, US WW2 B-24 Consolidated Liberator bomber 4.jpg
Unlike the B-17, the B-24 was designed to carry cargo, any cargo, but preferably bombs. It was not designed as a flying machine, but rather a flying receptacle. Perpendicular to the long, nearly straignt wing, a cavernous oblong box was attached, with two huge rudders to give it directional control. This was the B-24’s fuselage. Lose power on the wing’s engines and it became difficult to direct the 32 ton gross-loaded air frei er. One engine out was trouble, but trl and auto-pilot would hold the big bomber steady. Two out on one side … prepare for a wake. Both pilots with their feet jammed down on the rudder pedals, holding against the turning impulse, going downhill all the time, was often not enough. To hold a 8-24 with two out, one had to have the strength of a Frankenstein monster, and then some.
Nevertheless, the aircraft continued to serve and perform. As a patrol craft, long range transport and a bomber, it was probably the Air Force’s most versatile bird. Toward the end of WW II, when the later Liberators came out with ball bearing controls, the wheel and rudders turned feather light. Experience was also a great teacher and a good 8-24 pilot was the best. Maligned, short· changed and sold short, the “24” was still a tough old bird. She took punish· ment as well or better than her glamorous Boeing stablemate. Yet time ran out on the 8-24.
They make movies about the B-17. For the 8-24 there are only epitaphs, like that of the Lady Be Good, a luckless Liberator which went down in the Libyan Desert, with her crew, yet remained virtually intact, their tomb for over 16 years. Somewhere in that dusty saga lies the message and the truth about the “crate the 8-17 came in!” Over 18,000 Consolidated Liberators rolled off five production lines to become the most extensively produced aircraft in the history of the American aviation industry. The airplane bearing this unique claim readily metamorphosed throughout the Second World War, a fact which made its continued production feasible from 1939 to 1945·. In other words, a lot of jobs were found for the B-24, but its active life was a short one, and its employment was swiftly terminated.