A72 B-24 Liberator
Late in 1943, the commander of all Allied Air Forces in the South-West Pacific decided that, due to the vast numbers of B-24 Liberators being produced in the USA, the RAAF should form seven squadrons of Liberator heavy bombers. This would also allow the US Army Air Force's 380th Bombardment Group to move from the Northern Territory to New Guinea.
Due to the withdrawal from New Guinea of Nos 21, 23 and 24 Squadrons equipped with Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers, it was decided that these squadrons should be re-equipped first. RAAF aircrews were trained and flew operationally with the 380th Bombardment Group prior to the arrival of the first nine Liberators for the RAAF in February 1944.
The first aircraft equipped No 7 Operational Training Unit at Tocumwal, NSW, followed by No 24 Squadron shortly afterwards. Delivery delays meant that No 21 Squadron was not operational until January 1945, and No 23 Squadron three months after that. No 24 Squadron began operations from its base in Katherine in the Northern Territory, later moving to Fenton to join Nos 21 and 23 Squadrons to form No 82 (Bomber) Wing. These three squadrons played a decisive role in the last months of the war, particularly in the Borneo campaign.
Other RAAF operational units flying the Liberator were Nos 12 (based at Darwin), 99 (Leyburn, Queensland), 25 (Cunderdin, Western Australia) and 102 (Cecil Downs, Queensland) Squadrons. In addition, Nos 200 and 201 Flights flew the Liberator on covert and electronic surveillance missions.
After the war, the Liberator served only until 1948 when Australian-built Avro Lincolns replaced the type.
TECHNICAL DATA: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Eight to ten
Four 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp radial engines
Empty 17 237 kg (38 000 lb); Loaded 29 484 kg (65 000 lb)
Wingspan 33.53 m (110 ft 0 in); Length 20.47 m (76 ft 2 in); Height 5.48 m (18 ft 0 in).
Max speed 483 km/h (260 kt); Cruise 382 km/h (206 kt); Ceiling 28,000 ft (8,534 m); Range (3628 kg bomb load) 2478 km (1338 nm), Maximum 1,825 nm (3,379 km).