Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express "1942"

In 1942 and 1943, several C-87 aircraft were converted into VIP luxury passenger transports by adding insulation, padded seats, dividers, and other accommodations. The modified aircraft was capable of carrying 16 passengers, and given the designation C-87A. One C-87A in particular, serial 41-24159, was exclusively converted in 1943 to a presidential VIP transport, the Guess Where II, intended to carry President Franklin D. Roosevelt on international trips. Had it been accepted, it would have been the first aircraft to be used in presidential service, i.e. the first Air Force One.

Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express

Role Military transport aircraft
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
Introduction 1942
Status Retired
Primary users United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
United States Navy
Number built 287
Developed from Consolidated B-24 Liberator

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Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express "1942"

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Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express "1942"

The Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express was a transport derivative of the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber built during World War II for the United States Army Air Forces. A total of 287 C-87s were built alongside the B-24 at the Consolidated Aircraft plant in Fort Worth, Texas. The plant also developed and delivered a USAAF flight engineer trainer designated as the AT-22, a United States Navy VIP transport designated as the RY, and a Royal Air Force VIP transport designated as the Liberator C.IX. The last development was a Navy contracted, single tail version with an extended fuselage. Built in San Diego, its USN designation was RY-3.

In contrast, the C-109 Liberator was a fuel-transport converted from existing B-24 Bombers.[1]

Operational History

he C-87 was hastily designed in early 1942 to fulfill the need for a heavy cargo and personnel transport with longer range and better high-altitude performance than the C-47 Skytrain, the most widely available United States Army Air Forces transport aircraft at the time. Production began in 1942.

The first C-87 prototype was 41-11608. The design included various modifications, including the elimination of gun turrets and other armament along with the installation of a strengthened cargo floor, including a floor running through the bomb bay. The glazed nose of the bombardier compartment of the B-24 was replaced by a hinged metal cap to allow for loading the nose compartment, which in the bomber version can only be reached through a crawlspace under the cockpit floor. A cargo door was added to the port side of the fuselage, just forward of the tail, and a row of windows was fitted along the sides of the fuselage.


  • TAMSA (Transportes Aéreos Mexicanos SA)
 United Kingdom
 United States

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Consolidated PBY Catalina (1935)


USAAF transport variant of the B-24D with seats for 25 passengers, 278 built.[6]
VIP version for 16 passengers, three for the USAAF and three to the United States Navy as RY-1.[6]
Proposed armed variant, not built.[6]

Conversions with stretched forward compartment and LB-30 type low altitude power packages. Later PB4Y-2 type power packages and single tail (see RY-3/C-87C). 42-40355. (Total: 1 conversion)

Proposed USAAF variant of the RY-3, designation not used.[6]
United States Navy designation for three former USAAF C-87As fitted for 16 passengers.[6]


  • Crew: four (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator)
  • Capacity: ~25 passengers or 6,000 lb (2,700 kg) of cargo for transatlantic flights and 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) max for shorter flights
  • Length: 66 ft 4 in (20.22 m)
  • Wingspan: 110 ft 0 in (33.53 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 11 in (5.46 m)
  • Empty weight: 30,645 lb (13,900 kg)
  • Gross weight: 56,000 lb (25,401 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 14-cyl. air-cooled radial piston engines with General Electric turbo-superchargers, 1,200 hp (890 kW)
  • Maximum speed: 300 mph (480 km/h, 260 kn) at 25,000 ft (7,600 m)
  • Range: 1,400 mi (2,300 km, 1,200 nmi) at 60% power, 215 mph (187 kn; 346 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m)
  • Ferry range: 3,300 mi (5,300 km, 2,900 nmi) at 215 mph (187 kn; 346 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m)
  • Service ceiling: 28,000 ft (8,500 m) at 56,000 lb (25,000 kg) take-off weight
  • Time to altitude: 20,000 ft (6,100 m) in 60 minutes

Ultimate encyclopedia


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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