Monday, June 17, 2013

The Packing Crate that the B-17 came in..

One cannot resist including the picture above -- as inelegant as it was -- of one of the three most venerable heavy bombers the USAAF used during WWII. It is meant with reverence and no disrespect for an aircraft that was the office for some surprisingly famous Americans:
Major General Jimmy Stewart, Actor

George McGovern, U. S. Senator

James E. "Doc" Counsilman, Indiana University and U. S. Olympic swimming coach

Don Herbert, "Mr Wizard"

Robert Altman, Film Producer, Director

Walter Matthau, Actor name a few.
Often referred to as "The Packing crate for the B-17", the Liberator had some drawbacks but was a very solid aircraft:

Often compared with the better-known Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 was a more modern design with a higher top speed, greater range, and a heavier bomb load; however, it was also more difficult to fly, with heavy control forces and poor formation-flying characteristics. Popular opinion among aircrews and general staffs tended to favor the B-17's rugged qualities above all other considerations in the European Theater.[3] The placement of the B-24's fuel tanks throughout the upper fuselage and its lightweight construction, designed to increase range and optimize assembly line production, made the aircraft vulnerable to battle damage.[4] The B-24 was notorious among American aircrews for its tendency to catch fire. Moreover, its high fuselage-mounted "Davis wing" also meant it was dangerous to ditch or belly land, since the fuselage tended to break apart.[5] Nevertheless, the B-24 provided excellent service in a variety of roles thanks to its large payload and long range, and was the only bomber to operationally deploy the United States' first forerunner to precision-guided munitions during the war, the 1,000 lb. Azon guided bomb.

The B-24's most infamous mission was the low-level strike against the Ploiești oil fields, in Romania on 1 August 1943, which turned into a disaster because the enemy was underestimated, fully alerted and attackers disorganized.

The B-24 ended World War II as the most produced heavy bomber in history. At over 18,400 units,[6] half by Ford Motor Company, it still holds the distinction as the most-produced American military aircraft.
Despite stories to the contrary about our lack of preparedness for World War II, the Liberator was in full-scale production before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor as this video our AEO, 2LT Abrams, depicts:

And to conclude with one of the more famous -- and tragic -- clips of the B-24; the one where a bomb dropped by another B-24 in formation above accidentally takes off the wing and causes the crash and death of the aircrew: