B-24 Liberator units of the United States Army Air Forces

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Consolidated B-24D-160-CO Liberator 42-72815 "Strawberry Bitch" on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The B-24D on display flew combat missions from North Africa in 1943-1944, and was eventually sent to storage after the war to Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona. In 1959 the aircraft was taken out of storage and flown to the museum for restoration and display. It was the last B-24 flight made by the USAF.
Indoor display of above aircraft. Aircraft markings are of the Ninth Air Force 512th Bombardment Squadron, 376th Bombardment Group, to which it was originally assigned in September 1943.
The last active USAF B-24, 44-51228 in 1952, just prior to its retirement

This is a list of United States Army Air Forces B-24 Liberator combat units during World War II including variants and other historical information. Heavy bomber training organizations primarily under II Bomber Command in the United States and non-combat units are not included.

The USAAF took delivery of its first B-24As in June 1941, although the B-24D was the first production model delivered in quantity in July 1942. B-24s were assigned to every combat Air Force; at peak inventory, the USAAF had 6,043 B-24 Liberators operating worldwide in September 1944.

Following the end of World War II, the Liberator was rapidly withdrawn from USAAF service, being replaced by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Literally thousands of Liberators were flown to various disposal units where they were cut up for scrap. Some brand-new late-production B-24Ms from Convair/San Diego were flown directly from the factory door to the scrapyard at RFC Kingman, Arizona in June 1945, as the war in Europe had ended and B-29s were doing most of the long-range bombing work in the Pacific.

Only a few Liberators were still around when the United States Air Force was formed in 1947, most of them being used for various research purposes. The last USAF Liberator, a Ford EZB-24M-20-FO serial number 44-51228 used by the Aeronautical Icing Research Laboratory for ice research, was struck off the rolls in 1953. For a time, it was on display at Lackland AFB, Texas, with the armament and gunner positions restored. It is currently at the American Museum at Duxford Aerodrome, England painted as 44-50492, a B-24M that was assigned to the 392d Bombardment Group, 578th Bombardment Squadron.

Combat Organizations[edit]

Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command[edit]

Established in October 1942 to deal with the U-boat threat; formed largely from the resources of I Bomber Command. Inactivated in August 1943 when antisubmarine mission was taken over by the United States Navy.

Fifth Air Force[edit]

Originally formed as the Philippine Department Air Force in August 1941; Stationed in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) of the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO). Operating in the Far East, Australia, New Guinea and Philippines. Participated in halting the Japanese drive in Papua, recovery of New Guinea, liberation of the Philippines and the Battle of Okinawa.

Activated with F-7As in October 1943 (later flew F-7B/F-7B H2X)
Operated from Australia, Netherlands East Indies, Philippines, Okinawa, Occupied Japan
Inactivated 1946

Sixth Air Force[edit]

Sixth Air Force begin in February 1917, formally established as Panama Canal Air Force on October 1940. Control of USAAF operations in the Caribbean. Primarily flew antisubmarine patrols over both the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific Ocean approaches to the Panama Canal.

Received LB-30s (March 1942) and B-24Ds (September 1942)
3d Bombardment Squadron
25th Bombardment Squadron
29th Bombardment Squadron
74th Bombardment Squadron
395th Bombardment Squadron
397th Bombardment Squadron
6th BG reassigned to United States in November 1943; B-24s remained with various 6th AF squadrons under VI Bomber Command until 1946

Seventh Air Force[edit]

Initially formed as the Hawaiian Air Force in October 1940. Operated primarily in Central Pacific Area (CPA) of the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO).

Eighth Air Force[edit]

Was primary heavy bombardment Air Force in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during World War II, stationed in England. Mission was conducting long-range strategic bomber offensive against Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany. The first Liberator mission from England took place on October 9, 1942. Several VIII Bomber Command Liberator groups deployed aircraft to Libya in late 1942 and 1943 to augment IX Bomber Command and carry out attacks against Axis targets in the Mediterranean. Ultimately a total of twenty-one Liberator-equipped groups were deployed and operated with the Eighth Air Force 2d and 3d Bombardment Divisions.

Ninth Air Force[edit]

IX Bomber Command operated Liberators from airfields in Egypt; Libya and Tunisia during the Western Desert Campaign (1942–1943). Transferred B-24s to Twelfth Air Force in October 1943; reassigned to England to become tactical air force supporting American First Army (IX Tactical Air Command), Third Army (XIX Tactical Air Command), and Ninth Army (XXIX Tactical Air Command).

Tenth Air Force[edit]

Constituted February 1942. Moved to India March–May 1942. Primary USAAF Air Force in the China-Burma-India theater.

Formed September 1918; deployed to Philippines September 1940; withdrawn to Australia late December 1941; combat in Java Jan-March 1942; deployed to India. Transitioned from B-17C/Ds to B-24s at Karachi, March 1942
9th Bombardment Squadron
436th Bombardment Squadron
492d Bombardment Squadron
493d Bombardment Squadron
Inactivated December 1945

Eleventh Air Force[edit]

Formed February 1942. Based in Alaska Territory. Engaged in combat with B-24s during Aleutian Campaign (1942–1943). First B-24 raid on Japanese Home Islands in 1943.

Received LB-30s and B-24s at Elmendorf Field, Alaska, 1942
21st Bombardment Squadron
36th Bombardment Squadron
404th Bombardment Squadron
Inactivated October 1945

Twelfth Air Force[edit]

Formed November 1942. Operated B-24s in Algeria, Tunisia and Sicily. Transferred Liberators to Fifteenth Air Force in November 1943, becoming tactical air force in Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) primarily supporting Fifth Army (XII Tactical Air Command) in Italy, also operating in Southern France and Germany supporting Seventh Army.

Twelfth Air Force had several B-17 Flying Fortress groups which were transferred from VIII Bomber Command in England when the command was formed in the fall of 1942. In Tunisia, the Liberator-equipped 98th and 376th Bombardment Groups were briefly transferred from Ninth Air Force in October 1943 to the command. All of Twelfth AF's heavy bomb groups were reassigned to Fifteenth Air Force in November.

Thirteenth Air Force[edit]

Formed on December 14, 1942. Operated primarily in South Pacific Area (SPA) of the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO)

Established in July 1943 with SB-24 RADAR aircraft; assigned directly to 13th AF Headquarters. Flew low level, anti-shipping strikes under the cover of darkness. Also flew as pathfinders for high-altitude bombers. Special missions were flown against land targets at night and one of the intentions was to prevent the Japanese from sleeping. Stationed in Solomon Islands, Admiralty Islands, Schouten Islands, Netherlands East Indies, Philippines, Okinawa. Inactivated December 1945

Fourteenth Air Force[edit]

Formed out of the American Volunteer Group in March 1943 in Kunming, China. Primary United States Air Force in China as part of the China-Burma-India Theater

Formed with B-24s in April 1942; deployed to China in March 1943
373d Bombardment Squadron
374th Bombardment Squadron
375th Bombardment Squadron
425th Bombardment Squadron
Inactivated October 1945

Fifteenth Air Force[edit]

Activated in Tunisia on November 1, 1943. Primary strategic bombardment Air Force of the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) operating from airfields in Southern Italy. Had 15 B-24 groups. Bombing raids against targets in Italy, then took part in raids on Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Romania. Supported the invasion of southern France.

Previously served with both the Ninth and Twelfth Air Forces before being assigned to the Fifteenth Air Force in November 1943. Stationed in Tunisia and later Southern Italy. Inactivated November 1945.
Assigned directly to 15th AF Headquarters. Flew B-17s, B-24s and other aircraft types as needed. Engaged in special operations in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, December 1944-May 1945
859th Bombardment Squadron
885th Bombardment Squadron

Twentieth Air Force[edit]

Constituted April 1944. Primarily equipped with Boeing B-29 Superfortresses but there were two reconnaissance squadrons equipped with B-24s and F-7s that were stationed on the Northern Mariana Islands. Both units reported to XXI Bomber Command Headquarters.

Active September 1944-September 1945.
Flew photographic, electronic, and weather reconnaissance missions in Western Pacific
Activated as 655th Reconnaissance Squadron, January 1945; redesignated June 1945.
Flew weather reconnaissance flights for XXI Bomber Command headquarters target and route planning for bombardment missions. Inactivated April 1946.

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

External links[edit]