Category Archives: Assemblyships

Assemblyships

Consolidated B-24D “Liberator” “Striped Ass”, 466th BG (H), 8th USAAF, (Airfix Models)

TYPE: Heavy bomber, Assembly ship

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of four

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-24 “Liberator was a heavy long-range bomber of the USAAF during WW II and large aircraft for its day. It had a wing span of 110 feet and a gross weight of more than 30 tons. Powered by four 1,200 hp radial engines, it had a maximum fuel capacity of 2,814 US gallons and the bomb load varied from 2,000 to 4,000 kp depending on the distance of the target to be attacked. The crew varied from eight to 10 men, five or six of whom acted as gunners, manning the 10 machine guns usually carried for defence.
The operating technique with these heavy bombers was, after take-off, to assemble large formations of from 20 to 40 aircraft while climbing to operational altitude of 20,000 to 25,000 feet. This was coordinated by means 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 most cases were veteran B-24Ds. All armament and armor was removed and 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. Such an assembly was despatched from a single airfield and joined with other formations to form a division column of perhaps 500 to 600 bombers.
The 446th Bombardment Group (H) with Component Squadrons 784th, 785th, 786th and 787th Bombardment Squadron (H) was activated on 1 Aug. 1943 at Alamogordo AAFd. NM. The training for combat commenced at Kearns Fd. Utah end Aug. 43, remaining there until Nov, 43, when the group moved back to Alamogordo AAFd, NM. In early Feb. 44 the group moved to Topeka AAFd, Kan and after a week’s stay began movement to the UK. Here the group was stationed at Attlebridge, Norfolk, for the last year of the war in Europe.
Combat aircraft were Consolidated B-24H, B-24J, B-24L and B-24M. In total the group flew 232 missions in the course of the year against strategic objectives like U-boat installations in Kiel, ball bearing works in Berlin, aircraft factories in Munich and oil refineries in Hamburg. Remarkably, the 785th Bomb Squadron flew 55 consecutive missions without loss. The aircraft shown here is the assembly ship of the 446th Bombardment Group. It’s a veteran Consolidated B-24D named “Striped Ass” (Ref: 2).

Notice: Identification markings of this aircraft are mostly hand-made. After airbrushing the surface with different aluminum-silver shading red stripes are applied according to the original. For this I used microthin precision slit tape, Bishop Graphics. Inc., Westlake Village, Ca. This is self-adhesive, in red color, extreme thin and easy to apply. Unfortunately transparent it needed to be painted stripe by stripe before being applied.

Consolidated B-24D”Liberator”, “Green Dragon”, 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

PERFORMANCE: 290 mph

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“ (Ref: 24).
The Consolidated B-24D “Liberator”, 41-23683 “Green Dragon” shown here is an assembly (formation-) ship of the 458th Bombardment Group (H) “The Sky Scorpions”, 8th USAAF, stationed at Hethel, UK from 1943 to 1945 (Ref.: 2)

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

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of four

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

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of four

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.