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Consolidated Liberator II

Consolidated Liberator II

Consolidated Liberator II

The Consolidated Liberator II was the final version of the aircraft to be build as part of the original French order for the LB-30. Originally the RAF had ordered 140 Liberator IIs, but the first was destroyed while being tested, delaying the entire program. Deliveries resumed on 8 August 1941, but were then disrupted again by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The USAAF took over 75 of the aircraft under the designation LB-30 and rushed many of them into combat in the Pacific. The RAF was left with 64 Liberator IIs, although another 23 of the LB-30s were later returned to Britain as American production increased.

The Liberator II was the first version of the aircraft to feature the lengthened nose that would become standard on all later aircraft. This extension, which increased the length of the aircraft from 63ft 9in to 66ft 4in, was originally made for purely aesthetic reasons, but as the war developed, and the amount of equipment carried on aircraft increased, the extra space proved to be very valuable. The Liberator II was powered by the commercial R-1830-S3C4-G engine, which lacked the turbosupercharger used on USAAF aircraft. The engines powered Curtiss Electric propellers with longer hubs than on earlier versions of the aircraft. The aircraft carried fourteen .303in machine guns – one in the nose, one in a tunnel hatch, two in each waist position, and four each in Boulton-Paul power operated tail and dorsal turrets.

The Liberator II served in an unusually wide range of roles. The first three squadrons to receive it were Nos. 108, 120 and 511 in 1941. No.108 Squadron used the aircraft on a mix of bombing and supply drop missions over the Balkans, No.120 Squadron used it for anti-submarine patrols and No.511 Squadron provided a transport service between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.

In 1942 No.159 Squadron and No.160 Squadron began bombing operations with the Liberator II from bases in the Middle East, before moving on to the Far East while Coastal Command used the type to equip No.224 Squadron.

In 1943 No. 148 Squadron began to use the Liberator to drop supplies to partisans across Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia, while No.178 Squadron began to use the Liberator II on bombing missions in the Mediterranean. Finally in 1944 Nos.231 and 246 Squadrons received the Liberator II and used it for transport duties.


Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/29/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The maritime patrol bomber in World War 2 (1939-1945) was of particular value to the Japanese and the Americans in the vast expanse of the Pacific Theater of War. As such, both sides invested heavily in modified and purpose-built aircraft types intended to turn the tide of the war in their respective favors. Ultimately, the Americans won out with a healthy stable of such aircraft that included the oft-forgetten contributions of the PB4Y-2 "Privateer" line.

The PB4Y-2 was developed by Consolidated Aircraft as a dedicated over-water, maritime patrol platform to fulfill a requirement by United States Navy (USN). The existing Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" heavy bomber (detailed elsewhere on this site) was used as the basis for the new aircraft and incorporated several changes to meet the rigors of over-water flying and combat. The Privateer series was introduced during the thick of the fighting in 1943 and was produced to the tune of 739 examples into 1945. The aircraft continued in service well into the 1950s for the Americans, eventually taking part in bloody Korean War (1950-1953) and the Cold War (1947-1991) that followed, before being retired in full by the 1960s mainly through foreign operators.

Development

Up to 1943, the USN was simply operating standard B-24 Liberator bombers in the vital maritime patrol role, these under the designation of "PB4Y-1 Liberator)". However, as the demand for over-water patrolling increased against the naval power of the Empire of Japan, it was decided that an economically-minded dedicated platform was required. Familiarity with the Liberator series on the part of the USN made the heavy, land-based, four-engined bomber an excellent candidate for they could carry large bomb loads and ranged far from home base - perfect qualities for operating over the vast expanses of the Pacific Theater. Due to their size, the bombers were be operated strictly by the USN from land bases.

The basic appearance of the Liberator bomber was largely retained in the revision process - save for the twin-rudder tail arrangement being simplified to a single-rudder unit (this originally trialed with an abandoned "B-24N" mark intended for the U.S. Army Air Force). The fuselage was lengthened some to accommodate a workspace for the flight engineer's station but the aircraft continued use of the high-winged mainplanes, each carrying a pair of underslung engine nacelles driving three-bladed propeller units. The standard tricycle undercarriage of the B-24 was also retained for ground-running. The nose section was noticeably stepped (as in the B-24) and led by a powered ball turret at the extreme front. The cockpit sat its two pilots side-by-side with a powered dorsal turret immediately behind and above the pair. Another power-assisted turret was placed further aft along the dorsal spine of the aircraft and additional turrets were added as bulging blisters to the aft fuselage sides. The tail carried additional defensive armament in the form of yet another powered gun emplacement. Unlike the B-24 series, the Privateer did not retain the retractable ventral "belly" turret of the B-24.

All told there were 12 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) in the new design and a total of six power-operated turret emplacements giving the heavy bomber excellent all-round protection from marauding enemy interceptors. Up to 12,800lb of conventional drop bombs, naval mines, depth charges and torpedoes could be carried in the belly of the bomber.

Beyond this, a full Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) suite was installed and this led to the addition of various antenna and sensor blisters/protrusions being seen about the fuselage. Additional communications gear was carried internally and a retractable radome was fitted just aft of the nose wheel - to be deployed as needed.

The crew numbered eleven men charged with various tasks aboard their large aircraft. Dimensions included a length of 74.6 feet, a wingspan of 110 feet and a height of 30 feet. Empty weight was 27,500lb against an MTOW of 65,000lb.

Power was from 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-94 air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,350 horsepower each. Maximum speed was 300 miles per hour with cruising closer to 175 mph. Range was out to 2,820 miles and a service ceiling of 21,000 feet was possible. The lack of a turbosupercharger on each engine meant that the aircraft was relegated to low-level operation - which was negligible as the mission role generally required this and the lack of the power equipment saved on weight.

NOTE: The official PB4Y-2 "Privateer" designation was not applied to the series until a USN change in 1951. Up to this point, the PB4Y-1 "Liberator" name was used.

The series was first-proven through three YPB4Y-2 prototypes developed for trials and this led to the definitive PB4Y-2 models of which 736 examples were completed. The following PB4Y-2B mark was equipped to launch the ASM-N-2 "Bat" air-to-surface missile / glide bomb series and later (1951 onwards) came to be known as the P4Y-2B. The PB4Y-2M were converted PB4Y-2 models modified for the weather reconnaissance role and these, similarly, became P4Y-2M in the 1951 revision. The PB4Y-2S identified PB4Y-2S platforms equipped with an anti-submarine radar system and eventually became P4Y-2S in 1951. The PB4Y-2G were PB4Y-2 models modified for the SAR / weather reconnaissance roles with the USCG in the post-war world and evolved as the P4Y-2G in 1951. The final models were the PB4Y-2K modified for the target drone role ultimately becoming the P4Y-2K in 1951 and, finally, the QP-4B in 1962.

Once in service, the investment in the Privateer paid immediate dividends for the U.S. Navy where they were used in a myriad of roles including anti-ship / anti-submarine, general reconnaissance, communications relay work, countermeasures, and vital Search-and-Rescue (SAR). They were well defended with their multiple machine gun posts and could range out for thousands of miles.

While introduced as soon as 1943, the series did not make its impact until 1944 when quantitative force levels were being reached in the USN inventory. In the post-war world, they served in the critical weather reconnaissance role and were still in play at the time of the Korean War of the early-1950s. Further into its career, the aircraft was also used in the SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT) role as the "Cold War' with the Soviet Union began to "heat up". Indeed, one PB4Y-2 was claimed by Soviet fighters over the Baltic Sea in April of 1950 - such was the tension of the period where any single event to erupt into open world war once again.

In 1954, the Privateer was given up by the USN as the age of the jet had officially arrived. The United States Coast Guard (USCG), another notable Privateer operator, and managed their fleet into the late-1950s before following suit. Many bombers then ended their days as expendable drones (a "K" applied to the end of their designations, until 1962, to which point they became "QP-4B"). Others ended their careers in fire-fighting roles where their large bomb holds could carry vast amounts of fire-fighting liquids.

Foreign Service

Beyond American use of the aircraft, the bomber was employed in action by the militaries of France and the Republic of China (Taiwan) where they managed mixed results. Canada and Honduras were other key players in the Privateer story.


B-24J Liberator "Witchcraft" Photographs

Flying in the B-24J Liberator "Witchcraft": A Video by the Collings Foundation


- ANTI SUBMARINE TACTICS

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator is an American heavy bomber , designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego , California . It was known within the company as the Model 32, and some initial production aircraft were laid down as export models designated as various LB-30s, in the Land Bomber design category.

At its inception, the B-24 was a modern design featuring a highly efficient shoulder-mounted, high aspect ratio Davis wing . The wing gave the Liberator a high cruise speed, long range and the ability to carry a heavy bomb load. Early RAF Liberators were the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a matter of routine. In comparison with its contemporaries the B-24 was relatively difficult to fly and had poor low speed performance it also had a lower ceiling and was less robust than the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress . While aircrews tended to prefer the B-17, General Staff favored the B-24, and procured it in huge numbers for a wide variety of roles. At approximately 18,500 units &ndash including over 4,600 manufactured by Ford Motor Company &ndash it holds records as the world's most produced bomber, heavy bomber, multi-engine aircraft, and American military aircraft in history.

The B-24 was used extensively in World War II . It served in every branch of the American armed forces, as well as several Allied air forces and navies, and saw use in every theater of operations. Along with the B-17, the B-24 was the mainstay of the U.S. strategic bombing campaign in the Western European theater. Due to its range, it proved useful in bombing operations in the Pacific , including the bombing of Japan . Long range anti-submarine Liberators played an instrumental role in closing the Mid-Atlantic gap in the Battle of the Atlantic . The C-87 transport derivative served as a longer range, higher capacity counterpart to the Douglas C-47 Skytrain .

Anti-Submarine Weapons : Leigh light used for spotting U-boats on the surface at night, fitted to a Liberator aircraft of Royal Air Force Coastal Command . 26 February 1944.

Photo. Royal Air Force official photographer : Miller (F/O) - This is photograph CH 13997 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

By the end of World War II, the technological breakthroughs of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress and other modern types had surpassed the bombers that served from the start of the war. The B-24 was rapidly phased out of U.S. service, although the PB4Y-2 Privateer maritime patrol derivative carried on in service with the U.S. Navy in the Korean War.

U.S. Navy operated 13 Anti Submarine Squadrons scattered throughout the vast Brazilian coast ranging from Amapa in Amazon estuary to Santa Cruz at rio de Janeiro. PB4-Y were operated from Parnamirim Field at Natal on Northeastern coast with 12 aircrafts. These are as follows:

VB-107 - Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 15/6/1943 to 10/01/1945 - with PB4Y-1 Liberator.

VP-74 - Natal - RN (Ramp) 18/12/1942 to 04/28/1943 - with PBM-3C Mariner.

Aircrafts also operated in Salvador - BA (Aratu), Galeão (RJ) and Belém.

It sank the German submarines U-513 (7/19/1943) and U-161 (09/27/1943).

It located the submarine U-199 off Marica Rio de Janeiro and began the combat that resulted in the her sinking by Catalina "2" of the FAB Brazilian air Force on July 31, 1943.

VP-83 - Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 7/4/1942 to 1/5/1943 - with PBY-5A Catalina.

It sank the German submarines U-164 (1/6/1943) and U-507 (01/13/1943) and the Italian submarine Archimede (15/4/1943).

VP-94 - Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 21/01/1943 to 18/7/1943 - with PBY-5A Catalina.

VP 94 had aircrafts in Rio de Janeiro (Santos-Dumont), Belém,

Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador, São Luis, Fernando de Noronha, Maceió, Caravelas (BA) and Santa Cruz. Sank the German submarines U-590 (09/07/1943) and U-662 (21/7/1943).

VB- 107 -- Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 15/6/1943 to 10/01/1945 - with PB4Y-1 Liberator.

This Squadron is the transformation of the VP-83, now endowed with the PB4Y-1.

It sank the following German submarines: U-598 (23/07/1943), U-848 (05/11/1943), U-849 (11/25/1943), U-177 (06/2/1944) and U-863 (09/29/1944).

For the excellent services rendered in the war, it received the Presidential Unit Citation.

Above one PB4-Y (Macahyba Madam) over the South Atlantic expanses in a routine patrol mission

VPB-125 - Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 3/18/1945 to 4/30/1945 - with PV-1 Ventura.

Aircrafts also operated in Fortaleza and Fernando de Noronha.

VPB-126 - Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 1/18/1945 to 5/21/1945 - with PV-1 Ventura. Aircrafts were also based in Fortaleza.

VB-127 - Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 14/5/1943 to 02/02/1943 - with PV-1 Ventura. Aircrafts were also based in Fortaleza.

It sank the German submarine U-591 (7/31/1943).

VB-129 - Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 30/5/1943 to 6/15/1943 - with PV-1 Ventura. Aircrafts were also based in Recife and Salvador (Ipitanga)

They took part in the sinking of the German submarine U-604 (7/30/1943).

VP-143 - Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 16/9/1943 to 01/28/1944 - with PV-1 Ventura. Aircrafts were also based in Salvador (Ipitanga).

It was replaced by the 2nd Medium Bomber Group of the FAB, which was based in Salvador, BA.

VB-145 - Natal - RN (Parnamirim Field) 16/9/1943 to 01/01/1945 - with PV-1 Ventura. Aircraft were also based in Fernando de Noronha, Ascension Island and Salvador (Ipitanga).

VP-203 - Salvador - BA (Aratu) 10/10/1943 to 23/01/1944 - with PBM-3S Mariner. Aircrafts were also based in Natal - RN (Rampa), Florianópolis - SC, Galeão (RJ) and Salvador (Aratu).

VP-211 - Salvador (Aratu) 16/10/1943 to 12/11/1943 - with PBM-3C Mariner.


Features

The electronic hearing protection system offers the most advanced technology available. While less progressive systems “clip” or “cut-off” ambient sounds, the Liberator II ™ also features Digital Threat Compression Technology (D.T.C.T) which reduces specific harmful sounds, while allowing the user to hear safe, low-level sounds while protection is engaged.

Liberator II™ tactical headsets provide exceptional communications, electronic hearing protection and TCI’s Digital Situational Awareness Enhancement (D.S.A.E.) during demanding situations. The ability to maintain peripheral hearing and amplify potential danger signs and audio cues from the environment are vital for any tactical mission. Equally important is the threat localization system that the headset provides. Our D.S.A.E. technology provides 360 degrees ambient sound reproduction and unbelievable situational awareness. This technology is the most accurate method of environmental sound replication, threat identification and closely replicates natural hearing.

Specifically, dual external microphones continually process ambient sounds and instantaneously provide NNR 21 (up to 29 dB) of hearing protection to protect the user from exposure to harmful static-state and impulse sounds and a battery life of 600 hours using two conventional AAA batteries.

The Liberator II™ has two different suspension systems available, the traditional Over the Head suspension (OTH) and the Behind the Head suspension (BTH). The Liberator II™ - BTH was designed to provide enhanced comfort under ballistics helmets, including various conventional and “high cut” helmet systems. The BTH suspension system is highly adjustable and provides excellent stability during vigorous activities. If your unit or agency uses or intends to use ballistic helmets, we recommend you select Behind the Head suspension (BTH) option.


BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

There should be three images below. I have 'enhanced' the second and third a touch to make them a bit easier to read. I hope that they may be of interest:

1. AL528, Liberator II about to land

2. the reverse of the photo showing the handstamp of the photographic agency, with the attached 'blurb' folded up

3. the 'blurb' itself: (a) the main text of which was standard -I have at least one other photograph with this blurb (b) below the main text, the proposed photo caption, stating that it is a BOAC Liberator landing at Prestwick after a trans-Atlantic flight and (c) above the main text, the reference number of the photograph - CH.14375

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By: ianwoodward9 - 7th April 2017 at 17:21 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

Even when you click on the above images to expand, the first is a bit small, so I'll try to get it a bit larger (wish me luck):

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By: farnboroughrob - 7th April 2017 at 17:40 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

Interesting stuff. I assume that BOAC aircraft only carried civil markings if they were operating to neutral countries then? I believe the Liberators had a number of accidents in BOAC service on the north Atlantic shortly after entry into service? From what I have read most of the passengers were returning ferry pilots?
Rob

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By: ianwoodward9 - 7th April 2017 at 19:20 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

I don't know for sure but I believe that you are correct. I base this on the need for aircraft and crews on the Stockholm run and on the service to Lisbon, for example, to be civilian - ostensibly at least. The Norwegian crews on the Stockholm Run were nominally British and wore BOAC uniforms.

AL528, along with some other BOAC Liberators, was allocated a civil registration (G-AGEM) apparently in case it was required to visit a neutral country, though I have no idea if it actually bore these markings at any time.

Yes, they were used on the Return Ferry Service, which BOAC operated from September 1941 onwards. One BOAC Liberator (AL512/G-AGEL) crashed at Gander in December 1942. I'm not aware of any other BOAC Liberator losses on the North Atlantic, though there were a number of incidents, such as birdstrike, and at least one belly landing).

AL528, itself, did crash in Canada but this was in February 1946.

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By: ianwoodward9 - 7th April 2017 at 21:59 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

According to 'G-INFO', Liberator II G-AGEM was placed on the British civil register on 31 July 1942. Its owner was BOAC with an address at the Grand Spa Hotel in Clifton, Bristol. The base for the aircraft, however, was given as Montreal, Canada.

According to AJ Jackson's book on British Civil Aircraft, its C of A was issued on 7 August 1942 and then, going back to 'G-INFO' once more, its civil registration was cancelled by the Secretary of State on 28 August 1942.

So it was officially G-AGEM for less than one month. I suspect that it never bore its British civilian registration markings in this brief period.

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By: Matt Poole - 7th April 2017 at 23:24 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

Just some further background info, and a nice photo, from the James D. Oughton book, "The Liberator in Royal Air Force and Commonwealth Service" (Air-Britain):

AL528 Construction Number 26 retained in USA following Pearl Harbor Taken On Charge by USAAC 12.41 released to RAF and Taken On Charge Dorval (Montreal) 3.4.42 released to BOAC for Return Ferry Service 3.4.42 loaned to Ferry Command 30.6.42 Dorval-to-Prestwick 10.7.42, Prestwick-to-Lyneham 13.7.42 made special flights UK-to-Cairo first 14.7.42, returning to Lyneham 21.7.42, Prestwick 22.7.42 second flight 25.7.42 to 1.8.42, for which received Air Ministry commendation registered G-AGEM to BOAC Certificate of Registration (9370) issued 31.7.42 Certificate of Airworthiness (6939) issued 7.8.42, aircraft remained as AL528, and G-AGEM registration cancelled 24.8.42 flown Prestwick-to-Goose Bay 7.8.42, Goose Bay-to-Dorval 8.8.42, possibly a Return Ferry Service flight first Return Ferry Service eastbound flight 16.8.42 crashed and caught fire at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, 21.2.46, while attempting emergency landing in snowstorm and severe icing conditions civilian co-pilot only fatality.

A full-page photo of AL528 appears on page 102 of the book.

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By: farnboroughrob - 8th April 2017 at 08:55 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

I base my info on these RFS libs on one of Don McVicar's books, 'Ferry Command'. He describes several return flights on Libs and his lack of confidence in the crews experience on the North Atlantic. If anybody has not read his books they are a brilliant read.

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By: Lazy8 - 8th April 2017 at 12:41 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

The question of civil markings vs RAF markings for BOAC aircraft was not properly addressed througout the war. Broadly the idea was that if you were flying in, or near, a live combat zone, then your aircraft should be camouflaged if not, then it should not be. That left open the question of whether camouflaged aircraft should have 'targets' on them. At the stage depicted in those photos, the RFS LB.30s were being operated by a unit that was overburdened with it's own, and ad hoc RAF requirements and it would seem that it was simply expedient not to take the time to repaint them. More than one did get extraordinarily scruffy before the decision was taken to remove the paint altogether, at which point the RAF roundels were retained, and a BOAC Speedbird appeared on the nose. Of course, for a while, the North Atlantic was considered an active combat zone, and the RFS crews were in fear of meeting FW.200s, against which they would have had little defence.

It would appear that the photo from the book shows AL528 at the very beginning of her RFS career. Precise conversion dates for individual aircraft are lost, but very early on they were internally converted so that passenger entry was through the bomb bay, enabling the original entry hatch/ tunnel gun position to be used for freight. The ladder there shows the rear hatch is being used for entry/egress.

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By: ianwoodward9 - 8th April 2017 at 16:17 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

Thank you for all this additional information. It is so very welcome. As I have said in other posts, I am a lapsed aviation enthusiast, whose Air Britain membership ended about 55 years ago. It is therefore quite invigorating to read about all this further research (and its publication). Perhaps you will permit me some additional comments.

From AL528’s chronology, provided by Matt, it would seem that it made at least two trans-Atlantic flights when registered as G-AGEM. The second is shown as an RFS flight, the first only “possibly” so. Nevertheless, this again raises the question of whether it bore civil or military marks for one or other of these two flights.

It is also noteworthy that it made a couple of return flights to Cairo before it was registered as G-AGEM. According to AJ Jackson’s book on British Civil Aircraft, two Liberators were allocated to this service in 1942. Both wore their civil registration markings for this duty. G-AGDR (formerly AM918) made the inaugural flight from Hurn to Almaza in late January 1942 but, on its return, was shot down near the Eddystone Light on 15 February 1942. The other Liberator, G-AGCD (formerly AM259) apparently continued this service on its own until the end of 1942. I wonder if AL528 made these Cairo flights to supplement the efforts of G-AGCD.

With regard to these Cairo flights, Lazy 8’s comment about the lax application, in wartime, of the ‘rules’ on civil versus military markings is apposite. One would think that, if it were advisable for G-AGDR and G-AGCD to be in civilian guise, the same would have applied to AL528, yet the mark G-AGEM was only registered while it was away on the second of its two Cairo flights. I wonder if, around that time, there was a notion to use it more permanently on that service to join G-AGCD but, after carrying out two trans-Atlantic flights in the course of August 1942, the second of which was apparently for the RFS, it was decided that the RFS flights had priority and thus AL528’s civilian registration could be cancelled. Pure speculation but it would seem to fit the dates.

In respect of the requirement to apply camouflage for the North Atlantic run, the first Lodestar obtained by the Norwegian Purchasing Commission for use on the ‘Stockholm Run’ was delivered to Dorval in bare metal and had to be ‘camouflaged’ there before continuing its delivery flight to Prestwick (later purchases were camouflaged at Lockheed’s factory).

Farnboroughrob, I do not have the MacVicar book but shall look out for a copy. I seem to recall that “Atlantic Bridge”, the 1945 HMSO account of Transport Command’s ‘Ocean Ferry’ activities, said that the RAF could not release sufficient pilots for the service, so that delivery crews were made up with all manner of civilian pilots, including barnstormers and those more used to crop spraying. Whether this was the case for the Liberator crews on the RFS, I don’t know but wouldn’t be surprised. Of course, the other element, at that time, was that very few pilots indeed had flown such long distances, over vast oceans, in such cold winter conditions.

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By: Lazy8 - 8th April 2017 at 17:44 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

The other reason for the Atlantic Ferry pilots being civilians was that, until America entered the war it was not permitted that military pilots of any foreign combatant collect military aircraft from American factories. The RFS operation was based at Dorval, where TCA provided the maintenance facilities (not a 100% happy arrangement). If a flight reached Canada and found the weather against them, a diversion into an American airfield was a possibility (they weren't going to turn back. ) so military crew could have presented a problem. The retention of full RAF markings on the aircraft tells us that this was, perhaps, a convenient fiction to keep the more dove-like elements in the US Congress happy. AFter the US entered the war, and as the RAF built up their own pool of long-range experience, it was not uncommon for RAF crew members to supliment their BOAC colleagues on the RFS flights.

BOAC records generally show the registration that an aircraft was carrying when it was lost, be that civil or RAF. Unusually, for the LB.30/Liberator fleet, for those aircraft which had civil registrations, they unerringly show both, so can't help in this case. However, as noted, AL528/G-AGEM was lost in February 1946, nearly four years after it's civil registration was supposedly cancelled. My own thoughts are that the apparent cancellation of the civil registration in 1942 may have more to do with using LB.30s to open up a route to Moscow, which BOAC wanted nothing to do with as it very definitely had to cross a combat zone and they were in dispute with the government at that point as to whose risk such operations should be.

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By: ianwoodward9 - 8th April 2017 at 18:39 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

If you haven't seen this, it is worth a few minutes of your time:

It is a 1942 Pathe Newsreel about RAF Ferry Command. It features Liberator II AL592 (G-AHYF) in the opening section.

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By: ianwoodward9 - 8th April 2017 at 19:19 Permalink - Edited 1st January 1970 at 01:00

The USA's Neutrality Acts of 1935, 1936 and 1937 certainly provided a stumbling block at the start of WWII. In 1939, initial efforts to amend their provisions were rebuffed but, following Germany's invasion of Poland, a new Neutrality Act was approved by Congress in November 1939. This allowed for arms to be provided on what was known as a 'cash-&-carry' basis, though American citizens were still barred from entering a war zone. It seems that Canada, as a belligerent nation counted as a war zone.

The effect was as follows. American-built aircraft were flown to northern states in the Mid-West, parked really close to the border, then towed into Canada (sometimes by horses). I believe this arrangement started early in 1940. Once in Canada, the aircraft were flown away to be delivered to Britain and also, I believe, to France. The Lend-Lease Act didn't come in until March 1941.

A bit of an aside, now. Though not directly involved in the war, USA's ships were being sunk by German subs, so Roosevelt then allowed the US Navy to defend its merchant ships. On Hallowe'en 1941, the US destroyer Reuben James was sunk some of you may know the Woody Guthrie song that goes, "Tell me, what were their names? / Tell me, what were their names? / Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?". The Neutrality Acts were repealed within a fortnight, allowing merchant ships to carry war cargoes and to be armed. This was about four weeks before the USA declared war on Germany and Italy.


Development and service [ edit | edit source ]

The XR2Y-1, as the single prototype was known in Navy service, used the high-aspect wing and tricycle landing gear of the Liberator. The fuselage was an entirely new design, and the vertical stabilizer was taken from the PB4Y Privateer. Ώ] The final design looked much like a smaller, high-wing B-29 Superfortress, but with windows for passengers.

Meant to carry passengers or cargo to distant Navy bases, but after a brief evaluation the prototype was demilitarized in the mid-1940s, returned to Convair, and leased to American Airlines as a freighter with the name 'City of Salinas' ΐ]


3 thoughts on &ldquoUSAAF Liberator explodes in mid air over the Wirral&rdquo

This from my 1999 interview with George Noorigian, a bombardier on Jackson Mercer’s crew in the 445th who came close to being on that flight (the full interview is at kasselmission.org):

George Noorigian: They had these old planes on the base. Finally, they said they were gonna take these old planes – three of them – up to Ireland. See, when you first went over, for one week before you went to your base, they had a training base in Ireland. These were fellows that had just finished combat, and they told you what to expect when you get into combat. In the States half of our missions were flown at night. In combat, daytime. If it was dark, you didn’t fly. See. They told us what to expect. And that was in above Belfast. So they told us, “Take three of the planes back,” to where they train, “and we’ll take one of our better planes.” There were six in each plane. And on the way back there would be 24 there would be enough room for 24 guys. So we were supposed to go on it – and this is after we finished our missions. See, when you finish your missions, that was it. You didn’t fly any more missions and you could do anything you wanted. You could go to Paris, anyplace you wanted, but you had to notify where you were gonna be, because all of a sudden your orders would come in. You never knew when your orders would come to go home. So they told us, “Make sure you tell us where you are.” So my co-pilot says, “George, come with us.”
I said, “Paul…”
He said, “Come with us. It’s a flight to Ireland. Maybe you could stay there overnight and see something.” Because we hadn’t done anything. I was just glad to be on the ground. I went to Norwich, and to London – we had been to London a number of times – but after a while, we were just tired. We wanted to get the hell back home.
So, “All right, Paul,” I said, “I’ll go.”
So we got ready to go on the mission.
“I’m sorry, fellows, it’s canceled. The weather’s bad in Ireland.”
The second time it happened, the same thing happened again. The weather’s bad in Ireland. So finally, they called us again. This is the third time. And that day they were supposed to have a regular mission over Germany. But the weather got bad over Germany, and they didn’t want the pilots to fly, because by the time they’d fly and come back it would be dark.
The weather over Ireland was not bad, though, so they said “Get the fellows to take and get rid of the old planes.” So they were gonna call us early in the morning, because when you get ready for a mission you’re talking 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning. That’s when I used to see Jimmy Stewart sitting close by, on those briefings, where they tell you what to expect. He would be there too. So we were ready to go. But at the last minute they told us, “Oh, you don’t have to go. We have someone else that’s taking your place.” One of the fellows in the squadron that we knew, he was supposed to fly that mission. They were all ready to go. They had their flight gear on, and they canceled the mission. So he found out about the trip to take the old planes to Ireland, and he said, “Let me take Mercer’s plane.” The one Mercer’s gonna fly. He says, “Hell. I’ve got nothing to do here, I’m all dressed up to fly. Let me take his plane and let the fellows sleep, don’t wake them up.”
So he took our plane to Ireland. They went to Ireland, they had no trouble. So on the way back – in fact our flight commander was the co-pilot in that plane it was a newer plane, so they all came back in that plane – over Liverpool, on the way back, the plane blew up in midair. They had just had gone over the Irish Sea, just over Liverpool and it blew up in midair and it killed the 24 guys on the plane. And we were supposed to be on that plane.
There were 24 guys on that plane, and like I told you, you get some of these guys that smoked, and they didn’t give a damn where it was. And a lot of these planes, the gas tanks had small leaks, and you’d always have those gas fumes. With 24 guys in the plane, they were lined up in the bomb bays, in the back, in the front. So there probably was a guy right underneath one of those gas tanks, if I’m not mistaken, he took out a cigarette and he lit the goddamn match. Why should it blow up? They could never figure it out, but the guys at the base, we figured it out. Somebody lit a match with a leaky tank, and it blew the whole goddamn plane up. The flight surgeon said he went there to identify the bodies, and he said, “One of the fellows I identified, he was all dressed up in uniform. You thought he was sleeping on the ground. There wasn’t a sign on him.” But don’t forget, they fell from that height, and they had no chutes. And he was one of the fellows that had finished his missions. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine me, us, being on that plane and then telling my wife you’ve got nothing to worry about, we’re gonna be home, and then having, having the Air Force go to the house, knock on the door and tell her, “I’m sorry to tell you, your husband was killed in action.” Jesus, that was … oh, Jesus Christ.

Some of the passengers on this ill-fated flight were replacements, some were coming back off leave and some were just trying to catch a ride back to their home station. The true cause of the crash may never really be known, but all of the men on board understood the dangers of military aviation.

Please check out the 445th Bomb Group’s website at 445BG.org to learn more about the unit and the men who served either as air crew or ground echelon – they are all heroes!

The Stimmel report is a very likely reason for this accident. Liberators were notorious for leaks in the fuel transfer system, and smoking was usually forbidden among crews. To make the situation even worse, transferring fuel creates static electricity, and sparks and fumes are unhealthy for aircraft and crews. Among many others, it is likely this reason which caused the loss of LT Joseph P. Kennedy USNR and his co-pilot.


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APA Citation

Smith, Russell. (1946). Qantas Consolidated LB-30 Liberator II passenger transport G-AGTI on tarmac at Mascot Airport, Sydney, 1946. http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-148360091

MLA Citation

Smith, Russell. Qantas Consolidated LB-30 Liberator II passenger transport G-AGTI on tarmac at Mascot Airport, Sydney, 1946 [picture] / Russell Smith 1946 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-148360091>

Australian/Harvard Citation

Smith, Russell. 1946, Qantas Consolidated LB-30 Liberator II passenger transport G-AGTI on tarmac at Mascot Airport, Sydney, 1946 [picture] / Russell Smith <http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-148360091>

Wikipedia Citation
Qantas Consolidated LB-30 Liberator II passenger transport G-AGTI on tarmac at Mascot Airport, Sydney, 1946 [picture] / Russell Smith

Russell Smith aviation collection, 1946-1959.

Part of the collection: Russell Smith aviation collection, 1946-1959.

Inscriptions: "R.S.46/08(D)"--Printed lower left corner "Qantas Consolidated Liberator G-AGTI (Later VH-EAI) Mascot, 1946"--Printed lower right.

In collection: Russell Smith aviation collection, 1946-1959

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