B-24D for Australia

Last revised August 2, 1999






In late 1942, the Australian government began to explore the possibility of manufacturing heavy bombers in Australia to equip the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The Liberator, by virtue of its excellent long-range characteristics, was a natural choice for the large distances that would be encountered by the RAAF in the Pacific theatre of operations.

However, at an early date it was deemed infeasible to manufacture the Liberator under license in Australia since it was already under production in several plants in the USA. Instead, the Avro Lancaster was chosen for Australian production. The war ended before such production could get under way, but 73 examples of the improved Lincoln version were built in Australia starting in 1946.

Although Australia had opted not to manufacture the Liberator, in late 1943, General George C. Kenney, the commander of Allied Air Forces in the South West Pacific Area, recommended that the RAAF form seven Liberator squadrons. The aircraft would be acquired from USAAF stocks, and the USAAF would assist the RAAF with both the procurement of the aircraft and the training of the crews. The RAAF personnel would be temporarily attached to the US Fifth Air Force while they gained experience in Liberator operations.

The first Liberators to be obtained by Australia were ex-USAAF B-24Ds. In February of 1944, twelve B-24Ds were obtained second-hand from USAAF stocks and delivered to Australia. They were assigned the RAAF serials A71-1 through 12. By this time, the B-24D was well past its prime, and was deemed suitable only for operational training, pending the arrival of more capable Liberator versions. These B-24Ds were assigned to No 7 Operational Training Unit based at Tocumwal, Victoria to carry out heavy bomber operational training for air crews. They served there until 1945. None ever saw any combat, and this unit was disbanded at the end of the war. A couple of RAAF B-24Ds lasted as late as 1952, when the last examples were finally struck off charge.

The definitive Liberators for RAAF service were to be the B-24J, L, and M versions, the first of which was delivered in May of 1944.

Serials of RAAF B-24Ds

RAAF serials 	USAAF designation 	USAAF Serials 

A72-1 		B-24D-CO 		41-11904 
A72-2 		B-24D-1-CO 		41-23720 
A72-3 		B-24D-20-CO 		41-24108 
A72-4 		B-24D-65-CO 		42-40489 
A72-5 		B-24D-65-CO 		42-40512 
A72-6 		B-24D-65-CO 		42-40522 
A72-7 		B-24D-15-CO 		41-24070 
A72-8 		B-24D-25-CO 		41-24290 
A72-9 		B-24D-CO 		41-11868 
A72-10 		B-24D-20-CO 		41-24127 
A72-11 		B-24D-65-CO 		41-40514 
A72-12 		B-24D-135-CO 		42-41132 

Sources:

  1. Famous Bombers of the Second World War, William Green, Doubleday, 1959.

  2. British Military Aircraft Serials, 1912-1969, Bruce Robertson, Ian Allen, 1969.

  3. Liberator: America's Global Bomber, Alwyn T. Lloyd, Pictorial Histories Publishing Co, Inc, 1993.

  4. B-24 Liberator in Action, Larry Davis, Squadron/Signal Publications Inc, 1987.

  5. General Dynamics Aircraft and Their Predecesssors, John Wegg, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  6. Consolidated B-24D-M Liberator IN USAAF-RAF-RAAF-MLD-IAF-CzechAF and CNAF Service, Ernest R. McDowell, Arco, 1970.

  7. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  8. American Combat Planes, 3rd Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  9. Jane's American Fighting Aircraft of the 20th Century, Michael J.H. Taylor, Mallard Press.

  10. Boston, Mitchell & Liberator in Australian Service, Stewart Wilson, Aerospace Publications, 1992.