The B-24 Liberator was a four engine heavy bomber. It was designed by Consolidated Aircraft in California. It first flew in December 1939. The aircraft had a maximum speed of approximately 300 mph at 25,065 feet and cruising speed of 215 mph. It had a ceiling of 28,000 feet and a range of 2,100 miles. It was armed with ten .50 caliber Browning machine guns and a crew of 10 to 11 men, depending on the model. The B-24 serviced in all theaters of World War II including naval reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare.
Although it was a more modern design and could carry a greater bomb load than the B-17, it was not as sturdy in construction. They were easier to mass-produce. Over half of the bombers were built by Ford. At peak production, the Ford plant in Willow Run Michigan could produce a B-24 in an hour. Along with the B-17, the B-24 made up the bulk of America's strategic bombing campaign of Nazi Germany in World War II.
The first model to be produced on a large scale was the B-24D. It first saw combat in April 1942. The famous Ploesti oil refinery raids in 1943 were carried out by B-24D’s. B-24H and J versions were flown by the Royal Air Force and known as the Liberator Mk.VI. The B-24 had an internal bomb load of 8,000 lb. (or sixteen 500-pound bombs) 3630 kg and for long range missions, 5,000 lb. (2,300 kg). The last version built was the B-24M. A total of 18,482 (all types) were built. The bomber was a workhorse, with more B-24s being built then any other US combat aircraft in the Second World War.
- Angelucci, Enzo. Rand McNally Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft: 1914 to the Present, (1990) .
- Bailey, Ronald. The Air War in Europe, (1981).
- Ethell, L. Jeffrey. Aircraft of World War II, (1995).