Would you like to know more about the Royal Australian Air Force’s B-24 Liberator? Read our informative guide...
The B-24 Liberator used in the Royal Australian Air force was an American heavy bomber manufactured by the Consolidated Aircraft Company. It was the primary American combat aircraft in World War II. As a matter of fact, the aircraft still holds the record for the most produced military aircraft.
The B-24 Liberator was not only used by the American Air Force but also by several other allied countries. The aircraft maintained an impressive record with its operations in the Pacific, Western Europe, Mediterranean and the China-Burma-India corridor.
The aircraft is often compared with the B-17, popularly called the Flying Fortress; however the B-24 Liberator had a more innovative and modern design with a longer range and higher speeds. The plane could also handle heavier bomb loads. However, given its massive size, it was not suitable for formation flying because of the heavy control forces. This is one of the reasons why the B-17 was considered a more appropriate aircraft for the European corridor.
The B-24 has a spacious fuselage that is slab sided and earned the aircraft the nickname Flying Boxcar. This was built as the central bomb bay that could easily carry 8000 lbs of ordnance. This bomb bay was divided into two compartments the front and the rear and there was a central sidewalk between the two compartments which also doubled as the fuselage keel beam.
One of the complaints that were frequently made against the B-24 was about the extremely narrow catwalk. This also earned it the infamous title of the flying coffin because the only entry for the troops, the flight crew and the nose gunner were from the rear of the bomber. The aircraft had an unusual set of bomb bay doors that could be conveniently retracted into the fuselage reducing the drag so the high speeds could be maintained even over target areas.
Like the B-17, the B-24 also had a plethora of .50 caliber M2 machine guns; these guns were strategically placed at the tail, the nose, the belly, the top and its sides so that the aircraft could be easily defended from enemy attacks. Another difference between the B-17 and the B-24 was the retractable ball turret that the B-24 boasted of. The B-24 Liberator was created at the behest of the United States Army Air Corps in 1938; it was part of Project A, a program that was intended to expand the capacity of American industrial production of key air power components.