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Consolidated B-24 Liberator - Warpaint No.96


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Consolidated B-24 Liberator

 

Warpaint Series No.96

 

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In 1934 the United States Army Air Corps (US AAC) issued a directive, known as 'Project A', for a design to be produced for a long-range heavy bomber, which would have a range of 5,000 miles (8,045km); at a speed of 200-250mph (320-400kph); with the ability to carry a bomb-load of 2,000lb (907Kg). This defined range was judged to be sufficient for the defence of the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Panama. The directive was issued to Boeing, Douglas and Martin aircraft companies for them to submit appropriate designs for selection.

Boeing produced a winning design in their Model 299, of which a prototype was built and flown in 1935 and designated YB-17. Boeing was awarded a contract to produce the aircraft, by then designated the B-17 and full production started in 1939 and had the claim to be the fastest and highest climbing bomber in the world at that time.

 

In 1938 the US AAC approached Consolidated Aircraft Company with the aim of getting this company to produce more of Boeing's B-17's under licence, thereby enhancing the production rate of these aircraft; however Consolidated had their own design for a very long range bomber using a new aerofoil type of wing, which had been previously patented for a seaplane, the Model 29. Consolidated was awarded the contract to design and build a test frame similar to the B-17 but after many design changes and adaptations the final prototype looked totally different and was designated the XB-24. Final acceptance, in the form of the YB-24 in 1939 led to the start of production of the B-24 version in 1941 and was supplied to both the US AAC and Britain from the outset and went on to become the world's most produced bomber - The Liberator.

 

 

The Book

 

 

Number 96 in Warpaint Books' series of aircraft titles, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator is considerably larger in content than most previous volumes; being 120 pages compared to the average 50 - 80 pages. The design continues with the longstanding and successful layout; which was originated by the late Alan W. Hall, of descriptive narratives detailing the history, advancements and variants that evolved, interspersed with good quality colour and black/white photographs, and illustrated with fine colour profile drawings professionally produced by Richard J. Caruana.

 

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The book, which has been excellently compiled by Ian White, starts with a typical introduction and explanation of the design history of the B-24 Liberator and this is complemented with black and white photographs of early design and production variants. Throughout the book there are tabulated information sheets, detailing aircraft serials and types; allocated formations and bases and also includes listings of aircraft allocated to British units with their serial numbers. There are other tables that include details of axis submarines sunk by AAC and USN Liberators and also some which were operated by Air Transport Command's civilian airlines.

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Another nice addition is the inclusion of colour maps, each showing operational areas with their base names and allocated units. Not only are the bomber units described, such as those of the US Eighth & Fifteenth Air Forces; RAF 100 Group and RAF Middle East etc., but also the B-24 variants which were used by RAF and Commonwealth maritime squadrons.

 

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The colour profile illustrations enhance the narrative and the illustrator is to be congratulated on deciphering the colours and markings which, for many, must have been interpreted from black and white wartime images.
 

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It is not just the B-24 that is fully described and illustrated in this fine volume but also its near sister the PB4Y-2 Privateer; the central vertical tail version operated by the US Navy & Coast Guard and which also saw service in the RAF as the Commando.

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The B-24 Liberator and PB4Y-2 Privateer also had a successful post-war life, both in military and civilian service; including BOAC and QANTAS. There are some nice photos of aircraft in civilian guise, both in black & white and colour, which are accompanied by small discriptives of their operating airlines; such as Scottish Airline Ltd; Hellenic Airlines; Ste de Transports Aeriens Alpes Provence and Flight Refuelling Ltd as examples.
 

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The penultimate section contains various in-detail photos including a walkaround of the Liberator at the RAF Museum at Cosford and show Liberator B.VI, serial KN751.

The final section consists of three pages of tables with listings of B-24 model kits; by scale, producer and version - plus decals and aftermarket products to enhance these kits. It is not clear whether these listings are of all kits, decals and aftermarket items that are currently available or a complete breakdown of what is and has been available but possibly now out of production.

At the end of the book there is a set of general arrangement plans to 1:72 scale. Obviously at this scale the plans need to be large and these are produced on a glossy, landscape format, double sided A2 sheet which is bound within the last page and the end cover. The image below shows part of a plan on one side produced on an A4 size sheet. As you can see this only shows a quarter of the whole plan and there are two of these. The only criticism here, which is a minor one, is of the binding of the plans into the book. This obviously prevents the plan from becoming detached from the book and lost, however - being so large and folded to fit, it is not possible to open up the plans without having to cut them from the book.
 

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Conclusion

 

This is another excellent book from the Warpaint publishers and is profusely covered throughout its 120 pages of historical data, photographs and profiles. The size of the book is to be applauded, with over 160 b/w & 27 colour photos; 26 datasheets; 37 full colour side-profiles on 6 pages; 6 maps and a large A2 size, two-sided set of plans on glossy heavy paper. All together this book should become an essential and major reference work on the B-24 Liberator and be kept near the modelling bench.

 

 

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Review sample courtesy of

 

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  • 1 year later...

There is a sub-chapter on photo-reconnaissance which includes a table of AAF serial numbers that were converted to F-7. There is also a black & white photo of F-7B Photo-Liberator, ex B-24M-35-CO 44-42452 but there does not appear to be a drawing of the F-7 although there are drawings of them pre-conversion; i.e. B-24M-CO.

Mike

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