Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Life for the B-24 heavy bomber began in 1939, when the Army Air Corps initiated a request for a new bomber designed to exceed the performance of the B-17. Consolidated Aircraft responded quickly with its proposal, labeled Consolidated Model 32 and, on March 30 of 1939, was awarded the contract. One day short of nine months later, on December 29, 1939, the first flight of the XB-24 bomber prototype took place.
Flying for the Army Air Corps as the B-24, and the U.S. Navy as the PB4Y-1, the plane also saw service in the Royal Air Force where it was known simply as the Liberator. There was also a transport version known as the C-87, one of which was Winston Churchill`s personal aircraft, carrying him to historic meetings at Moscow and Casablanca, among other locations.
The US Navy acquired many B-24Ds from the USAAF for anti-submarine operations, and also 977 of the PB4Y-1, which were either converted from the B-24D with the addition of an Erco nose turret, or from the B-24J, B-24L, or B-24M with a Consolidated nose turret. Later came 736 of the much-modified PB4Y-2, with unsupercharged engines, single tail, two upper turrets, no ball turret, twin guns in each waist position, an extra 2.1 m added to the length of the fuselage, and many other improvements. The PB4Y-2 was so modified that it got a different name, being called Privateer.
While designed as a heavy bomber, the B-24 experienced more than 100 modifications and conversions for such assignments as photography, mine lying, and cargo hauling. More than 18,000 B-24s were built during WW-II, more than any other American aircraft. Given its abilities and "convert-abilities," the numbers make perfect sense.
Engines: Four 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65, twin wasp turbocharged radial piston engines
Weight, takeoff (lbs): 71,200
Wing Span (feet): 110`0
Length (feet): 67`2
Speed (mph): 290
Ceiling (feet): 28,000
Range (miles): 2,100
Armament: 10*12.7 mm (0.5-inch) machine guns in nose, upper/ventral ball turrets and tail turret, and lateral fuselage positions,12,800 lb. maximum bomb load.
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||Consolidated Liberator over submarine
||B-24 Liberator bomber on anti-sub' patrol