B24 Liberator Memorial Australia
Heavy Bomber B-24M Liberator, serial number 44-41956, RAAF A72-176
HISTORY – (PROVENANCE)
Aircraft frame 44-41956 B-24M was delivered to the RAAF on the 7th January 1945, given the serial number of A72-176 and immediately joining RAAF 7 OTU based in Tocumwal NSW and completed most of its service life there.
A72-176 survived the mass destruction of surplus aircraft after end of the war and was earmarked as one of 3 Liberators fitted out for geographic survey missions in the Antarctic, however there is no record that a mission was flown there. It was eventually allocated to RAAF East Sale as an instructional airframe and was flown there on its last flight by Ed Crabtree on the 22nd of March 1946. (Ed became a life member of B24LMA and has since participated in its restoration).
23rd of March 1948 it was offered for sale as scrap and was sold to a George Toye in Moe Victoria, a local farmer. He proceeded to scrap the wing and tail plane and received only the fuselage stripped of all military equipment. It was stored in Moe until 1989 when it was eventually sold to the B24 Liberator Memorial Fund started by Eric Clark and Bob Butler, and by 1995 was delivered to the restoration hangar in Werribee Victoria.
The B-24 wing and tail plane was recovered from the Ramu Valley on the PNG north coast. It was from the wreck of a crashed USAAF B-24D Liberator 42-41091 operated by the 403rd BS 43rd Bombardment Group USAAF. The aircraft was forced down by the Japanese on 23rd December, 1943. Badly damaged on impact the aircraft was abandoned after a recovery team had removed the engines and secret military equipment. Arranging extraction of the wing proved very difficult, but in 1992 with assistance from the Australian Army, RAAF, PNG government and private companies, the wing was separated into three pieces along with the tail plane, helicoptered to Medang, and after that the wings arrived in Werribee late 1992.