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Angel of History: 1943

B-24 bomber assembly hall, location unspecified. April 1943. View full size.

B-24 bomber assembly hall, location unspecified. April 1943. View full size.


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Fort Worth

This is definitely Fort Worth bomber plant -- I work in the building. Until very recently, remnants from the old assembly line tracks (which had since been covered over with concrete) could still be found. The walls on one side of the picture, and stairs on the other wall are an exact match for what still exists at the Fort Worth plant (and this is what I see every day when I go to work). The more things change, the more they stay the same! FYI, the Fort Worth bomber plant is a mile long, just as the poster below states was the case at the plant at Willow Run. The place is massive. It is now being transformed into a wing/final finish/final assembly site for the F35 Lightning II fighter jet. Parts of F16s and F22s are also built here, but are being phased out in favor of the F35. Hope that helps. This place has been in continuous use since World War II as an aircraft assembly plant. That is quite a record.

B-24-D vs J

Dan's dad likely flew in a B-24-J which featured the Bendix nose turret mounting twin .50 cal. machine guns. The H model also had a nose turret which was a modified tail turret.

As far as color, I am guessing it was probably just bare aluminum.

Check out Lynn Ritger's comments for links to good information sites.

Design progression: versions of the B-24

Try this site for the various versions during the B-24's life.


Dan's Dad's B-24

The B-24 was designed and committed to production before two crucial pieces of technology were developed: (1) the Bendix rotating gun turret, and (2) one-piece Perspex plexiglass nose cones. The image here shows an early model B-24 with the "birdcage" style nose (bombardier's station) which was state-of-the-art for the late 1930's. Subsequent models of the B-24 saw these and many other upgrades before the assembly line was shut down in late 1945. Kudos to your dad for his service.

B-24 Design

I was wondering what the difference was with the two nose designs. My late father flew in the South Pacific in a B-24 Liberator and his plane had a rotating gun turret mounted below the cockpit. You can view his plane at along with 260 other WW2 images he took. Also I am doing a painting of a B24 and I think Dad's plane was gray or silver.

Thanks for any info on this. Dan

Surface area

More than redundancy, the double tail (as on the B-25, C-45 etc too) is a matter of providing enough surface area with out having a huge single tail. A Navy variant of the B-24 called the Privateer had a single vertical stabilizer and it towers above the twin tails of the B-24. The big single tail makes it hard to get in a hangar and hard to reach for repairs, among other considerations.

RE: Willow Run?

Couldn't be Willow Run because the Ford plant was an elaborate assembly line. The parts and planes were assembled in a moving line. This picture does not display an assembly line. I agree that it is the Consolidated plant in Fort Worth, TX, (they are after all Consolidated B-24's) where many 24's were assembled in '42 and '43 for the Mediterranean campaigns. This picture does not present the characteristics of the massive, mile-long assembly line of Willow Run.

[Did these planes move along the track seen at the bottom of the photo? - Dave]

B-24 8 Ball!

I know the pilot of the 8 Ball. He's almost 90 years old and is a great guy. He's amazing! Still has his uniform and lives with his wife of 60 years. Really amazing.

B-24 Liberator plant

This is at Consolidated's Fort Worth, Texas, factory; a more detailed inspection reveals more than just the well-known Liberator. The three B-24D's closest to the camera are painted in the desert sand scheme; the two behind them are actually U.S. Navy PB4Y-1 Liberators, used for sea patrol and anti-submarine missions prior to the development of the PB4Y-2 Privateer, an offspring of the Liberator. Then you see another B-24D, with most of the planes behind it having mixed olive drab and desert sand paint schemes on their tail assemblies. In the other row across the aisle are a couple of C-87 Liberator Express transports (adapted for cargo).

The twin tail design was incorporated from an earlier Consolidated bomber design that the government rejected prior to the buildup for WWII; the rudders worked better when placed directly behind the engines' "prop wash" - known today as a "slipstream." The Navy discovered that a single-tail design made the plane more stable, so all the Privateers used in the war were single-tailed Liberators, in essence.

double tail?

anyone know the design intent of the double tail? Redundancy in case one is shot off?

RE: Some background on foreground aircraft

Wow- thanks Lynn- your added info gives a real perspective on the life of these fighting machines. From factory floor to wreck in about 6 months for these birds. Sometimes I feel that the temporal sense of the times is lost when looking at these WWII photos. The static image is seen, but some of the sense that those were dangerous times to live in for many people.

Your contribution has added to the experience of these snapshots from times past.

Also a big Thank You to Dave for all of this!


Some background on foreground aircraft

These are Consolidated B-24D-35-CO Liberators, built by Consolidated-Vultee ... not a Ford or Douglas-built aircraft. The aircraft in the foreground, 42-40206, served with the 514th Bomb Squadron, 376th Bomb Group, and carried the nickname "8-Ball!". It was the replacement aircraft for a B-24 which most people will recognize... "Lady Be Good". Here are 2 photos of 40206 in service...

40206 was condemned due to enemy action on 6 October 1943.

The second aircraft in line, 42-40209, served with the 513th Bomb Squadron, also in the 376th Bomb Group, and wore the nickname "The Wild Wolf". The aircraft was salvaged (written off and stripped for parts) on 3 September 1943. Here is a photo of 40209 in service:

An excellent source for Liberator info is, which is where the photos can be found.

Lynn Ritger
Newport News, VA

Re: The Arsenal of Democracy

Just look at this assembly line! The Axis powers (Germany-Italy-Japan) didn't even stand a chance to shoot them down at the same rate they were made. If someone could have shown this picture to Hitler/Mussolini/Hirohito in 1938 (I know it was made in 1943) maybe they would have thought twice...
The sheer number of airplanes, tanks, Liberty ships, etc. that the US put out starting 1942 effectively won the war (and a few gallant men and women for that matter). This picture says it all.

The Arsenal of Democracy

I concur these are B-24 Liberators. It certainly looks to be
Willow Run considering the volume of planes and size of the line. I am not aware of anywhere else that cranked out as many.

Willow Run?

That may be the Ford factory in Willow Run, Michigan.

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