The Coleman Crew Plane (B-24J)
13th Air Force, 372nd Bomb Squadron, 307th Bomb Group
The Coleman Crew's B-24J (AAF Serial #44-40598) departed Mokerang Field, Los Negros (Bismarck Archipalago) the morning of June 25, 1944 with the ten crew members listed below. After dropping bombs on the airfield of the Japanese held island, the plane was attacked by a Japanese fighter and crashed 3-5 miles southeast of the southern tip of Yap Island.
According to records, the Coleman B-24J was delivered to the USAAF on 25 April 1944. It went to the Fourth Air Force Provisional Unit, Hamiliton AAF, CA on 7 May 1944 and departed the US on 22 May 1944 for assignment with the Thirteenth Air Force, China-Burma-India Theater of Operations. It was dropped from inventory as a combat loss on 30 June 1944.
PAT NOTE: Out of all the 18,000+ B-24's produced during WWII, only two are still flying. I was able to see both planes during the month of July 2005 and took the following pictures.
Pat Note: Thus far I can only locate 7 mission reports involving the Coleman crew starting on 23 April 1944 and ended with the 25 June 1944 shoot down. The Coleman crew flew a number of different planes including #863, #372, and #598. View Coleman Crew mission reportsConsolidated B-24 Liberator
History: Life for the B-24 heavy bomber began in 1939, when the U.S. Army Air Corps initiated a request for a new bomber designed to exceed the performance of the B-17. Consolidated Aircraft responded quickly with its proposal, labeled Consolidated Model 32 and, on March 30 of 1939, was awarded the contract. One day short of nine months later, on December 29, 1939, the first flight of the XB-24 bomber prototype took place.
Slightly smaller than the B-17, the turbosupercharger-equipped B-24 flew farther with a bigger bomb load than the much more publicized Boeing aircraft. Of seven service-test YB-24s, six were sent to the Royal Air Force (RAF) under the export designation LB-30A. Because they lacked turbosuperchargers and self-sealing fuel tanks, the RAF found them unsuitable for combat duty over Europe. Instead, they were stripped of their armament and put into service as transports on the Trans-Atlantic Return Ferry Service, which had been established to send air crews to Montreal to take delivery of American aircraft consigned to the British war effort.
Flying for the Army Air Corps as the B-24, and the U.S. Navy as the PB4Y-1, the plane also saw service in the Royal Air Force where it was known simply as the Liberator. There was also a transport version known as the C-87, one of which was Winston Churchill's personal aircraft, carrying him to historic meetings at Moscow and Casablanca, among other locations.
Before the last one was retired from Air Force service in 1953, the plane was produced in variations ranging through type M. The various model numbers were often the result of minor changes, like the relocation of internal equipment, but one major revision, the conversion of the standard Navy B-24 (PB4Y-1) to the PB4Y-2 Privateer, involved a significant rework that exchanged the familiar twin tail for a single tall tail fin and rudder combination. It also had a stretched forward fuselage that placed the pilot's compartment well in front of the un-turbocharged Pratt & Whitney R1830-94 Twin Wasp engines.
Among the features that distinguished the B-24 from the B-17 were its tricycle landing gear (the first installed in a heavy operational aircraft), the mid-mounted, high-lift Davis wing that achieved 20 percent less drag than conventional airfoils of the time, twin tail fins, oval-shaped engine cowlings necessitated by the mounting of turbosuperchargers, unique roll-up bomb bay doors that reduced drag considerably when open, and a fully retractable ventral machine gun turret. The B-24 was also the first to employ Hamilton hydromatic quick-feathering three-blade propellers.
While designed as a heavy bomber, the B-24 experienced more than 100 modifications and conversions for such assignments as photography, mine laying, and cargo hauling (including a C-109 fuel tanker version that flew "the Hump" to refuel B-29s operating out of forward bases in China). More than 18,000 B-24s were built during WWII, more than any other American aircraft. Given its abilities and "convert-abilities," the numbers make perfect sense. However, a postwar attempt to combine portions of the B-24 and PB4Y-2 with a new fuselage to create the Convair Model 39 airliner was not a commercial success, with only one prototype being built.
Of the many thousands of B-24s and derivatives built, only three remain airworthy, all in the United States. [History by Kevin Murphy]
Nicknames: Lib; Ford's Folly; Flying Boxcar; Liberator Express (C-87 variant); C-One-Oh-Boom (C-109 fuel-carrying variant); Lamp Lighter (PB4Y-2s dropping parachute flares in Korea).
Number Built: 18,000+
Number Still Airworthy: Three (Two B-24Js and one LB-30)
Text and photo's above courtesy of WarbirdAlley.com.
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