Friday, January 13, 2012


B-24 Liberator
C L I C K     T O     E N L A R G E

It's high, slender wing gave it lift and range but the B-24 was not very stable and was difficult to fly.  Nearly 20,000 Liberators were produced because they were a workhorse, flying farther and carrying greater bomb loads than the more famous B-17.  Besides Europe and the Mediterranean the B-24 was used in anti-submarine warfare over the Atlantic and as a heavy bomber over long stretches between islands in the Pacific.
Picture:  980 x 705 - Richard Seaman  

Crew:                    10

Power:                  4 - Pratt & Whitney 1200 hp R-1830-65 radial engines

Max. Speed:        467 kph / 290 mph
Ceiling:                 8540 m / 28,000 ft
Range:                  3220 km / 2000 miles
Climb:                   6100 m / 20,000 ft in 22 minutes

Weight -
Empty:                 15,436 kg / 34,000 lb
Max. Take Off:    29,510 kg / 65,000 lb

Size -
Wingspan:          33.35 m / 110 ft
Wing Area:         97.36 sq m / 1048 sq ft
Length:                20.47 m / 67 ft 2 in
Height:                5.49 m / 18 ft

                            2 - gun turrets in: 
                                                          upper fuselage aft of cockpit
                                                          under center fuselage
                           1 - manual gun each side waist (beam) position
                           Total = 10, 12.7 mm / 0.5 in machine guns
                           3995 kg / 8800 lb normal bomb load

The B-24H introduced the powered nose turret to better protect the aircraft from frontal assaults.  Opposing fighter pilots were always probing for weaknesses in a bomber formation's field of fire and successful approaches were quickly disseminated among the attacking squadrons.  
Picture:  1024 x 768 at 150 dpi - Legends in their own Time  

A fully loaded B-24 was a challenge to handle on take off and it was more difficult than the B-17 to keep in formation.  The Liberator's wing design enabled it to fly farther, faster but at a cost of maneuverability and stability.  The famous 1943 raid on the oil refinery at Ploesti was given to the B-24 because it was beyond the range of a B-17.  You may not like flying it but the bottom line for mission planners is getting the job done.
Picture:  665 x 513 at 75 dpi - Wikipedia   

Nearly a third of the 3800 Liberators assigned to the Eighth Air Force were lost in action over enemy territory.  Bombing missions over Germany without benefit of fighter escort were especially hazardous.  The value of strategic bombing was always questioned.  It diverted resources from direct support of one's own military to that of targeting the opposing nation's ability to wage war by destroying or degrading its infrastructure.  Germany's increased emphasis on air defense made the Allied effort more costly and less effective.  How effective the effort was to degrade Germany's ability to wage war is arguable.  A couple of numbers indicate what otherwise might have been had the U.S. and the RAF abandoned strategic bombing.  By 1944 nearly 70 percent of all German fighters were defending the homeland, while only 18 percent were aiding troops on the Eastern Front.  By 1944 only 18 percent of German combat aircraft were bombers, down from 50 percent previously.  Resources that once would have been allocated to offensive purposes were now used to defend Germany's economy with planes, tens of thousands of antiaircraft guns, ammunition, and radar as well as the inefficiencies associated with the dispersal of industry.  The air war was costly to the Western Allies but battling Germany on strictly her own terms, ground troops versus ground troops, would probably have been far more costly.  
Picture:  3088 x 2400 at 300 dpi - How it Flies

An aircraft plummeting toward earth gives few crewmen real opportunity to escape the plane and hit the silk.  Waist gunners have the most direct exit available while the others need time to extricate themselves and get to an opening.  Chances are the ball gunner in the belly of the bomber rides the stricken plane down.  Some B-24s had an escape hatch above the pilot and copilot on the flight deck - others didn't.  Thousands of airmen had only time enough to come to terms with imminent death in whatever manner overcame them.  
Picture:  600 x 505 at 300 dpi - Wikipedia  

Consider yourself dead.  Some of you won't come back from this.  Some of you will, but you'll be the lucky ones - Briefing Officer.  As a member of the Eighth Air Force in World War II you were required to complete 25 missions and the odds weren't good.  
Picture:  1003 x 713 at 96 dpi - Yellow Airplane

Some said it looked like the packing box the B-17 was shipped in.  The B-24 was cold, it jostled you about and working the controls to keep it steady quickly wore you out so that the pilot and copilot traded off flying the plane.  It was not loved.  The B-24 simply did more of the work of war than any other bomber of World War II.  It was a grunt and didn't march smartly.
Picture:  1280 x 919 - World War II Database      

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