2,100 miles at
215mph at 25,000 ft.
on December 29,1939. Such rapid development of a new model resulted from fitting a new bomber fuselage to the wing and tail of the existing Model 31 flying boat and adding two engines.
The Liberator was continually improved throughout the war. The early B-24A had 1,200hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 engines without turbo-superchargers, but no armor or self-sealing fuel tanks, and it was defended by six .30-caliber, hand-swung machine guns. A powered top turret with two .50-caliber guns was added to the B-24C, as was a similar tail turret. Turbo-superchargers were added to the R-1830-41 engines of the B-24C to maintain takeoff power to 25,000 feet. The first significant production version, and the first to be combat-worthy, was the B-24D. A few of the final B-24Ds had retractable two-gun belly turrets, but that feature did not become standard until the B-24G, which also introduced a powered nose turret midway through production. Final defensive armament was 10, .50-caliber machine guns. Maximum bomb load was
8,000 pounds, usually reduced by the trade-off between bomb load and fuel for range.
Consolidated was allowed to build export versions for France, designated the "LB-30," and at the same time, the earliest B-24s were being built for the Army. This order was taken over by Britain. The R.A.F. also took some of the earliest B-24s, including six of the seven service-test YB-24s, but it released 26 of them, following the LB-30s to the U.S. Army. The Army used them initially as unarmed, long-range transports, but it used some as bombers in the Southwest Pacific after Pearl Harbor. Later, the Army requisitioned 75 undelivered LB-30s, but it eventually returned 23 to the R.A.F.
The B-24 was superior to the B-17 only in range, thanks to its high-aspect-ratio wing and new Davis airfoil section, so B-24s took over the long-range bombing in the Pacific until the B-29 came along. In Europe and North Africa, B-24s competed intensely against the B-17. The U.S. Navy acquired 977 B-24s from D through J. Despite their significant differences, all were designated "PB4Y-1 Patrol Bombers."
To meet its need for long-range transports, the Army had consolidated complete 287 B-24 airframes as unarmed C-87s, with elongated, streamlined noses and an airliner-type cabin, complete with passenger windows.
Britain ordered 159 LB-30s on cash contracts as "Liberator I" and "II," then received
2,040 B-24s from "D" through "L" under Lend-Lease. The British Liberator Mark numbers did not correspond directly to equivalent U.S. Army models. The 222 British B-24Ds were either Liberator
patrol and reconnaissance planes, depending on how they were equipped. A mix of mostly B-24Js and a few Ls became 1,618 Liberator Vis and VII Is. The 24 Mark Vlls were C-87s, not B-24s.
A few B-24s were converted and redesignated for other purposes—C-109 fuel transporters used in Africa and China, F-7 long-range photo-planes and AT-22 navigation trainers.
The demand for B-24s far exceeded the capacity of Consolidated's San Diego plant to produce them (it was also building PBY and PB2Y flying boats), so a Consolidated plant was built in Ft. Worth, TX. Three other manufacturers were also called on to supplement B-24 production. The output of B-24s at all five factories is listed below:
Consolidated, San Diego, CA
(-CO)—1 XB-24 (converted to XB-24B); 159 LB-30; 7 YB-24; 9 B-24A; 9 B-24C. Mass-production of 2,452 D; 1,780 H; 2,792 J; 417 L; 916 M.
Consolidated, Ft. Worth, TX (-CF)—303 D; 244 F; 738 H; 1,558 J.
Douglas, Tulsa, OK(-DT)— 10 D; 167 E; 582 H; 205 J.
Ford Motor Co., Ypsilanti, Ml (-FO, built specifically for B-24 production)—480 E; 1,780 H; 1,587 J; 1,250 K; 1,677 M; 1 XB-24N; 7YB-24N.
North American, Dallas, TX (-NT)—430 G (-NT only); 536 J.
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