The B-24 Liberator
B-24, the plane with which the 307th Bomb Group pounded the Japanese by day and by night, from high altitude and low, from 1942 - 1945. The 307th Bomb Group hit the Japanese where they had never been hit before: Wake, Tarawa, Ocean Island, Truk, Nauru, Yap, Palau, Balikpapan, Corregidor and Manilla. The 307th Bomb Group hit where it hurt: Celebes, Kahili, Shortland Harbor, Rabaul, Woleai, Halmaheras, Borneo and the Philippines. The 307th Bomb Group hit the Japanese in the air, shooting down 355 of the Japanese planes; got 68 probables, and 51 damaged. The 307th Bomb Group hit the Japanese on the ground: In over 500 missions destoryed 170 of the Japanese planes, scores of Japanese airfields, supply dumps, oil refineries and harbor installations. The 307th Bomb Group hit the Japanese at sea. Sank 27,440 tons of Japanese shipping, damaged 112,525 tons more; routed one of the Japanese major task forces. The 307th Bomb Group chalked up some of the longest missions of the war: 13 hours to hit Wake, 16 hours to hit Yap, 17 hours to hit Balikpapan. The 307th Bomb Group made the Liberator truly a "Long Ranger".
307th Bombardment Group (H) B-24 from the 372nd squadron (notice the Scotty dog on the tail) is prepared for a mission. The plane was named Hoot Owl Express and was plane #240235.
The history of the "Long Rangers" is a saga of the B-24—from the book, We'll Say Goodbye-The story of the "Long Rangers" 307th Bomb Group (HV).
"The men of this Group have nursed every ounce of energy out of her. We have taken her on the longest formation flights of the war. We have taken her through thick ack-ack, and with her we have thumbed our noses at the Nip Air Force and have rid the air of a goodly number of Jap planes. With her, we have taken on the Jap Navy, and slugged the hell out of it. With her, we have pock-marked acre after acre of Japanese real estate, and destroyed village after village, town after town, and have driven the Jap away from his cities. The B-24 has been our weapon – our “rifle” – our fighting tool.
The Liberator has, without seeming to, ruled our lives for three years. Indirectly, we have been the slaves of the Flying Boxcar. She has been the taskmaster, determining when we got to work, and when we quit. She can get you up in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, keep you working away, or she can let you hit your sack. Loving her, cursing her, berating her, and again praying for her, you become her duty-bound slave.
Human-like, the B-24 is rugged and yet sensitive, crude looking and yet beautiful, clumsy, and yet clean-lined. She is at all times temperamental. No two B-24’s are alike. For weeks she can be gay and healthy, the engines sing and zoom, then, without warning, she can become unruly, her instruments register wrong, her controls become sluggish, her engines spit oil. One plane can hungrily lap up gas, another sips it lady-like, another can tear away and fly faster than her sisters, while still another can only snail along. One plane is wing weighted, another is tail heavy. A B-24 has her moods. She needs attention; at times the attention of a squawking baby, at others she gaily bounces along, cat-purring with contentment."
Image from the book, "We'll Say Goodbye—Story of the Long Rangers-307th Bombardment Group (HV)".