Convair/Ford B-24M Liberator

Last revised October 10, 2004

The B-24M was the last large-scale production version of the Liberator. It standardized on a lightweight version of the the Consolidated A-6B tail turret which replaced the hand-held tail guns that had been fitted to the B-24L. Apart from the new tail turret, the B-24M differed little from the earlier versions of the Liberator starting with the B-24G.

The first B-24Ms were delivered in October of 1944. Convair/San Diego built 916 B-24Ms and Ford/Willow Run built 1677. From Block 20 onward, the pilot's canopy was completely reworked, which greatly improved visibility from the flight deck.

The end of the war in Europe brought a rapid end to Liberator production. The Liberator contract was officially terminated in June of 1945. The last B-24M rolled off the line at Convair/San Diego in that month, bringing Liberator production at that plant to an end. Ford had switched over to the single-tailed B-24N in May of 1945. with 124 Ford-built B-24Ms being cancelled before delivery.

By this time in the war, the B-29 was doing most of the long-range bombing work in the Pacific, and the Liberators being produced at this late date were not really needed. Many of the B-24M Liberators were consigned to storage immediately after they were built. Some brand new B-24Ms that were manufactured after the June contract termination date were flown directly from the factory door to the Kingman Scrap Center.

Numerous B-24Ms were delivered to the US Navy as PB4Y-1s. Others were delivered to Allied air forces under the terms of Lend-Lease.

After the war, B-24M-20-FO serial number 44-51228 was assigned to the Wright Aeronautical Development Center for ice research. It was stripped of armament, and nose and tail gunner positions were faired over. The words ICE RESEARCH were painted in big letters on the fuselage. A variety of probes were tested to study the effects of icing and to explore methods for deicing. This plane was later modified by the Aeronautical Research Laboratory to test the deicing capabilities of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet wing, and it was redesignated EZB-24M. This B-24M aircraft remained on Air Force rolls until 1953, when it was finally retired. For a time, it was on display at Lackland AFB in Texas, with the armament and gunner positions restored. It is currently at the American Museum at Duxford, England painted as 44-50492, a B-24M that was assigned to the 392nd BG, 578th BS.

B-24M 44-41986 was used by the NACA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio for testing of the effects of icing on jet engines and on antenna and radomes. In one such test, in 1946 the plane was modified with a General Electric I-16 jet engine in the waist compartment, with a large air scoop built on top of the fuselage and the exhaust exiting at the former tail-gunner's position. A set of spray masts mounted aft of the cockpit controlled the water ingestion into the engine.

B-24M-5-CO 44-41916 (or one marked as such) is on display at Castle AFB in California. The Castle Museum website reports that this plane is a former PB4Y-1 BuNo 90155, but records indicate that 90155 was actually ex-USAAF 44-41906. 44-41916 corresponds to BuNo 90165.

Serials of B-24M Liberator:

44-41807/41848		Consolidated B-24M-1-CO Liberator
44-41849/41948		Consolidated B-24M-5-CO Liberator
44-41949/42048		Consolidated B-24M-10-CO Liberator
44-42049/42148		Consolidated B-24M-15-CO Liberator
44-42149/42248		Consolidated B-24M-20-CO Liberator
44-42249/42348		Consolidated B-24M-25-CO Liberator
44-42349/42448		Consolidated B-24M-30-CO Liberator
44-42449/42548		Consolidated B-24M-35-CO Liberator
44-42549/42648		Consolidated B-24M-40-CO Liberator
44-42649/42722		Consolidated B-24M-45-CO Liberator
44-50252/50451		Ford B-24M-1-FO Liberator
44-50452/50651		Ford B-24M-5-FO Liberator
44-50652/50851		Ford B-24M-10-FO Liberator
44-50852/51051		Ford B-24M-15-FO Liberator
44-51052/51251		Ford B-24M-20-FO Liberator
44-51252/51451		Ford B-24M-25-FO Liberator
44-51452/51928		Ford B-24M-30-FO Liberator
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  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. The Consolidated B-24J Liberator, Roger A. Freeman, Profile Publications, Inc. 1969.

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

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

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

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

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