THE 456th FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQUADRON

THE PROTECTORS OF  S. A. C.

 

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The Consolidated B-24 "Liberator"

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XB-24

The Consolidated XB-24 (Model 32) was designed in 1938 to try to improve on the performance of the Boeing B-17. The design incorporated a new wing design optimized for high-lift and low drag, a tricycle landing gear--the first on a US Army heavy bomber, and twin vertical stabilizers.

The prototype was ordered in March 1939 and had its first flight on 29 December 1939. The Army General Staff had such confidence in the new aircraft, 7 service test aircraft were ordered (April 1939) built as YB-24 before the final design of the XB-24 was complete. Additionally, 38 B-24As were ordered in August 1939 before the XB-24 has its first flight.

The XB-24 failed to achieve its design top speed so the aircraft was modified for more powerful R-1830-41 turbo-supercharged radial engines in 1940. The modified aircraft, which had the leading edge slots removed and self-sealing fuel tanks added, was redesignated XB-24B.

TYPE
XB-24
Number Built/Converted
1
Remarks
Prototype 4-eng. heavy bomber

SPECIFICATIONS
Span:
110 ft. 0 in.
Length: 63 ft. 9 in.
Height: 18 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 46,400 lbs. max.
Armament: Three .50-cal. and 4 .30-cal. machine guns and 8,800 lbs. of bombs
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 Wasps of 1,000 hp. each.
Crew: Seven

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed:
273 mph.
Cruising speed: 186 mph.
Range: 4,700 miles (max. ferry range); 3,000 miles w/ 2,500 lbs. bomb load
Service Ceiling: 31,500 ft.

 

Consolidated XB-24B

 

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 XB-24B

(The aircraft pictured above is the XB-24 before the -B conversion, note the circular engine cowlings)

The prototype B-24 had a design estimated top speed of 311 mph, but the actual XB-24 was only able to achieve a top speed of 273 mph. To attempt to increase the performance of the aircraft, it was fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-1830-41 supercharged radials. Self-sealing fuel tanks were added and the leading edge slots were removed. The first use of elliptical engine cowlings appeared on the XB-24B, a distinctive characteristic of all B-24 models starting with -D. The conversion was completed in August 1940 and the aircraft was designated XB-24B. It flew at 310 mph maximum. The improvements of the XB-24B were incorporated into the B-24D design when the Army exercised a 1939 contract option and bought 56 -D models.

TYPE
XB-24B
Number Built/Converted
1 (cv)
Remarks
Re-engined XB-24

 

Notes:

SPECIFICATIONS
Span:
110 ft. 0 in.
Length: 63 ft. 9 in.
Height: 18 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 46,400 lbs. max.
Armament: Three .50-cal. and 4 .30-cal. machine guns and 8,800 lbs. of bombs
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-41supercharged radials of 1,200 hp. each (take-off power)
Crew: Seven

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed:
310 mph.
Cruising speed: 208 mph.
Range: 4,700 miles (max. ferry range); 3,000 miles w/ 2,500 lbs. bomb load
Service Ceiling: 32,000 ft.

 

 

Consolidated YB-24

 

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YB-24

The Consolidated YB-24 was the service test version of the XB-24. Seven aircraft were ordered on 27 April 1939 less than thirty days after the XB-24 was ordered.

The YB-24 was almost identical to the XB-24. Changes included leading edge wing slot removal and de-icing boot additions. Six of the seven aircraft were sent to Britain for use as long range transports. The seventh YB-24 was the only one actually evaluated by the Army and used as a service test aircraft.

TYPE
YB-24
Number Built/Converted
7
Remarks
Service Test

SPECIFICATIONS
Span:
110 ft. 0 in.
Length: 63 ft. 9 in.
Height: 18 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 46,400 lbs. max.
Armament: Four .30-cal. and three .50-cal. machine guns, plus 8,800 lbs. of bombs (max.)
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 radials of 1,200 hp. each (take-off power)
Crew: Seven

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed:
273 mph. at 15,000 ft.
Cruising speed: 186 mph.
Range: 4,700 miles (ferry range); 3,000 miles with 2,500 lbs. of bombs
Service Ceiling: 31,500 ft.

Consolidated B-24A

 

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B-24A

The Army ordered 38 B-24As in 1939 as an improved version of the XB-24. However, only 9 aircraft were actually built to -A model specifications. The B-24A had better overall performance than the XB-24 mainly due to aerodynamic improvements in the design.

Nine aircraft (of the original 38 -A models ordered) were converted on the assembly line to B-24C and the remaining 20 to Liberator Mk. I (LB30B) for use by the British in a coastal patrol and defense squadron. France ordered a version of the B-24 in May 1940, but these aircraft were diverted to Britain as LB30 after France was overrun by the Axis.

The B-24A was actually ordered into production before any version of a B-24 flew because of the immediate need for bomber aircraft. Also, the Army General Staff reversed the trend of the late 1930s preferring many medium bombers over fewer heavy bombers. The need for a 4-engine heavy bomber was clearly demonstrated in the early stages of World War II.

TYPE
B-24A
Number Built/Converted
38
Remarks
Only 9 actual B-24As built

SPECIFICATIONS
Span:
110 ft. 0 in.
Length: 63 ft. 9 in.
Height: 18 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 46,400 lbs. max.
Armament: Six .50-cal. and two .30-cal. machine guns, plus 8,800 lbs. of bombs (max.)
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 radials of 1,200 hp. each (take-off power)

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed:
293 mph.
Cruising speed: 228 mph.
Range: 4,000 miles (ferry range); 2,200 miles with 4,000 lbs. of bombs
Service Ceiling: 32,000 ft.

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B-24A

 

Ford Makes B-24s At It's Willow Run Plant

 

The B-24C

 

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In flight - RB-24C

The nine B-24Cs built (S/N 40-2378 to 40-2386) were originally ordered as B-24A, but were modified on the production line. The original Pratt & Whitney R-1830-31 radials were replaced by R-1830-41 turbo-supercharged radials. The engine cowlings became elliptical after the addition of supercharger/intercooler air intakes on each side of the engine. The tail gunner's position was improved by adding an A-6 type power turret with twin .50-cal. machine guns. A Martin power turret was added to the top forward fuselage also.

The -C model Liberators were delivered to the Army Air Corps in December 1941 to February 1942 and served as test aircraft. Consolidated used them to gear up for full-scale production of the B-24D and the Air Corps used them for test and training. No B-24C was ever used in combat.

 

TYPE
B-24C
Number Built/Converted
9 (cv)
Remarks
B-24A converted on assy. line

SPECIFICATIONS
Span:
110 ft. 0 in.
Length: 64 ft. 4 in.
Height: 18 ft. 0 in.
Weight: 53,700 lbs. max.
Armament: Eight .50-cal. and 8,800 lbs. of bombs
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-41supercharged radials of 1,200 hp. each (take-off power)
 

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed:
313 mph.
Cruising speed: 233 mph.
Range: 3,600 miles (max. ferry range); 2,100 miles w/ 5,000 lbs. bomb load
Service Ceiling: 34,000 ft.

 

 

CONSOLIDATED B-24D "LIBERATOR"

 

Consolidated B-24D
"Strawberry Bitch"

The B-24D-160-CO (S/N 42-72843) "Strawberry Bitch" flew combat missions from North Africa in 1943-44 with the 512th Bomb Squadron. The aircraft was named, in part, because of the pinkish-tinted paint. It was flown to the U.S. Air Force Museum in May 1959.

After extensive restoration and preservation work by the USAF Museum restoration division, the aircraft was placed on permanent display and can be viewed in the Air Power Gallery at the Air Force Museum.

The B-24 was employed in operations in every combat theater during World War II. Because of its great range, it was particularly suited for such missions as the famous raid from North Africa against the oil industry at Ploesti, Rumania on August 1, 1943. This feature also made the airplane suitable for long over-water missions in the Pacific Theater. More than 18,000 Liberators were produced.

The B-24D on display flew combat missions from North Africa in 1943-44 with the 512th Bomb Squadron. It was flown to the U.S. Air Force Museum in May 1959. It is the same type airplane as the Lady Be Good, the world-famous B-24D which disappeared on a mission from North Africa in April 1943 and which was found in the Libyan Desert in May 1959.

SPECIFICATIONS
Span:
110 ft. 0 in.
Length: 66 ft. 4 in.
Height: 17 ft. 11 in.
Weight: 56,000 lbs. loaded
Armament: Eleven .50-cal. machine guns [nose, left & right cheek, top turret (2), ball turret (2), left and right waist and tail (2)] plus a normal maximum load of 8,000 lbs. of bombs
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830s of 1,200 hp. ea.
Cost: $336,000
Serial Number: 42-72843

PERFORMANCE
Maximum speed:
303 mph.
Cruising speed: 175 mph.
Range: 2,850 miles
Service Ceiling: 28,000 ft.

 

 

Pratt and Whitney R-1830-90C "Twin Wasp" Engine

 

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Pratt and Whitney R-1830

Pratt and Whitney R-1830-90C "Twin Wasp"

The Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engine was one of the most efficient and reliable engines of the 1930s. It was introduced in 1932 with either a 6.1 or 6.5 compression ratio and 775 or 825 horsepower respectively, at 2,400 rpm. To reach its designed power the R-1830 needed the highest octane gasoline available. Using improved fuel the R-1830 reached 1,000 hp and later 1,200 hp. It has 14 cylinders in two banks of seven. The R-1830 was used on B-24s, C-47s and the Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, until it was phased out by Grumman. Pratt and Whitney built 13,464 R-1830-90C engines for the C-47 aircraft. It was also used in a variety of British aircraft including the Royal Air Force Catalina, Short Sunderland Vs, Maryland bombers, and Bristol Beauforts

SPECIFICATIONS
Model:
R-1830-90C
Type: 14-cylinder, air-cooled, twin row radial
Displacement: 1830 cu. in.
Max. RPM: 2,400
Max. HP: 1,200
Weight: 1,467 lbs.

Photos And Text Courtesy Of The Air Force Museum

 

 The Pratt & Whitney Supercharged R-1830 Twin Wasp Engine

 

 

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator

 

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The Consolidated B-24 Liberator

With over 18,000 aircraft built the Consolidated B-24 Liberator was produced in even greater numbers than the other famous Second World War US bomber, the B-17 Flying Fortress. The Liberator gained a distinguished war record with its operations in the European, Pacific, African and Middle Eastern theaters. One of its main virtues was a long operating range, which led to it being used also for other duties including maritime patrol, antisubmarine work, reconnaissance, tanker, cargo and personnel transport. Winston Churchill used one as his own transport aircraft.

The aircraft was originally designed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, and the prototype first flew on December 29,1939. Meanwhile, orders for production aircraft had also been received from Great Britain and France, who had tried desperately to build up and modernize their air forces for the war which had been inevitable. However, the Liberator was not available to France by the time of its capitulation, and French-ordered aircraft were diverted to Britain.

Among the first Liberators to go into British service were six used as transatlantic airliners with BOAC, while others went to Coastal Command as patrol aircraft. As production in the States continued to expand, taking in other manufacturers to help build the type, versions appeared with varying armament and other differences. Liberators also found their way into the United States Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the armed forces of other countries. In Europe, Bomber Command of the Royal Air Force concentrated mainly on night bombing, while the United States Army Air Force operated mainly as a day bombing force. On December 4,1942 US Liberators of the 9th Air Force attacked Naples, recording their first raid on Italy, followed on July 19,1943 by the first raid on Rome by 270 Liberators and B-17 Flying Fortresses of the USAAF casualties among the US day bombing forces were high, until the perfection of formation flying and the support of long-range escort fighters. This was well illustrated on August 17,1943 when 59 bombers were shot down while attacking German ball-bearing factories, followed by 60 losses in a similar raid in October. In March 1944 a large force of US Liberators and B-17 Flying Fortresses attacked Berlin in daylight, the first of several such raids.

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With over 18,000 aircraft built the Consolidated B-24 Liberator was produced in even greater numbers than the other famous Second World War US bomber, the B-17 Flying Fortress.

 Incredibly, Liberators are recorded as having dropped over 630,000 tons of bombs, while several thousand enemy aircraft fell to their guns. Some were converted to carry the first US air-to-surface, radar-guided missile, the Bat, and in April 1945 a Bat sank a Japanese naval destroyer. After the war the Liberator continued to serve with the United States forces, notably as an air rescue and weather reconnaissance aircraft with the Coast Guard in the 1950s.

The first major external change of the B-24 lines appeared on the twenty-sixth B-24G, when a new nose was designed to include a power turret containing two .50-cal. guns for frontal protection. This most effective forward arrangement increased the length to 67 feet 2 inches. The Sperry ball turret became standard equipment on this and following models.

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The B-24J Liberator was the variation produced in the largest quantity.

The B-24J Liberator was the variation produced in the largest quantity; a total of 6,678 being constructed. It was so similar to the G and H models that the latter were modified to become B-24Js by changing the autopilot and bombsight. Armed with twin .50-cal. Browning's in the nose, upper, lower ball, waist, and tail turrets, a total of 5,200 rounds of ammunition were carried. The top speed of 290 mph was provided by four Pratt & Whitney supercharged R-1830-65's with 1,200 hp each. Cruise was 215 mph and landing speed was 95 mph with its Fowler flaps. Rate of climb was 1,025 feet per minute, and service ceiling was 28,000 feet. Empty, the B-24J weighed 36,500 pounds and grossed out at 56,000 pounds. Maximum range extended 3,700 miles. The Wing span was 110 feet; wing area, 1,048 square feet; length, 67 feet 2 inches; height, 18 feet. Fuel capacity was 3,614 gallons.

The 1,667 B-24Ls and 2,593 B-24M models varied only slightly in armament fixtures from their predecessors. Several B-24s were used as transports under the Air Force designation of C-87 Liberator Express and a few became C-109 fuel tankers.

 

 

More Than Perseverance And A Prayer

 

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A damaged bomber of the Fifteenth Air Force falls away from its companion.

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A B-24 Liberator with its aft section in flames, continues to roar ahead after it was hit by antiaircraft fire over Quakenbruck, Germany. A few moments later the whole plane exploded

During 1943 the Allies increased their air attacks on key points in Hitler's Fortress Europe. In July British bombers turned Hamburg into an inferno. Dropping strips of tin foil to confuse the German radar system, the RAF dumped tons of incendiary and high-explosive bombs on the city. When the ten days of sustained raids were over, 70,000 people were dead, and Hamburg as a city had almost ceased to exist.

The Luftwaffe, however, was still able to inflict punishing losses on bombers that attacked strategic targets farther inland, beyond the range of escorting fighters. Almost one-third of the B-24s that made a low level raid on the oil refineries of Ploesti, Rumania in August were shot down. Sixty planes and their crews were lost on August 17 in raids against Schweinfurt and Regensburg, and in October, 148 bombers were lost in six days. The Combined Bomber Offensive was damaging Germany, but the cost was high.

 

 

Variations Of The Consolidated B-24

 

Liberator 11 (LB-30). Had no B-24 counterpart (LT3-30 designation signifies Liberator built to British specifications). Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S3C4G engines with two speed superchargers and driving Curtiss Electric full-feathering propellers. Armed with eleven .303 in. guns, eight in two Boulton Paul power turrets, one dorsal and one tail, one in the nose and two in waist positions.

XB-24B. The first B-24 to be fitted with turbo-supercharged engines, self-sealing tanks, armor, and other modern refinements.

B-24C. Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-41 engines with exhaust-driven turbo-superchargers. Armament augmented to include two power-driven turrets, one dorsal and one tail, each fitted with two .50-cal. guns. In addition, there was one .50-cal. nose gun and two similar guns in waist positions.

B-24D (PB4Y-l and Liberator B.III and G.R.V.). Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 engines. Armament further increased by the addition of two further nose guns and one tunnel gun, making a total of ten .50-cal. guns. Fuel capacity increased by the addition of auxiliary self-sealing fuel cells in the outer wings and there was provision for long-range tanks in the bomb-bay. The first model to be equipped to carry two 4,000 lb. bombs on external racks, one under each inner wing. The Liberator G.R.V. was used as a long-range general reconnaissance type by RAF Coastal Command. Fuel capacity was increased at the expense of amour and tank protection. Armament consisted of one .303-in. or .50-cal. gun in the nose, two .50-cal. guns in the upper turret, four .303 -in. or two .50-cal. guns in waist positions and four .303-in. guns in a Boulton Paul tail turret. Bombs or depth charges 5,400 lbs.

B-24E (Liberator IV). Similar to B-24D except for minor equipment details. Built by Consolidated (Forth Worth), Ford (Willow Run) and Douglas (Tulsa).

B-24F. An experimental version of the B-24E fitted with exhaust-heated surface anti-icing equipment on wings and tail surfaces.

B-24G, B-24H and B-24J (PB4Y-l and Liberator B.VI and G.R.VI). Similar except for details of equipment and minor differences associated with different manufacturing methods. B-24J built by North American (Dallas). B-24H built by Consolidated (Forth Worth), Ford (Willow Run) andDouglas (Tulsa). B-24J built by Consolidated (San Diego and Fort Worth), Ford, Douglas and North American (Dallas). Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 or 65 engines. Armament further improved to include four two-gun turrets, in nose and tail and above and below the fuselage (details below). Later models of the B-24J were fitted with exhaust-heated anti-icing equipment. The Liberator G.R.VI was used as a long-range general reconnaissance type by RAF Coastal Command. Armament consisted of six .50-cal. guns, two each in nose and dorsal turrets and in waist positions, and four .303-in. guns in a Boulton Paul tail turret. Bombs or depth charges 4,500 lbs. (2,045 kg.).

XB-24K. The first Liberator to be fitted with a single fin and rudder. An experimental model only.

B-24L. Similar to the B-24J but fitted with a new tail turret with two manually-operated .50-cal. guns. The two guns had a wider field of fire and the new turret, which was designed by the Consolidated Vultee Modification Center at Tucson permitted a saving of 200 lbs. (91 kg.) in weight.

B-24M. Same as the B-24L except fitted with a new Motor Products two-gun power-operated tail turret. A B-24M was the 6,725th and last Liberator built by Consolidated Vultee at San Diego.

B-24N. The first production single-tail Liberator. Fitted with new nose and tail gun mountings. Only a few were built before the Liberator was withdrawn from production on May 31,1945.

Specifications:
Consolidated B-24J Liberator
Dimensions:
Wing span: 110 ft 0 in (33.53 m)
Length: 67 ft 2 in (20.47 m)
Height: 18 ft 0 in (5.49 m)
Weights:
Empty: 37,000 lb. (16,798 kg)
Operational: 65,000 lb (29,510 kg)
Performance:
Maximum Speed: 290 mph (467 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 28,000 ft. (8,540 m)
Range: 2,200 miles (3,540 km)
Powerplant:
Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 or 65 1,200 hp 14 cylinder radial engines.
Armament:
Six .50-calibre guns, two each in nose and dorsal turrets and in waist positions, and four .303-in. guns in a Boulton Paul tail turret. Internal bomb load of 8,000 lbs. (3,632 kg) with optional external bomb racks.

CB-24. Numbers of B-24 bombers withdrawn from operational flying in the European Theater of Operations were stripped of all armament and adapted to various duties, including utility transport, etc. Painted in distinctive colors and patterns, they were also used as Group Identity Aircraft to facilitate the assembly of large numbers of bombers into their battle formations through and above overcast weather. All these carried the designation CB-24.

TB-24 (formerly AT-22). A conversion of the B-24D for specialized advanced training duties. All bombing equipment and armament removed and six stations provided in the fuselage for the instruction of air engineers in powerplant operation, essentially for such aircraft as the Boeing B-29 and the Consolidated Vultee B-32, which are the first large combat aircraft in the USAAF to have separate completely equipped engineer's stations.

C-109. A conversion of the B-24 into a fuel-carrying aircraft. The first version, modified by the USAAF had metal tanks in the nose, above the bomb-bay and in the bomb-bay holding a total of 2,900 US gallons. Standard fuel transfer system for loading and unloading through single hose union in side of fuselage. Inert gas injected into tanks as fuel pumped out to eliminate danger of explosion. Developed for transporting fuel from India to China to supply the needs of the B-29s operating therefrom. Later version modified by the Glenn L. Martin Company, fitted with collapsible Mareng fuel cells.

The Aviation History On-Line Museum.

 

 

The History Of The B-24

The B-24 Photo Gallery

 

 

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Last Updated

02/10/2014

 

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