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  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator Four-Engined Heavy Bomber Aircraft

    The Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber was produced in greater numbers than any other American aircraft during World War 2.

     Updated: 6/12/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The Consolidated B-24 Liberator became a major player for Allied forces during World War 2. Its exploits ranged the world over - as did her users- and she saw action in a variety of roles in all major theaters. Designed to overtake the mythical Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and appearing as a more modern design in 1941, the Liberator fell short of this goal but instead operated side-by-side with her contemporary to form a powerful hammer in the hand of the Allied bombing effort. Though the B-17 ultimately proved the favorable mount of airmen and strategic personnel, one cannot doubt her impact in the various roles she was assigned to play in. The Liberator went on to become the most produced American aircraft of the entire war.


    The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) issued a new specification in 1935. This specification required the development of a new multi-engined, long-range heavy bomber capable of exceeding a top speed of 300 miles per hour, besting a range of 3,000 miles, maintaining a service ceiling of at least 35,000 feet and taking on an internal bombload minimum of 8,000lbs. Production of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was well underway and, in 1938, Consolidated was requested to help in its production. As part of the production initiative, Consolidated executives were brought to Boeing's plant in Seattle, Washington to visit the factory. It was this meeting that prompted Consolidated to submit their own heavy bomber design with a more modern flair. The USAAC granted Consolidated a design study in January of 1939 under C-212 with the intent that this new aircraft exceed the performance specifications (speed, range and ceiling) of the B-17 and be ready in time for production before the end of the war.

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    Consolidated B-24J Liberator Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1941
    Type: Four-Engined Heavy Bomber Aircraft
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Consolidated Aircraft / Ford Motor Company / Douglas Aircraft / North American Aviation - USA
    Production Total: 18,482

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 7 to 10
    Length: 67.16 feet (20.47 meters)
    Width: 110.01 feet (33.53 meters)
    Height: 18.01 feet (5.49 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 36,500 lb (16,556 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 65,001 lb (29,484 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 radial piston engines developing 1,200 horsepower each.

    Maximum Speed: 290 mph (467 kph; 252 knots)
    Maximum Range: 2,001 miles (3,220 km)
    Service Ceiling: 28,002 feet (8,535 meters; 5.30 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 800 feet-per-minute (244 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    2 x 12.7mm machine guns in nose turret
    2 x 12.7mm machine guns in tail turret
    2 x 12.7mm machine guns in dorsal turret
    2 x 12.7mm machine guns in ventral ball turret
    1 x 12.7mm machine gun in left-waist fuselage position.
    1 x 12.7mm machine gun in right-waist fuselage position.

    Up to 8,800lbs of internal ordnance.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Australia; Brazil; Canada; Taiwan; Czechoslovakia; Nazi Germany; India; Kingdom of Italy; Netherlands; New Zealand; Poland; Portugal; Soviet Union; South Africa; Turkey; United Kingdom; United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    Model 31 - Flying Boat proposal for USN utilizing Davis Wing later used on B-24.

    Model 32 - Consolidated company designation

    XB-24 - Prototype Model Designation; single example produced; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 radial piston engines of 1,000 horsepower.

    YB-24 - Preproduction Models

    B-24 - Service Test XB-24 Model; deleted leading edge slots; de-icing boots; 7 examples.

    B-24A - Initial Production Model; 30 examples.

    XB-24B - Fitted with R-1830-41 turbo-supercharged radial piston engines of 1,200 horsepower each; improved top speed; revised engine cowlings; singe example converted from the XB-24.

    B-24C - Converted from B-24A; revised engine cowlings; Emerson A-6 power turret in tail with 2 x 12.7mm machine guns; Martin power turret in nose.

    B-24D - First quantitative production model; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 supercharged engines; ventral gun station replaced with Bendix turret then Sperry ball turret; later models sported cheek machine guns for improved forward defense; 2,696 examples produced.

    B-24E - Development of the D-model with production held by Ford Motor Company; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 radial piston engines; ventral gun station of early models; 801 examples produced.

    XB-24F - B-24D Conversion Prototype Model to test de-icers.

    B-24G - Production by North American Aviation; fitted with 3 x 12.7mm machine guns in nose; Sperry ball turret in ventral position; 405 examples produced.

    B-24G-1 - Production by North American Aviation; based on B-24H; fitted with Emerson A-6 nose turret replacing earlier machine gun arrangement.

    B-24H - Ford Motor Company development; fitted with Emerson A-6 turret in nose; revised airframe and bombardier compartment; revised vision from tail turret and dorsal turret; staggered waist gunners; 3,100 examples produced.

    B-24J - Based on B-24H model sans armament arrangement; improved autopilot and bombsight; 6,678 examples produced.

    XB-24K - Development of Ford Motor Company; B-23 Dragon empennage fused to B-24D airframe; single example converted as such.

    B-24L - Lightened attempt; sans ball turret; 2 x 12.7mm machine gun arrangement in ventral gun position; M-6A turret in tail; 1,667 examples produced.

    B-24M - Based on the B-24L lightning effort; lightened A-6B tail turret; uncovered waist gunner ports; revised windshield; 2,593 examples produced; last production B-24s.

    XB-24N - Based on the B-24J; fitting single vertical fin tail and revised nose and tail turrets; ordered but never produced; single example.

    YB-24N - Pre-production Model of XB-24N single-tail Liberator; 7 examples produced.

    XB-24P - Based on the B-24D; used as test aircraft for Sperry Company; single conversion example.

    XB-24Q - B-24L conversion model handled by General Electric; radar-controlled tail turret.

    XB-41 - Liberator modified as a gunship for bomber escort duty; 14 x 12.7mm machine guns; bomb bay held 11,000 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition; poor performance specs forced project to be dropped' single example converted from B-24D model.

    C-87 - Engineer Trainer

    C-87 "Liberator Express" - 20-seat passenger transport

    C-87A - VIP transport with seating for 16; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 or R-1830-45 series engines.

    C-87B - Proposed armed passenger transport; dorsal and ventral turrets; machine guns.

    C-87C - RY-3 re-designated by USAAF

    RB-24L - B-29 gunnery trainer with remote turrets

    TB-24L - Similar to RB-24L but with added radar equipment.

    XC-109 - Prototype Tanker

    C-109 - Production Tanker

    XF-7 - B-24D model converted as prototype photographic reconnaissance platform.

    F-7 - B-24H model converted to photographic reconnaissance platform.

    F-7A - B-24J model converted to three-camera photographic reconnaissance platform.

    F-7B - B-24J model converted to six-camera photographic reconnaissance platform.

    BQ-8 - B-24D and B-24J models converted as radio-controlled flying bombs.

    PB4Y-1 - USN designation of B-24D, G, J, L and M production models; revised nose turret.

    PB4Y-1P - Photographic Reconnaissance Version of PB4Y-1.

    PB4Y-2 Privateer - Single Tail Liberator Model

    P5Y - Proposed PB4Y-1 with only two engines

    RY-1 - USN designation of C-87A transport

    RY-2 - USN designation of C-87 transport

    RY-3 - USN transport version based on the PB4Y-2 Privateer.

    LB-30 - USSAF armed transports built from British B.Mk II models.

    LB-30A - French pre-production models; re-routed to England after fall of France via Lend-Lease; 6 examples.

    LB-30B - British Lend-Lease Models of the B-24A; 20 examples (B.Mk I).

    Liberator B.Mk I - British B-24A models; 20 examples delivered.

    Liberator GR.1 - B.Mk I models rebuilt as anti-submarine patrol platforms.

    Liberator B.Mk II - Similar to B-24C models; fitted with British equipment and armament.

    Liberator B.Mk III - Based on B-24D; single 7.7mm machine gun in nose; Boulton Paul tail turret with 4 x 7.7mm machine guns; 1 x 7.7mm machine gun to each waist position; 2 x machine guns in dorsal turret.

    Liberator B.Mk IIIA - Same as B.Mk III but with American armament and equipment.

    Liberator B.Mk IV - Not Used

    Liberator B.Mk V - B-24D model with expanded fuel capacity and less armor protection; armament suite of B.Mk III models.

    Liberator B.Mk VI - B024H models; Boulton Paul turrets.

    Liberator B.Mk VIII - B-24J models

    Liberator GR.Mk V - RAF Coastal Command B-24D models; anti-submarine variants with searchlight and radar; optional rockets.

    Liberator GR.Mk VI - B-24G, H and J models for RAF Coastal Command; reconnaissance platforms.

    Liberator GR.Mk VIII - RAF Coastal Command B-24J models for anti-submarine patrol.

    Liberator C.Mk VI - Transport conversion models of the B.Mk VIII.

    Liberator C.Mk VII - C-87 designation

    Liberator C.Mk VIII - Transport conversion models of G.Mk VIII models.

    Liberator C.Mk IX - RY-3 transport designation