The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was built in more numbers than any other American aircraft and flew in both European and Pacific theatres of operation. Both loved and hated by its crews and never quite as glamorous as the B-17, in some eyes, the B-24 was a workhorse that got the job done. Much harder to keep in the air, especially if the Davis Wing was damaged, than other bombers. It was stated more than once that “it took a fair pilot to fly a B-17 well, but it took an excellent pilot to fly a B-24 well.” Possibly said by B-24 pilots but having read this book it certainly seams that this could well be the case. Often crews of equipment during war would, and still do, make up rhymes about their charges. These rhymes can say a lot about how the crews felt about the tools provided for the job they had to do, the book begins with this:
Oh why did I join the Air Force?
Mother, dear mother, knew best,
For here I lie under the wreckage,
Liberator all over my chest.
The liberator is a very fine airplane
Constructed of paper and wood,
It’s okay for carrying whiskey,
But for combat, it’s no darn good.
As stated in the books introduction, “But it’s not the purpose of this publication to stand in judgement of the B-24 Liberator, but instead to examine her design and review her magnificent accomplishments in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres.
inside the cover
From a modellers point of view I think that this book is one of those that “fills in the knowledge” about the subject, rather than gives pure modelling information. Although there are some very nice period photographs, mainly of the B-24 on missions, but there is a few in factory, crash and damage shots. These help the purpose of the book very well, as you do get some sense of what it must have been like to fly these very tough missions.
The 64 pages are divided into 4 sections; the first section deals with how this bomber flew; field modifications; production; and foreign use. We learn how the Liberator required more skill to get into the air and to keep it there. How the engines remained a problem, throughout the planes entire career and that formation flying presented the ultimate challenge. As previously stated the wing became a problem if it took any damage, particularly on the leading edge. A couple of pages are devoted to explain the various models of the B-24. Then an even shorter piece on how a Tail turret was first used to “up gun” the nose of a B-24G. In this short section is an interesting description of the B-24 used to secretly deliver supplies to the resistance in France, code named CARPETBAGGER, where the planes were painted in a special black finish that would hide the plane if caught in searchlights. Other secret missions, called APHRODITE sent explosive packed, radio controlled Liberators towards targets in Germany. Liberator production comes next with some nice pictures of Liberators under construction and then the section finishes with a short piece about foreign Liberators.
The two main sections come next, with the first of the two and, by far the largest, dealing with the European war. The section is split into; 9th Airforce; 15th Air Force and 8th Air force. Using many period photographs, with good captions and descriptions of missions this is how the book does what it set out to do, helped along the way by some recollections from some of those that were there. This European War section contains the side profile colour plates, 33 in all spread over 8 pages. It is always a pity when these colour profiles do not include the markings in kits, especially when there is only one 1/48 kit on the market. To its credit this book does have “Strawberry Bitch” but not “Moby Dick” as in the Monogram Kit. Another disappointment is that there are no colour explanations, because there are several different shades of green depicted within the profiles (not variously faded olive drab). Of course non modellers wont care but as a modeller I do.
The second main section is titled “Rising Sun Operations” and deals with the; 6th; 11th; 10th; 14th; 5th; 13th; and 7th Air Forces plus “Other Pacific B-24 missions. This shorter section invariably has less to say about each Air Force unit but nevertheless quite interesting.
The final section deals with “Final Disposition” where the photograph of hundreds of B-24s and B17s, nose to tail and wing tip to wing tip at Walnut ridge, waiting to be scrapped, tells the story.
As mentioned before this book has some very interesting pictures, these include the “lady be good”, lost for years in the desert, tragic and well known shots of B-24s fatally hit by flak, assembly ships and the Ploesti raids. I think it achieves its aim to “review her magnificent accomplishments” within the confines of 64 pages because, clearly to really do this much justice would take a book of many more pages and a much heftier price tag. That sort of leads me to my one gripe about this book, one of this size is aimed at what market? If it is the modeller then more info about the colour plates and a 4 view drawing would be good, if not for the modeller then I honestly wouldn’t know what is required. Overall though this is a very nice book to give the builder of model kits of the Liberator, some very good background information and is recommended.
Thank you to MMD-Squadron for kindly supplying the review sample.
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