B-24 with USAAF

Last revised August 20, 1999

The USAAF was not destined to receive the B-24 until the Royal Air Force had received the first few production examples, owing to the urgency of the British need. Only one of the seven service-test YB-24s was ever delivered to the USAAC. The remaining six were diverted to Great Britain. The last YB-24 (serial number 40-702) ended up being delivered to the USAAF. It had armor and self-sealing fuel tanks and was accepted by the Army in May of 1941. The USAAC YB-24 was later redesignated simply B-24 and spent its entire career with the Army Air Corps Ferry Command Training School.

The USAAF took delivery of its first B-24As in June of 1941. Only nine B-24As were actually delivered, all between June 16 and July 10, 1941. The serials were 40-2369/2377. The remainder of the B-24As on the original order were either diverted to Britain or were converted on the assembly line to later variants such as the B-24C and B-24D. The B-24A was generally similar to the RAF's Liberator I, except for its armament of six 0.5-inch machine guns plus twin 0.3-inch guns in the tail.

These aircraft were used by the USAAC in much the same role as the RAF used the LB-30A--primarily as long-range transports. The Ferry Command B-24s were painted in the early RAF-style camouflage of dark earth and dark green over black undersides. However, during this immediate pre-war era, these planes carried large American flags painted on the sides of their forward fuselages and on the top of the fuselage, hopefully indicative of neutrality should they enter a combat zone. Two B-24As (40-2373 and 40-2374) were used to transport the Harriman Mission to Moscow in September of 1941 via the United Kingdom. The last leg of the flight to Moscow involved a nonstop distance of 3150 miles, and from Moscow one of the USAAC B-24As continued on around the globe via the Middle East, India, Singapore, Darwin, Port Moresby, Wake Island, Hawaii, and back to Washington. The other B-24A returned to the USA via Cairo, Africa, the South Atlantic, and Brazil.

Two other USAAF B-24As had been earmarked for a secret spy flight over Japanese bases in the South Pacific while enroute to the Philippines. However, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor took place before this flight could be carried out. One of the B-24As (ser no 40-2371) earmarked for this flight was, in fact, destroyed on the ground at Hickham Field during the attack.

The Liberator II was the designation assigned to a version of the Liberator ordered for the RAF in 1941 directly from the Consolidated production line rather than being diverted from USAAC production orders. It was designed specifically for British requirements and had no direct USAAF counterpart. 165 were ordered under RAF serials AL503/AL667, but only 140 were actually built. They served with three Coastal and two Bomber Command squadrons. Immediatedly after Pearl Harbor, the USAAF requisitioned 75 of the Liberator IIs from the RAF order. For some reason, they were carried on USAAF rosters under the designation LB-30 (the original export designation for the Liberator) rather than as B-24, and they retained their RAF serial numbers.

Fifteen USAAF LB-30 bombers were deployed in Java in early 1942 to reinforce the B-17-equipped 19th Bombardment Group in a vain attempt to stem the Japanese advance. These USAAF LB-30s were hastily re-equipped with a Martin power turret armed with two 0.50-inch machine guns in the dorsal position behind the wing instead of the four-gun Boulton-Paul turret of the RAF version. The tail position was fitted with a pair of hand-held 0.50-inch machine guns mounted behind sliding doors. Single hand-held 0.50-inch machine guns were installed in the nose, ventral tunnel, and each waist position. The tunnel gun was located on the belly of the rear fuselage, and pointed in the aft direction. It was fired downward through the rear entrance hatch. Small scanning windows for the gun were located along the lower sides of the fuselage. The Dark Earth and Dark Green over Black camouflage scheme of the RAF was retained, but the roundels were painted over with USAAF insignia.

The Java-based LB-30s would be the first US-flown Liberators to see action. One was lost in a crash in the USA before delivery, another ditched en route, and a third was delayed as a result of damage incurred in an accident in the USA. Those Liberators which did reach the Java front participated in numerous attacks against Japanese targets in the Celebese, in Sumatra, and against shipping during the Japanese invasion of Bali. By late February, the position of Allied forces in Java had become untenable, and the surviving LB-30s were evacuated to Australia. Two LB-30s survived in Australia until 1944 after having been converted to C-87 transport configuration.

Another 17 LB-30s were equipped with Canadian-built radar and deployed to Latin America with the 6th Bombardment Group to provide defense for the Panama Canal. Three LB-30s were sent to Alaska to join the 28th Composite Group. These saw action against Japanese shipping during the Aleutian campaign.

Those LB-30s that were not used as bombers were converted as transports and were assigned to the 7th Air Force in the Pacific and used to ferry men and supplies. All of their armament was removed, and the transparent nose and tail positions were faired over. Windows were cut into the sides of the fuselage, and a cargo door was installed in the rear fuselage where the waist positions used to be.

46 of the requisitioned LB-30s saw active service with the USAAF, either as bombers or as transports. Of the remaining 29, six were lost in accidents during the first six weeks of their service, and 23 were eventually returned to the RAF.

The B-24C was the production breakdown aircraft used to finalize the production line for mass production of a fully-combat capable Liberator. The nine B-24Cs were delivered to the USAAF at the end of 1941. No B-24Cs were to see combat, all nine planes being used for crew training and various tests. They were redesignated RB-24C, where the R stood for "restricted from combat use". The B-24C was immediately followed off the line by the B-24D, the first fully combat-capable version.

The first B-24Ds to go abroad were the Liberators of the so-called Halverson Provisional Group (HALPRO), which consisted of 23 planes commanded by Col. Harry A. Halverson. The purpose of this group of picked aircrew was to begin bombing operations against Japan from bases in China in June of 1942. They were to fly to their Chinese bases by way of Africa, the Middle East, Iraq, and India. However, this force was held over in the Middle East to help defend against Rommel's advancing Afrika Korps. While there, the decision was made for the force to carry out a single raid against the Ploesti oil refineries in Rumania. Thirteen planes of the Halverson Detachment carried out the first Ploesti raid on June 11-12, 1942, which was also the first strategic attack of any significance of the war to be carried out by land-based aircraft of the USAAF. The Liberators took off from the RAF base at Fayid in Egypt and flew across the Mediterranean, Greece, and Bulgaria to reach Ploesti. Complete surprise was achieved, and the planes dropped their 4000-pound bombloads through cloud at 10,000 feet. Seven of the planes reached their intended base in Iraq, two landed in Syria, and four landed in Turkey, where they were interned. Unfortunately, the damage to Ploesti was minimal and the raid only succeeded in alerting the German High Command to the vulnerability of one of its primary fuel sources.

The Halverson Detachment never did reach China. After the first Ploesti raid, it remained in the Middle East to fight against Rommel, eventually being absorbed by the 1st Bomb Group in October of 1942.

Perhaps the most memorable mission flown by the Liberator was the August 1, 1943 raid on the oil refineries at Ploesti in Rumania. For this mission, the 44th, 93rd and 389th Bombardment Groups of the 8th AF were sent to Libya to join two other B-24D-equipped groups of the 9th Air Force, the 98th and 376th. A total of 177 B-24Ds from these five groups were assembled for the mission. The Ploesti target was over a thousand miles from the USAAF bases at Bengazi. Each plane would carry 3100 US gallons of fuel and 5000 pounds of bombs and incendiaries. The mission plan called for the entire flight to be carried out at extremely low level (50-300 feet) in order to avoid detection. An extra nose gun was provided for each lead aircraft, and the dorsal turrets were slightly modified to make it easier to fire the guns at targets on the ground. The radio operator and flight engineers were even given Thompson sub-machine guns to fire out the the waist position windows. The commander of the mission, General Lewis Brereton (who had been General Douglas MacArthur's air chief in the Philippines), warned his airmen to expect losses of 50 percent!

The force of 179 B-24Ds took off on August 1, 1943. Things began to go bad right from the start. The plane carrying the lead navigator for the mission suddenly spiraled out of control and fell into the sea, and the backup navigator's aircraft had to abort because of mechanical problems. Weather over Greece was worse than expected and forced the Liberators to break up their tight defensive formations. The lead force made a wrong turn over an incorrect Initial Point, sending it toward Bucharest. This threw the entire plan off, and made the second wave late over the target, losing the element of surprise. The flak over Ploesti was heavy and accurate. The Liberators were so low that their gunners often got into duels with antiaircraft crews on the ground. Smoke and fire from the exploding refinery complex blackened and scorched many of the Liberators that flew through it. Luftwaffe Bf 109 and Rumanian IAR-80A fighters were now alerted and made numerous successful attacks.

When it was all over, out of the original 179 B-24Ds that that had taken off, 14 had aborted, 43 had been shot down, 15 had been forced down at auxiliary fields, and eight had been forced to land in Turkey where they were interned. Only 99 had returned to base. Of these, 56 of them had some sort of major combat damage. Out of the seven refinery complexes targeted, two were heavily damage, two were put out of action for at least six months, two had only light damage, and one was not hit at all. Five Medals of Honor were awarded for heroism during the mission, three of them awarded posthumously.

It was to be in the Pacific Theatre where the Liberator was to be most widely used. The early LB-30s were replaced by the first B-24Ds to reach the Pacific in late 1942. By 1943, the Liberator had almost entirely replaced the B-17 Fortress as the primary long-range heavy bomber in the theatre. It reigned supreme in the Pacific until the arrival of the B-29 Superfortress in mid-1944.

The following outfits used B-24s:

Antisubmarine Command

The USAAF Antisubmarine Command was established in October of 1942 to deal with the U-boat threat. They flew such aircraft as Douglas B-18 Bolo, Boeing B-17 Fortress, North American B-25 Mitchell, Lockheed B-34 Ventura, North American O-47, Douglas A-20 Havoc, and Lockheed A-29 Hudson, and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator. Their theatre of operation was the north and Middle Atlantic from Newfoundland to Trinidad, from the Bay of Biscay to the approaches to North Africa. As part of a deal cut with the Navy, the USAAF Antisubmarine Command was disbanded on August 24, 1943, and many of its B-24s were turned over to the US Navy where they were redesignated PB4Y-1.

  • 34th Bombardment Group

    25th Antisubmarine Wing:

    1st, 2nd, 4th, 14th, 19th Antisubmarine Squadrons

  • 26th Antisubmarine Wing:

    15th Antisubmarine Squadron.

  • 1st Search Attack Group:

    2nd, 3rd, 4th Search Attack Squadrons

  • 479th Antisubmarine Group:

  • 480th Antisubmarine Group:

    13th Antisubmarine Squadron

Fifth Air Force:

Far East--Australia, New Guinea, Philippines Originally formed as the Philippine Department of the Air Force. Participated in halting the Japanese drive in Papua, recovery of New Guinea, and liberation of the Philippines.

  • 22nd Bombardment Group:

    Formed December 1939 at Mitchel field New York with B-18s and B-26s. Added B-25s to its inventory October 1943. Transitioned to B-24s at Nadzab, New Guinea in February 1944. Moved to Owi, Schouten Islands August 1944. Relocated to leyte November 1944 and Angaur November 1944. . Moved to Samar January 1945, Clark Field March 1945, to Okinawa August 1945 and returned to Luzon November 1945.

    2nd, 19th, 33rd, 408th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 43rd Bombardment Group:

    Formed November 1940 at Langley Field, Virginia with B-17s, B-18s, A-29s, and LB-30s. Based at Bangor, Maine where it flew some antisubmarine patrolos. Deployed to Southwest Pacific with B-17s in early 1942. Relocated to Port Moresby September 1942 and transitioned into B-24s between May and September 1943. Moved to Dobodura, New Guinea December 1943 and Nadzab, New Guinea March 1944. To Owi, Schouten Islands July 1944 and then to Leyte November 1944. To Clark Field March 1945, Le Shima July 1946, and then to Luzon December 1945 to April 1946.

    63rd, 64th, 65th, 403rd Bombardment Squadrons

  • 90th Bombardment Group

    Formed January 1942 at Key Field, Mississippi. At Iron Range, Australia November 1942. To Port Moresby February 1943. To Dobodura, New guinea December 1943, to Nadzab, New Guinea February 1944, and Biak in August 1944. To Jan Jose, Mindoro, January 1945. To Ie Shima August 1945 and Luzon December 1945.

    319th, 320th, 321st, 400th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 380th Bombardment Group

    Formed October 1942 at Davis Monthan Field, Arizona. To Fenton, Austrailia May 1943. Attached to RAAF until January 1945. Relocated to Darwin, Australia August 1944. To San Jose, Mindoro February 1945. To Okinawa August 1945 and to Luzon November 1945.

    528th, 529th, 530th 531st Bombardment Squadrons

  • 20th Combat Mapping Squadron

    Composite unit equipped with B-24s and F-7s from 1943 to 1946. Based at sydney, Australia. Moved to Port Moresby December 1943, Nadzab, New Guinea February 1944, to Biak September 1943 and Dulag, Leyte November 1944, Tacloban, Leyte january 1945, Jan Jose, Mindoro, February 1945. To Luzon May 1945, Okinawa August 1945, and to Yokota, Japan October 1945.

Sixth Air Force:

Control of USAAF operations in the Carribean. Primarily flew antisumbarine patrols over both the Carribean and Pacific. Had four bombardment groups assigned at various times, but only the 6th Bombardment Group had B-24s and LB-30s.

  • 6th Bombardment Group

    6th BG formed in 1973 and equipped with B-17s, B-18s, B-24s, LB-30s, and L-4Es after the beginning of the war. Based in the Canal Zone. Disbanded November 1943 but reconstituted in US where it trained in B-29s for Pacific operations, but an number of squadrons remained in the Canal Zone theatre and were assigned to VI Bomber Command.

    3rd, 25th, 29th, 74th, 395th, 397th Bombardment Squadrons

Seventh Air Force:

Initially formed in Hawaii in October of 1940. Operated primarily in Pacific Theatre. Total of four B-24 groups assigned to the 7th Air Force at various times.

  • 11th Bombardment Group

    Transferred from 13th Air Force. Reequipped with B-24s in April 1943. Moved to Funafuti November 1943. Moved to Tarawa January 1944, to Kwajalein April 1944, to Guam October 1944, to Okinawa July 1945.

    26th, 42nd, 98th and 431st Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 30th Bombardment Group

    Transitioned to B-24s October 1943. Based at Nanumea, Ellice Islands. Relocated to Abemama, Gilbert Islands January 1944. To Kwajalein March 1944. To Saipan August 1944. Inactivate Jun3 1946.

    27th, 38th, 392nd and 819th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 494th Bombardment Group

    Formed September 1943 at Wendover Field, Utah. Based at Anguar. To Okinawa June 1945. Inactivated January 1946.

    864th,865th, 866th, 867th Bombardment Squadron, 86th Reconnaissance Squadron

Eighth Air Force:

The Eighth Air Force was originally activated on February 1, 1942. It had the primary responsibility for the long-range bomber offensive against German-occupied Europe from bases in England. The first Liberator mission from England took place on October 9, 1942, a raid against steel and engineering works at Lille, France. Many initial raids were made against U-boat pens at Brest and St. Nazaire. These raids achieved only meager results as against the losses that were incurred, and were soon discontinued. At this time, the Luftwaffe changed from rear to frontal attacks, apparently having discovered the vulnerability of the Liberator (and the Fortress) to fighter attacks from the front.

At first, the few Liberators operated in mixed formations with the larger number of B-17s. Some were diverted to fly antisubmarine patrols in cooperation with RAF Coastal Command. Many 8th Air Force Liberators were diverted to North Africa to support Operation *TORCH*, leaving only a handful of Liberators operating from England.

Ultimately a total of twelve Liberator-equipped groups operated with the 8th Air Force. However, even at the height of the bomber campaign from Britain, the Liberators in the 8th AF were outnumbered by about four-to-one by the Fortress.

  • 25th Bombardment Group

    Formed July 17.1944 at Watton, UK. A composite group assigned with B-24s, B-17s, B-25s, B-26s, P-38s and L-5s. Flew weather reconnaissance missions. Both the 652nd and 653rd squadrons flew B-24s in 1944, but were subsequently replaced by B-17s. Inactivated September 1945.

    652nd, 653rd Bombardment Squadrons

  • 34th Bombardment Group

    Formed Nov 1940 at Langley Field, Virginia with B-17s. Transitioned to B-24s and went to Mendelsham, UK in April 1944. Transitioned to B-17s September 1944.

    4th, 7th 18th, 391st Bombardment Squadron

  • 44th Bombardment Group

    Flew U-boat patrols early 1942. To Cheddington, UK Aug 1942, but moved to Shipdam, UK Oct 1942. Temporarily deployed to Africa June 1943 and participated in Ploesti attack on August 1, 1943. Back to Uk in September 1943, but soon returned to Mediterranean. Returned to UK October 1943. Returned to US in May 1945. Transition to B-29s and moved to SAC March 1946. Inactivated July 1946.

    66th, 67th, 68th 506th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 93rd Bombardment Group

    Formed March 1942 at Barksdale Field, LA. Initially based at Alconbury, but move to Hardwick, UK Dec 1942. Returned to USA in May-June 1945

    328th, 329th, 330th, 331st Bombardment Squadrons

  • 389th Bombardment Group

    Formed December 1942 at Davis Monthan Field, Arizona. Based at Hethel, UK. Dispatched to Libya for Mediterranean operations. Participated in Ploesti attack on August 1, 1943. Returned to UK briefly, then back to Mediterranean. Returned to UK where it flew missions until the end of the war. Inactived Sept 1945.

    564th, 565th, 566th, and 567th Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 392nd Bombardment Group

    Formed Jan 1943 at Davis Monthan Field, AZ. Based at Wendling, UK. Inactivated September 1945.

    576th, 577th, 578th, 579th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 445th Bombardment Group

    Constituted March 1943 at Gowen Field, Idaho. Based at Tibenham, UK. Inactivated September 1945.

    700th, 701st, 702nd, 703rd Bombardment Squadrons

  • 446th Bombardment Group

    Formed March 1943 at Davis Monthan Field, AZ. Based at Flixton, UK. Inactivated August 1945.

    704th, 705th, 706th, 707th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 448th Bombardment Group

    Formed April 1943 at Gowen Field, Idaho. Based at Seething, UK. Transitioned to B-29s in August 1945 ans assigned to Strategic Air Command March 1946. Inactivated August 1946.

    712th, 713th, 714th, 715th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 453rd Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1942 at Wendover Field, Utah. Based at Old Buckenham, UK. Inactivated September 1945.

    732nd, 733rd, 734th, 735th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 458th Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1943 at Wendover Field Utah. Based at Horsham St. Faith, UK. Inactivated October 1945.

    752nd, 753rd, 754th, 755th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 466th Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1943 at Alamogordo, New Mexico. Based at Attlebridge, UK. Inactivated October 1945.

    784th, 758th, 786th, 787th Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 467th Bombardment Group

    Activated May 1943 at Wendover Field, Utah. Based at Rackheath, UK. Transitioned into B-17s and B-29s and assigned to Strategic Air Command. Inactivated August 1946.

    788th, 789th, 790th, 791st Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 482nd Bombardment Group

    Formed August 1943 at Alconbury, UK. Organized as composite pathfinder group. 812th and 813th squadrons equipped with B-17s, 814th equipped with B-24s. Inactivated September 1945.

    814th Bombardment Squadron

  • 486th Bombardment Group

    Activated September 1943 at McCook Field, Nebraska. Based at Sudbury, UK. Transitioned to B-17s in July 1944.

    832nd, 833rd, 834th, 835th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 487th Bombardment Group

    Activated September 1943 at Bruning AAFld, Nebraska. Based at Lavenham, UK. Transitioned to B-17s July 1944.

    836th, 837th, 838th, 839th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 489th Bombardment Group

    Constituted September 1943 at Wendover Field, Utah. Based at Halesworth, UK. Transitioned to B-29s. Inactivated October 1945.

    844th, 845th, 846th, 847th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 490th Bombardment Group

    Formed Sept 1944 at Salt Lake City, Utah. Based at Eye, UK. Transitioned to B-17s August 1944.

    848th, 849th, 850th, 851st Bombardment Squadrons

  • 491st Bombardment Group

    Activated at Davis Monthan Field, Arizona September 1943. Based at North Pickenham, UK. Inactivated September 1945.

    852nd, 853rd, 854th, 855th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 492nd Bombardment Group/801st Bombardment Group

    Constituted September 1943 at Alamogordo AAFld, New Mexico. Based at North Pickenham, UK. Transferred to Harrington to replace 801st Bombardment Group which had been performing special operations. Equipped with B-24s, A-26s, and Mosquitoes.

    856th, 857th, 858th, 859th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 493rd Bombardment Group

    Formed September 1943 at McCook Field, Nebraksa. Based at Debach, UK. Transitioned to B-17s September 1944.

    860th, 861st, 862nd, 863rd Bombardment Squadrons

Ninth Air Force

Mediterranean theatre until October 1943, then moved to England.

  • 98th Bombardment Group

    Formed January 1942 at MacDill Field. Deployed to Middle East July 1942, taking up residence in Palestine. Moved to Fayid, Egypt November 1942. Moved to Benina, Libya February 1943 and Herglia, Tunisia September 1943. Participated in August 1, 1943 Ploesti raid. To Twelfth Air Force November 1943.

    343rd, 344th, 345th, 415th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 93rd Bombardment Group

    Assigned to Eighth Air Force and deployed to Middle East in December 1942. Redeployed to Middle East in June 1943. Participated in August 1, 1943 attack on Ploesti. Returned to UK in October of 1943.

  • 44th Bombardment Group

    Deployed from England to the Middle East June 1943. Participated in August 1, 1943 Ploesti raid.

  • 389th Bombardment Group

    Assigned to Eighth Air Force and deployed to Middle East July 1943. Participated in August 1, 1943 Ploesti raid.

  • 376th Bombardment Group

    Transferred to Fifteenth Air Force November 1943

    512th, 513th, 514th, 515th Bombardment Squadrons

Tenth Air Force:

Constituted February 1942. Moved to India March-May 1942. China-Burma-India theatre

  • 24th Combat Mapping Squadron

    Activated July 1942 Colorado Springs, Colorado with F-7s. Deployed to India December 1943. Transitioned to F-13s and B-29s after the war and assigned to 313th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.

  • 7th Bombardment Group

    Initially equipped with B-17s, but reequipped with LB-30s and B-24s in early 1942.

    436th, 492nd, 493rd Bombardment Squadrons

Eleventh Air Force:

Formed February 1942. Based in Alaska.

  • 28th Composite Group

    Between 1940-1943, 3 pursuit squadrons and 5 bombardment squadrons were assigned to the 28th CG. Only two were equipped with Liberators. The 36th BS was reassigned to the 8th AF in the UK for Carpetbagger missions. The 404th BS operated B-24s between July 1942 and October 1945.

    36th and 404th Bombardment Squadrons

Twelfth Air Force

Constituted August 1942. Supported Operation TORCH. Mediterranean theatre The two B-24-equipped groups remained with the 12th Air Force until being transferred to the new Fifteenth Air Force in November 1943

  • 98th Bombardment Group

    Transferred from Ninth Air Force. Transferred to Fifteenth Air Force November 1943.

    343rd, 344th, 345th, 415th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 376th Bombardment Group

    512th, 513th, 514th, 515th Bombardment Squadrons

Thirteenth Air Force

Formed on December 14, 1942. Primarily South Pacific Theatre

  • 5th Bombardment Group

    Dates back to 1915. Transitioned from B-17s to B-24s August-December 1943. Moved to Munda, New Georgia Feb 1944, Momote Air field, Los Negros April 1944, Wadkt August 1944, Noemfoor September 1944, Morotai October 1944, Samar March 1945, and Clark Field Decembr 1945.

    23rd, 31st, 72nd, 394th Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 307th Bombardment Group

    First to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides then to Henderson Field, Guadalcanal February 1943. To Munda Airdrome, New Georgia January 1944. To Mokerang Airdrome, Los Negros April 1944. To Wadke Island August 1944. To Morotai November 1944 and Clark Field September 1945. Inactivated January 1946.

    370th, 371st, 372nd, 424th Bombardment Squadrons

Fourteenth Air Force

Formed out of the American Volunteer Group in March 1943. China-Burma-India Theatre:

  • 308th Bombardment Group

    Activated January 1942 at Gowen Field, Idaho. Based in China and India.

    373rd, 374th, 375th, 425th Bombardment Squadrons

Fifteenth Air Force

Activated in Tunisia on November 1, 1943. Primarily involved in Mediterranean theatre of operations. Had six B-17 and 15 B-24 groups, plus seven fighter groups. Bombing raids against targets in Italy, then took part in raids on Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Rumania from bases in Italy. Supported the invasion of southern France.

  • 98th Bombardment Group

    Previously served with both the Ninth and Twelfth Air Forces before being assigned to the Fifteenth Air Force in November 1943. Based at Herglia, Tunisia from September 1943, move to Brindisi, Italy November 1943, Manduria, Italy December 1943 and Lecee Italy January 1944 until end of the war. Inactivated November 1945.

    343rd, 344th, 345th, 415th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 376th Bombardment Group

    Previously served with the Ninth and Twelfth Air forces before being assigned to th Fifteenth Air Force November 1943. Located at Enfidaville, Tunisia from September 1943. Movet to San Pancrazio, Italy November 1943 where it remained until the end of the war. Inactived November 1945.

    512th, 513th, 514th, 515th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 449th Bombardment Group

    Activated at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona May 1943. Deployed to Grottaglie, Italy January 1944 and remained there until the end of the war. Inactivated August 1946.

    716th, 717th, 718th, 719th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 450th Bombardment Group

    Formed April 1943 at Gowen Field, Idaho. Deployed at Manduria, Italy December 1943 until the end of the war. Inactivated October 1945.

    720th, 721st, 722nd, 723rd Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 451st Bombardment Group

    Formed at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona April 1943. Arrived at Gioia del Colle, Italy January 1944, then to San Pancrazio, Italy March 1944, to Castelluccio, Italy April 1944. Inactivated September 1945.

    724th, 725th, 726th, 727th Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 454th Bombardment Group

    Constituted May 1943 at Alamogordo AAFld, New Mexico. Stationed at San Giovanni, Italy December 1943 July 1945. Inactivated October 1945.

    736th, 737th, 738th, 739th Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 455th Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1943 at Alamogordo AAFld, New Mexico. Based at San Giovanni, Italy. Inactivated September 1945.

    740th, 741st, 742nd, 743rd Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 456th Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1943 at Wendover Field, Utah. Based at Cerignola, Italy. Inactivated October 1945.

    744th, 745th, 746th, 747th Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 459th Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1943 at Alamogordo, New Mexico. Based at Giulia, Italy. Inactivated August 1945.

    756th, 757th, 758th, 759th Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 460th Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1943 at Alamogordo AAFld, New Mexico. Based at Spanazzola, Itay. Inactivated September 1945.

    760th, 761st, 762nd, 763rd Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 461st Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1943 at Wendover Field, Utah. Based at Torretto Airfield, Italy. Inactivated August 1945.

    764th, 765th, 766th, 767th Bombardment Squadrons.

  • 464th Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1943 at Wendover Field, Utah. Arrived at Pantanella Airfield, Italy March 1944, move to Gioia, Italy April 1944, then returned to Pantanella June 1944. Inactivated July 1945.

    776th, 777th, 778th, 779th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 465th Bombardment Group

    Formed May 1943 at Alamogordo AAFld, New Mexico. Based at Pantanella airfield, Itay April 1944 until the end of the war. Inactivated July 1945.

    780th, 781st, 782nd, 783rd Bombardment Squadrons

  • 484th Bombardment Squadron

    Formed September 1943 at Harvard AFld, Nebraska. Based at Torretto Airfield, Italy April 1944 until the end of the war. Inactivated July 1945.

    824th, 825th, 826th, 827th Bombardment Squadrons

  • 485th Bombardment Group

    Formed September 1943 at Fairmont AAFld, Nebraska. Based at Venosa, Italy April 1944 until end of the war. Reequipped with B-29s August 1945. Inactivated August 1946.

    828th, 829th, 830th, 831st Bombardment Squadron

  • 15th Special Group (Provisional)

    Redesignated 2641st Special Group (Provisional). 859th BS flew Carpetbagger operations out of England until september 1944, then sent to MTO. 859th Bs stationed at Brindisi, Italy and attached to 15th Special Group. 885th Bs was initially known as 122nd BS and assigned to 68th Reconnaissance Group operating B-17s in the MTO. Assigned to 15th Air Force in June 1944 and the 885th was assigned to the 15th Special Group in January 1945.

    859th, 885th Squadrons.

Twentieth Air Force:

Constituted April 1944. Primarily equipped with B-29s but there were two reconnaissance squadrons equipped with B-24s and F-7s that were stationed on the Marianas in the South Pacific theatre

  • 3rd Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron

    Arrived in Saipan September 1944 and assigned to 311th Photographic Wing and attached to 20th Air Force November 1944. Flew photographic, electronic, and weather reconnaissance missions in Western Pacific between November 1944 and September 1945.

  • 655th Bombardment Squadron/55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron

    Initially assigned to 3rd Air Force August 1944. Deployed to Guam in December 1944. Redesignated 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron Jun 1945. Inactivated April 1946.

Following the end of the Second World War, the Liberator was rapidly withdrawn from USAAF service. Literally thousands of Liberators were flown to various disposal units where they were cut up for scrap. Some brand-new B-24Ms were flown directly from the factory door to the scrapyards. Only a few Liberators were still around when the USAF was formed in 1947, most of them being used for various research purposes. The last USAF Liberator, an EZB-24M serial number 44-51228 used for ice research, was struck off the rolls in 1953. This plane is now on display at Lackland AFB in Texas.

A lot of you have questions about relatives or friends who flew in B-24s during the war. There is a good website which gives lots more information on B-24 squadron assignments than is listed here. It is known as Heavy Bombers. They also have indexes to web sites operated by veterans which point to information about specific planes and specific squadron histories and perhaps pointers to specific veterans themselves. Go and check it out!


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

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

  3. The Consolidated B-24J Liberator, Roger A. Freeman, Profile Publications, Inc. 1969.

  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.