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B-24 Bomber Statistics

THE B-24 LIBERATOR HEAVY BOMBER

Introduction. We flew the B-24 Liberator out of the 445th Bomb Group. We had flown the B-24 since our heavy bombardment training at Casper, Wyoming, January 13 to April 7, 1944. We flew a shining new B-24 from Topeka, Kansas, to Morrison Field in West Palm Beach, Florida, and then to Wales, England, via Trinidad, Fortaleza, Dakar, Marrakech, April 20 to April 30, 1944. After six practice flights over England in a B-24 at the 445th BG, we were ready for our first combat mission on May 20, 1944. By then we knew the B-24 literally inside and out, and we knew our duties and responsibilities thoroughly.

We were loyal to the B-24, so that whenever we were in a conversation with B-17 flyers and, inevitably, in a good natured comparison of the two bombers, we defended the B-24 in spite of how it looked and how it was viewed from the public relations standpoint in comparison to the sleek Boeing B-17 with its glamorous nickname "The Flying Fortress."

We knew that the B-24 was hard to fly in formation, but we also knew from first hand experience what a battering the aircraft could take and still bring us home. She was called a "banana boat," but we would always stick by her. The thin aluminum skin of the B-24 was little protection against flak shrapnel. Essential equipment like the hydraulic lines and electrical lines were attached to the inner wall without much protection so that they were vulnerable to being cut by flak shrapnel.

The B-24 was conceived in 1939 and promoted to the U.S. Army Air Corps as superior to the B-17. The earliest B-24's were sold to the British, but with Pearl Harbor, the U.S. began using them in the Pacific, mostly as ocean patrol bombers. The B-24 then underwent periodic upgrades so that by May 1944 our 445th Bomb Group was flying the B-24G and the B-24H, which featured the new Briggs-Sperry ball turret and the Emerson nose turret. These two new turrets plugged two weaknesses in the B-24's defense against fighters.

Size of the B-24. Our bomber had a span of 110 feet (33.5 meters) from wingtip to wingtip. From her front turret to the end of her tail turret she was 67 feet long (20.5 meters). She was 18 feet high (5.5 meters).

Engines of the B-24. The B-24 was propeller-driven by four Pratt & Whitney radial piston engines which could generate 1,299 horsepower for takeoff and would cruise at 1,050 horsepower at 7,500 feet of altitude (2,286 m).

Speed of the B-24. On takeoff she was lucky to get up a speed of 90-100 mph (145-160 kilometers/h), depending on her load. She had to be loaded with great care as to total weight and ratio of bombs to fuel. In the air, at an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) she could do 300 mph (482.8 kilometers/h), but she was not flown at that altitude in the Eighth Air Force. At the normal altitude of an Eight Air Force mission, 20,000 to 25,000 feet (6,096 to 7,620 meters) the B-24 could do about 220 mph (354 kilometers/h), depending on its bomb load. She could climb to 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) with a 5,000 pound bomb load (2,268 kilograms) in about 25 minutes.

Weight and Load Capacity of the B-24. An empty B-24 weighed 36,500 pounds (16,556 kilograms). In her bomb bay she could carry up to 12,000 pounds (5,443 kilograms) in bombs. Within that limit she could carry four 2000-pound bombs (907- kilogram) or sixteen 500-pounders (227-kilogram).

Guns on the B-24. She carried two Browning .50 caliber(12.7 millimeter) machine-guns in each of four turrets: tail, top, ball, nose. There was also a .50 caliber (12.7 millimeter) gun on each side of the waist compartment.

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