B-24 History

The development of the B-24 long range bomber was started by a request to the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation to set up a second production line for B-17 bombers in 1938.
 
The Consolidated chief engineer suggested a different design instead, based around a new wing patent that had less drag than the existing B-17 wings.
 
On 30th March 1939 Consolidated received a contract to build the first prototype of the new bomber which was designated the XB-24.
 
Development proceeded quickly and a number of the first production models, called YB-24, were delivered to the RAF in 1940. The B-24D was the first mass produced variant of the Consolidated ‘Liberator’ which was used by the USAAF from 1941.
Altogether 2,738 B-24Ds were built. Wartime development then continued through to model B-24M. Most of the later B-24 models were based on the B-24D, with changes in mainly the armament and equipment, as well as attempts to make the bomber lighter in order to increase its performance.
 
In total, some 19,203 B-24’s of 15 different variants were constructed during the war. Together with the B-17, the B-24 became the most used heavy long range bomber of the Second World War.
 

Technical Specifications

The technical specifications for the B-24D Liberator were:
 
Span
33.52m
Length
20.22m
Height
5.46m
Wing Area
97.36m²
Weight (empty)
15413kg
Weight (max take off)
27216kg
Armament
One (usually three) 0.5-in (12.7-mm) nose gun, two in dorsal turret, two in tail turret, two in retractable ball turret and two in waist positions; plus a maximum internal bomb load of 8,000 lb (3629 kg)
Powerplant
Four 1200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 Twin Wasp radial piston engines
Max. Speed
488km/h
Range (5,000lb bomb load)
1730km
Crew
10

 

B-24 Liberator bombers in Europe

The first Liberators to enter the European war theatre were the YB-24s, which were also called Mark I models, which were delivered to Britain in March 1941.
 
These aircraft were used for Atlantic transport duties, and later for long range anti-submarine patrols in the Battle of the Atlantic by RAF Coastal Command. Mark II models delivered later in 1941 were also used by the RAF Bomber Command. The first bombing raids employing Liberator Mark II’s were carried out by RAF squadrons in the Middle East.
 
After the United States declared war on Germany and Italy on 11th December 1941, the USAAF entered combat on 11 June, 1942 with an attack on the Romanian oilfields at Ploieşti, carried out by 13 B-24 Liberators.
 
In August 1942 the first strategic bombing raids on Germany were carried out by units of the 8th Airforce from British airfields. The so-called Combined Bomber Offensive, which started in June 1943, involved massive bombing of German occupied areas and plants and factories in Germany by the RAF and the USAAF.