Fantastic Pictures of the B-24 Witchcraft Throughout Her Unique Career

A B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 467th Bomb Group in flight.

The B-17 and the B-24 Liberators were the workhorses of the US Army Airforces during WWII, being used in every theatre of the war. Both were used for the intensive strategic bombing on German cities, but the Liberator was also an important aircraft in the Battle of the Atlantic where it was able to close the Mid-Atlantic Gap with its long range.

Overall, 12,000 B-24s served with the USAAF, peaking in September 1944 when there were 6,043 operational.

One of the B-24s most notable aspects is its long and thin ‘Davis wing’, mounted high up on the fuselage. This type of wing gave the B-24 good range qualities, and enabled a high cruise speed as well as a heavier bomb load.

Like the B-17, the B-24 was armed with a large amount of .50 caliber machine guns, located in the waist and turrets. Unlike the B-17 however, the ball turret was retractable as there was minimal ground clearance below the aircraft. This could be used to reduce drag for longer range, or in case of engine failures.

A B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group flying low above the photographer.
A B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group flying low above the photographer.

It was the first US heavy bomber to feature tricycle landing gear.

The B-24 wasn’t as durable against enemy fire as the B-17. On top of this, it had a maximum altitude 4,000 ft less than the B-17, and carried less defensive armaments. This lead to crews prefer the B-17, but General Staff favoured the B-24 for its heavier bomb load.

One notable Liberator was B-24 ‘Witchcraft’. Witchcraft was built in 1944, before flying to England in March of 1944 to join the 467th Bomb Group. She flew the first mission of the 467th. Over the the next year, with various different crews, Witchcraft completed 130 combat missions.

Over these missions, she never once turned back, and no crewman was injured or killed. She flew her last combat mission on April 25 1945, which was none other than the last mission flown by the 467th.

Unfortunately her incredible career couldn’t save her, and she was scrapped in late 1945. Today, one of the only flying B-24 Liberators is painted as Witchcraft.

 

A B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 467th Bomb Group releases bombs over the target.
A B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 467th Bomb Group releases bombs over the target.

 

“Witchcraft” 100 mission celebration. Sgt. Raymond Betcher a member of the maintenance ground crew of B-24H-15 FO 42-52534 ” Witchcraft” receives his certificate of Meritorious service signed by General Peck and presented by Major General William E. Kepner, Commanding General of the Second Air Division, on the occasion of completion by “Witchcraft” of 100 missions with no aborts through any form of mechanical problem. “Witchcraft” went on to complete a total of 130 missions without an abort becoming one of the most celebrated aircraft in 8th Airforce history.
“Witchcraft” 100 mission celebration. Sgt. Raymond Betcher a member of the maintenance ground crew of B-24H-15 FO 42-52534 ” Witchcraft” receives his certificate of Meritorious service signed by General Peck and presented by Major General William E. Kepner, Commanding General of the Second Air Division, on the occasion of completion by “Witchcraft” of 100 missions with no aborts through any form of mechanical problem. “Witchcraft” went on to complete a total of 130 missions without an abort becoming one of the most celebrated aircraft in 8th Airforce history.

 

“Witchcraft” 100 mission celebration. Sgt. Raymond Betcher a member of the maintenance ground crew of B-24H-15 FO 42-52534 ” Witchcraft” receives his certificate of Meritorious service signed by General Peck and presented by Major General William E. Kepner, Commanding General of the Second Air Division, on the occasion of completion by “Witchcraft” of 100 missions with no aborts through any form of mechanical problem. “Witchcraft” went on to complete a total of 130 missions without an abort becoming one of the most celebrated aircraft in 8th Airforce history.
“Witchcraft” 100 mission celebration. Sgt. Raymond Betcher a member of the maintenance ground crew of B-24H-15 FO 42-52534 ” Witchcraft” receives his certificate of Meritorious service signed by General Peck and presented by Major General William E. Kepner, Commanding General of the Second Air Division, on the occasion of completion by “Witchcraft” of 100 missions with no aborts through any form of mechanical problem. “Witchcraft” went on to complete a total of 130 missions without an abort becoming one of the most celebrated aircraft in 8th Airforce history.

 

The nose art of a B-24 Liberator Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group.
The nose art of a B-24 Liberator Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group.

 

The nose art of a B-24 Liberator nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group.
The nose art of a B-24 Liberator nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group.

 

The nose art of a B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraftof the 467th Bomb Group. Image via James Mahoney.
The nose art of a B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraftof the 467th Bomb Group. Image via James Mahoney.

 

The nose art of a B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group.
The nose art of a B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group.

 

A B-24 Liberator nicknamed Witchcraft of the 467th Bomb Group in flight.
A B-24 Liberator nicknamed Witchcraft of the 467th Bomb Group in flight.

 

A bomber crew of the 467th Bomb Group and their B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft.
A bomber crew of the 467th Bomb Group and their B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft.

 

A bomber crew of the 467th Bomb Group with their B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft.
A bomber crew of the 467th Bomb Group with their B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft.

 

Air crew, Standing left to right Henry Kubacek, Alex McClean, Melvin Bland, Vernon Bundron, Robert McEwen, Bob Dekerf. Front Row, Lt John Oder Copilot, Lt Geo Reed Pilot, Lt Jack Kramer Bombardier.’
Air crew, Standing left to right Henry Kubacek, Alex McClean, Melvin Bland, Vernon Bundron, Robert McEwen, Bob Dekerf. Front Row, Lt John Oder Copilot, Lt Geo Reed Pilot, Lt Jack Kramer Bombardier.’

 

B-24 Liberators of the 467th Bomb Group lined up at RAF Welford. B-24 (4z-E+, serial number 42-94910) is visible in the foreground.
B-24 Liberators of the 467th Bomb Group lined up at RAF Welford. B-24 (4z-E+, serial number 42-94910) is visible in the foreground.

 

Ground crew, Standing Crew Chief Joe Ramirez, Chamberlin. Front Row Walter Elliot, Geo Dong, Joe Vetter, Ray Betcher.
Ground crew, Standing Crew Chief Joe Ramirez, Chamberlin. Front Row Walter Elliot, Geo Dong, Joe Vetter, Ray Betcher.

 

Joe Ramirez, ground crew chief.
Joe Ramirez, ground crew chief.

 

The ground crew of the 467th Bomb Group with their B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft.
The ground crew of the 467th Bomb Group with their B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft.

 

The nose art of a B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group after completing 130 missions.
The nose art of a B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group after completing 130 missions.

 

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A B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group taxiing around Rackheath airfield preparing to take off.
A B-24 Liberator (Q2-M_, serial number 42-52534) nicknamed Witchcraft of the 790th Bomb Squadron, 467th Bomb Group taxiing around Rackheath airfield preparing to take off.