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The B-24H was the first production version of the Liberator to be built with a nose turret. The Liberator had proved to be very vulnerable to head-on attacks (as had the B-17). Field modifications had been made to install a powered nose turret in place of the single .50in machine gun carried in the nose of earlier aircraft.
The Army Air Force responded to this problem by ordered the Emerson company to modify its existing tail gun project to produce a nose gun. After working with Consolidated engineers, the new design was sent to Ford at Willow Run, where it was integrated into new production from the end of June 1943. The first B-24H was accepted by the Army Air Corps two months later, in August 1943 (three months earlier than the similar B-24G, produced by North American). The new nose turret required a number of changes to be made to the aircraft. The bombardier’s position had to be redesigned, while the nose wheel doors had to be modified to open outwards instead of inwards. In all fifty six changes had to be made to accommodate the new turret.
The B-24H also featured improved tail and top turrets. The Martin A-3C top turret was replaced by an A-3D, which had a larger Plexiglas turret cover. The Consolidated A-6 tail turret was replaced by an A-6B version. In both cases the change was made to improve the gunner’s view. The waist gun positions were enclosed, making the gunner’s position rather more comfortable. During the production run the guns were staggered, to give each gunner more space.
A total of 3,100 B-24Hs were built. By March 1944 Ford were completing one aircraft every 100 minutes and also shipping sub-assemblies to Fort Worth and Tulsa. The Willow Run experiment in mass production was finally paying off.
|Consolidated B-24 Liberator (Crowood Aviation), Martin W. Bowman. A well balanced book that begins with a look at the development history of the B-24, before spending nine out of its ten chapters looking at the combat career of the aircraft in the USAAF, the US Navy and the RAF.|
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