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Airplane Guys--Liberator

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  • Airplane Guys--Liberator

    I have seen some WWII movies, !2 O'clock High, Air Force, War Lover. All these movies, and many documentaries, feature the Flying Fortress.
    I just finished watching a documentary on Willow Run. The place they built the Liberator, over 8,000 of them.
    How come you don't see them in movies? Where are documentaries featuring the Liberator?
    They must have been used during WWII.

    ==


  • #2
    Originally posted by NoviVespa View Post
    I have seen some WWII movies, !2 O'clock High, Air Force, War Lover. All these movies, and many documentaries, feature the Flying Fortress.
    I just finished watching a documentary on Willow Run. The place they built the Liberator, over 8,000 of them.
    How come you don't see them in movies? Where are documentaries featuring the Liberator?
    They must have been used during WWII.

    ==
    Catch 22

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    • #3
      The airplane in the Movie Catch-22 was the B-25 Mitchell.

      I believe the reason nobody uses the B-24 is because no one liked the B-24!

      I have read that it flew like a truck.

      The B-24 should get more credit, the majority of the heavy bombers in the European Theater were B-24s.
      "It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny." - James Fenimore Cooper

      "One man with courage is a majority." - Thomas Jefferson

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      • #4

        Well, there might be several reasons why the B-24 never got its due in the annals of history.

        Here are some things to consider:

        1. The B-17 came first. It first flew in 1935, and the B-24 didn't until 1939. The Flying Fortress was a household name long before the Liberator even flew.

        2. The B-17 arrived in Europe long before the B-24 did, and when the B-24 finally arrived, US forces had a lot more experience with the B-17. The B-24 also had a lot of "teething problems" that didn't give it the best reputation. War correspondents preferred the B-17 because of a better safety record. Also, because of its superior range, the B-24 found itself in Africa, someplace where the correspondents really didn't want to go.

        3. The B-24 utilized the "Davis Wing". Longer and thinner, it was more aerodynamic and more efficient, allowing the B-24 to carry more, farther and faster than the B-17, but it was more susceptible to enemy fire. One good hit in the spar area, and the B-24 was a goner. The B-17 wing was much thicker, and could absorb more hits without damaging anything vital.

        4. The B-24 was much harder to fly than the B-17, and couldn't fly in the close "box" formations that the B-17 did.

        5. IIRC, the B-24 was never designed with a power top turret in mind. The plane was to have a higher ceiling than most others, so this drawback was perfectly acceptable in the late '30's; but aerial combat changed rapidly during the plane's development. Turrets were added, but the air frame was never really strong enough to handle them. If a B-24 belly landed or ditched, there was a good chance that a 1000 lb turret would come loose from the fuselage and crush the pilot and co-pilot.

        6. The B-17 was easier to build and maintain, fewer man-hours were required for assembly, and maintenance crews had much lighter workloads. The B-24 required a larger ground crew.

        7. The B-17 got all the exciting missions. The press was much more excited about bombing Germany than it was about bombing Lybia and even in the Pacific, where the B-24 excelled.

        A lot of B-17s were converted into rescue aircraft, that's a big reason why so many are around today. After the war, most B-24s were scrapped very quickly, and why not...they were tricky to fly and expensive to keep in the air.


        An additional note regarding point 5...I can't find the source I seem to remember regarding the top turret issue as I described it, but I did find another point regarding the B-24's top turret. The B-24 was prone to breaking in half at the wing root if it was belly landed. The front half of the fuselage would pitch downward if this happened, and the top turret would usually enter the cockpit; usually with disastrous results. When ditching, the B-24 would usually break apart at the bomb bay doors, and wouldn't float for more than about 30 seconds.

        Also, the B-24 couldn't fly as high as the B-17, and it was somewhat faster. Most often the B-17 would cruise about 10-15 mph slower than the B-24, so the Liberators would "bring up the rear" when the 2 planes were used together. This was a serious problem for B-24 crews because by the time they reached the target, the flak crews were dialed in as to the altitude of the formations. Also, the B-17 could avoid a lot of flak the B-24s had to fly through because of the plane's higher ceiling. And, since the B-24 was faster, sometimes, even though great pains were taken to insure this didn't happen, inevitably they would reach the target just as the B-17s were dropping their bombs. And since the B-17s flew higher, the B-24s often had the displeasure of flying through the bombs they dropped. A lot of B-24s were lost this way.

        B-24 crews didn't like flying with B-17s because of the higher speed of the Liberator; often times the Libs had to weave from side-to-side to keep from running over the B-17s ahead of them. Also, a lot of B-17s flew at about 140-150 mph in formation, and the B-24 wasn't happy at such a slow speed.

        The B-24 was heavier on the controls than a B-17, and took more stamina to fly. That might be a reason why the Liberators didn't fly as close in formation as the B-17s did. B-17s sometimes flew only 25 feet apart. The B-24 couldn't match that.

        Evidently, the B-24 was designed with a top turret from the beginning. But, the area where the wing spar and the fuselage joined together was sensitive to forced landings. I believe that field modifications were made, but the problem was never really solved.
        Last edited by Tifositoo; 03-20-2020, 10:09 AM.
        Tibi Fumus Obsidio Septum Doro

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        • #6
          My father was an ordnance corpsman in the 389th, the 1st all B-24 unit.
          "It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny." - James Fenimore Cooper

          "One man with courage is a majority." - Thomas Jefferson

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by Tifositoo View Post

            3. The B-24 utilized the "Davis Wing". Longer and thinner, it was more aerodynamic and more efficient, allowing the B-24 to carry more, farther and faster than the B-17, but it was more susceptible to enemy fire. One good hit in the spar area, and the B-24 was a goner. The B-17 wing was much thicker, and could absorb more hits without damaging anything vital.
            The way the fuel lines ran through the wing had a lot to do with it. They were vulnerable and if hit, forget it.
            The Ayn Rand of Indycar

            No one had to badge the Offy.

            Crapping all over threads since 2000.

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            • #8
              Jimmy Stewart was the base commander at Tibenham AAFB before my dad got there. The high brass finally moved him to London because he kept sneaking on planes and flying missions.

              My dad got there in late '44 as a gunner after washing out as pilot because the Red Cross said he needed to go home on emergency leave to check on his mother in law. She was fine but my dad missed a week of flight training and that was too much to make up.

              He was tall and skinny so he could slide into the tail gunner's slot. Too big to get into the Sperry ball turret. Filled in as waist gunner when needed.

              26 missions I think. Vision permanently damaged when a napalm canister got loose on the plane.

              Got scared plenty of times, shot at and took flak, fire from 109s and FW190s. Saw a couple of jet 262s come by at a hell of a clip but no bullets.

              We went back when I was in high school.

              Jimmy Stewart went back a few years later:



              tibenham-1976.jpg?w=1240&h=854.jpg

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              • #9
                Originally posted by Tifositoo View Post

                Also, the B-24 couldn't fly as high as the B-17, and it was somewhat faster. Most often the B-17 would cruise about 10-15 mph slower than the B-24, so the Liberators would "bring up the rear" when the 2 planes were used together. This was a serious problem for B-24 crews because by the time they reached the target, the flak crews were dialed in as to the altitude of the formations. Also, the B-17 could avoid a lot of flak the B-24s had to fly through because of the plane's higher ceiling. And, since the B-24 was faster, sometimes, even though great pains were taken to insure this didn't happen, inevitably they would reach the target just as the B-17s were dropping their bombs. And since the B-17s flew higher, the B-24s often had the displeasure of flying through the bombs they dropped. A lot of B-24s were lost this way.

                B-24 crews didn't like flying with B-17s because of the higher speed of the Liberator; often times the Libs had to weave from side-to-side to keep from running over the B-17s ahead of them. Also, a lot of B-17s flew at about 140-150 mph in formation, and the B-24 wasn't happy at such a slow speed.

                The B-24 was heavier on the controls than a B-17, and took more stamina to fly. That might be a reason why the Liberators didn't fly as close in formation as the B-17s did. B-17s sometimes flew only 25 feet apart. The B-24 couldn't match that.

                .
                Your characterization that B-17s and B-24s often flew missions together exaggerates the reality. While B-24 and B-17 groups might fly on the same days, the squadrons rarely intermingled. The operational characteristics of the two bombers differed greatly, and loss rates on combined missions were significantly higher than those when the two types were segregated.

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by NoviVespa View Post
                  I have seen some WWII movies, !2 O'clock High, Air Force, War Lover. All these movies, and many documentaries, feature the Flying Fortress.
                  I just finished watching a documentary on Willow Run. The place they built the Liberator, over 8,000 of them.
                  How come you don't see them in movies? Where are documentaries featuring the Liberator?
                  They must have been used during WWII.

                  ==
                  It is a bit curious the Libs didn't get much press. One reason might be that a large number of them flew missions from dirty and dusty southeast Italy, and as such they didn't have the media exposure the groups in England did.

                  There were about 6,500 more Liberators built during the war compared to B-17 production. The Willow Run plant was a miracle of automotive production techniques converted to building bombers. The plant's assembly line was over a mile long, and when production peaked in mid 1944, a new bomber was rolling off the line every 60 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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                  • #11
                    Originally posted by rrrr View Post

                    Your characterization that B-17s and B-24s often flew missions together exaggerates the reality. While B-24 and B-17 groups might fly on the same days, the squadrons rarely intermingled. The operational characteristics of the two bombers differed greatly, and loss rates on combined missions were significantly higher than those when the two types were segregated.
                    Never did I say that B-17s and B-24s often flew together. I was merely pointing out that it wasn't really a very good idea for them to do so, for the reasons that I mentioned. It DID happen, though; and when it did, the B-24 was at a disadvantage.
                    Tibi Fumus Obsidio Septum Doro

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                    • #12
                      Originally posted by rrrr View Post

                      Your characterization that B-17s and B-24s often flew missions together exaggerates the reality. While B-24 and B-17 groups might fly on the same days, the squadrons rarely intermingled. The operational characteristics of the two bombers differed greatly, and loss rates on combined missions were significantly higher than those when the two types were segregated.
                      B-24s were 15 mph faster which is a huge difference.

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                      • #13
                        https://www.americanairmuseum.com/unit/333
                        "It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny." - James Fenimore Cooper

                        "One man with courage is a majority." - Thomas Jefferson

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          I'm biased, because I think the B-17 is just awesome, but the Liberator was kind of...unfortunate looking. How many of them are still flying? Any idea?

                          Here I am, next to the Collings Foundation "Witchcraft" B-24 back in 2007.

                          245.JPG
                          Last edited by akh; 03-29-2020, 11:39 PM. Reason: Corrected date of photo

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                          • #15
                            Wiki says two still flying, 'Witchcraft' and 'Diamond Lil':

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