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B-24 LIBERATOR UNITS of the Eighth Air Force. Unable to fly at the altitudes achievable with the B-17, the B-24 could fly faster and further with a much heavier bomb load than the B-17. Comprehensive pictorial history

Click to EnlargeThe first raid undertaken by the Liberator occurred on 9 October 1942 when the 93rd Bomb Group (BG) attacked Lille, in France. This group was followed across the Atlantic to England by the 44th BG, which was considered to be the AAF's first true Liberator unit. These two 'pioneer' groups remained the only B-24 operators 'in-theater' until late 1943, as other groups slated for the ETO were diverted to the Pacific. Eventually, a further 19 groups (usually consisting of three or four bomb squadrons) would see action with the Eighth. Although unable to fly at the rarefied altitudes achievable with the B-17, the B-24's ability to fly faster and further with a much heavier bomb load than the Boeing bomber made the Liberator the most sought after aircraft in the American inventory by late 1942. When it was all over, and there was no going back to change any part of what had happened, Americans who fought over the continent in the Liberator wondered how in God's name they had endured the sub-zero cold, flak, fighters and the fickle cruelties of modern industrial warfare which gave the average crewman, according to one official estimate, only a 70-30 chance of coming out alive. The B-24 Liberator was built in greater numbers than any other US warplane, yet its combat crews live, even today, in the shadow of the less plentiful, but better-known, B-17. Accounts of the 'Mighty Eighth' in Europe, and indeed many of the books and films that emerged from the greatest air campaign in history, often overlook the B-24, even though it was in action for as long as the Flying Fortress, and participated in just as many perilous daylight bombing missions. Twenty-one bomb groups saw action with the Eighth from 9 October 1942 through to VE-Day, operating both from airfields in the 'bomber triangle' in East Anglia, and North Africa. Providing an overview of Eighth AF B-24 operations, this volume is the second of four within this series chronicling the role of the Liberator in World War 2 100 B/W and 30 color profiles. 7" x 9"

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World War II
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