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B-24 Liberator in RAF Coastal Command Service

B-24 Liberator in RAF Coastal Command Service Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2015 Title B-24 Liberator in RAF Coastal Command Service
Author Pavel Türk and Miloslav Pajer Publisher JaPo
Published 2015 ISBN N/A
Format 320 pages, hardbound MSRP (BP) £70.00

Review

Whenever you think of RAF Coastal Command, you think of a variety of white-camouflaged aircraft ranging from Sunderlands to Catalinas. As I do some research for a Coastal Command subject, I see passing references to the B-24 Liberator (or Liberator Mark x) and a photo or two, but very little information beyond that. I've seen some great research on the B-24 in USAAC/USAAF and USN service in the anti-submarine/convoy escort roles, but with the number of Liberators that were sent over to the UK under Lend/Lease, there seems to be an absence of information on their operations. Until now.

JaPo recently released this heavily researched title covering the B-24 in RAF Coastal Command service. The authors provide a breadth of detailed information on the B-24s that operated in Coastal Command and the ten squadrons that operated the Liberator plus three training/conversion units. As the subtitle indicates 'with Focus on Aircraft of No.311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF', the majority of this title is a unit study of the operations of 311 Sqn including an in-depth look at individual aircraft histories on a tail-number-by-tail-number basis. I would love to see USAAF unit studies get down to this level of detail, the authors have really done an excellent job of locating, compiling, and pulling together this information.

The coverage of this title include:

  • RAF Coastal Command
  • RAF Liberators
  • Combat Operations of Liberator with RAF Coastal Command
    • No. 53 Squadron
    • No. 59 Squadron
    • No. 86 Squadron
    • No. 120 Squadron
    • No. 206 Squadron
    • No. 220 Squadron
    • No. 224 Squadron
    • No. 311 Squadron
    • No. 547 Squadron
    • No. 160 Squadron
    • No. 1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit
    • No. 1674 Heavy Conversion Unit
    • No. 111 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit
  • Liberators alloted to No. 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron
  • Liberators allowed to No. 311 Squadron (according to AM Form 78 and other documents) but never received by the unit
  • Liberator G.R. Mk.V of No. 311 Squadon - unclear identification
  • Liberator G.R. Mk.VI of No. 311 Squadron - unclear identification
  • Liberators of No. 311 Squadron - unclear identification
  • Liberators of No. 311 Squadron - Stop Press
  • Appendix 1 - RAF Coastal Command Liberator Standards
  • Appendix 2 - Liberators of No. 1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit
  • Appendix 3 - Liberators of No. 111 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit
  • Appendix 4 - Liberators of No. 311 (Czechoslovak) Squadron

After the title provides you with a look at all of the RAF Coastal Command squadrons that operated the B-24, the title covers the history of 311 Sqn from its brief assignment to Bomber Command to its transition to Coastal Command (along with its compliment of Wellingtons) and retraining into the anti-submarine mission. Nearly a near later, 311 Sqn began its transition into the Liberator which it operated though the end of the war. After the war, 311 Squadron flew their aircraft back to Czechoslovakia where they briefly stayed before the surviving aircraft were ferried back to the UK when the Czech crews came under Soviet management.

The authors illustrate this title with over 500 period photos, many of which haven't been seen before. There are also 70 color profiles which provide a good look at many of these aircraft from the early B-24Ds to the late B-24Ms that were flown by 311 Squadron along with the various modifications applied to these aircraft during their service. There is also good coverage of 111 Sqn OTU and its training operations in the Bahamas (tough duty). The photos of 111 Sqn OTU have some color crew shots that show the only sun tans these folks experienced during their tenure with the RAF.

B-24 in RAF Coastal Command Service is an excellent reference for the B-24 Liberator in RAF service as well as a look into 311 Squadron and its combat operations. This title is well done and is a must-have for your shelf!

My sincere thanks to JaPo for this review sample! You can see some of the pages in this title here.

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