Consolidated RY Liberator transport

Consolidated RY Liberator transport

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Consolidated RY Liberator transport

The Consolidated RY Liberator was the US Navy designation for transport aircraft based on the B-24 Liberator, known as the C-87 in the USAAF. Three variants were recognised, the first two identical to the Army aircraft and one custom built for the Navy.

RY-1/ RY-2

The RY-1 and RY-2 were the naval versions of the C-87A VIP transport aircraft and C-87 Liberator Express transport aircraft. Only eight aircraft received these designations, three RY-1 VIP transports and five RY-2s.


The RY-3 was the transport version of the PB4Y-2 Privateer, the Navy’s own variant on the B-24 Liberator. It combined the single large tail of the PB4Y-2 with the cargo modifications of the C-87/ RY-1.

A total of 39 RY-3s were produced. Five of them were converted from the C-87 standard using aircraft built at Fort Worth, while 34 were custom built at the Consolidated factory at San Diego.

B-24 Liberator operators

Military operators


Due to the vast numbers of Liberator aircraft available in 1943 it was decided the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) should form up to seven squadrons of Liberator heavy bombers. This would also allow USAAF Bombardment Groups to move from Australia to other areas. As RAAF Squadrons Nos 21, 23 and 24 equipped with Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers had just returned from New Guinea it was decided they should be the first ones to be re-equipped. RAAF aircrews were trained and flew operationally with the USAAF until RAAF Liberators were received in February 1944. The first nine new bombers formed Operational Training Unit No 7. Ώ]

Unplanned delivery delays meant that Squadrons were not operational until 1945, when they began operations from its base in the Northern Territory forming RAAF Bomber Wing No. 82 .They played a very active role in the heavy bombing role during the last months of the war, particularly in the Borneo campaign. Other RAAF Bomber squadron used the Liberator.

In addition, Nos 200 and 201 Flights flew the Liberator under the direction of the Australian Intelligence Bureau.

  • 200 flight was equipped with 8 B-24s and their operations included dropping “Z-Force” special forces behind enemy lines.
  • 210 flight operated 2 B-24s from Darwin in the Northern Territory conducting electronic countermeasures against Japanese radar and radio communications.

At the war's end most B-24's were no longer required and were scrapped for their metal which was then melted down for more urgent use. After the war Liberators were replaced in 1948 by Avro Lincolns. About 287 Liberators (B-24D, B-24J, B-24L and the B-24M models) eventually served in RAAF bomber squadrons. It was the only heavy bomber used in the Pacific by the RAAF and they operated from Australia, Morotai(East Indies) and Palawan (Philippines).

Australia/South West Pacific

    /No. 466 Squadron RAAF (A joint or merged unit – sources vary began converting to Liberators in mid-1945 after the surrender of Germany, prior to transfer to the Pacific disbanded in October 1945 after the surrender of Japan.) ΐ]Α]


RCAF operated four Liberator anti-submarine squadrons, one heavy transport squadron and one bomber squadron during the Second World War.


A total of 138 B-24 Liberator were sold to China under Lend-Lease in 1944–45 but only 37 B-24M had been actually received at the end of the war. About 48 B-24M were eventually received and were used in China Civil War.

  People's Republic of China

Two B-24M were captured in China Civil War and operated until 1952.




When India gained independence in 1947, between 37 and 42 Liberators were resurrected by HAL and gave service with No.5, No.6 and No.16 Squadrons. Β] until their retirement in 1968. It is from the Indian Air Force that the majority of the remaining B-24s owe their existence.

A major gap for the Indian Air Force during the Kashmir conflict was the lack of heavy bombers. Following the Second World War, the RAF had been forced to dispose of a number of Consolidated B-24 Liberators in India which it had received from the United States under the terms of the Lend-Lease agreement. These Liberators were sent to Kanpur, where they were damaged by RAF personnel in a variety of ways, rendering them unusable. However, the RIAF, which had for years relied on salvage and repair operations to keep its equipment-starved squadrons operating, was able to repair the Liberators. Some 42 Liberators were made air-worthy using spare parts cannibalized from other Liberators. The IAF became the last air force in the world to fly the Liberator. The Royal Air Museum asked for and received a B-24 Liberator aircraft for display at its museum, which was flown in 1974 from India to the United Kingdom. It is still on display.


  • A single USAAF B-24D (serial 41-23659) was captured by the Regia Aeronautica after landing in Pachino, Sicily February 1943. After evaluation at the Italian test centre at Guidonia, it was delivered to the Luftwaffe test centre at Rechlin in June.


  • Two ex USAAF B-24D were operated by the FAN in the 1950s. Later sold to US Warbird collectors in the early 60s.


No. 321 Squadron RAF was formed from Dutch personnel of the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service during World War II. After the Japanese Surrender, the squadron passed to the control of the Dutch Naval Aviation Service. It flew the B-24 Liberator between December 1944 and December 1945.

  New Zealand



Six B-24 Liberator of various variants were interned during World War II after landing in Portugal due to many reasons. All six of these aircraft were operated by the Aeronáutica Militar (Army Military Aviation).


One B-24 was captured largely intact after Operation Tidal Wave in 1943. It was tested by the Royal Romanian Air Force during the winter. Another two B-24s were captured after the raid of 5 April 1944. There were plans to form a squadron because of the large number of force-landed or crashed B-24s during the summer of 1944, but only three B-24Ds and one B-24J were made airworthy before King Michael's Coup. The plan was canceled after this event.

  Soviet Union

Only one plane was delivered via Lend-lease but 30 other planes were repaired from 73 abandoned wrecks.

  South Africa


Eleven B-24s made an emergency landing in Turkey coming from bombing of Ploesti within Operation Tidal Wave. All of them were interned by Turkey and five of these B-24s were repaired and served in the Turkish Air Force.

  United Kingdom

The RAF was the first user as initial deliveries of B-24 liberators to Royal Air Force were made in the spring of 1941 and included some planes originally intended for France. These 26 planes were named Liberator B.Mk I and were basically B-24As. The RAF soon realized that B-24s were unsuitable for combat over Western Europe as they had insufficient defensive armament and lacked self-sealing fuel tanks. Due to the aircraft's heavy payload and long range, the disappointed RAF assigned 20 LB-30B aircraft to anti-submarine patrols and 6 LB-30A to long range transport operations, specifically the Atlantic Return Ferry Service. By March 1941 200 B-24s were in service in the RAF, the ones assigned to Coastal Command were in many cases converted to a version with greatly increased range, wherein armor, and sometimes even turrets, were removed to compensate for installing additional fuel tanks.

The next RAF version was the improved Liberator B.Mk II, received starting in January 1942, and were closer to the B-24C. These planes were fitted with self-sealing fuel tanks and two four-gun Boulton-Paul turrets, one in the tail and another in a dorsal position. Some Mk.IIs went to Coastal Command but most were operationally accepted by RAF in the heavy bomber role. When the situation became dangerous to British interests, some B-24s were assigned to the Middle East in 1942 and based in the Suez Canal Zone. They arrived about the same time as a big convoy was being organized to ferry supplies from Alexandria to Malta, and their first task was to help provide it with air cover. Middle East based B-24s proved their value in August 1942, joining the air raids on Tobruk harbor, compelling the German Army to divert most supply columns to Benghazi. In September USAAF and RAF B-24s started bombing Benghazi scoring several direct hits on supply ships.

The next British version was the Liberator B.Mk III, basically an adapted B-24D. Their armament was adapted to RAF standards, consisting of a single British machine gun in the nose, a twin-gun dorsal turret, two waist gun positions and a four-gun tail turret. Some retained US armament, being named Liberator B.Mk IIIA.

Liberator B.Mk V were B-24D aircraft modified to carry more fuel, reducing its armor but retaining the defensive armament of the Liberator B.Mk III model. The Liberator B.Mk VI were B-24G/H/H with Boulton Paul tail turrets. B-24J version was named Liberator B.Mk VIII.

RAF Coastal Command modified several B-24s for the anti-submarine role adding, an underwing searchlight, radar, and air-to-surface rockets. Coastal Command also used the Liberator Mk VI for long-range reconnaissance and the Liberator Mk VIII in the anti-submarine role.

Six RAF Liberator bomber squadrons also fought in Burma. No. 358 Squadron flew only one bombing mission, afterwards becoming a ‘special duties’ squadron. Together with three American Liberator squadrons they formed the Strategic Air Force of Eastern Air Command, and all were based in Eastern India. Burma-Siam railway was one of the main targets. In Europe B-24s were not employed by RAF for strategic bombing but some B-24s were used as an electronic warfare aircraft. Flying in ahead of bombing formations, these aircraft jammed German ground and night fighter radars.

The RAF also used many B-24s in the transport role, using a letter C in the name:

  • Liberator C.Mk IV were Mk VIII models modified as transports
  • Liberator C.Mk VII was the designation for American C-87.
  • Liberator C.Mk IX was the name for RY-3/C-87C versions.
  • Liberator C.Mk VIII models were Mk VIII modified as transports.
    (post war Coastal Command, India) (Middle East) (Middle East) (Middle East) (Coastal Command) (Coastal Command) (Middle East) (Coastal Command) (Far East) (Transport Command, post war) (Middle East) (Middle East) (Coastal Command) (Middle East) (Middle East) (Middle East) (Middle East, Far East) (Middle East, Far East) (Middle East) (Coastal Command out of Gambia) (Far East) (Coastal Command) (Far East) (Coastal Command) (Bomber Command, 1944/45) (Coastal Command) (Far East) (Transport Command) (Coastal Command) (Far East) (Transport Command) (Far East) (Far East) (Far East) (Far East) (Far East) (Far East) (Coastal Command) (Coastal Command) (Middle East)

  United States

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. In contrast to their European performance, where General Doolittle refused to take on more B-24's in favor of B-17's for the 8th Air Force, they assisted in returning control of the various collection of Pacific islands back to Allied hands.

Several different versions of the B-24 Liberator served with the United States Navy.

Consolidated RY Liberator transport - History

100, 101 - Model redesignations from Consolidated Model 40 (P4Y-2 and RY-3). Convair 103 [NX22448]

103 (Stinson) 1944 = 2pChwM roadable 90hp Franklin 4ACG pusher, replaced by 125hp Lycoming O-290C span: 36'0" length: 21'7" v: 114/103/49 range: c.300 ceiling: 13,400'. George Spratt as Stout Sky Car IV (aka Spratt-Stout Model 8 Sky Car ). Controllable-wing experiment with a stubby, podlike fuselage on four wheels, and a pivoting parasol wing to vary the angle of attack. POP: 1 [NX22448]. Reportedly was refitted with a 180hp Lycoming O-435 in 1945. Possible, but unverified, design connection with Cornelius Fre-Wing , aka Free-Wing .

I found a model specification report for the Stout Skycar IV, dated 6/13/44, 33 pages with this 3-view blueprint that appears entirely different than the photo you have listed as Convair 103. Instead of a high wing this plan shows a twin boom and mentions: (1) Extreme visibility. The pusher-type airplane with wing location and window arrangement shown in Figure 1 (which I assume is the 3-view) provide a maximum of visibility and (2) Wing, booms, and tail section shall be assembled as a single unit and attached to the body by means of four removable pins, which are automatically locked. The removable wing and tail unit is for the purpose of eventually converting the body unit into an automobile by the addition of a road drive mechanism (— Eric Blocher 10/5/07)
104 SEE Liberator-Liner . 106, Skycoach (Stinson) 1946 = 4pClwM 230hp Franklin 6A8-225-B8 pusher v: 142 ff: 4/x/46 (p: Bill Martin). All-metal, twin-boom probe into the post-war personal plane market. Handsome design proved underpowered, and development was cancelled. POP: 1 [NX40004] scrapped in 1947. 109 SEE B-46 . Convair 110 [NX90653] ( Avn Week via Ron Dupas)

110 1946 = 30pClwM rg two 1850-2100hp P&W R-2800-2SC13 Wasp span: 90'5" (?>89'0") length: 71'1" load: 14,870# v: 314/260/x range: 850 ff: 7/8/46 (p: Art Bussy, Russell Rogers). Commercial transport planned to replace DC-3 used instead as a design test-bed for 240 . POP: 1 [NX90653]. 111 SEE Air Car . 116, 118 SEE ConvAirCar . Convair 240 Prototype [N24501] (Convair)
Convair 240 Lineas Aereo [CC-CLT] (Boardman C Reed coll)

240, Turboliner 1947 = 40-44pClwM rg two 2400hp P&W R-2800-CA3/15/18 Wasp or CB3/16 span: 91'9" length: 74'8" load 13,072# v: 315/280/87 range: 1200 ceiling: 16,000'. Enlarged version of 110 ff: 3/16/47. $316,000-495,000 POP: 153 prototype [NX90849]. One as 40p Turboliner with 2750hp Allison 501-A4 turboprops, the first of its kind to fly in the US ff: 12/29/50 (p: D P Germeraad, R C Loomis) [N24501]. Convair 340 [N73134] (Convair via E J Young coll)

340 1952 = 52pClwM rg two 2400hp P&W R-2800-CB16 span: 105'8" length: 79'2" load: 18,150# v: 314/284/x range: 1260 ceiling: 26,000' ff: 10/5/51 (p: Sam Shannon) [N3401]. POP: 209. To USAF (with 240) as C-131 and T-29 . Modified as 440 in 1956. Convair also supplied 100+ kits to modify 340s close to 440 syandards. Convair 440 (Estrella Warbirds Museum coll)

440 Metropolitan 1955 = 44-52pClwM rg two 2500hp P&W R-2800-CB17 span: 105'4" length: 79'2" load: 18,395# v: 337/299/x range: 1300 ceiling: 24,900' ff: 10/6/55. POP: 162, possibly included those conversions from 340. Planned 440A as a convertible passenger/cargo ship was never built. Convair 580 [N73132] (William T Larkins)

580 1960 = Turboprop conversions of 440, designated by Frontier Airlines for marketing purposes. 44-56pClwM rg two 3800hp Allison 501-D13D/D13H v: 360/325/x range: 2866. One modified by Aero Spacelines with a Boeing 707 nose attached in front [N21466]. Convair 600 [N94230] (Jeffrey K Mullowney via ASN)
Convair 640 [HB-IMM] (John Smith via ASN)

600, 640, Skylark (Model 22-1 (see next) ) 1965 = 44-52pClwM rg two GE CJ-805 turbojets span: 120'0" length: 139'5" v: x/309/137 range: 1900 ff: 5/20/65. POP: 38 production ended in 1967. The "Skylark" designation, along with "Golden Arrow," appear in some references and were TWA's then-president Howard Hughes' name for the initial designs of 600 and 880. Convair 880 (Convair)

880 (Models 22, 22M) 1959 = 94-110pClwM rg four GE CJ-805-21 turbojets span: 120'0" length: 129'4" v: 615/555/145 range: 2900-3450 ceiling: 35,000' ff: 1/27/59 (p: Don Germeraad, Phil Prophett) [N801TW]. POP: 65 as 880 and 880M , with 1 to USN as UC-880 tanker, and 1 to singer Elvis Presley as his personal hack. The entire 880 and 990 program became the most financially disastrous product line in history, costing General Dynamics hundreds of millions of dollars.

880 and 990 were Convair's marketing designations, completely different from the designations shown on the Type Certificate. Model 22 came in two basic flavors: the 22 with CJ805-3 or -3A and the 22M with CJ805-3B. To complicate matters, the TC mentions Model 22-1 and 22-2 as minor variants. Note that the 600/640 gives the official Convair designation as Model 22-1, which belongs to the 880. (— Dave Reid 12/21/07) . Convair 990 (General Dynamics)
Convair 990 [N810NA] (NASA Dryden)

990 Coronado (Model 30) 1961 (TC 4A30) = Redesignation of Model 600. 56-106pClwM rg four 16000# GE CJ-805 length: 139'3" v: 615 range: 3800 ff: 1/24/61 (p: Don Germeraad) [N5601]. POP: 37 most were modified in 1962 as 90-149p 990A with extended engine pods, full-span flaps (range: 4810 ceiling: 41,000'). One 1993 NASA conversion was a 990 as a Landing Systems Research Aircraft to test and evaluate the space shuttle's landing gear system and its tires and wheel assemblies, plus braking and steering performance [N810NA].

Model 30 and the higher-weight 30A each had either CJ805-23 or -23B aft fan engines. Again, there were minor variants: 30-5/-6/-8, 30A-5/-6/-6AASC/-8. (— Dave Reid 12/21/07) . A-10 Catalina (Canada) 1948 = AAF version of PBY-5A built by Canadian Vickers, transferred from USN inventory. Redesignated as OA-10 / -10A [43-638/639, 49-2894/2896, et al]. A-41 SEE Vultee A-41 . A-44 1944 = Canard, tri-jet design cancelled. Redesignated as XB-53. AT-29 SEE T-29 Convair 111 [NX90652] (Convair)

Air Car (Model 111) 1945 = 2pClwM 65hp Continental C-65 pusher. POP: 1, based on the Gwinn Aircar principles for evaluation of post-war civil market. Its bulbous shape accounted for yet another use of "Pregnant Guppy" as a nickname. Ground and wind-tunnel tests disclosed rudder control shortcomings and an engine cooling problem (which might have been solved with larger air scoops), but after burning out more motors and driveshafts than the project was thought worth it was quietly scrapped [NX90652]. SEE ALSO ConVairCar . Convair B-36 with Boeing B-29 (Convair)

B-36 (Consolidated Model 36) - SAC bomber, popularly named "The Big Stick" after its shape. 15pClwM rg.

Convair XB-36 [42-13750] (USAF Museum)

XB-36, YB-36, -36A 1946 = Six 3000hp P&W R-4630-25 pushers v: 323 range: 9360 ceiling: 38,200' ff: 8/8/46 (p: Beryl Erickson, Gus Green). Gross wt: 278,000#. Initial flight ended in a crash after wheel hydraulics exploded—SEE The Crash That Saved the B-36. POP: 2 as XB- and YB-36 [42-13570/13571], the latter redesignated as YB-36A .

Convair B-36A (USAF)

B-36A 1947 = POP: 22 [44-92004/92025].

Convair B-36B [44-92033] (USAF Museum)

B-36B 1948 = 3500hp P&W R-4360-41 span: 230'0" length: 162'1" load: 187,360# v: 381/202/x range: 8175 ceiling: 42,500'. POP: 73 [44-92026/92098].

YB-36C - Tractor engine project cancelled.

Convair B-36D [49-2668] (Convair)

B-36D 1949 = Four Allison J35 (?>5200# GE J47) turbojets added on wing pods v: 435/225/x range: 7500 ceiling: 45,200' ff: 3/26/49. POP: 22 [49-2647/2668], plus 64 converted from B-36B. Convair RB-36D (Convair)

RB-36D 1951 = 22p SAC photo-recon version v: 439/225/x range: 7500. POP: 17 [49-2686/2702], plus 7 converted from B-36B.

Convair GRB-36D (Convair)
Convair GRB-36D B-58 mock-up carried for testing (Edwards FTC)

GRB-36D, -36F 1952 = Experiments with McDonnell XF-85 and Republic RF-84K as parasite fighters launched and retrieved with an under-belly trapeze arrangement. POP: About 12 modifications from previous models.

RB-36F 1952 = Larger fuel tanks. POP: 24 [49-2703/2721, 50-1098/1102].


B-36H 1953 = Redesigned flight deck. POP: 81 [50-1083/1097, 51-5699/5742, 52-1343/1366].

XB-58 1956 = Four GE J79-GE-1 ff: 11/11/56 (p: Beryl A Erickson). POP: 2 [56-0660/0661]. The latter's ff: 2/1/57 (?>2/16/57) was first with a weapons pod (p: Erickson).

Convair YB-58A [55-0662] (Convair)

YB-58A 1956 = POP: 11 [55-0662/0672].

Convair-General Dynamics B-58A [59-2433, 60-1124] (Convair, USAF)

B-58A 1960 = Four 15600# GE J79-GE-5/-5A span: 56'10" length: 96'9" load: 41,940# v: 1385/579/x range: 2400 ceiling: 57,000'. POP: 86 [59-2428/2463, 60-1110/1129, 61-2051/2080] plus 11 converted from YB-58A. NB-58A 196? = YB-58A converted as a test-bed for J93-GE-3, which replaced the weapons pod. POP: 1.

Convair-General Dynamics RB-58A (USAF via AETC)

RB-58A 1959 = Ventral reconnaissance pod. POP: 17 [58-1007/1023].

Convair-General Dynamics TB-58A [55-670] (USAF Museum)

TB-58A 1960 = 4p dual-cockpit, dual-control trainer ff: 5/10/60 (?>8/13/60) (p: Val Prahl). YB-58A and RB-58A converted to operational trainers, POP: 8 [55-0661/0663, -0668, -0670/0672, 58-1007].

B-58D - cancelled interceptor project. B-60 SEE YB-36G . B-99 - Found in a reference book, claimed: "Heavy bomber. Largest pusher aircraft ever built. POP: 1 as XB-99." Suspicion is a typo in the woodpile, a reportorial mix-up between C-99 and B-36, as B-99 is not a USAF designation (yet). Convair XC-99 [43-52436] (Convair)
Convair XC-99 [43-52436]

C-99 (Consolidated Model 37) 1947 = Transport/cargo modification of B-36 six 3500hp P&W R-4360-25 pushers span: 230'0" length: 182'6" (?>195'0") v: 332/240/x range: 8100 ceiling: 29, 5000' ff: 11/23/47 (p: Russ Rogers). Accommodated 204-300 troops on two decks, or could haul 101,000# cargo. Saw service 1949-57. POP: 1 as XC-99 [43-52436]. C-131 - USAF transport and ambulance versions of 240/340/440. SEE ALSO R4Y, T-29 .

C-131A, MC-131 Samaritan (Model 240-53) 1954 = 37p, or 27 litters as ambulance two 2500hp P&W R-2800-99 span: 91'9" length: 74'8" load: 18,000# v: 314/284/x range: 1260 ceiling: 26,000' ff: 3/5/54. POP: 26.

Convair C-131B [53-7801] (Convair)

C-131B (Model 340-70) 1954 = 340 as electronics test bed. POP: 36 [53-7788/7823]. JC-131B 1954 = POP: 6 conversions of C-131B to detect and locate re-entering missile nose-cones.

YC-131C (Model 340-36) 1954 = Engine test bed with Allison YT56-A-3 turboprops span: 105'4" length: 79'2" load: 23,200# v: 335/300/x range: 1500 ceiling: 30,000' ff: 5/20/54. POP: 2 for USAF evaluation [53-7886/7887].

C-131D (Model 440-79) 1954 = 44p MATS staff transport. POP: 10 (as Model 340-79) [54-2806/2807, -2810, -2813, 55-0290/0291, -0295/0296, -0298, -0300] and 6 (as Model 440-79) [55-0292/0294, -0297, -0299, -0301]. POP: 33.

RC-131F 1957 = Photo-surveyor. POP: 6 converted from C-131E and about 25 from R4Y-1 in 1962.

RC-131G 1957 = Communications equipment. POP: 1 converted from C-131E and 2 from R4Y-2.

Convair NC-131H TIFS trainer with nose cockpit (NASA Dryden)

C-131H, NC-131H, VC-131H 19?? = Model 580 tuboprop conversion. POP: 6, plus one as NC-131H for Total In-Flight Simulator program. Convair Charger [N28K] (Convair)

Charger (Model 48) (Genl Dynamics-Convair) 1964 = Twin-boom COIN fighter. 2pCmwM rg two 650hp P&W-Canada T74 (PT6) turboprops span: 27'6" length: 34'10" load: 6003# v: 319 range (ferry): 3000 ceiling: 21,300' ff: 11/25/64 (p: John W Knebel). 9' contrarotating props. Produced in only 35 weeks from design, but lost out to North American OV-10, and it was the last complete aircraft to be built with the Convair nameplate. POP: 1 [N28K], destroyed in 1965 after its USN pilot successfully ejected at 100'. ConVairCar 116 [N90654] (Convair)

ConVairCar (Model 116) 1946 = Flying auto. 4pChwM 90hp Franklin 4AG, later 95hp 4AL v (flight): 113. Theodore Hall ff: 7/12/46 (p: Russell Rogers). The automobile part was a 26hp Crosley two-door coupe with a detachable flight group consisting of a wing with motor and a tail boom. POP: 1 [NX90654], made 66 flights. ConVairCar 118 [N90850] (Convair)
ConVairCar 118 [N90850] (Convair)

ConVairCar (Model 118) 1947 = Higher-power evolution of Model 116. 2pChwM 190hp Lycoming O-435C span: 34'0" ff: 11/1/47 (p: Reuben Snodgrass). POP: 2, both [NX90850]. The prototype ended in a crash on approach to Lindbergh Field when it ran out of gas in its third flight 11/18/47 the second was a rebuild using another car body ff: 1/29/48 (p: W G Griswold). Convair XF-92A [46-682] (Convair)
Convair XF-92A [46-683] Partial completion (Convair)

F-92 (Model 7-002) 1948 = Delta-wing ram-jet research evolving from a design by Dr Alexander Lippisch , based on his wartime delta-wing experiments in Germany (he designed the Me.163 Komet), its first designation was P-92 (Model 7), and was built using parts of North American FJ-1, Lockheed P-80, and Bell P-63 made it as far as taxi trials on 6/9/48. The initial program was cancelled, but the concept continued as the larger-scale F-92A: 1pClwM 7500# Allison J33-A-29 span: 31'4" length: 42'6" load: 5530# v: 718 ceiling: 50,750' ff: 9/18/48 (p: Ellis D "Sam" Shannon). POP: 1 as XF-92A [46-682]. After 25 flights, the nose wheel collapsed during a taxi test in 1953 and it was retired, eventually going to USAF Museum. [46-683/684] were contracted under this designation but not completed. Convair F-102 Jacket Patch

F-102 Delta Dagger - 1-2p USAF supersonic interceptor developed from XF-92A. 1pClwM rg 11700# P&W J57 span: 38'2" length: 68'5" load: 17,000# v: 825.

Convair YF-102 [53-1782] (USAF Museum)

YF-102 (Model 8-80) 1953 = ff: 10/24/53 (p: Richard L Johnson). POP: 9 [52-7794/7795, 53-1779/1786].

Convair YF-102A [53-1787] (Convair)

YF-102A (Model 8-90) 1954 = Longer, "Coke bottle" fuselage wing and canopy changes ff: 12/20/54 (p: R L Johnson). POP: 4 [53-1787/1790]. Convair F-102A [56-1041] (Convair)
Convair F-102A Gaggle of four (Convair)

F-102A, QF-102A (Model 8-10) 1954 = Production. POP: 1,070 [53-1791/1818, 54-1371/1407, 55-3357/3464, 56-0957/1518, 57-0770/0909, -2353/2547] 6 converted by Sperry Rand to QF- piloted drones in 1973, 65 more as unmanned drones PQM-102A for anti-aircraft missile training in 1974, 66 as -102B .

Convair TF-102A (USAF)

TF-102A 1955 (Model 8-12) = 2p subsonic trainer version length: 59'2" ff: 11/8/55. POP: 63 of a contact for 111 [54-1351/1370, 55-4032/4059, 56-2317/2379].

Convair F-106 [NASA816] (Jim Ross/NASA)

F-106A (Model 8-24) 1956 = 1p ff: 12/26/56 (p: Richard L Johnson). POP: 123 [56-0451/0467, 57-0229/0246, -2453/2506, 58-0759/0798, 59-001/148]. QF-106A see next entry.

Convair QF-106A/EXD-01 and C-141A tug [NASA816] (NASA Dryden)

F-106B (Model 8-27) 1958 = 2p ff: 4/9/58. POP: 62 [57-2507/2547, 58-0900/0904, 59-0149/0165], of which 1 (although an F-106B, identified as a QF-106A) [57-2516=NASA816] modified in 1997 by NASA Dryden as 1p EXD-01 tow unit for Eclipse program testing and demonstrating the feasibility of a reusable towed launch vehicle — tow plane was a Lockheed C-141A ff: 12/20/97.

XL-13 1946 = POP: 2 prototypes built at Stinson-Vultee plant in Wayne MI [45-58708/58709] ff: 3/x/46.

Convair L-13A [46-068] (USAF)

L-13A 1947 = POP: 300 [46-068/213, 47-267/420].

L-13B 1947 = Winterized on skis or floats for Arctic service. POP: 28 converted from L-13A [46-072, -110/111, 47-395, -420, et al].

R4Y-1, -1Z (Models 340-71, 340-66) 1955 = 44p, cargo door. POP: 36, most converted to C-131F in 1962 1 R4Y-1Z as 24p VIP sleeper transport.

R4Y-2 (Model 440-71) 1958 = Research aircraft. POP: 2, redesignated C-131G in 1958.

XT-29, XAT-29 (Model 240-17) 1949 = POP: 2 prototypes based on 240 [49-1910, -1913] ff: 8/22/49. Originally designated XAT-29 .

Convair T-29A [49-1936] (Convair)

T-29A Flying Classroom 1949 = 16p unpressurized production version two 2400hp P&W R2800-97 span: 91'9" length: 74'8" load: 14,232# v: 323/250/x range:2550 ceiling: 28,600'. POP: 46 [49-1911/1912, -1914/1945, 50-183/194]. CT-29A 1958 = Cargo conversions of XT-29 and T-29A. POP: 4 [49-1910, -1912, -1917, -1933].

VT-29A 1950 = 25p staff transport conversion of T-29A. POP: 26.

NT-27B 1959 = T-29B modified for electronics testing. POP: 2 [51-3811, -5132].

VT-29B 1952 = 23-32p staff transport conversions of T-29B. POP: 4 prototypes [51-5115, -5119, -5127, -5133] and 60 conversions.

ET-29D 1955 = 23p crew trainers for Douglas B-66. POP: 46.

VT-29D 1953 = 25p staff transport conversion of T-29D. POP: 46.

13 January 1949

13 January 1949: William P. Odom set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance in a Straight Line when he flew a Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza, N80040, named Waikiki Beech, from Honolulu, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, to Oakland, California, an official distance of 3,873.48 kilometers (2,406.87 miles).¹

The Chicago Daily Tribune reported the event:

Odom Flight from Hawaii Sets Light Plane Record

Hops Pacific to Oakland in 22 Hours

Oakland, Cal., Jan. 13 (Special)—Flyer Bill Odom set a new light plane record today in a flight across the Pacific from Hawaii, but dwindling gasoline supplies forced him to cut short his eastward flight and he landed here at 6:38 p.m. (8:38 Chicago time).

Odom, who had planned to continue on to Teterboro, N.J., 5,285 miles from his starting place in Hawaii had been in the air 22 hours and six minutes. He left Honolulu at 6:32 p.m. Wednesday (10:32 p.m. Wednesday Chicago time).

The flight over the Pacific, more than 2,300 miles, broke the light plane record of 2,061 miles set by two Russian flyers, A. Goussarov and V. Glebov Sept. 23, 1937, from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk. The record is recognized by the International Aeronautical federation for light planes, first category, 397–549 cubic inches engine displacement.

Odom was two hours behind schedule and had only about 80 out of his 260 gallons of gasoline when he passed over the Golden Gate at 4:27 p.m. (6:27 p.m. Chicago time.) Head winds had taken a heavy toll of his gasoline load.

He radioed that he intended to add as much mileage as possible to his record before landing. He kept on, reaching Reno, Nev. where ice on his wings and a snowstorm on the airport forced him to turn back.

He then headed for Sacramento airport but no civil aeronautics administration officials were there and he landed at Oakland. There, the plane and its instruments were sealed.

He covered more than 2,500 miles from Honolulu to Reno, but as he did not land at Reno the record will remain about 2,300 miles, the distance from Honolulu to Oakland.

Odom had bucked headwinds since he switched his single engined Beechcraft’s course south to fly over San Francisco instead of Seattle. He said he changed his course by mistake this morning. Somehow, he said, he lost his PBY escort from Honolulu and veered to the right.

He first had hunted out and ridden winds that took him northeast toward Seattle, but 1,800 miles out of Hawaii he hit a high pressure area that gave him for a time, tailwinds that enabled him to conserve gasoline.

Beechcraft 35 Bonanza N80040. (FAI)

Odom’s plane is a post-war model with a V-type tail, a tricycle landing gear that tucks up into the wings, a tiny little 185 horsepower, six cylinder unsupercharged engine. Its total weight with fuel, pilot, emergency gear, radio, and full equipment at take-off was only 3,750 pounds. It is an all-metal, low-wing monoplane which in its standard form can carry four passengers including pilot.

For his flight Odom had extra radio and a 100 gallon fuel tank installed in the cabin. Each wing tip also has a specially made fuel tank carrying 60 gallons, making 120 gallons total in those two containers. The normal tankage for the Bonanza is 40 gallons.

Odom holds the around the world flight record of 73 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds, set Aug. 11, 1947, from Chicago to Chicago in a converted A-20 bomber.

Chicago Daily Tribune, Vol. CVIII, No. 12, Friday, January 14, 1949, Page 1, Column 7.

Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza NX80040. This is the fourth prototype. (Beech Aircraft Corporation)

N80040 was the fourth prototype Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza. (The first two were static test articles.)

The Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza is a single-engine, four-place all-metal light civil airplane with retractable landing gear. The Bonanza has the distinctive V-tail with a 30° dihedral which combined the functions of a conventional vertical fin and rudder, and horizontal tail plane and elevators.

The Model 35 was 25 feet, 2 inches (7.671 meters) long with a wingspan of 32 feet, 10 inches (10.008 meters) and height of 6 feet, 6½ inches (1.994 meters). It had an empty weight of 1,458 pounds (661 kilograms) and gross weight of 2,550 pounds (1,157 kilograms.)

Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza NX80040. (Hans Groenhoff Photographic Collection, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum NASM-HGC-201)

NX80040, s/n 4, and the following production models were powered by an air-cooled, 471.24-cubic-inch-displacement (7.72 liter) Continental Motors, Inc., E185 horizontally-opposed 6-cylinder engine. This engine was rated at 165 horsepower at 2,050 r.p.m. (NX80150, s/n 3, had been equipped with a 125-horsepower Lycoming O-290-A.) The Bonanza had a two-bladed electrically-controlled variable pitch R-100 propeller with a diameter of 7 feet, 4 inches (2.235 meters) made of laminated wood.

The “V-tail Bonanza” had a maximum speed of 184 miles per hour (296 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level, and a cruise speed of 175 miles per hour ( 282 kilometers per hour)at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). Its service ceiling was 18,000 feet (5,486 meters). With full fuel, 40 gallons (151.4 liters), the airplane had a range of 750 miles (1,207 kilometers).

The Beechcraft 35 was in production from 1947 to 1982. More than 17,000 Model 35s and the similar Model 36 were built.

Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza N80040, s/n 4, “Waikiki Beech,” at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (NASM)

William Paul Odom was born at Raymore, Missouri, 21 October 1919. He was the first of three children of Dennis Paul Odom, a farmer, and Ethel E. Powers Odom.

Odom, then working as an airport radio operator, married Miss Dorothy Mae Wroe at Brentwood, Pennsylvania, 3 December 1939.

During World Ward II, from 1944 to 1945, Odom flew for the Chinese National Aviation Corporation (CNAC), flying “The Hump,” the air route over the Himalayas from India to China.

Douglas A-26B Invader 44-34759, registered NX67834, “Reynolds Bombshell.”

Bill Odom had flown a Douglas A-26 Invader named Reynolds Bombshell around the world in 3 days, 6 hours, 55 minutes, 56 seconds, 12–16 April 1947. He made a second around the world flight, 7–11 August 1947, again flying the A-26. The duration of this second trip was 3 days, 1 hour, 5 minutes, 11 seconds. Neither flight was recognized as a record by the FAI.

In April 1948, Odom flew a former U.S. Navy Consolidated RY-1, Bu. No. 67798 ² for the Reynolds Boston Museum China Expedition. The expedition ended abruptly and Odom flew the airplane out of China to Japan without authorization from either nation. He and the airplane’s owner, Milton Reynolds, were taken into custody and the airplane impounded.

The Boston Museum China Expedition Consolidated RY-1, Bu. No. 67798 (formerly C-87A-CF Liberator Express 43-30570), with U.S. civil registration NL5151N. (Bill Larkins/Wikipedia)

On 8 March 1949, Odom made another FAI World Record flight with Waikiki Beech, from Honolulu to Teterboro, New Jersey, 7,977.92 kilometers (4,957.25 miles).³

With these records and record attempts, Bill Odom persuaded Jackie Cochran to buy a radically-modified P-51C Mustang named Beguine (NX4845N) for him to fly at the 1949 National Air Races at Cleveland Municipal Airport, Ohio.

A rare color photograph of Jackie Cochran’s highly-modified North American P-51C racer, NX4845N (42-103757) appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper, attributed to Aaron King. The racer is dark blue with gold trim. The Laird home at 429 West Street, Berea, Ohio burns after the unlimited-class racer Beguine crashed into it, 5 September 1949. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Though he had never flown in a pylon race, Odom had qualified the P-51 Beguine for the 105 mile Sohio Trophy Race, held 3 September 1949. He won that race, averaging 388.393 miles per hour (625.058 kilometers per hour. He had also entered the Thompson Trophy Race, qualifying with a speed of 405.565 miles per hour (652.694 kilometers per hour.)

The Thompson Trophy Race was held on 5 September. On the second lap, Odom’s P-51 went out of control and crashed into a house near the airport. Bill Odom, along with a woman and child on the ground, were killed.

William Paul Odom’s remains were buried at the Friendship Cemetery, Columbus, Mississippi.


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)

C-87C Proposed USAAF variant of the RY-3, designation not used. Δ] RY-1 United States Navy designation for three former USAAF C-87As fitted for 16 passengers. Δ] RY-2 Five former USAAF C-87s fitted for 20 passengers, a further 15 were cancelled. Δ] RY-3 A C-87 with the single tail and seven foot fuselage stretch of the PB4Y-2 Privateer. 39 were built, and were used by the RAF Transport Command No. 231 Squadron, U.S. Marine Corps, and one was used by the RCAF. AT-22 Five C-87s used for flight engineer training, later designated TB-24D. Δ] Liberator C.IX Royal Air Force designation for 26 RY-3s supplied under Lend-Lease. The designation meaning "Cargo (aircraft) Mark 9"

Military Papercraft Model

"B-24" redirects here. For other meanings, see B24.
B-24 Liberator
U.S. Army Air Forces Consolidated B-24D Liberator over Maxwell Field, Alabama.
Role Heavy bomber
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
Designed by Isaac M. Laddon
First flight 29 December 1939
Introduced 1941
Retired 1945
Primary users United States Army Air Forces
United States Navy
Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Produced 1940-1945
Number built 18,482
Unit cost $297,627[1]
Variants PB4Y Privateer
C-87 Liberator Express
Consolidated R2Y
Consolidated Liberator I

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, built by Consolidated Aircraft. It was produced in greater numbers than any other American combat aircraft of World War II and still holds the record as the most produced U.S. military aircraft. It was used by many Allied air forces and every U.S. branch of service during the war, attaining a distinguished war record with its operations in the northern European, Pacific and Mediterranean theaters.

Often compared to the better known B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 was a more modern design with a higher top speed and greater range yet it had a similar bomb load and defensive armament. Nevertheless, popular opinion among aircrews and general staff tended to favor the B-17's rugged qualities above all other considerations.[2] The B-24 was notorious among American air crews for its tendency to catch fire. The placement of the B-24's fuel tanks throughout the upper fuselage and its lightweight construction, designed both to increase range and optimize assembly line production, made the aircraft vulnerable to battle damage.[3] The B-24 was more difficult to fly as well, with heavy control forces and poor formation flying characteristics. The B-24 nevertheless provided excellent service in a variety of roles thanks to its large payload and long range.

The Liberator originated from a United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) request in 1938 for Consolidated to produce the B-17 under license. This was part of "Project A", a program to expand American industrial capacity for production of the key components of air power.[4] After company executives including President Reuben Fleet visited the Boeing factory in Seattle, Consolidated decided instead to submit a more modern design of its own.[5] In January 1939, the USAAC, under Specification C-212, formally invited Consolidated [6] to submit a design study for a bomber with greater range, higher speed, and greater ceiling than the B-17.

The contract for a prototype was awarded in March 1939, with the requirement that a prototype be ready before the end of the year. The design was simple in concept but advanced for its time. Compared to the B-17, the proposed Model 32 was shorter and had 25% less wing area, but a six foot (1.8 m) greater wingspan and a substantially greater carrying capacity. Whereas the B-17 used 9-cylinder Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines, the Consolidated design used twin-row, 14-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radials of 1,000 hp (746 kW). The 70,547 lb (32,000 kg) 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 long, thin wings with the efficient "Davis" high aspect ratio design (also used on the projected Model 31 flying boat)[7] promising to provide maximum fuel efficiency. The aircraft also had a distinctive twin tail and rudder assembly.

Wind tunnel testing and experimental programs using an existing Consolidated Model 31, a twin-engined commercial flying boat, provided extensive data on the flight characteristics of the Davis airfoil.[8]

Consolidated finished the prototype, by then known as the XB-24, and had it ready for its first flight two days before the end of 1939. Seven more YB-24 development aircraft flew in 1940 and Consolidated began preparing production tooling.[9] Early orders—placed before the XB-24 had flown—included 36 for the USAAC, 120 for the French Armée de l'Air and 164 for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Most of the first production B-24s went to Britain, including all those originally ordered by the Armée de l'Air after France collapsed in 1940. The name, "Liberator" was initially assigned by the RAF and subsequently was adopted by the USAAC as the official name for the type.[10]

The B-24's spacious slab-sided fuselage (which earned the aircraft the nickname "Flying Boxcar")[11] was built around a central bomb bay that could accommodate up to 8,000 pounds of bombs. The bomb bay was divided into front and rear compartments and further divided by a central catwalk, which was also the fuselage keel beam. A universal complaint arose over the extremely narrow catwalk. The aircraft was sometimes disparaged as "The Flying Coffin" because the only entry and exit from the bomber was in the rear and it was almost impossible for the flight crew and nose gunner to get from the flight deck to the rear if they were wearing their parachutes. 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.[12]

Like the B-17, the B-24 had an array of .50 caliber machine guns in the tail, belly, top, sides and nose to defend it from attacking enemy fighters. Unlike the B-17, the ball turret could be retracted into the fuselage when not in use.

Liberator GR Is in British service were the first B-24s to be used operationally. The very first use of a Liberator I in March 1941 was as a long-range transport: it was used to bring U.S. ferry pilots back from the United Kingdom.

The most important role 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.

Later in 1941, the first Liberator IIs entered RAF service. This model introduced self-sealing fuel tanks and powered gun turrets. At the same time, Consolidated added a 2 ft 7 in (79 cm) plug in the forward fuselage to create more space for crew members. The Liberator IIs were divided between Coastal Command, Bomber Command, and BOAC. Two RAF squadrons with Liberators were deployed to the Middle East in early 1942, in the first use of the Liberator as a bomber.[13]

B-24s bomb Ploieşti oil fields in August 1943

The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) took delivery of their first B-24As in 1941. Like the British, they used them as transports first. American B-24s entered combat in June 1942. On June 6, in the Pacific, four B-24s staging through Midway tried to attack Wake Island (they could not find the target).[14] On 12 June, thirteen B-24s flying from Egypt attacked the Axis-controlled oil fields and refineries around Ploieşti, Romania.

Over the next three years, B-24 squadrons deployed to all theaters of the war: Africa, Europe, India, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. In the Pacific, the B-24 was designated the standard heavy bomber to simplify logistics, replacing the shorter-range B-17.

[edit] Later development and production

Continued development work by Consolidated produced a handful of transitional B-24Cs with turbocharged instead of supercharged engines. The turbocharged engines led to the flattened oval nacelles that distinguished all subsequent Liberator models.

The first mass-produced model was the B-24D (or Liberator III in British service), in service in early 1943. It had turbocharged engines and increased fuel capacity. Three more 0.50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns brought the defensive armament up to ten machine guns. At 59,524 lb (27,000 kg) maximum takeoff weight, it was one of the heaviest aircraft in the world comparable with the British "heavies" the Stirling, Lancaster and Halifax.
B-24s under construction at Ford's Willow Run plant

B-24 production increased at an astonishing rate through 1942 and 1943. Consolidated tripled the size of its plant in San Diego and built a large new plant outside Fort Worth, Texas. More B-24s were built by Douglas in Tulsa, Oklahoma. North American built a plant in Dallas, Texas, which produced B-24Gs and B-24Js. None of these were minor operations, but they were dwarfed by the vast new greenfield factory built by Ford at Willow Run near Detroit, which opened in August 1942 and began mass production in August 1943. This was the largest factory in the United States, and the largest anywhere outside the USSR. It had the largest assembly line in the world (330,000 m² or 3,500,000 ft²) at the time of completion. At its peak Willow Run produced 428 B-24s per month. Many pilots slept on cots at Willow Run while waiting for 'their' B-24s to roll off the assembly line.[15]

Each of the B-24 factories was identified with a production code: Consolidated/San Diego, CO Consolidated/Fort Worth, CF Ford/Willow Run, FO North American, NT and Douglas/Tulsa, DT.

In 1943, the model of Liberator considered by many the "definitive" version was introduced. The B-24H was 10 inches (25 cm) longer, had a powered gun turret in the nose to reduce vulnerability to head-on attack and was fitted with an improved bomb sight, autopilot and fuel transfer system. Consolidated, Douglas and Ford all manufactured the B-24H, while North American made the slightly different B-24G. All five plants switched over to the almost identical B-24J in August 1943. The later B-24L and B-24M were lighter weight versions and differed mainly in defensive weaponry.
WASP pilots (left to right) Eloise Huffines Bailey, Millie Davidson Dalrymple, Elizabeth McKethan Magid, Clara Jo Marsh Stember. In the background, a B-24.

As the war continued, the complexity of servicing the B-24 grew greater and greater. The B-24s made by the different companies were slightly different, so repair depots had to stock many different parts to support various B-24 models. Fortunately, this problem was eased in the summer of 1944, when North American, Douglas, and Consolidated/Fort Worth stopped making B-24s, leaving only the Consolidated plant in San Diego and the Ford plant in Willow Run.

In all, 18,482 B-24s were built by September 1945. Twelve thousand saw service with the USAAF. The U.S. Navy operated about 1,000 PB4Y-1s and almost 800 PB4Y-2 Privateers, which were derived from the B-24. The Royal Air Force flew about 2,100 B-24s in 46 bomber groups and 41 squadrons, the Royal Canadian Air Force 1,200 B-24Js, and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) 287 B-24Js, B-24Ls and B-24Ms. (Liberators were the only heavy bomber used by the RAAF in the Pacific.) Two squadrons of the South African Air Force deployed in the Mediterranean flew B-24s.

The B-24 was one of the workhorse bombers of the U.S. Eighth Air Force in the Combined Bomber Offensive against Germany. Thousands of B-24s, flying from bases in England, dropped hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs and incendiaries on German military, civilian and industrial targets.

B-24s of the Ninth Air Force, operating from Africa and Italy, and the Fifteenth Air Force, operating from Italy, also took a major role in strategic bombing. 13 of the Fifteenth AF's 18 bombardment groups flew B-24s.

The first B-24 lost over German territory occurred on 26 February 1943. By a cruel twist of fate there had been eleven men aboard the aircraft. For some time newspapers had been requesting permission for a reporter to go on one of the missions, and on this date Robert B. Post, and five other reporters of the The New York Times were granted permission. Mr Post was the only reporter assigned to a B-24 equipped group, the 44th Bomb Group, and flew in the B-24 41-23777 Maisey on Mission No. 37 to Bremen. Intercepted just short of the target the B-24 came under attack from JG 1s Messerschmitt Bf 109s. Leutnant Heinz Knoke (who finished the war with 31 kills) shot down the Liberator, only two of the 11 men survived. Neither was Post. Knoke reported:

The fire spread out along the right wing. The inboard propeller windmilled to a stop. And then, suddenly, the whole wing broke off. At an altitude of 900 metres there was a tremendous explosion. The bomber had disintegrated. The blazing wreckage landed just outside Bad Zwischenahn airfield[16]

A total of 178 B-24s carried out the famous second attack on Ploieşti, Operation Tidal Wave, on 1 August 1943.

RAF Bomber Command did not use B-24s as bombers over Europe. No. 223 Squadron RAF, one of Bomber Command’s 100 (Bomber Support) Group squadrons, used twenty Liberator VIs to carry electronic jamming equipment to counter German radar.

The B-24's long operating range made it suitable for other duties including maritime patrol, anti-submarine patrol, reconnaissance, tanker, cargo hauler, and personnel transport. Winston Churchill used a refurbished Liberator II as his personal transport aircraft.

[edit] Operation Carpetbagger

Between August 1943 until the end of the war in Europe, specially modified B-24Ds were used in classified missions. A joint venture between the Army Air Force and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) code named "Operation Carpetbagger", pilots and crews flew the specially modified B-24Ds painted with a glossy black anti-searchlight paint to supply friendly underground forces throughout German occupied Europe. They also flew C-47s, A-26 Invaders, and British De Havilland Mosquitos. They flew spies called "Joes" and commando groups prior to the Allied invasion of Europe on D-Day and afterwards and retrieved over 5,000 officers and enlisted men who had escaped capture after being shot down. The low altitude, night-time operation was extremely dangerous and took its toll on these airmen. The first aircrews chosen for this operarion came from the anti-submarine bomb groups because of their special training in low altitude flying and pinpoint navigation skills. Also, because of their special skills, they were called upon to fly fuel to Patton when he outran his fuel supply. When this mission was completed, it was recorded that 822,791 gallons of 80 octane gasoline had been delivered to three different airfields in France and Belgium..[17]

[edit] Maritime Patrol
B-24 Very Long Range Liberators at the Consolidated-Vultee Plant, Fort Worth, Texas in the foreground with the dark green and white paint scheme. To the rear of this front line are C-87 "Liberator Express Transports" in various assembly stages.

The B-24 made a massive contribution to Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic against German U-boats. The decision to allocate some Liberator Is to Coastal Command in 1941 produced immediate results. The Very Long Range (VLR) Liberators "almost doubled the reach of Britain's maritime reconnaissance force". [18] This added range enabled Coastal Command patrols to cover the Mid-Atlantic gap, where U-boats had operated with near impunity. [19]

For twelve months, No. 120 Squadron RAF of Coastal Command, with its handful of much patched and modified early model Liberators, supplied the only air cover for convoys in the Atlantic Gap.

The Liberator was the only aircraft with the range for this. The VLR Liberators sacrificed some armor and often some gun turrets to save weight while adding extra fuel in bomb bay tanks. Liberator Is were equipped with ASV Mark II radar. Radar and the Leigh light gave them the ability to hunt U-boats by day and night.

They were operated from both sides of the Atlantic with the RCAF to the west and the RAF from the UK and Iceland. This role was dangerous, especially after many U-boats were armed with extra Flak guns and adopted a policy of staying on the surface to fight.

The sudden and decisive turning of the Battle of the Atlantic in the Allies' favor in May 1943 was the result of many factors. However, it was no accident that it coincided with the long delayed arrival of many more VLR Liberators for maritime patrol. Liberators were credited in full or part with 72 U-boat kills.

In addition to very long range patrols, the B-24 was vital for patrols of a radius less than 1,000 miles (1,600 km), in both the Atlantic and in the Pacific where B-24s and PB4Y-1s took a heavy toll of Japanese shipping. A total of 977 USN PB4Y-1s were used in the Pacific Theater in VB and VPB squadrons.

Early model Liberators were used as unarmed long-range cargo carriers. They flew between Britain and Egypt (with an extensive detour around Spain over the Atlantic) and were used in the evacuation of Java. Liberator IIs were converted for this role and used by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) for trans-Atlantic service and other assorted long-range transport duties. This variant was designated LB-30A by the USAAF.[10]

In early 1942, a B-24 Liberator damaged in an accident was converted into a cargo transport aircraft by elimination of the transparent nose and installation of a flat cargo floor. In April 1942, the C-87 Liberator Express transport version entered production at Fort Worth. The C-87 had a large cargo door, less powerful supercharged engines, no gun turrets, a floor in the bomb bay for freight and side windows. The navigator's position was relocated behind the pilot. Early versions were fitted with a single .50 Browning machine gun in the tail, and a few C-87s were also equipped with two .50 fixed machine guns in the nose, operable by the pilot, though these were also eventually eliminated. A more elaborate VIP transport, the C-87A, was also built in small numbers.

The C-87 was also designated the RY-2 or Liberator Cargo VII. The U.S. only made about 300 C-87s but they were nevertheless the backbone of the Army Air Force’s heavy transport operation. The C-87 flew in many theaters, including much hazardous duty in flights from Labrador to Greenland and Iceland in the North Atlantic. The aircraft proved extremely vulnerable to icing conditions, and was prone to fall into a spin with even small amounts of ice collected on the Davis wing.

In the China Burma India Theater (CBI), the C-87 was used to transport cargo and fuel over the Hump from India to China. The C-87 was not popular with either the military or the civilian transport crews assigned to fly them. The aircraft had a distressing habit of losing all cockpit electrical power on takeoff and landings, while engine power and reliability with the less-powerful superchargers often left much to be desired. The plane was designed as a bomber that dropped its loads while airborne. So the C-87's nose gear was not designed for landing with heavy loads, and frequently collapsed from the strain. Fuel leaks from the transport's hastily-modified fuel system were a common occurrence. In his autobiography, Fate is the Hunter, author Ernest K. Gann reported, while flying cargo in India, he barely avoided crashing a severely overloaded C-87 into the Taj Mahal. As Douglas C-54 transports became available, the C-87 was rapidly phased out of service.

The USAAF also converted 218 B-24Ds and B-24Es into C-109 tankers. These tankers were used in all theaters but they were most heavily employed transporting fuel in the CBI theater. C-109s flew from India to B-29 bases in China. With all armor and military equipment removed to save weight, a C-109 could carry almost 2,905 gal (11,000 L) of fuel, over 22,000 lb (10,000 kg). However, while a combat-loaded B-24 could safely take off with room to spare from a 6,000-foot (1,800 m) runway, a loaded C-109 required every foot of such a runway to break ground, and crashes were not uncommon. With its forward fuel tank filled to capacity, the C-109 tanker version proved to be longitudinally unstable while airborne as well.

The B-24 was also used heavily in the Pacific after the war to transport cargo and supplies during the rebuilding of Japan, China, and the Philippines.

In addition, a large number of unmodified B-24s were pressed into transport duties. Qantas Empire Airways used Liberators on the Perth-Colombo route, at the time the longest non-stop route in the world at 3,580 miles, until they were replaced by Avro Lancastrians.

[edit] Variants and conversions

[edit] U.S. Army Air Force Variants

XB-24 (Consolidated Model 32)
Designed in 1938 as an improvement on the B-17 Flying Fortress, at the request of the Army Air Corps. It had a wing specially designed for a high aspect ratio, tricycle landing gear, and twin vertical stabilizers. The XB-24 was ordered in 1939 March, and first flew on 29 December 1939. (Total: one)
YB-24/LB-30A Preproduction prototypes
Six examples were sent to Great Britain under lend-lease, under the designation LB-30A.
Service test version of the XB-24, ordered on 27 April 1939, less than 30 days after the XB-24 was ordered, before the XB-24 design was complete. A number of minor modifications were made: elimination of leading edge slots, addition of de-icing boots. (Total: seven only one used for actual testing)

B-24 ex-"Diamond Lil" from the Commemorative Air Force collection. Airframe returned to B-24A configuration and renamed "Ol 927".[20]

Ordered in 1939, the B-24A was the first production model. Due to the need for heavy bombers, the B-24A was ordered before any version of the B-24 flew. The main improvement over the XB-24 was improved aerodynamics, which led to better performance. Some sent to Great Britain under Lend Lease as LB-30B. (Total: 38,20 LB-30Bs, nine B-24Cs)
When the XB-24 failed to reach its projected top speed, the Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 radials rated at 1,000 hp (746 kW) it carried were replaced with R-1830-41 turbo-supercharged radials rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW), increasing its top speed by 37 mph (59 km/h). The addition of the turbo-superchargers made the engine cowlings elliptical. The XB-24B version also lacked the engine slots of the original. (Total: one converted XB-24)
Conversion of the B-24A using turbo-supercharged R-1830-41 engines. To hold the supercharger and the intercooler intake, the cowlings were made elliptical and the new items added on the sides. The tail air gunner position was improved by adding an Emerson A-6 power turret with twin .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns a Martin power turret was added to the forward fuselage. (Total: nine converted B-24As)

B-24D Liberator flight in formation.

First model produced on a large scale ordered from 1940 to 1942, as a B-24C with better engines (R-1830-43 supercharged engines). During the production run, the tunnel gun in the belly was replaced by a remote-sited Bendix belly turret this was later replaced by a Sperry ball turret. In late B-24Ds, 'cheek' guns were added. (Total: 2696, 2381 Consolidated, San Diego 305 Consolidated, Fort Worth, ten Douglas, Tulsa, Oklahoma). One famous B-24D was the Lady Be Good which was a basis for the TV movie Sole Survivor (1970 film).
A slight alteration of the B-24D built by Ford, using R-1830-65 engines. Unlike the B-24D, the B-24E retained the tunnel gun in the belly. The USAAF used the B-24Es primarily as training aircraft since this model was not current in armaments and other technology as the aircraft being produced by Consolidated / San Diego (CO). Ford also built sub-assemblies for Douglas these sub-assemblies were identical to Ford-built B-24Es, except that they used the same engines as the B-24D (R-1830-43 radials). These sub-assemblies were called PK ships and were shipped by truck from Willow Run to the final assembly in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Total: 801)
A prototype made to test thermal de-icers, instead of the standard inflatable rubber "boots." (Total: one converted B-24D)
Sperry ball turret, three .50 caliber- (12.7 mm) machine guns in nose. All B-24Gs were built by North American Aviation, which was contracted in 1942. (Total: 25)
Modified Emerson A-6 tail turret in nose instead of two- three .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in earlier models. The B-24G-1 was based on the design of the B-24H (Total: 405)
Because of obvious vulnerability of the B-24 to head-on attack, the B-24H design made by Ford used a nose turret, generally a modified Emerson A-6 tail turret. The entire aircraft was redesigned to better fit the turret 50 airframe changes were made, including a redesigned bombardier compartment. The tail turret was given larger windows for better visibility, the top turret a higher bubble, and the waist gunner positions were offset, to reduce their interference during battle. (Total: 3100)

Consolidated B-24J-55-CO Liberator, Serial number 42-99949 belonged to 93rd BG, 328th BS lost 21 September 1944 over Belgium.

The B-24J was very similar to the B-24H, although the defensive improvements made in the B-24H were not incorporated in the B-24J. The B-24J featured an improved autopilot (type C-1) and a bombsight of the M-1 series. B-24H sub-assemblies made by Ford and constructed by other companies and any model with a C-1 or M-1 retrofit, were all designated B-24Js. (Total: 6678)
An experimental aircraft, made by Ford by splicing a B-23 Dragon tail empennage onto a B-24D airframe. The aircraft was more stable and had better handling than other models, but changing the B-24 design was too expensive to do at the time. However, the XB-24K was the ancestor of the Navy's PB4Y-1. (Total: one converted B-24D)
Because of the immense weight of the B-24J, the Army pushed for a lighter version. In the B-24L, the ball turret was replaced by a floor ring mount with two .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns, and the A-6B tail turret by an M-6A. In later aircraft, no tail armament was installed, and when it arrived at its airfield, either an A-6B, an M-6A, or a dual-mount manual .50-caliber (12.7 mm) gun was field-installed. (Total: 1667)
An enhancement of the B-24L with further weight-saving devices. The B-24M used a more lightweight version of the A-6B tail turret the waist gunner positions were left open. For better visibility, the windshield was replaced by a "knife-edge" dual pane versions. The B-24M became the last production model of the B-24 a number of the B-24s built flew only the course between the factory and the scrap heap. (Total: 2593)
A redesign of the B-24J, made to accommodate a single tail. It also featured improved nose and tail turrets. While 5168 B-24Ns were ordered, World War II ended and there was no longer any need for them. (Total: one)
Pre-production service test version of the XB-24N. (Total: seven)
A modified B-24D, made by Sperry Gyroscope Company to test airborne fire control systems. (Total: one converted B-24D)
A General Electric conversion of the B-24L, using radar-controlled tail turrets. (Total: one converted B-24L).
Because there were no fighters capable of escorting bomber formations on deep strike missions early in World War II, the Army authorized tests for heavily armed bombers to act as escorts for bombing missions. It was completed in 1942. The results of 1943 testing were very negative and the project was quickly cancelled. Performance changed drastically with the addition of more turrets. The escorts were also unable to keep up with bomber formations once the bombs had been dropped.
The XB-41 had 14, .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns, through the addition of a Bendix chin turret and a dorsal Martin power turret on the mid-fuselage. (Total: one converted B-24D)
AT-22 or TB-24
C-87 used for flight engineer training.

* RB-24L: Developed for training B-29 gunners on an identical remote gun system installed on a B-24L.
* TB-24L: As with the RB-24L, but with additional radar equipment.

Experimental B-24J with B-17 nose section, containing chin turret, grafted on modification not adopted for production.

C-87 Liberator Express
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.

Tankers with specialized equipment to help prevent explosions, used to ferry fuel from India to China to support initial B-29 raids against Japan.
Photographic reconnaissance variant developed from the B-24D.
Photographic reconnaissance variant developed from the B-24H -FO block.
Photographic reconnaissance variant developed from the B-24J three cameras in the nose and three in the bomb bay.
Photographic reconnaissance variant developed from the B-24J six cameras in the bomb bay.

[edit] U.S. Navy nomenclature and sub-variants

B-24D with different nose turret for U.S. Navy. Designation later applied to all G, J, L and M models received by the U.S. Navy.[21]

* PB4Y-1P: Photographic reconnaissance variant developed from the PB4Y-1.

PB4Y-2 Privateer
See Main Article
U.S. Navy designation for the C-87A.
U.S. Navy designation for the C-87.
Transport variant of the PB4Y-2.

[edit] British nomenclature and sub-variants
Rare color photograph of an LB-30A (YB-24) in RAF service

Liberator B Mk I
B-24A (Total: 20), direct purchase aircraft for the RAF. Consider unsuitable for combat, some rebuilt as the GR.1 and used in British anti-submarine patrol squadrons.
Liberator B Mk II
The first combat ready B-24. The modifications included a three foot nose extension as well as a deeper aft fuselage and wider tailplane–there was no direct B-24 equivalent but similar to the B-24C - built to meet British specifications with British equipment and armament. A small series of B Mk IIs were reconstructed as unarmed transports, designated the LB-30 with the USAAF. (Total production: 165)
Liberator B Mk III
B-24D variant with single .303 Browning machine gun in the nose, two in each beam position, and four in a Boulton Paul tail turret - similar to that on contemporay British heavy bombers such as the Lancaster - as well as other British equipment. The Martin dorsal turret was retained. (Total: 156)

* Liberator B Mk IIIA: Lend-Lease B-24Ds with American equipment and weapons.

Liberator B Mk IV
Reserved for the B-24E, but there is no record of the RAF actually receiving any.
Liberator B Mk V
B-24D modified for extra fuel capacity at the cost or armor, with the same armament fit as the Liberator Mk III.
Liberator B Mk VI
B-24Hs in RAF service fitted with Boulton Paul tail turrets, but retaining the rest of their armament.
Liberator B Mk VIII
RAF designation for B-24Js.
Liberator GR Mk V
B-24D modified by RAF Coastal Command for the anti-submarine role with search radar and Leigh Light. Some were fitted with eight zero-length rocket launchers, four on each wing.
Liberator GR Mk VI
B-24G/H/J type used as a long-range general reconnaissance aircraft by RAF Coastal Command.
Liberator GR Mk VIII
B-24J modified by RAF Coastal Command for the anti-submarine role.
Liberator C Mk VI
Liberator B Mk VIII converted for use as a transport.
Liberator C Mk VII
British designation for C-87.
Liberator C Mk VIII
Liberator G Mk VIII converted for use as a transport.
Liberator C Mk IX
RAF designation for the RY-3/C-87C

3 February 1959: “The Day the Music Died”

3 February 1959: In the late 1950s, “rock and roll” music was becoming increasingly popular in America. Buddy Holly (Charles Hardin Holley) was among the most famous rock and roll singers.

While on a concert tour, Holly, formerly of the band The Crickets, chartered a small airplane from Dwyer Flying Service to fly himself and two other performers to Fargo, North Dakota, for the following night’s event.

After the performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, ended, Holly, Ritchie Valens (Richard Steven Valenzuela) and “The Big Bopper,” (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.) were driven to the nearby Mason City Municipal Airport (MCW), arriving at 12:40 a.m., Central Standard Time (0640 UTC). They were met by their assigned pilot, Roger Arthur Peterson, and boarded the chartered airplane. They took off at 12:55 a.m. CST (0655 UTC).

Richard Steven Valenzuela. (Unattributed)

During the previous eight hours, Roger Peterson had telephoned the Air Traffic Communications Service three times for the weather forecast along his planned route. He was informed that weather was VFR, with ceilings of 4,200 feet (1,280 meters) or higher and visibility 10 miles (16 kilometers) or more.

ATCS did NOT inform Peterson of a “Flash Advisory” of a 100-mile-wide (160 kilometers) band of snow moving into the area at 25 knots (13 meters per second). Moderate to heavy icing conditions were present along with winds of 30 to 50 knots (15 to 26 feet per second).

“The Big Bopper,” Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr. (Unattributed)

While taxiing to the runway, the pilot once again radioed ATCS for the weather. It was now reported as: ceiling 3,000 feet (914 meters), sky obscured, visibility 6 miles (10 kilometers) in light snow, and wind gusting 20 to 30 knots (10 to 15 meters per second).

After a normal takeoff, the airplane climbed to approximately 800 feet (244 meters) and made a left 180° turn. It passed the airport heading northwest.

The charter service’s owner, Hubert Dwyer, watched the departure from the airport’s tower. He was able to see the airplane’s navigation lights until it was about five miles (8 kilometers) away, then it slowly descended out of sight.

When Peterson activated his flight plan by radio after taking off, as was expected, Dwyer asked the ATCS to try to contact him. No contact was established. The airplane and its passengers never arrived at the destination.

After sunrise, Dwyer began an air search for the missing airplane. At 09:35 a.m., he located the crashed airplane in a farm field approximately 5 miles northwest of the airport. The airplane was destroyed and all four occupants were dead. There was about 4 inches (10 centimeters) of snow on the ground.

The pilot, Roger A. Peterson, was 21 years old and had been issued a commercial pilot’s certificate with an airplane–single-engine land rating, in April 1958. He was also a certified flight instructor. He had flown 711 flight hours during the nearly five years he had been flying. He had worked for Dwyer for a year.

Peterson had acquired 52 hours of instrument flight training and had passed the written test for the rating, but had failed an instrument flight check the previous year. He had 128 hours in the airplane type, but none of his instrument flight training had been in this aircraft.

Peterson was born at Alta, Iowa, 24 May 1937. He was the first of four children of Arthur Erland Peterson, a farmer, and Pearl I. Kraemer Peterson. He attended Fairview Consolidated School and graduated in 1954. Peterson married Miss DeAnn Lenz, a former classmate, at the Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Alta, 14 September 1958.

Roger Arthur Peterson is buried at the Buena Vista Memorial Cemetery, Storm Lake, Iowa.

N3794N was well-equipped for instrument flight. The attitude indicator, a Sperry Gyroscope Company, Inc., F-3 Attitude Gyro, however, displayed pitch attitude in a way that was different than the indicators used in the airplanes in which Peterson had taken instrument flight instruction.

This contemporary magazine advertisement depicts the Sperry F-3 Attitude Gyro. (Vintage Ad Service)

The Civil Aeronautics Board (predecessor of the Federal Aviation Administration) investigated the accident. There was no indication of an engine malfunction or of structural failure of the aircraft.

Investigators concluded that as Peterson flew away from the airport he entered an area of total darkness, unable to see anything which would give him a visual cue of the airplane’s flight attitude. The unfamiliar attitude indicator may have confused him. He quickly became spatially disoriented and lost control of the Bonanza.

N3794N impacted the ground in a 90° right bank with a nose down pitch angle, on a heading of 315°. The right wing broke off and parts of the airplane were scattered as far as 540 feet (165 meters). The three passengers were thrown from the wreckage.

The airspeed indicator needle was stuck between 165 and 170 knots (190–196 miles per hour/306–315 kilometers per hour) and the rate of climb indicator was stuck showing a 3,000 foot-per-minute (15 meters per second) rate of descent. The tachometer was stuck at 2,200 r.p.m.

This 1947 Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza, serial number D-1089, N3851N, is the same type aircraft in which Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed, 3 February 1959. (Unattributed)

The airplane was a 1947 Beechcraft 35 Bonanza, civil registration N3794N, serial number D-1019. It was a single-engine, four-place, all-metal light airplane with retractable landing gear. The Model 35 had the distinctive V-tail which combined the functions of a conventional vertical fin and rudder, and horizontal tail plane and elevators.

N3794N was completed at Wichita, Kansas, 17 October 1947 and it had accumulated 2,154 flight hours over the previous twelve years. The airplane’s engine had been overhauled 40 hours before the accident.

The Model 35 was 25 feet, 2 inches (7.671 meters) long with a wingspan of 32 feet, 10 inches (10.008 meters) and height of 6 feet, 7 inches (2.007 meters). It had an empty weight of 1,458 pounds (661 kilograms) and gross weight of 2,550 pounds (1,157 kilograms).

N3794N was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 471.24-cubic-inch-displacement (7.72 liter) Continental Motors, Inc., E185-8 horizontally-opposed 6-cylinder engine with a compression ratio of 7:1. This was a direct-drive engine which turned a two-bladed, electrically-controlled, Beechcraft R-203-100 variable-pitch propeller with a diameter of 7 feet, 4 inches (2.235 meters), constructed of laminated birch. The engine had a maximum continuous power rating of 185 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m., at Sea Level, and 205 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m. (five minute limit) for takeoff. It required 80/87-octane aviation gasoline and had an expected overhaul interval of 1,500 hours. The E-185-8 had a dry weight of 344 pounds (156 kilograms).

The “V-tail Bonanza” had a maximum speed of 184 miles per hour (296 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level, and a cruise speed of 175 miles per hour ( 282 kilometers per hour)at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). Its service ceiling was 18,000 feet (5,486 meters).

With full fuel, 40 gallons (151.4 liters), the airplane had a range of 750 miles (1,207 kilometers).

The Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza was in production from 1947 to 1982. More than 17,000 Model 35s and the similar Model 36 were built.

Wreck of Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza N3794N, 3 February 1959.


The 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.

The first C-87 prototype was based on a damaged B-24D, serial #42-40355, that crashed at Tucson Municipal Airport #2 on 17 February 1943. [ 1 ] Six Consolidated Aircraft employees riding as passengers were killed and several others were injured.

The prototype was converted into a transport configuration [ 2 ] by various modifications, including deletion of the gun turrets and other armament along with the installation of a strengthened cargo floor, including a floor running through the bomb bay. The glassed-in bombardier compartment of the B-24 was replaced by a hinged metal cap to allow front cargo loading. 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.

The C-87 could be fitted with removable seats and racks to carry personnel or litters in place of cargo. In its final configuration, the C-87 could carry between 20 and 25 passengers or 12,000 lbs of cargo. Because of war production bottlenecks and shortages, many C-87 aircraft were fitted with turbosuperchargers producing lower boost pressure and power than those fitted to B-24s destined for combat use, and ceiling and climb rate were accordingly adversely affected.

Two variants of the C-87 were produced the C-87A, a VIP passenger transport version of the basic C-87, and the C-109, a fuel transport.

C-87A VIP transport

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, Number 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. However, the Secret Service, after a review of the C-87's controversial safety record in service, flatly refused to approve the Guess Where II for presidential carriage. [ 3 ] The Guess Where II was then used to transport senior members of the Roosevelt administration. In March 1944, the Guess Where II transported Eleanor Roosevelt on a goodwill tour of several Latin American countries. [ 3 ]

Consolidated RY Liberator transport - History

New 10 profiles added:
Felixstowe F.2/F.3/F.5 : USA [ 1 2 ]
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon : USA [ 5 3 7 ], Pakistan [ 1 ], Israel [ 4 ]
NAF PN/PD-1 : USA [ 2 1 ]
PZL PZL-22 : Poland - others [ 1 ]
Sukhoi Su-15 Flagon : Ukraine - others [ 1 ], USSR/Russia [ 2 1 ]
^ top

New 16 profiles added:
Consolidated B-24 Liberator/PB4Y Privateer : USA [ 5 ]
Dassault MD.450 Ouragan : El Salvador [ 1 ], France [ 3 2 1 ], India [ 1 ], Israel [ 1 ]
Dassault Mirage III : Israel [ 1 ]
Fokker F.27/FH-227 Troopship/Enforcer : Czechia - ABA Air [ 1 ]
Grumman C-2 Greyhound : USA [ 1 ]
Hawker Hunter : Iraq [ 1 ]
Messerschmitt Bf.109E Emil : Slovakia [ 1 ]
Sikorsky S-58/H-34 Choctaw/Wessex : Israel [ 1 ]
^ top

New 10 profiles added:
Felixstowe F.2/F.3/F.5 : USA [ 1 2 ]
NAF PN/PD-1 : USA [ 1 2 ]
SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 : Tunisia [ 1 ]
SIAI-Marchetti SF.600 Canguro : Italy - others [ 1 ]
SIAI-Marchetti SM.1019 : Italy [ 1 ]
Sikorsky S-58/H-34 Choctaw/Wessex : Haiti [ 1 ]
^ top

New 7 profiles added:
Bristol Beaufighter : Australia [ 2 ], Great Britain [ 3 ]
Felixstowe F.2/F.3/F.5 : USA [ 1 2 ]
NAF PN/PD-1 : USA [ 1 ]
^ top

New 26 profiles added:
Curtiss-Wright Hawk II/III/Goshawk/P-6/F11C/BFC-2/BF2C : Thailand [ 1 ], Argentina [ 1 ]
Douglas B-18 Bolo/Digby : Canada [ 1 ], USA [ 1 ]
Douglas B-23 Dragon : USA [ 1 ]
Lavochkin La-15 Fantail : USSR/Russia [ 1 ]
^ top


Letoun C-87 byl spěšně navržen na počátku roku 1942 k naplnění potřeby na těžký transportní letoun pro přepravu nákladu a osob na delší vzdálenosti a s lepšími výkony ve vyšších letových hladinách než v té době všeobecně rozšířený transportní letoun C-47 Skytrain sloužící u USAAF.

Letoun byl upraven do transportní verze různými úpravami, které zahrnovaly odstranění střeleckých věží a další výzbroje, společně s instalací zesílené podlahy v nákladovém prostoru, včetně podlahy v bývalé pumovnici. [1] Prosklená příď pro bombometčíka byla nahrazena kovovou odklápěcí přídí, která sloužila pro nakládání nákladu do přední části letounu. Nákladové dveře byly přidány na levou stranu trupu přímo před ocasní část a na boky trupu byly umístěny řady oken.

Letoun C-87 mohl být v nákladovém prostoru vybaven odnímatelnými sedadly nebo patrovými lůžky k přepravě osob. Ve své konečné podobě mohl letoun C-87 přepravovat 20 až 25 osob nebo 5 443 kg (12 000 liber) nákladu. Kvůli překážkám a nedostatku určitých dílů v době válečné výroby bylo mnoho letounů C-87 osazeno dmychadly s nižším plnícím tlakem a výkonem než u bojových letounů B-24. To se nepříznivě odrazilo na jejich maximálním dostupu a stoupavosti.

C-87A pro VIP přepravu Editovat

V roce 1942 a 1943 bylo několik C-87 přestavěno pro luxusní přepravy VIP osob. Letouny byly vybaveny izolacemi, polstrovanými sedačkami, přepážkami a dalším vybavením. Upravené letouny mohly nést 16 cestujících. Dostaly označení C-87A. Jeden C-87A s číslem 41-24159 byl v roce 1943 exkluzivně upraven jako prezidentský letoun pojmenovaný Guess Where II, který byl zamýšlen pro přepravu prezidenta USA, kterým byl Franklin Delano Roosevelt, při mezinárodních cestách. Nakonec byl přijat, a měl se stát prvním letounem ve službách prezidenta Spojených států amerických, vlastně prvním Air Force One. Nicméně tajné služby si po zkušenostech s letounem a Asii nebyly jisté úrovní bezpečnosti, a proto rozhodně odmítly doporučit letoun Guess Where II k přepravě prezidenta. [2] Guess Where II byl poté používán pro přepravu členů Rooseveltovy vlády. V březnu 1944 tento letoun přepravoval Eleanor Rooseveltovou během charitativní cesty po několika zemích Latinské Ameriky. [2]

Většinu letounů C-87 provozovalo americké velitelství transportního letectva (Air Transport Command), kde létali civilní piloti původně pracující pro civilní letecké společnosti v USA. Letouny byly původně používány na zaoceánských trasách, které byly příliš dlouhé pro letouny C-47. Po japonské invazi do Barmy v roce 1942, byly letouny C-87 používány k dopravě válečného materiálu z Indie do Číny po trase nazývané „The Hump“ (Hrb), což byla zrádná letecká trasa přes Himálaj. Když byla tato trasa založena, byl letoun C-87 jediným v té době dostupným americkým transportním letadlem, které mělo dost dobré výkony ve velkých výškách, aby mohlo létat na této trase i s velkým nákladem.

Letoun C-87 byl sužován četnými problémy a měl špatnou pověst u posádek. Americký pilot a autor knih i filmů Ernest K. Gann ve své knize „Fate is the Hunter“ napsal: „Byly to zlé mizerné mašiny, nic jako poměrně efektivní stroje B-24, tedy až na vzhled.“ Stížnosti se točily kolem nešikovného rozložení ovládacích prvků, častých problémů s motory, úniků z hydrauliky a znepokojivé tendence ztrácet elektrickou energii v kokpitu během startu a přistání. C-87 také špatně stoupal, když byl těžce naložen, což byla nebezpečná vlastnost při startech z neupravených deštěm promáčených letišť v Indii a Číně. Mnoho letounů bylo ztraceno při kolizích s okolním terénem těsně po startu. Ernest K. Gann ve své knize líčí těsné minutí Tádž Mahalu po startu těžce zatíženého letounu C-87. Letadla nesla na dlouhých trasách pomocné palivové nádrže, které byly připojeny často netěsným palivovým potrubím, které vedlo prostorem pro posádku. Posádka se často potýkala se škodlivými výpary z paliva a navíc v letounu vznikalo výbušné prostředí. Letoun C-87 měl také tendenci dostat se do neovladatelné ztráty vztlaku nebo vývrtky v případě vytvoření námrazy na letounu, což nebyl při letech přes Himálaj neobvyklý jev. Gann napsal: „… že neunesl dostatek ledu k ochlazení jedné sklenice.“

Letoun se také mohl stát za letu nestabilním vlivem posunutého těžiště při nevhodném rozložení nákladu. Tato podélná nestabilita vznikla uspěchaným vývojem tohoto transportního letadla z těžkého bombardéru. Na rozdíl od běžného transportního letounu, který je už od počátku navrhován s nákladovým prostorem, který má bezpečnostní rezervu pro možné nerovnoměrnosti v rozložení nákladu, byl letoun B-24 navržen s přesně umístěnou pumovnicí s nákladem bomb, a proto byl i mnohem citlivější na nesprávné rozložení nákladu. Tento problém ještě zhoršovaly naléhavé přepravní potřeby v čase války a také neschopnost Velitelství transportního letectva USAAF správně proškolit z této zvláštnosti členy leteckého personálu, kteří odpovídali za výpočet nákladu a jeho rozložení. To, že letoun byl původně koncipován jako bombardér, bylo také považováno za příčinu častého zborcení předního podvozku. Jeho pevnost byla dostatečná pro letoun, který odhodil svůj náklad pum ještě před přistáním na dobře udržované vzletové a přistávací dráze, ale pro opakovaná tvrdá přistání na špatných drahách, navíc s velkým nákladem, se prokázal být nedostatečný.

24 strojů C-87 bylo dodáno RAF (Royal Air Force) pod označením Liberator C Mk.VII. Dne 14. března 1945 krátce po vzletu z britsko-americké základny na ostrově Terceira v souostroví Azorské ostrovy zahynula osádka Liberatoru, patřící k 246. peruti dopravního letectva RAF. Šestičlennou osádku tvořili čtyři českoslovenští a dva britští letci. Kapitán letounu ppor. Václav Jílek, rodák z Písečné, navigátor škpt. Alois Volek, rodák z Vídně, radiotelegrafista rtm. Dalibor Brochard z Nitry, palubní mechanik rtm. Ludvík Kondziolka z Polské Lutyně, druhý pilot ppor. P. R. Walker a navigátor škpt. Alistair K. Mudroch. Stroj odstartoval v 01:10 hod z letiště Lagena k téměř 2000 km dlouhému letu do Anglie. Z počátku vše probíhalo normálně. Letoun odstartoval, nabral výšku a začal točit doprava, aby nasadil kurz na Anglii. Dále lze pouze dohadovat na technickou poruchu. Faktem zůstává pouze, že pouhé 3 minuty po vzletu stroj vrazil do kopce vzdáleného 6,5 km.

O několik dní po havárii obdržel z Azorských ostrovů štkp. Alois Kubita, čsl. styčný důstojník u Transport Command následující podrobnosti. "Jílek (velitel letadla a pilot) byl poučen den před startem. Hlásil "airbome OK" (start v pořádku) a kontrolor (navigátor Volek) odeslal "turn right" (točit doprava), což telegrafista potvrdil. Na nové volání kontrolora začal točit, ale v tom již zachytil o kopec. Havaroval a všichni shořeli. Podle uražených větví bylo evidentní, že byl již nakloněn v pravotočivé zatáčce. Byla tma, ale noc byla jasná." Nelze vyloučit, že příčinou bylo vysazení motoru, ale jde o pouhou domněnku, neboť vrak byl v takovém stavu, že tuto verzi nemohla vyšetřovací komise ani potvrdit, ani vyvrátit. Všichni čtyři čechoslováci byli bývalými příslušníky 311. peruti, kde odlétali operační turnus.

Při katastrofě zahynulo také dalších 13 pasažérů, příslušníků RAF, RCAF a RN. Všichni jsou pochováni na azorském válečném hřbitově nedaleko od letiště Lajes.

Letouny C-87 byly rychle nahrazeny letouny Douglas C-54 Skymaster a Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando, které měly podobné výkony ve velkých výškách v kombinaci s vyšší spolehlivostí a lepšími letovými vlastnostmi. Některé zbývající letouny byly přestavěny pro přepravu VIP osob a pro výcvik posádek. Další byly k přepravě VIP prodány Královskému letectvu.

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