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CONSOLIDATED B-24 LIBERATOR

WALTHAM AN 5743

THE CLOCK

The AN 5743 was not designed for navigation, its purpose was to determine the time on an airplane with navigator and endurance of 18 hours. Walthman built this machine up to 1945. Some had 9 jewels and others had 11. Both could be winded up for eight days.

The green numbers were not visible during the night, while the hands and the small marks in between the numbers are painted in a fluorescent color. All clocks like this were called A-11 by the US Army DOT

THE PLANE

The B-24, was initially built as a strategic bomber, but turned out to be one of the most useful planes ever built. It was used as general transport, antisubmarine fighting, tanker, long range reconnaissance, even Winston Churchill chose it as his personal transport during the war due to its long range. 18.188 were built. The B-24 was the most common in the allied team, not only for fighting, also for transport.

The B-24s as the B-17s, was unable to defend itself in spite of flying in large groups of over 100 airplanes. It was very vulnerable against frontal attacks. It’s interior protection was insufficient, the cannon lever and the pilot were hurt by the shrapnel coming from the front of the airplane when it was hit. This problem were solved in the new versions, but until the arrival of long haul fighters (such as the P-38 Lightning and the P-51 Mustang), the bombers suffered a great amount of losses and the missions was very limited.

The B-24 needs great skill to fly narrow formations over 20.000 feet, where it was usually used. Over this height, the airplane was unstable and would not allow any error from the pilot. For this reason, the training was much longer than the one for the B-17s and a selective skill level was required to fly Forts.

THE COCKPIT

What calls the attention the most is it’s narrow cockpit. It was difficult to accommodate yourself with the suit, the boots, the anti-aircraft artillery helmet, the Mae west (life vest) and the parachute. The pilots said that the narrowness of the cockpit was specially noticed during the evacuation in case of an emergency.

The instruments and controls were situated in a logic and efficient way. The place for the nose trim was at both sides of the seat, (that situation was adopted for most of transport plane till nowadays). This was very important in this plane it can take off with only using the nose trim, it become more important when making the plane less vulnerable against frontal attacks, a new front turret heavier, with a better weaponry was installed, it made necessary an accurate use of the nose trim. The P-51 Mustang shared the same clock as you can see in the cockpit´s picture.

 

ATTACKING PLOETSI,  OPERATION TIDAL WAVE

On the first of August of 1943, the Forts attacked the petrol refinery in Ploetsi, Rumania. This refinery supplied two thirds of the fuel that the Germans used.

Five groups participated in the attack, 178 Liberators and approximately 1.700 men. The operation was based on an surprise attack at a very low height. The enemies expected the bombers at a higher level. This was the first and the last time that the bombers were used at such a low level.

The success of the attack depended on the surprise, and even more, on the climate. The climate was necessary for the navigation and for being able to find a route and not get spotted. This assured the success.

During the flight towards the target, the leading plane suffered an accident and the group broke up in three due to the bad weather. They had to climb to overfly some mountains and were spotted by the enemy´s radar. Finally, they found Ploetsi coming from the south instead of the northwest. The surprise factor was definitely loss, the German´s defense was stronger than have been expected.

532 men never came back (100 were made prisoners), 41 planes were knocked down, 30 were destroyed and unable to be used again. Out of the 7 refineries, 1 was completely destroyed, 2 were disabled during months, 2 were damaged but continued working and the remaining 2 did not suffer anything at all.

 

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