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Liberator — Consolidated B-24M walkaround

17 November 2010

Liberator — Consolidated B-24M walkaround

37º 21′ 53″ N / 120º 34′ 41″ W

The Liberator was a contemporary of Boeing’s B-17 Flying Fortress in the European Theater and the unchallenged heavy bomber for the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific Theater until the advent of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. The B-24 is one of the most produced airplanes in history, partly because its design better envisioned mass production methods of the day. It was also known to be heavy on the controls and Liberator pilots famously had well developed muscles in their left arms to demonstrate that characteristic. It was the B-17 that was the glamor girl in Europe though the B-24 could fly faster, further and with a greater load but was not thought to be as rugged. The B-24’s range helped it to excel in the vast expanses over the Pacific Ocean, however. It was much more powerful and had nose and tail gun turrets instead of manual gun positions, a the B-17.

There are a few wonderfully restored Liberators on display in the world and one of them is an “M” model at the Castle Air Museum*, and here are some images of her:

Frontal view of the Castle Air Museum’s B-24M Liberator — photo by Joe May

Left profile view of the Consolidated B-24M Liberator — photo by Joe May

The Liberator was meant to carry bombs and many of them — photo by Joe May

The B-24’s turreted tail gunner station — photo by Joe May

The turreted nose gun and bombardier stations of the Liberator — photo by Joe May

Cockpit and top turret of Consolidated’s Liberator — photo by Joe May

Quarter on view of the Liberator at the Castle Air Museum — photo by Joe May

The B-24 is perhaps most known for the low level strike against the oil refineries near Ploesti Romania during WW II. Although the raid did not accomplish all the objectives, it was historical for the daring of the aircrews and, if you have a moment, you should look up the film clips shot from aircraft on the mission. Seeing heavy bombers flying less than 50 feet (15m) above the ground is one thing — but seeing them attacked by a train armed with flak guns leaves me at a loss for words … these crews ran a well prepared Wehrmacht gauntlet.

Another WW II mission that ended no less tragically but less dramatically was the final flight of the Lady Be Good. The crew overflew their base (such was the hazard of radio navigation of the day) and parachuted from their aircraft, landing in the Libyan desert called the Calanshio Sand Sea. All of the crew perished but not before setting endurance records for desert walking without water and survival manuals were updated once this was discovered, though the first bodies were not found until 1960 (~19 years after the tragedy). Most of the remains of Lady Be Good** reside on a military base near Mitga Airport in Tripoli Libya but a propeller, as well as engine, from her are on display*** in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

* For posts regarding the Castle Air Museum, and there are many of them, please type “Castle” in the search window and select ENTER

** A web site for the Lady Be Good can be found here

*** For pictures of these, please type “Lady Be Good” in the search window and select ENTER

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