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American WWII's aircraft


Consolidated B-24 Liberator

More B-24 heavy bombers were built than any other American airplane in history. The B- 24 was used in every theater in World War II, and it had greater range and could carry a much larger bomb load than the B-17, but it never had the notoriety of the Flying Fortress. Probably the most famous B-24 was named Lady Be Good. On April 4, 1943, returning from a bombing mission, it overshot its base at Soluch, Libya, and was not heard from again. In 1959, the wreckage was found by an oil exploration party 440 miles into the Libyan desert. On August 1, 1943, staging from Benghazi, Libya, 177 Ninth Air Force B-24 crews dropped 311 tons of bombs from low level on the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, during Operation Tidal Wave. This was the first large-scale, minimum- altitude attack by Army Air Forces heavy bombers on a strongly defended target. Five officers (Lt. Col. Addison E. Baker, Col. Leon W. Johnson, Col. John R. Kane, Maj. John L. Jerstad, and 2d Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes) were awarded the Medal of Honor for this mission. More Air Force Medals of Honor were awarded for this mission than any other in the service's history. The B-24 was also used extensively by Britain. Almost 1,000 were used by the US Navy as PB4Ys. A total of 6,678 B-24Js were built, starting in August 1943. One C-87, the widely used cargo version of the Liberator, named Guess Where II, was intended to be the first Presidential aircraft, although there is no evidence that Franklin D. Roosevelt ever flew in it. B-24 operations were concentrated in the Pacific, and the first Liberators went into action on November 16, 1943, at Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. There were 6,000 operational B-24s in use by the end of 1944, equipping 45 groups. A year later, the type was declared surplus and hundreds were scrapped virtually overnight. The lone XB-24N was a single-tail test version. Approximately a dozen Liberators remain today.

General characteristics B-24J
Primary function Long-range bomber
Contractor Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation (Convair)
Next builders Douglas, Ford and North American Aviation
Power plant Four Pratt&Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder, twin-row radials engines
Thrust 4x 1,200 HP 4x 895 kW
Wingspan 110 ft 33.53 m
Length 67.2 ft 20.47 m
Height 18 ft 5.49 m
Wingarea 1,048 sq ft 97.36 sq m
Weight empty 36,500 lb 16,556 kg
max. 71,200 lb 32,296 kg
Max. speed 290 mph 467 km/h
Initial climb rate 899 ft/min 274 m/min
Ceiling 28,000 ft 8,535 m
Range 2,100 miles 3,380 km
Armament 10x 12.7mm machine gun, up to 5806 kg bombs
Crew 10-12
First flight December 29, 1939
Date deployed 1943
Cost $366,000 (B-24D)
Number built 19,256

Jirka Wagner


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