Consolidated B-24 Liberator

There were more Consolidated B-24 “Liberators” built during World War II than any other American aircraft. The B-24 never caught on with the public like the “Flying Fortress” B-17s did. The B-24 Liberator was well liked by all it crews.
B-24 Liberator

The concept was much more modern than the B-17. The Liberators carried a 4 gun forward turret to meet oncoming fighters. She had the newly invented Davis wing than had a long width-to-chord ratio giving the Liberator superior range.

The B-24s were the first aircraft to make North Atlantic crossings everyday routine. The Liberators made hundreds of attacks on targets that could not be reached by any other aircraft until the B-29 became available.

A heavy bomber was its primary duty she was also a very deadly fighter. The B-24 Liberator was most effective as Allied oceanic patrol and anti-submarine aircraft. It also proved to be very useful as long range cargo transport for the Allies.

It was used by many of the Allied air forces and every U.S. branch of service during the war. It attained a distinguished war record with its operations in northern Europe, Pacific and the Mediterranean Theaters.

A contract for a prototype was awarded in March 1939, with the requirement that a prototype be ready before the end of the year. The Consolidated design used twin-row, 14-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radials of 1,000 hp. At 70,547 lbs maximum takeoff weight was one of the highest of the period.

Consolidated also incorporated innovative features; the new design would be the first American bomber to use tricycle landing gear and it had the new efficient "Davis" high aspect ratio wing design promising to provide maximum fuel efficiency. The aircraft also had the distinctive twin tail and rudder.

Consolidated finished the prototype, known as the XB-24, and just made the deadline for its first flight two days before the end of 1939. Most of the first production B-24s went to Britain. The name, "Liberator" was initially assigned by the RAF and was adopted by the USAAC as the official name for the B-24.

The B-24's had a very spacious slab-sided fuselage. This earned the aircraft the nickname "Flying Boxcar". It was built around a central bomb bay that could accommodate up to 8,000 lb of bombs. The bomb bay was divided into front and rear compartments and divided by a central catwalk, which was also the fuselage keel beam. An unusual set of "roller-type" bomb bay doors retracted into the fuselage with a minimum of aerodynamic drag, keeping speed high over the target area. It also had an array of .50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns in the tail, belly, top, sides and nose to defend it from enemy fighters. It also had a unique ball turret that could be retracted into the fuselage when not in use.

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