Seventy-four years ago today, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator took flight for the first time. Newer, more efficient and more versatile than the B-17 Flying Fortress, more Liberators were built than any other military aircraft in American history. In addition to being used as a heavy bomber, the B-24 also served as a long-range maritime patrol and transport aircraft.
Tricycle landing gear was a modern feature of the Liberator and the deep fuselage was designed so the 4-ton bomb-load could be stored vertically. Extensively used in the Pacific, Mediterranean, European and and China-Burma-India theaters, the Liberator’s most famous single mission was a daylight raid against the Romanian oilfields at Ploesti on August 1, 1943. Winston Churchill used a modified B-24 as his personal transport.
Based on available information there are still exhibiting 16 complete airframes. Two are in airworthy condition,40-2366 Diamond Lil (formerly Ol’ 927) operated by Commemorative Air Force (B-24/B-29 Squadron) and 44-44052 Witchcraft -owned by the Collings Foundation.12 airframes are exhibit in museums around the world or under restoration or in storage.