24 was thus more difficult in the key for mutual fire protection close formation to fly than the B-17. The prototype XB-24 was based on the Consolidated B-32 and launched just in time for the scheduled appointment on 29 December 1939 on the Lindbergh Field with test pilot William Whetley first flight. Even before this ordered France in April 1939 175 machines that were delivered partly to Britain after the fall of France in June 1940. On 26 July 1940 called the Air Corps that the machine should be equipped with a turbocharger n and self-sealing tanks. The modified prototype and pre-series of seven YB-24 (the rest went directly to the United Kingdom) were used for further testing. This was followed by 36 B-24A-series pattern. The first application was made ​​at the beginning of the Pacific War against Japan in January 1942 in the attack on Sulawesi, the first major missions with B-24D in February 1943 in New Guinea.

The B-17 had a reputation battle damage far better to cope with than the B-24, and the fighter pilots of the Luftwaffe kept the B-24 to shoot for relatively easy, particularly so since the B-24 tended easier to fire to fall as the B-17. The crews of the B-17 said with a touch of black humor, “they did not need an escort, as long as the B-24 are nearby – all hunters then pounced on the easier prey.”

An analysis of the loss suffered by the 8th Air Force in Europe bomber losses, however, shows that the loss rates of the B-24 was even slightly lower than that of the B-17. However, this result must be viewed in terms of the different operating conditions. Since the B-17 was used since August 1942 Europe and the beginning of time, no long-range escort fighter was available already many B-17 had up to that time at which the B-24 were used in combat, been shot down. In the later phase of the war, as the B-17 and B-24 were used at the same time and also long-range escort fighters were available, then more B-24 were shot down as a B-17. However, the “loss lead” the B-17 could not make up for the B-24.

In contrast to the B-17, the B-24 was significantly greater success in naval warfare used for antisubmarine warfare. This was mainly due to the higher compared to the B-17 range, which allowed it to operate over the mid-Atlantic and the Pacific. The Liberator was so instrumental in that as of May 1943, the “air hole” over the Atlantic, where the German U-boats were attacked most of carrier aircraft, could be completely closed and the German U-boat fleet suffered heavy losses (see U -Boat War: January to May 1943). The B-24 was used in 1942 by the Coastal Command of the Royal Air Force and increasingly modernized technology over time, with radar devices were the aircraft over long distances locate submarines at night with the Leigh Light illuminate mentioned headlamp system and with water bombs, weapons and at the end of the war, even acoustically guided torpedo’s fight. Addition, there was also that the disadvantages compared to other bombers not as serious impact on the open sea, there was no danger of enemy fighters.

The B-24 was in large numbers (18,482) built than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. It was used both in the West and in the Pacific as a heavy bomber, a tank and maritime surveillance aircraft, as well as with the U.S. Navy under the designation PB4Y as submarine combat and reconnaissance aircraft. Particularly well known, the attack of 177 Liberators on the oil fields of Ploesti was the first August 1943, although 57 bombers were shot down and another damaged. Under the name Consolidated C-87, the pattern also found as a passenger and cargo aircraft use.

Under the designation F-7 is a reconnaissance version was delivered to the USAAF.

An improved version of the B-24 was the U.S. Navy as PB4Y-2 Privateer.

Assessment by crews

Captain Thomas Downey (448th Bomb Group):

The B-24 was a little more difficult than to fly the B-17. The B-17 trimmed from you and they almost flew alone. Even when moving around a crew member of the B-24, had to retrim the aircraft continued. In the B-17 could actually perform a close formation flight, while one had to toil hard in the B-24 get added to it.


U.S. Army Air Forces

XB-24 (Consolidated Model 32)Prototype with Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 radial engines with 1,000 hp (746 kW), built one.YB-24/LB-30APre-production aircraft, six were delivered as LB-30A in the UK.B-24second pre-series, which was ordered 30 days after the XB-24, seven built.B-24A/LB-30Baerodynamically refined production version, 38 built.XB-24BPrototype with R-1830-41 radial engines with turbochargers, each with 1,200 hp (895 kW) and elliptical engine cowlings. Rebuilt from the XB-24.B-24Cnine converted B-24A-41-R-1830 engines and Emerson A-6-tower in the rear and Martin-back tower.B-24DB-24C-43-R-1830 engines. The armament was during construction by the installation of a Bendix tower in the lower fuselage improved (later Sperry), built 2,696 as of January 1942.SB-24Dten B-24D were converted for use as a “night bomber”. Equipped with a radar target device for the bombing, they have been used with some success in the Pacific theater of war against Japan. B-24EB-24D from Ford with R-1830-65 engines, but without lower hull Tower, 801 built.XB-24Fa converted B-24D with heated wing leading edges.B-24GB-24D with Sperry-tower in the nose, 25 built.B-24G-1Version built with improved Emerson A-6-tower in the rear, 405thB-24HFord/Emerson-A-6-Turm in the nose, which required 50 changes to the cell, built in 3100.B-24JB-24H built with improved Sperry C-1 Autopilot, 6678.XB-24KConversion of a B-24D by Ford at the stern of the hull of a Douglas B-23 was applied. The XB-24K had better flight characteristics than the B-24D, but was apart from cost and time constraints of a takeover of the design into production. However, the XB-24K was the basis of the PB4Y-2 Privateer, the United States Navy.B-24LEasy version without towers in the lower hull (for two machine guns without a tower) and rear. The rear tower was however retrofitted front of the units, built in 1667.

B-24MB-24L built with lighter A-6B tail turret and open side stalls and a favorable flow cockpit glazing, 2593.XB-24NA prototype of a B-24J with a single tail fin similar to the XB-24K and improved towers. 5168 B-24N were canceled at war’s end.YB-24NPre-series of the B-24N, seven built.XB-24PConversion of a B-24D by the Sperry Gyroscope Company to test new fire extinguishing systems.XB-24QConversion of a B-24L by General Electric with radar-guided towers.XB-41Conversion of a B-24D, 1942, which was to serve as a companion bomber with 14 machine guns. However, the high drag of the additional towers made the air drop services so that a series production was omitted.AT-22/TB-24C-87 trainer for flight engineers.RB-24LB-24L with towers of Boeing B-29 to train their crews.TB-24LRB-24L radar.

C-87 Liberator ExpressTransport aircraft with R-1830-43-engines for 20 passengers.C-87AVIP van with R-1830-45 engines and 16 beds.C-87Barmed C-87, not built.C-87CUSAAF designation of the RY-3 of the U.S. Navy.XC-109/C-109Aviation fuel transporter for supply of the B-29 in China from India.

XF-7Conversion of a B-24D as a reconnaissance aircraft.F-7B-24H-FO as reconnaissance aircraft.7A-FB-24J as reconnaissance aircraft (three cameras in the nose, three in the bomb bay).F-7BB-24J as reconnaissance aircraft (six cameras in the bomb bay).

U.S. Navy

PB4Y-1977 B-24D/G/J/M that were delivered to the U.S. Navy. All were equipped with radar.PB4Y-1PConversion of some of PB4Y-1 reconnaissance aircraft. Maritime patrol aircraft like the B-24N, but without turbocharger, 736 built.RY-1three C-87A of the U.S. Navy.RY-2five C-87 of the U.S. Navy.RY-3Transport variant of the PB4Y-2, built 39th

Royal Air Force

Liberator B Mk IB-24A for the RAF Costal Command, 20 delivered. Liberator B Mk IIB-24 with a widened and lengthened by about 1 m Hull and enlarged tail unit (LB-30 of the USAAF), 165 built. Liberator B Mk IIIB-24D with 7.62 mm Browning machine gun in the nose, two on the sides, four in the Boulton Paul tail turret (similar to the Avro Lancaster) and American Martin-back tower, 156 built. Liberator B Mk IIIAB-24D of the RAF. Liberator B Mk IVB-24E of the RAF, not supplied. Liberator B Mk VB-24D with increased fuel supply and arming the Liberator Mk III. Liberator B Mk VIB-24H with Boulton Paul tail turret. Liberator B Mk VIIIB-24J RAF. Liberator GR Mk VB-24D with “Leigh Light” searchlight and radar for submarine hunting. Liberator GR Mk VIB-24G/H/J of RAF Coastal Command. Liberator GR Mk VIIIB-24J with anti-submarine equipment. Liberator C Mk VIto transport aircraft converted Liberator B Mk VIII. Liberator C Mk VIIC-87 of the RAF. Liberator C Mk VIII transport aircraft converted to Liberator GR Mk VIII. Liberator C Mk IXRY-3/C-87C the RAF.

Technical specifications


Data for the B-24J

Length 21.16 m

Wingspan 33,55 m

height.  5.49m

drives Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp

Twin radial engines, each with 1,200 hp

Maximum speed 480 km / h at 9,150 m altitude

Normal range 3360 km

Service ceiling 8,550 m

Empty weight 17,250 kg

All-up weight 26,000 kg

Weapons ten Browning M2 machine guns, .50 caliber BMG (12.7 mm)

max. 8,000 lbs (3.6 tons) of bombs


•Olaf Groehler: History of the Air War 1910-1980 Military Publishing House of the German Democratic Republic, Berlin in 1981..

•Frederick King: The Story of the Luftwaffe. Rastatt 1980.

•Kenneth Munson: Bombers, patrol and transport aircraft, 1939-45 published by Orell Füssli, Zurich, 3. Edition in 1977.

Four engine aircraft

Military Aircraft

Aircraft of World War II

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One Response to “Consolidated B-24 Liberator”

  1. Russ Tidlund says:

    My Father (Capt) A.L. Tidlund flew over 50 missions during WWII and his plane was named the jap/Nazi jinks. He passed away on Sept 3 2003 would love to know if any of his crew were still alive and if there are any photos of his plane and crew.

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