Most aviation enthusiasts are aware of the role that the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator played in USAAF service during World War II. Many, however, are not aware that seven Royal Australian Air Force squadrons flew the B-24 Liberator in long range strikes against Japanese military targets in South East Asia.
During WWII, the RAAF operated a mixed fleet of 287 B-24D/J/L and M models. RAAF B-24s flew missions from bases in Australia’s Northern Territory and Western Australia, and later on from bases on Morotai and the Philippines. These targets included air bases, bridges, military installations, etc. They also flew highly dangerous, low-level, anti-shipping strikes.
Selected RAAF crews also performed special operations missions. Carrying a large bomb load over vast ranges, and protected by a powerful array of defensive gun positions, RAAF B-24s routinely flew deep into Japanese controlled air space. As a result, the B-24s often endured severe enemy attacks during these missions, and consequently suffered losses. Thirty-three RAAF Liberators failed to return, sadly taking the lives of more than 200 aircrew with them.
For photos and the complete story by Phil Buckley for Warbirds News, click here.
Photo via Phil Buckley