|Parent subject||American aircraft (WW2 Period)|
||The Liberator heavy bomber was produced in greater numbers than any other US combat aircraft during the Second World War. Originally developed to provide the US Army Air Force (USAAF) with a heavy bomber of superior performance to the B-17, the Liberator prototype first flew in December 1939, and production aircraft entered service with both the USAAF and Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) in early 1941. Ultimately, 18,482 Liberators were produced up until the time the last production line closed in May 1945. In addition to being employed as a heavy bomber in all of the major theatres in which the western allies fought, Liberator variants were also used for maritime patrol operations and as transports.
Australian pilots serving with the RAF flew Liberators, primarily in the maritime patrol role, in Europe, and as heavy bombers, in the Middle East. Royal Australian Air Force Squadrons, however, only operated Liberators in the South-West Pacific Area. In order to relieve the burden on the USAAF's 380th Bombardment Group, the Commander Allied Air Forces South-West Pacific recommended that the RAAF form seven Liberator squadrons. A total of 287 Liberators saw service as heavy bombers with the RAAF in 12, 21, 23, 24, 25, 99 and 102 Squadrons, and on covert and electronic surveillance missions with 200 and 210 Flights. The Liberator's capabilities proved particularly devastating during the Australian operations around Borneo. Liberators remained in service with the RAAF until 1948 and could have remained in service much longer had not the decision been made to commence local production of the Avro Lincoln.
Consolidated B24 Liberator