B-24D Liberator BZ724/P

Beinn Mhealaich, Helmsdale, Highland.













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: B-24 'Diamond Lil' in flight. The RAF GR-V Liberator featured on this page was a variant of the USAAF B-24 shown here.


B-24 Diamond Lil in flight


Photo : [no date] US Federal Government photo released to the public domain.






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Consolidated B-24D GR-V Liberator / BZ724/P



Type Nickname: "Lib"; "Lumbering Lib"; "Flying Boxcar", and others.



The Consolidated B-24 heavy bomber first flew in 1939. The prototypes were equipped with four Pratt & Whitney 1200hp R-1830-33 Twin Wasp engines. Early production versions were fitted with P&W 1200hp R-1830-41 engines with GE turbo superchargers. Later production versions (B-24Ds) were fitted with P&W R-1830-43 engines. Later variants followed. Their maximum speed was about 487km/h (303mph).

The B-24 was fitted with 11 machine guns and had a bomb carrying capacity of about 3,629kgs (8,000lbs); and, with modifications, had a range of about 4600km (2,858 miles).

Although overshadowed by the B-17 (Flying Fortresses), the B-24 was produced in greater numbers than any other aircraft in history (in excess of 18,000 aircraft).



BELOW: Another variant of this aircraft; this time showing a USAAF B-24H Liberator.


a us b-24h liberator in flight


Photo: Courtesy of the National Museum of the US Air Force






Aircraft Accident Details


Liberator BZ724 (squadron code, "P") had taken off from its base at RAF Ballykelly in N. Ireland for an anti-submarine patrol over the North Atlantic. However, toward the end of its patrol, the aircraft encountered bad weather. To avoid the worst of the prevailing weather conditions, the Liberator was diverted to RAF Tain, located in North-East Scotland.


Unfortunately, weather conditions were poor in this area also; but, as the aircraft was running short of fuel, an attempt had to be made to land at RAF Tain.


The pilot began his descent through cloud; but, for some reason, the Liberator descended below a safe minimum altitude while still about 40km / 25miles North of Tain. Consequently, the aircraft crashed on the slopes of Beinn Mhealaich—a 592m / 1,942ft. hill located West of Helmsdale in Caithness.






Aircraft Crew Casualties / Survivor


With the exception of the pilot, all on board perished in this accident. Those who died were:


(Please click on the hyperlinked names above for further details at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website.)



The pilot who survived (with injuries) was:


P/O John Lloyd, Pilot, RNZAF.






Crash Site Photos


BELOW: One of the four turbo-superchargers from the B-24 Liberator at Beinn Mhealaich [map] near Helmsdale.


one of the superchargers from the b-24 liberator


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: The remaining debris field from B-24D Liberator BZ724/P on the slopes of Beinn Mhealaich.


A fuel tank and other wreckage can be seen here.


impact point and debris field


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: A supercharger and other wreckage.


the supercharger and other wreckage.


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel
























Crash Date / Site


Accident Date: 18 Aug 1944


Accident Site:

Beinn Mhealaich (592m).


Region: Highland (Caithness)


Nearest town or village: Helmsdale (A9).


Nearest large towns:


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Some wreckage remains at the site, including one of the four turbo- superchargers.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: BZ724/P


Operator: RAF (59 Squadron / Coastal Command)


Operating Station: RAF Ballykelly. (Now, Shackleton Barracks.)


Station Location: Ballykelly, Co. Londonderry, N. Ireland.


Current Station Status: Disused as airfield. Station now used as army barracks.


Current Station Name: Shackleton Barracks.





Operating Station (Intended Diversion): RAF Tain.


Current Diversion Station Name: RAF Tain; Air Weapons Range (AWR); (Formerly, a large bombing range, which covered a part of the former airfield and the Moray Firth)





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