During this time, they accounted for five U-boats confirmed sunk and four damaged. With the end of the war, the Liberators in Coastal Command were replaced by the arguably inferior maritime patrol variant of the Avro Lancaster , the GR Mk 3. Three Liberators were initially converted to Liberator C. When the Liberator GR. Is were retired from No. AM was used to assess the Liberator B. It was then used for testing the Liberator GR. I being assigned to Squadron on 5 September AM was converted to Liberator GR.
In October , it was returned to Scottish Aviation for transport modifications to carry passengers and mail only. While attached to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment , AM was damaged on landing on 16 May and not repaired. I standard and assigned to Squadron.
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On 29 January it crashed due to the loss of two engines number 3 and 4 on approach to RAF Talbenny at the end of a flight from Africa. Among the 11 killed was Brigadier Vivian Dykes. In October , it was returned to Scottish Aviation for transport modifications — passengers and mail only — no cargo door installed and redesignated Liberator C. In June it was reassigned to Flt. AM was converted to Liberator C. Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article. Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed.
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Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Help us improve this article! Contact our editors with your feedback. Edit Mode. The first B missions were flown in September to Rouen, France.
Army B group to see combat from English bases. The 93rd went on to rack up an impressive combat record, including the lowest loss rate of any of the heavy-bomber groups that entered combat with the Eighth Air Force in In fact, the loss rate per sortie for the 93rd Bomb Group was lower than that of all but three of the B groups, two of which did not enter combat until mid The other did not enter combat until November 26, , more than a year after the 93rd flew its first mission.
For several weeks the 93rd was the only B group flying combat from English bases. But on November 7, , the 44th Bomb Group, which was actually the oldest B group in the Army, flew its first mission. Shortly after the 44th entered combat, three squadrons of the veteran 93rd were sent south in support of the North African campaign while the fourth was placed on a special assignment.
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The departure of the 93rd left the 44th alone in the skies over Occupied Europe, and their smaller numbers led their peers in Bs to take heavier note of their losses, just as had those who fought before them in Java, where the proportion of Bs to Bs was similar. Yet, in spite of the higher losses in the first few months of operations, the overall loss rate for the 44th Bomb Group was no higher than those of the B groups. In fact, they were lower at 3. The summer and early fall of were dark days for the Bs of the Eighth Air Force as they attempted deep-penetration raids into Germany without fighter escort.
This is the period that is most often addressed by the TV documentaries and literature about the bombing campaign in Europe. The British, however, had decided to change tactics after early experiences against the Third Reich. Due to heavy losses, the RAF elected to discontinue daylight operations and turned entirely to night-bombing operations. British military aviation leaders suggested that the Americans do likewise, but the Eighth Air Force leadership insisted on continuing daylight operations. The airplanes of the Regensburg force were to go on to North Africa.
When they got there, 24 bombers were missing, 17 of which had been shot down. Of the bombers that went to Schweinfurt, 36 failed to return—a total of 60 Bs had been lost in one day. Previously, the highest single-day loss had been 26 airplanes—all Bs—lost on June The terrible losses of August 17 were repeated on October 14 when a plane force of Bs went back to Schweinfurt and 60 failed to return. Sixty Bs were supposed to have gone to the target, but bad weather in their assembly area caused a mission scrub, though a small force from two groups went on to Germany to create a diversion for the Bs.
Losses in such numbers would be repeated among Eighth Air Force B formations a couple of times in early , though never to such a large extent among the Bs that flew alongside them. Throughout the summer of , Eighth Air Force B crews found themselves alone in the skies on the long—and treacherous—missions over Germany. In early June the two B groups that made up the entire Liberator strength of the Eighth at the time were taken off operations.
It was that very factor that had led the chief planners at Army Air Forces Headquarters in Washington, DC, to conclude that the B was the only type that could possibly fly what was to be the most dangerous and ambitious heavy-bomber mission of World War II. During the first week of June , the th Bomb Group arrived in England to bolster the two groups already there. Three weeks later, after several low-flying training missions over England, the three groups pulled up stakes for North Africa, leaving most of their ground echelons behind.
However, the real reason the Bs had gone to Africa was to attack the Ploesti, Romania, oil refineries in a daring low-level attack that put the crews in range of every weapon available to the German defenders, from 88mm antiaircraft guns to machine pistols, not to mention German and Romanian fighter aircraft.
3 Major Weaknesses of the B-24 Liberator
The August 1, , mission to Ploesti cost the Eighth Air Force groups 30 Bs out of on the plane mission, a loss rate just shy of 30 percent and considerably higher than the loss rates suffered by the Bs on the Regensburg and Schweinfurt missions. No less than 51 Eighth Air Force Bs were lost during the three months the three groups were in Africa, a loss of almost half of the airplanes in the groups. Ironically, the 44th sustained twice as many losses as the seemingly charmed 93rd. The skies were extremely hazardous for both types, and the Bs were getting their share of punishment from enemy fighters and flak.
What the B groups were not getting was publicity. While the world knew all about the great air battles over Germany being fought by the Bs, very little about the Bs was making its way into newsprint. Looking closely at these pictures, which have been republished in numerous books about the B and the Eighth Air Force, one who is familiar with airplanes and aerodynamics sees that much of the damage is confined to structural areas of the airplane that are not necessary for flight.
The huge stabilizer of the B presented a target for rounds that would miss the smaller tail of a B There is only one part of an airplane—any airplane—that is absolutely necessary for flight and that is the wing. This is one area in which the B possessed something of an advantage over the B The aerodynamics of the Flying Fortress stemmed from designs of the late s and early s, featuring a wide chord, the width of the wing from leading to trailing edge, and shorter span.
The B, on the other hand, incorporated a brand-new wing design that was on the very cutting edge of aviation technology in The strength of an airplane wing is in the spar, the piece of wood or metal around which the wing is constructed of ribs and stringers, then covered by a metal or fabric skin.
If the spar on the wing of the B was hit by flak or an explosive cannon round, it was likely to fail, sending the airplane into a spin toward the ground. However, if the spar on a B was hit, the results were the same. As with the huge vertical stabilizer, the wider wing of the B often resulted in hits in noncritical areas that missed the spar and would have passed harmlessly in space behind the slimmer wing of the B The empty weight of an airplane is the sum of the weight of the components used in its construction—including the ribs, spars, stringers, and longerons that form the wings, the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, and the fuselage.
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that there was more dead space in the huge airfoils of the B where hits could do little damage.
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The larger wings and vertical stabilizer of the B could take hits that did only superficial damage because they missed crucial components that would cause structural failure if they were damaged. One area in which the B and all models of the B were completely equal was in the power of their engines. Both the Flying Fortress and the Liberator were equipped with engines that were flat-rated at 1, shaft horsepower each at takeoff—for a total of 4, hp on an airplane with all engines running.
Yet, in spite of the heavier airframe of the B, it was considerably faster than comparable models of the B and carried a similar payload over longer distances and a considerably larger one on shorter legs. By the end of the war, the Army had increased the gross weight of the BG to the point that it could carry a bomb load almost as great as that carried by the BJ, but at a sacrifice in airspeed that made the Fortress more than 50 miles per hour slower at normal cruise speed. This was only true with light payloads and reduced fuel, though. James H. Doolittle wrote a letter to Army Air Forces chief of procurement General Barney Giles in which he expressed his preferences for the B over the B for his command.
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He wrote it at a time when the War Department was in the process of cutting back on aircraft production and was making the decision as to which types to continue in production. As the only combat commander at the numbered air-force level who favored Bs, Doolittle may very well have been concerned about replacements.
Within four months after the letter was sent to Washington, the last B to be built by Boeing rolled off the assembly line. Liberator production continued for several weeks after B production ceased, and was only suspended when it became apparent that the war would soon be over. Yet no preference was shown for Bs in the Fifteenth Air Force, where the proportion of Liberators to Forts was reversed from that of the Eighth in England. On an ironic note, losses among Fifteenth Air Force groups increased even while they decreased in the Eighth as Allied ground forces closed in on Germany. Which was the better airplane?
In reality, it is probably accurate to say that for the kind of war fought by the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces in Europe, there was really very little difference. Advocates of the superiority of the B are surprised to learn that their per-sortie overall loss rate was nearly half a percent higher among Eighth Air Force groups than that of their peers who flew Bs.
When comparing the number of sorties flown and losses sustained by the two types, the difference is even greater. Groups flying Bs flew Groups that operated both types flew 9. Most who look at these statistics quickly jump to the conclusion that the B losses were heavier because of the period in when they were going it alone on deep-penetration missions over Germany.
This theory is contradicted by the fact that Eighth Air Force B groups suffered losses that were even higher on a per-group basis than those of most B groups during the same time frame.