Consolidated B-24 Liberator "1939"

The Liberator originated from a United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) request in 1938 for Consolidated to produce the B-17 under license. After company executives including President Reuben Fleet visited the Boeing factory in Seattle, Washington, Consolidated decided instead to submit a more modern design of its own

Consolidated B-24 Liberator

Heavy bomber
Anti-submarine warfare
Maritime patrol aircraft
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
First flight 29 December 1939
Introduction 1941
Retired 1968 (Indian Air Force)
Primary users United States Army Air Forces / United States Navy
Royal Air Force / Royal Australian Air Force
Produced 1940–1945
Number built 18,188
Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer
Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express
Consolidated Liberator I
Developed into
Consolidated R2Y
Consolidated B-32 Dominator


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B-24 Liberator "1939"

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B-24 Liberator "1939"

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator is an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and some initial production aircraft were laid down as export models designated as various LB-30s, in the Land Bomber design category.

At its inception, the B-24 was a modern design featuring a highly efficient shoulder-mounted, high aspect ratio Davis wing. The wing gave the Liberator a high cruise speed, long range and the ability to carry a heavy bomb load. Early RAF Liberators were the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a matter of routine. In comparison with its contemporaries, the B-24 was relatively difficult to fly and had poor low-speed performance; it also had a lower ceiling and was less robust than the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

Operational History

The first British Liberators had been ordered by the Anglo-French Purchasing Board in 1940. After the Fall of France the French orders were in most cases transferred to the United Kingdom. The RAF found, as did the US, that global war increased the need for air transports and early-type bombers and seaplanes were converted or completed as cargo carriers and transports. LB-30As were assigned to transatlantic flights by RAF Ferry Command, between Canada and Prestwick, Scotland. The first Liberators in British service were ex-USAAF YB-24s converted to Liberator GR Is (USAAF designation: LB-30A). The aircraft were all modified for logistic use in Montreal. Changes included the removal of all armament, provision for passenger seating, a revised cabin oxygen and heating system. Ferry Command’s Atlantic Return Ferry Service flew civilian ferry pilots, who had delivered aircraft to the UK, back to North America.[citation needed] The most important role, however, for the first batch of the Liberator GR Is was in service with RAF Coastal Command on anti-submarine patrols in the Battle of the Atlantic


 United States

United States Army Air Forces

The Liberator in North Africa campaign proved to be a better long-range bomber than the B-17 Flying Fortresses. With the B-17 the B-24 proved critical for the US 8th Air Force and its bombing raids across Europe. Later B-24s equipped 9th and 15th Air Forces in the Mediterranean.

B-24 Liberators operating in the Pacific proved the value of the long range capability of the B-24, surpassing that of the B-17. Not facing the deadly German defensive combination of anti-aircraft defenses and fighters, they achieved better results with the different demands imposed on them.

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Consolidated B-24 Liberator (1939)

C-87 Liberator Express Transport
Passenger transports with accommodation for 20 passengers.
  • C-87A: VIP transports with R-1830-45 instead of -43 engines and sleep accommodations for 16 passengers.
  • C-87B: Projected armed transport variant with nose guns, dorsal turret, and ventral tunnel gun; never produced.
  • C-87C: U.S. Army Air Force/Air Force designation for the RY-3.


  • Crew: 11 (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, radio operator, nose turret, top turret, 2 waist gunners, ball turret, tail gunner)
  • Length: 67 ft 2 in (20.47 m)
  • Wingspan: 110 ft (34 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 7.5 in (5.372 m)
  • Empty weight: 36,500 lb (16,556 kg)
  • Gross weight: 55,000 lb (24,948 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 65,000 lb (29,484 kg) plus
  • Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-35 Twin Wasp, R-1830-41 or R-1830-65 14-cylinder two-row air-cooled turbosupercharged radial piston engines, 1,200 hp (890 kW) 
  • Maximum speed: 297 mph (478 km/h, 258 kn) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m)
  • Cruise speed: 215 mph (346 km/h, 187 kn)
  • Stall speed: 95 mph (153 km/h, 83 kn)
  • Range: 1,540 mi (2,480 km, 1,340 nmi) at 237 mph (206 kn; 381 km/h) and 25,000 ft (7,600 m) with normal fuel and maximum internal bomb load
  • Ferry range: 3,700 mi (6,000 km, 3,200 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 28,000 ft (8,500 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,025 ft/min (5.21 m/s)
  • Time to altitude: 20,000 ft (6,100 m) in 25 minutes
  • Lift-to-drag: 12.9
  • Armament

    • Guns: 10 × .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in 4 turrets and two waist positions
    • Bombs: ** Short range (˜400 mi [640 km]): 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg)
      • Long range (˜800 mi [1,300 km]): 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg)
      • Very long range (˜1,200 mi [1,900 km]): 2,700 pounds (1,200 kg)

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By the end of World War II, the technological breakthroughs of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress and other modern types had surpassed the bombers that served from the start of the war. The B-24 was rapidly phased out of U.S. service, although the PB4Y-2 Privateer maritime patrol derivative carried on in service with the U.S. Navy in the Korean War.

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