Category Archives: Assemblyships


Consolidated B-24D”Liberator”, 389th BG (H), 8th USAAF (Matchbox)

TYPE: Heavy long-range bomber, in service as Assembly ship

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of five to six

POWER PLANT: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-35 turbocharged “Twin-Wasp” radial engines, rated at 1.200 hp each


COMMENT: In February 1944, the 2nd Division of the Eight Army Air Force in Europe authorized the use of “Assembly Ships” (or “Formation Ships”) specially fitted to aid assembly of individual group formations. They were equipped with signal lighting, provision for quantity discharge of pyrotechnics, and were painted with distinctive group-specific high-contrast patterns of stripes, checkers or polka dots to enable easy recognition by their flock of bombers. The aircraft used in the first allocation were B-24Ds retired by the 44th, 93rd and 389th Groups. Arrangements for signal lighting varied from group to group, but generally consisted of white flashing lamps on both sides of the fuselage arranged to form the identification letter of the group. All armament and armor was removed and in some cases the tail turret. In the B-24Hs used for this purpose, the nose turret was removed and replaced by a “carpetbagger” type nose. Following incidents when flare guns were accidentally discharged inside the rear fuselage, some assembly (formation) ships had pyrotechnic guns fixed through the fuselage sides. As these aircraft normally returned to base once a formation had been established, a skeleton crew of two pilots, navigator, radio operator and one or two flare discharge operators were carried. In some groups an observer officer flew in the tail position to monitor the formation. These aircraft became known as „”Judas goats“.
The assembly ship shown here belonged to the 389th Bombardment Group (Heavy) “The Sky Scorpions” stationed at Hethel, UK from 1943 to 1945 (Ref: 24).

Consolidated B-24D “Liberator” “The Little Gramper”, 491st BG (H) “The Ringmasters”, 8th USAAF (Airfix)

TYPE: Heavy long-range bomber, in service as Assembly ship


POWER PLANT: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-43 Twin Wasp radial engines, rated at 1,200 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 303 mph at 25,000 ft

COMMENT: The Consolidated B-24D “Liberator” was the first variant to be qualified for combat. Under the original Production Pool plan, Consolidated/San Diego was the prime manufacturer, supplying components to Fort Worth and Douglas/Tulsa for assembly. In May, 1942 the first of 2,738 B-24D’s rolled off the assembly lines.
Due to rapidly changing needs, especially for defensive armament, there were many variations within the B-24D model, these differences identified by “production blocks” (e.g B-24D-70-CO). Nevertheless, B-24D’s have been very successful in the first years of bombing offensive in the European theater but later are replaced by B-24H and B-24J. These variants had more powerful engines and better defensive armament. Some bombardment groups used phased-out B-24Ds as assembly (formation) ships until the end of the hostilities. The B-24D Assembly (Formation) Ship “The Little Gramper” shown here belonged to the 491th Bombardment Group (H) „The Ringmasters“, stationed at North Pickenham. (Ref. 2)

NOTE: This model is not the Hasegawa kit. It is an Airfix kit I built many years ago. All is hand-painted direct on the model. Polka dots are used as mentioned with the Consolidated B-24J Assembly Ship of the 458th Bombardment Group (H)

Consolidated B-24H “Liberator” “The Spotted Ass Ape”, 458th BG (H), 8th USAAF (Airfix)

TYPE: Heavy long-range bomber, in service as Assembly ship


POWER PLANT:  4 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp, rated at 1,200 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 290 mph at 18.482 ft

COMMENT: The Consolidated  B-24 “Liberator” was a four-engine, heavy long-range bomber designed by the Consolidated Aircraft Company in the late 1930s. For that time it was a modern design compared with its main competitor, the better-known Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress”.  The first flight took place on December, 29th, 1939. The “Liberator” had a higher top speed, greater range, and a heavier bomb load than its rival. On the other hand the “Liberator” was more difficult to fly, with heavy control forces and poor formation-flying characteristics. Nevertheless, the B-24 provided excellent service in a variety of roles thanks to its large bomb load and long range and was used in the European as well as the Pacific campaign. When the production ended in 1945 more than 18.480 aircraft have been built, more than of all other bombers during WWII. (Ref.: 4)
The Consolidated B-24H Liberator shown here is an assembly (formation-) ship “The Spotted Ass Ape” of the 458th  Bombardment Group (H), 8th USAAF, stationed at Horsham St Faith, England. (Ref.: 2)

NOTE: This aircraft is hand-painted direct onto the models surface, except the black dots. For these Polka (donut) dots I used Bishop precut tape shapes, solid donut pads, Bishop Graphics. Inc., Westlake Village, Ca 91359 U.S.A. These are self-adhesive, extreme thin, in black, and easy to apply. More work is required to red and yellow Polka dots. Here I used the solid donut pads from the same company, but in red. Unfortunately, these are transparent. So they need to be painted dot by dot before being applied.