Overshadowed in the minds of the general public by Boeing's earlier B-17 (which, to be fair, was easier to handle and more tolerant of battle damage) Consolidated's B-24 was still critical to the USAAF's ability to strike at the heart of Germany. Despite being more complicated (and thus expensive) to build than the Fort, the Liberator was produced in larger numbers, and saw action on every front of the war.
B-24D Strawberry Bitch
A combat veteran of the North African fighting (serving with the 51 Bomb Squadron) the B-24D Strawberry Bitch was one of the few B-24s to remain in USAAF/USAF hands postwar; although many B-17s found use in secondary roles well into the 1950s, most Liberators were quickly cut up for scrap. Strawberry Bitch managed to evade the torch, and made the final Air Force B-24 flight in the spring of 1959 when it was ferried to Dayton in the spring of 1959. At present, this is the only intact and preserved B-24D, although there are partial airframes and wrecks still extant.
Prior to the B-24D, Liberator production had been limited to small quantities of prototypes and preproduction aircraft, numbering only a few dozen airframes. The B-24D was also the first really war-ready model, with the nearly useless tunnel gun being replaced by a Bendix (later Sperry) belly turret, with later block models having cheek guns added to boost forward firepower. over 2,600 B-24Ds were turned out, and the type was flown by the RAF as the Liberator III. A D-model was rebuilt after a crash as the prototype C-87 transport version, and others were reworked as C-109 fuel tankers to support B-29 operations in China.
The XR2Y-1 was built for the Navy, and intended as the prototype for a postwar commercial airliner, mating PB4Y-2 wings and tail to a new transport fuselage.
Color photo of a C-87 in flight. Flying September 1943 p.60
"Tougher Lib" Flying November 1943 p.45 Includes a close-up shot of an Emerson nose turret.
B-24J color cutaway drawing. Flying October 1945
Color profile: EW-configured Liberator B Mk.VI with black undersides and tail. RAF Yearbook 1984 p.65
Photos (2): B-24Ds of the Portuguese Aeronautica Militar, with faired over noses. Air International April 1989 p.201
Photo: B-24J N79428. Warbirds International May 2000 p.60
Photo: Scottish Aviation Liberator G-AHZR. Warbirds International October 2000 p.62
B-24A / LB-30 Diamond Lil walk around