One of the mainstays of the US strategic bombing campaign over Western European along with the B-17, The B-24 Liberator served in every branch of the American armed forces as well as several Allied air forces and navies in every theatre of operations.
With its modern design featuring a highly efficient shoulder-mounted, high aspect ratio Davis wing, the B-24 boasted a high cruising speed, long range and the ability to carry a heavy bomb load. This made it an ideal long-range naval patrol aircraft and the Liberators made a significant contribution to Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic against German U-boats having the ability to undertake surprise air attacks against surfaced submarines.
The Liberator carried a crew of up to 10 with the pilot and co-pilot sat alongside each other in a well glazed cockpit. The navigator and bombardier, who could also double as a nose or wiggly ear gunner (guns mounted in the sides of the aircraft nose), sat in the nose with two flexible ball-mounted .30 caliber Browning M1919 machine guns. Later versions were fitted with a powered twin .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun nose turret.
Behind the pilots sat the radio/radar operator who could also double as a waist gunner. The upper gun turret, when fitted, was located just behind the cockpit and was operated by the flight engineer, who sat adjacent to the radio operator behind the pilots while the two waist gunners were stationed further down the fuselage just beyond the ball turret gunner. The tail gunner with his powered twin-gun turret sat at the rear behind the tailplane.
Becoming operational in mid-1941, over the next three years, B-24 squadrons were deployed in Africa, Europe, China-Burma-India, the Atlantic Anti-submarine Campaign as well as the Pacific theatre, where it became the preferred heavy bomber after the shorter-range B-17 were phased out.
The first B-24 loss over German territory occurred on 26 February 1943. Earlier in the war, both the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force had abandoned daylight bombing raids because neither could sustain the losses suffered. The Americans persisted, however, at great cost in men and aircraft.
In late June 1943, the three B-24 Liberator groups of the 8th Air Force were sent to North Africa on temporary duty with the 9th Air Force. The combined squadrons were used in a low-level attack on the German-held Romanian oil complex at Ploieeti. This daring assault by high altitude bombers at tree top level was a successful albeit costly exercise when the attack became disorganised after a navigational error which alerted the defenders and protracted the bombing run. The 44th destroyed both of its assigned targets, but lost 11 of its 37 bombers and their crews.
Many Australian aircrews seconded to the Royal Air Force flew Liberators with RAF Coastal Command, the Middle East and with South East Asia Command, while some flew in South African Air Force squadrons. Liberators were introduced into the RAAF in 1944, after the American commander of the Far East Air Forces , General George C. Kenney, suggested that seven heavy bomber squadrons be raised to supplement the efforts of American Liberator squadrons.
The RAAF Liberators saw service in the South West Pacific flying from bases in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, against Japanese positions, ships and strategic targets in New Guinea, Borneo and the Netherlands East Indies. Liberators remained in service until 1948, when they were replaced by Avro Lincolns.
All B-24 Liberator Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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