Early Liberator aircraft in RAF service.

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Peter Clare, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Over the years I have obtained a few photographs of the early Liberator aircraft and thought I’d post a few here with a very brief history of each aircraft.

    But first, a couple of historical facts involving the British in the development of the Liberator.

    ………………………………..

    The Liberator got its name in an unusual way. The name was suggested by the governess of Major Reuben Fleet’s (Chairman of Consolidated Aircraft) children, her name was Miss Edith Brocklebank. She was British.

    Consequently, on 25 October 1940 Air Commodore B G A. Parker of the British Purchasing Commission had written to Major Fleet to ask what name Consolidated had given to the bombers that they would soon start delivering to them. In his reply dated 28 October 1940, Fleet stated the name was ‘Consolidated Liberator’ adding, “We chose Liberator because this airplane can carry destruction to the heart of the Hun, and thus help you and us to liberate those nations temporarily finding themselves under Hitler’s yoke”

    …………………………………

    No.120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command officially began operations on 20 September 1941 when Flt/Lt. S.J. Harrison and crew in Liberator AM924. D/120 flew an anti-submarine patrol, accompanied by the Commanding Officer, Wg/Cdr. McBratney.


    This was the first time a Liberator had been flown under operational conditions.

    …………………………………

    120 Squadrons first action came on 4 October 1941 when Fg /Off. T. Llewellyn and crew took off from Nutts Corner at 08:13 hrs flying Liberator AM924. D/120, they were tasked with the anti-submarine escort of convoy OG.75 some 500 miles west of Ireland. A search was carried out for submarines, which had been reported by the Senior Naval officer of the convoy. While carrying out this search a F/W Condor was sighted about one mile away to starboard. The Liberator gave chase, flying at a height of 600ft and was overhauling the Condor at a rate of 35 knots, when at a range of 800yds fire was opened with the front 20mm canons, 184 shells being fired. The Condor turned to starboard into cloud and D/120 turned to port to intercept, when the enemy aircraft came out of the cloud it was 200ft above the Liberator whose rear gunner fired, but he was hampered by the tail fin, the starboard side guns managed to get in a burst of fire at 600yds. The Condor then dived to 300ft but the chase had to be abandoned as the Liberator had received two hits in the engagement and the inner starboard engine had to be feathered. D/120 landed safely back at base at 18:00 hrs.

    The first time a Liberator was involved in military action of any kind.
     
  2. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM258.

    Ex 40-696

    Arrived UK 4 May 1941.

    Served
    BOAC
    Return Ferry Service.

    Crashed on take-off from Prestwick on test flight 13 September 1943 due to engine failure and damaged by fire.
     
  3. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    Liberator AM259.

    Ex 40-697.

    Arrived UK 14 March 1941.

    This was the first Liberator to land in the UK and the first four engine land plane to make a transatlantic crossing.

    Photograph taken Squires Gate 14 March 1941.

    Served:
    BOAC as G-AGCD.
    Return Ferry Service.
    45 Group Communications Squadron.

    SOC at Dorval 7 November 1945.
     
  4. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM263

    Ex 40-701

    Arrived UK 1 June 1941

    Served
    BOAC
    Return Ferry Service

    The breaks failed at Lagens on 30 November 1944 which led to a collision with Dakota FZ637. Categorised Beyond Economic Repair 13 December 1944 and reduced to spares.

    SOC 1 January 1947.
     
  5. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM910

    Ex 40-2349

    Type. LB.30B

    Arrived UK 7 April 1941.

    The first LB.30B to be delivered to the UK and so became the trial installation machine for the definitive Coastal Command Liberator I. Crashed on landing at Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland 13 December 1944 and reduced to spares.

    Served.
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command.

    SOC 1 January 1947.
     
  6. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM911

    Ex 40-2350

    Arrived UK 16 May 1941.

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command (Crew training)
    1425 Flight.
    511 Squadron.

    Engine caught fire on take-off from Gibraltar on 23 May 1943, crash landed, undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft was damaged by fire.

    SOC 2 July 1943
     
  7. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM916

    EX 40-2355

    Arrived UK 11 May 1941

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command.

    Went on charge with 120 Squadron on 17 December 1941 and stayed with the Squadron until coming off operations in 1944.
    Sold to Scottish Aviation Ltd 19 September 1946. Sold for scrap in March 1952 for the sum of £20
     
  8. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM917

    Ex 40-2356

    Arrived UK 15 May 1941

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command.

    Went on charge with 120 Squadron on 8 December 1941 seeing much service until withdrawn from use and flown to 51 MU at Lichfield on 14 November 1944. Sold as scrap 12 March 1947

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    Flight Deck AM917
     
  9. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM922.

    Ex 40-2361

    Arrived UK 24 May 1941

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command (unarmed for crew training)
    1425 Flight
    511 Squadron.

    SOC 21 June 1947
     
  10. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM923

    Ex 40-2360

    Arrived UK 28 May 1941

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command.

    Joined 120 Squadron on 12 October 1941 and survived an accident on 18 October 1943 when she undershot a landing at Reykjavik. Withdrawn from service on 13 December 1944

    SOC 21 June 1947
     
  11. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM924

    Ex 40-2363

    Arrived UK 29 May 1941

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command

    Went on charge with 120 Squadron on 23 August 1941 serving with this unit until 28 May 1942 when she was lost while on patrol off the coast of Norway
    AM924 had completed less that 450 hours flying.
     
  12. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM926

    Ex 40-2365

    Arrived UK 29 May 1941

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command.

    Taken on charge by 120 Squadron on 13 September 1941.
    On 10 December 1941 AM926 F/120 was airborne at Dyce on a transit flight to Nutts Corner when at about 1830 hrs the aircraft crashed in the Ochil Hills near Alva, Scotland, all five crew being killed.
     
  13. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM928

    Ex 40-2367

    Arrived UK 2 June 1941

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command

    Went on charge with 120 Squadron on 7 August 1941 being the first completely fitted operational Liberator I aircraft.
    AM928 served for some six months until on 27 May 1942 when she undershot a landing and crashed into sand dunes at Stornoway, she was transferred to 63 MU for repairs but was eventually struck off charge on 22 June 1942.
     
  14. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

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    AM929

    Ex 40-2368

    Arrived UK 20 August 1941

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command

    AM929 remained with 120 Squadron until 1944 when she went to Prestwick and her armament was removed and the aircraft modified for transport work. In March 1945 AM929 was taken on charge by 231 Squadron. She was to see little more service for on 9 April 1945 she crashed at St. Simone, near St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada.
     
  15. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

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    AM923

    Ex 40-2360

    Arrived UK 28 May 1941

    Served
    120 Squadron RAF Coastal Command.

    Joined 120 Squadron on 12 October 1941 and survived an accident on 18 October 1943 when she undershot a landing at Reykjavik. Withdrawn from service on 13 December 1944

    SOC 21 June 1947


    Pete you liberator mad.

    Nice shot showing the radar aerials. An underated and versitle aircraft, advanced too with massive range and tricycle undercarrige.. Am I right in thinking the very first ones had tailwheels?

    Kev
     
  16. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Hi Kev

    The Liberator never did have a tail wheel it was the first four engine land bomber to use a tricycle undercarrige. Far more advanced than the B-17

    Regards
    Peter.
     
  17. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Like the photos and very interesting info. Thanks Peter.
     
  18. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Peter, when 120 squadron was reformed during ww2 was the liberator the first aircraft that they flew or did they fly something different at first and was Northern Ireland there first posting after reforming.
     
  19. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Peter, when 120 squadron was reformed during ww2 was the liberator the first aircraft that they flew or did they fly something different at first and was Northern Ireland there first posting after reforming.

    Hi Skyhawk,

    The Liberator was the first and only type that 120 Squadron operated with during WW2. the Squadron was reformed on 2 June 1941 and soon took on charge their first Liberator's, which were unarmed for crew training purpose's. They were very successful with the Liberator, sinking 14 U-boats during the war, they were the the top scoring Squadron in Coastal Command.

    They converted to the Lancaster GR3 in November 1946 but carried on using the Liberator until June 1947.

    The Squadron was reformed at RAF Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland.

    Regards
    Peter.
     
  20. skyhawk

    skyhawk Senior Member

    Thanks Peter. Thought i had some stuff on this so did a bit of searching through my files. The following is about Nutts Corner, the liberator and 120 sqn.

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