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Liberator file photo [130]

B-24 Liberator

CountryUnited States
ManufacturerConsolidated Aircraft
Primary RoleHeavy Bomber
Maiden Flight29 December 1939


ww2dbaseThe B-24 Liberator heavy bombers were the response to the United States Army Air Corps' 1938 request for production expansion of the B-17 bombers, but it later evolved into a project of its own. The contract was awarded in Mar 1939, and the prototype took flight before the end of that year. As seven more development aircraft were being tested, orders were already flowing in from the air forces in the US, Britain, and France. Most of the first production B-24 bombers went to the Royal Air Force, including those ordered by France but did not take delivery due to German occupation. The British named the design Liberator, which was adopted by the USAAC as well.

ww2dbaseThe B-24 design was fairly simple, and the fuel consumption was highly efficient, although the narrow interior due to the positioning of the bomb racks limited movement within the aircraft, which led to the nickname "the Flying Coffins".

ww2dbaseBy Mar 1941, over 200 Liberator bombers were in service in Britain. Many of them served as personnel transports at first, but their capability as effective submarine hunters was quickly recognized. Converted versions for this duty sacrificed armor and sometimes even turrets for the additional fuel tanks that extended range. Operating by the British and Canadians on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean, B-24 bombers made significant contributions in the Battle of the Atlantic. Nicknamed "VLR" for "Very Long Range", these converted Liberator bombers were involved with 72 U-boat sinkings.

ww2dbaseConsolidated Aircraft was by then manufacturing one B-24 bomber a day, but it was not enough. In Apr 1941, Ford Motor Company unveiled US' largest assembly line at Willow Run and began producing B-24 bombers, promising dramatic increase in supply for the British Allies.

ww2dbaseIn late 1941, Consolidated introduced the new variant labeled II, featuring self-sealing fuel tanks and powered gun turrets. It was around that time the USAAC began taking delivery of these bombers, first using them as transports just like the British did. Although the British had already been using them in Europe and the Middle East, the first American Liberator bombers did not see action until Jun 1942 due to US' late entrance into the war; during that mission, American B-24 bombers attacked the Romanian oilfields at Ploieşti, and later made a return visit to the same target during Operation Tidal Wave in Aug 1943.

ww2dbaseBetween the two raids, the production numbers grew dramatically with the joint production effort by Consolidated Aircraft, Douglas Aircraft Company, North American Aviation, and Ford Motor Company; they were being mass produced so efficiently that B-24 crews were being sent to sleep outside Willow Run facility on cots, so that as soon as a B-24 bomber is completed, they could get in, get oriented in the new craft, and take off. More variants were also being produced. In Apr 1942, the C-87 Liberator Express and C-109 tanker variants of the B-24 design began production at Consolidated's Fort Worth facility; that design featured a large cargo hold in lieu of the bomb bay and gun turrets, which was quickly recognized as a transport that could make a difference to help China's supply situation. Later in the war, one of the B-24 variants, LB-30, was furnished for Winston Churchill as his personal transport. In summer 1944, only Consolidated and Ford continued to manufacture these bombers, thus reducing the production numbers but it also made the warehousing of standard replacement parts a bit easier for bomber squadrons.

ww2dbaseBy the end of the war, a stunning 18,482 aircraft were built, making them the most produced Allied aircraft in the war. They were used by every Allied service in every theater. 2,100 of them served in with the British, 1,200 with the Canadians, 287 with the Australians, a few served in the Mediterranean Sea with the South Africans, while the vast majority served with the American forces.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Apr 2007

B-24 Liberator Timeline

29 Dec 1939 The prototype Consolidated XB-24 heavy bomber made its maiden flight from Lindbergh Field, San Diego, California, United States.
10 Sep 1941 The first B-24 Liberator bombers were en route for Britain.
3 Apr 1942 Aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh began working on Ford's B-24 Liberator production line at Detroit, Michigan, United States as a consultant.
4 Dec 1942 B-24 bombers of US 12th Air Force bombed Naples, Italy; they were the first American aircraft to operate against Italy. The Church of Santa Chiara was damaged in the attack, damaging much of the interior decorations put in between 1742 and 1762.
22 Dec 1942 26 American B-24 Liberator bombers flew 4,300 miles to attack Wake Island.
12 May 1943 Just 17 months after the first conceptual meeting for an acoustic homing torpedo, the Mark 24 FIDO aerial torpedo had its first operational victory when a Liberator bomber of RAF Coastal Command’s 86 Squadron caught German submarine U-456 on the surface in the mid-Atlantic. As the submarine dove, the bomber dropped one Mark 24 torpedo that guided itself to the submerged submarine and exploded, causing major damage. Later that same day when U-456 was forced to dive deep to avoid a depth charge attack by destroyer HMS Opportune, the previous damage proved too great and the submarine sank with all 49 hands.


MachineryFour Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 14-cyl turbocharged radial engines rated at 1,200hp each
Armament10x12.7mm Browning M2 machine guns, bomb load of 1,200kg for very long range missions, 2,300kg for long range, and 3,600kg for short range
Span33.50 m
Length20.60 m
Height5.49 m
Wing Area97.40 m²
Weight, Empty16,590 kg
Weight, Loaded25,000 kg
Weight, Maximum29,500 kg
Speed, Maximum470 km/h
Speed, Cruising346 km/h
Rate of Climb5.20 m/s
Service Ceiling8,540 m
Range, Normal3,540 km
Range, Maximum6,000 km


Cockpit of a B-24 Liberator bomber, circa 1940sCockpit of a B-24J Liberator bomber, date unknown
See all 203 photographs of B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber


B-24M bomber 44-42058 shot down over Koror, Palau Islands

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. donna ashmore says:
9 Nov 2007 09:42:59 PM

was one of the ten raf men who i am looking for
2. Mark says:
2 Aug 2009 06:23:34 PM

In no other reference to B-24s have I seen this bomber called a "flying coffin." This is an error and should be corrected.
3. bill blake says:
28 May 2010 01:53:57 PM

Mark, being a veteran of the air corps in world war 2 I belive that the B-26 was refered to as the "flying coffin".
4. JB says:
13 Oct 2014 04:14:10 PM

Mark, the USAF's official page on the B-24 makes mention of the nickname and ties it to the single rear exit.
5. Anonymous says:
26 Oct 2014 04:11:19 PM

what replaced the b-24 after it was officially retired?
6. JB says:
5 Nov 2014 02:31:30 PM

Anonymous, the B-17 and B-24 were the first true strategic bombers of WWII. In that sense, you could say they were "replaced" by the B-29 but all 3 models served together.
More accurately, the B-24 and its brethren were replaced by post-war strategic bombers - the B-36 and the jet-powered B-47.
7. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
16 Apr 2015 01:36:05 PM


One of the most famous B-24 Liberators of WWII
was the "Lady Be Good". She was part of a formation of twenty-five B-24s to bomb Naples, Italy on April 4, 1943. All aircraft except the Lady Be Good returned from that mission.


Bomber and crew reported as missing, or was she lost to enemy action? reports list the sound of an aircraft flying over its base at Soluch, Libya
were heard.


November 9, 1958 the Lady was found by accident in the desert 400 miles from its wartime base
no trace of crew was found. Ground party reached the crash site March 1959.
After searching for remains of the crew some were found 190 miles from crash site, five more crew remains found 80 miles from crash and one man's
remains were never found. Remains of crew found, were returned to United States for burial.


Twilight Zone:

Fans will remember Episode 37, Season 1: Titled
"King Nine Will Not Return" aired 1960

Made For TV Movie:

Sole Survivor 1970

Both film were similar in story lines after the discovery of the Lady Be Good.
8. Anonymous says:
9 May 2015 11:59:13 AM

They have been called the flying coffins many times
9. Anonymous says:
14 Dec 2015 09:39:52 AM

im looking for how many of these planes where made so
i have an idea for how rare they are. my plan is to restore one and hopefully fly it
10. Anonymous says:
15 Mar 2016 03:24:20 PM

thank you so much, this helped with homework!!!
11. B Bjork says:
15 Jul 2017 10:48:54 PM

Have crew photo in front of B-24 w/ nose number 633. Cannot make out the serial number - any information about this particular bomber would be appreciated.
12. Anonymous says:
25 Oct 2017 03:11:16 AM

B Bjork, almost every B-24 crew had their photo taken while in training in front of one of the ships assigned to that training command. These trainers usually had a three digit number on the fuselage that was the last three of the serial number. I came up with three possibilities - 42-78633, 44-49633 & 44-50633. Telling me you can't make out the serial means you can at least see it. Does it look like any of the three I listed?
13. Randy Morgan says:
8 Dec 2017 09:54:39 PM

Looking for crew info on a B-24H serial#41-25856 that served with the 454th BG, 738th BS
14. Bob Fucinato says:
23 Dec 2017 07:25:17 PM

Hi - my father Gino J. Fucinato was part of Crew 726 flying in a B-24 Liberator. He was in the 15th Air Force. I know he was in Tunesia, then up through Italy then lastly to Ploesti, Poland. Looking for any information about him, his aircraft & which bombardment group he was in. Many thanks.


15. Don B. says:
7 Jan 2018 08:56:28 AM

Good morning - it's a stretch, but I'm looking for more information on my great uncle SGT Eugene "Butch" Knox who was a gunner on a B24 in the south Pacific during the war. I'm told his plane (the "Curiosity"?) crashed on Biak Island on October 4, 1943. What resources are available to conduct my research? Thank you!
16. Tony Denato says:
13 Feb 2018 04:03:40 PM

I feel like I've found friends. My uncle whom I never met SSGT William Austin Gilmore was killed over Austria 29the may 1944. I'm always looking for info. I believe the s/n was.42-40402. Glad I found this site
17. Sharon Wager says:
11 Mar 2018 12:01:49 AM

My husband was in the AAF as a tailgunner and flew in a B24 liberator named Sexy Legs. He flew over the oil fields of Polesti, bombing those. His name was Jack H Wager from Illinois. Any info/pictures would be appreciated. Thanks
18. Dave says:
30 Mar 2018 11:49:27 AM

Is there a way to track an aircrafts history by it's tale number?
19. Bruce lavoie says:
31 Jul 2018 02:56:06 PM

wondering what happened to B-24 named "Missing Link".
20. Anonymous says:
24 Oct 2018 08:31:27 AM

to Sharon Wager: Go to http://americanairmuseum.com.
21. Brian E Smith says:
11 Jan 2019 09:16:38 AM

Looking for info on Short Stuff . Number on fuselage was 65
22. KH says:
4 Apr 2019 11:35:24 PM

I have unearthed many photos of B24 nose art and other associated stuff. Father in law was with RAAF in Nadzab during WWII.
23. For Dick Blattner says:
12 Nov 2019 12:57:28 PM

Have a picture of a B24 on Roi Namur. Nose art is something something Bessie.
Trying to find out info on that plane. Father-in-law was on ground crew on that base
24. Todd says:
2 Mar 2020 05:53:49 PM

Looking for info on “caught in the draft” crew#27 dalhark,Tex 1943
25. Anonymous says:
14 Apr 2020 02:54:48 PM

Can anybody tell me about a B-24 variant where the top turret is solid (not glass) and pointed forward ?
26. Anonymous says:
14 Apr 2020 02:55:58 PM

I Tell You Boys It's Heaven - I have pics in my Dad's old photo album. Story on the plane ?
27. Gynnie says:
14 Oct 2020 04:42:37 PM

My father, Ira Barney Jackson was in the 307th Group and 424 Squadron.He was flight engineer and gunner. I was born in 1946 and her named me for one the plane his crew used in the South Pacific. Do you have any information on a plane named Gynnie Anne or Cynnie Anne? I have photo but it does not show the number of the plane. Any information would be appeciated.
28. ANONYMOUS says:
5 Jan 2021 01:22:27 PM

During the war, my mom worked at Consolidated Aircraft factory in Ft Worth, Texas. Her job: using a "baseball stitch" to sew the wing fabric onto the frame of the wing of the B-24s built by Consolidated!! She was a cute little thing--AND a good seamstress!
29. Anonymous says:
18 Nov 2021 09:07:40 PM

Father of a family friend flew 50 B-24 missions in Europe. His name was Robert Millar. Although deceased in mid -1970s, I am trying to research any sources that would "flesh out" his history in either 5th or 8th groups.
30. Cindy Lindahl Popek says:
23 May 2022 10:48:10 AM

I was named for the Cynnie Ann which my Dad flew on in WWII. I will look for a picture of the crew.
31. Gynnie Moody says:
23 May 2022 04:34:27 PM

I was also named for Cynnie Anne and have a photo of both the crew and the plane. I would like to communicate with you
32. Lynne Carter says:
18 Apr 2023 08:28:51 PM

Looking for any info on Capt. Loyd Wallace Carter who was my father and piloted B-24 in over 50 missions in South Pacific.
33. Anonymous says:
8 May 2023 01:41:45 AM

My Grandfather served in WWII. His name was John P Ridenour. He told the family he was a tail gunner in a B-24 Liberator. He didn't want to talk about it like so many in his generation don't. The wings he game me were that of a WWII gunner. His service number was 355 56 512. There was ZERO information from the military as his records were destroyed in a fire. They had no record of him anywhere, including the WWII database, until I sent a copy of the wallet sized card that showed enlisted date and honorably discharged. With that information he now has an official file - the copies I sent. The only other SCRAP of information is that he had massive hallucinations under morphine that he was in a Japanese POW camp. Does that really mean something? I don't know. Why would he have that dream if he was fighting in Europe against the socialist Nazis?
PLEASE help me with any information your have even if it is third hand information. It would put me so far ahead of where I am at no. THANK YOU VERY MUCH for helping put his information back together!!!
34. Terry L Grayson says:
23 Mar 2024 08:28:13 PM

My Father was a navigator in WW2 flying 51 missions in the B-24 appropriately called “Tough Guy”
Awesome Airmen and An Awesome Generation—Grateful To Them All

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Cockpit of a B-24 Liberator bomber, circa 1940sCockpit of a B-24J Liberator bomber, date unknown
See all 203 photographs of B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber

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