A Liberator taxies in at Prestwick after a non-stop flight across the Atlantic as part of the Return Ferry Service in the summer of 1942. That July Liberators were used to open up a North Atlantic route to the Middle East, bringing vital supplies of ammunition and equipment across from North America and taking them on to Cairo via Gibraltar.
The first of the RAF’s Liberators, AM258 was designated as an LB-30A and is seen here taxying in at the Consolidated factory at San Diego before its delivery to the UK in March 1941. The Liberator’s advanced high-aspect-ratio wing, designed by David R. Davis, gave the aircraft remarkable range - an asset that was to prove invaluable during the Middle East airlifts of 1942.
An RAF Ferry Command Liberator approaches the Scottish coast after a long and tiring transatlantic flight. Ferry Command was formed in July 1941 from the RAF's Atlantic Ferry Service, and was tasked with returning ferry pilots to Canada so they could continue the work of delivering American-built aircraft from factory to front line.
AM920 was one of the batch of 20 LB-30Bs diverted from the US Army Air Corps to the RAF after the fall of France, delivered between April and August 1941. One of three operated by BOAC on the transatlantic service, AM920 went on to become G-AHYB after the war, before being sold in 1950 to become a VIP transport in French Indo-China as F-VNNP.
IT WAS CLEAR that the 1942 Middle East airlift would require all hands to the pumps for Ferry Command and Liberator AL504, named Commando, also became involved in the airlift. This aircraft was the VIP transport that later carried Churchill to Moscow. It had arrived at Bathurst (now Banjul) in Gambia, on July 10 to deliver Lord Swinton, the Minister Resident in West Africa; but, as it was in the right place at the right time, it was tasked with transporting ammunition from Accra to Cairo. The ammo may have been from one of the Liberators which lost an engine at Kano in Nigeria. Commando arrived back at RAF Lyneham, in company with one of the South Atlantic airlift Liberators, on July 25
Liberator III FL918 was one of 14 examples converted to freighter configuration and operated on the South Atlantic Route during the 1942 Middle East airlifts. It was used by BOAC as G-AGFR and later by No 246 Sqn before being struck off charge in January 1947.
A BOAC Liberator takes off from Dorval, Montreal, bound for Prestwick in Scotland. One of the pilots involved in the 1942 Middle East airlifts was Capt Don Bennett (later to lead RAF Bomber Command’s Path Finder Force), who flew AL512 laden with 6,550 lb of materiel to Cairo via Gibraltar on July 15, 1942.
LB-30A AM259 has its engines run up at La Guardia Field in New York on February 19, 1941, after its 2,700-mile flight from the Consolidated factory at San Diego. This was one of the Liberators used to fly the northern route to Cairo via Gibraltar during the 1942 Middle East airlifts, after which it joined BOAC as G-AGCD in August 1942.
Boeing 314A Clipper G-AGBZ (c/n 2081), named Bristol, was one of three purchased by BO AC in 1941, the others being G-AGCA Berwick and G-AGCB Bangor. All returned to the USA and reverted to their American civil identities (NC18607, NC18608 and NC18610 respectively) in April 1948.