Consolidated LB-30A (Liberator)

The Consolidated LB-30A was the first production version of the Liberator bomber. Only six were built, to virtually the same standard as the YB-24, including the short nose. The aircraft had originally been ordered by the French, but after the fall of France that order had been taken over by the RAF. The first six aircraft were delivered as the LB-30A. This aircraft was powered by the 1,200hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33C4-G engine, giving it a top speed of 280mph and a service ceiling of 27,000ft. The six LB-30As were provided with six 0.303in machine guns in the nose, waist and tail positions. However they lacked self sealing fuel tanks.

The first LB-30A made its maiden flight on 17 January 1941, before being delivered to the RAF at Montreal. The first aircraft reached the United Kingdom on 14 March 1941. The RAF decided that the lack of self sealing fuel tanks meant that the aircraft could not be used over Western Europe, and so all six were handed over to Ferry Command. Their guns were removed while cabin heaters and a passenger oxygen supply were installed. The aircraft were then used to ferry RAF pilots west across the Atlantic, from where they would return at the control of American produced aircraft. The first flights in both directions were made on 4 May 1941. One aircraft, flown by the future Air Vice Marshal Don Bennett, leader of the Pathfinder Force in Bomber Command, arrived at Gander in Newfoundland from Montreal late on 4 May 1941 (carrying Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, then serving in the United States on a purchasing mission), and then flew on to Britain. A second aircraft flew from Blackpool to Gander in Newfoundland, piloted by Captain Youell, arriving at 20.38.

The LB-30 designation was inherited from an original French order for a heavy bomber. The French had issued the specification for this aircraft in May 1938, and Consolidated had responded with the Model 30, a land bomber version of their Model 29 flying boat, thus LB-30. By the time the French placed an order for the aircraft, in June 1940, Consolidated had moved on to the Model 32 (or XB-24), and it was this aircraft that would be delivered to the RAF as the LB-30A.

 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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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 January 2008), Consolidated LB-30A (Liberator) ,

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