The Boeing 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 theatres 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 were built by Ford. At peak production, the Ford plant in Willow Run Michigan could be 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.
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- Ethell, L. Jeffrey. Aircraft of World War II, (1995).