Wednesday, October 24, 2007

B-24 / LB-30 Diamond Lil walk around

The oldest flying (maybe oldest surviving?) Liberator, Diamond Lil was the 18th production B-24A, but was diverted to an RAF order as LB-30 AM927. A crash on a delivery flight meant that Lil would never serve with the British, although it retained its UK serial number after being rebuilt as a transport for the USAAF. Postwar, it flew in civilian colors with The Continental Can Company and later Pemex before being bought by the Confederate Air Force in the late 1960s. It was recently modified to more resemble a standard B-24A with nose, waist and tail guns.


Picture showing the underside of a B-24A nacelle

Underside of B-24 engine photo
Underside of B-24 engine

B-24 walk around photos - main gear detail
B-24 main gear


B-24 Liberator tail detail photo
N24927 tail before being refitted with tail guns


The RAF received a half-dozen LB-30As that were later stripped of armament and used as transports, as these aircraft lacked the self-sealing fuel tanks that were vital in combat. The twenty LB-30Bs had this feature, and were used to good effect by Coastal Command, having the range to go after U-boats far out into the Atlantic.

LB-30 AL504 was given a VIP interior for Winston Churchill's personal use, and was subsequently reworked with a PB4Y-2 type tail and stretched fuselage.

LB-30s helped carry out some of the first American heavy bomber missions of World War II, a dozen aircraft having been rushed to the Pacific in an attempt to assist forces in the Philippines. Too late to take part in that campaign, the 11th Bomb Squadron of the 7th Bomb Group (Heavy) fought on Java, but this was only a holding action, and by March 1942 the few surviving aircraft had been withdrawn.

Report on the loss of LB-30 AL589 near Midway; this aircraft was piloted by Major general Clarence Tinker, for whom Tinker AFB is named.


1/50 scale LB-30 paper model


B-24 Liberator bibliography:

Martin W. Bowman "To Hell and Back" (Ploesti Raid)  Air Classics March 1994  p.62-75  10+ photos, including B-24D Jerks Natural (color), Boomerang nose art (color), Buzzin' Bear nose art, B-24D 42-63960 of the 398th BG.
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