The Collings Foundation Planes

The Collings Foundation has has lovingly restored a B-24 Liberator to stunning condition, with authentic combat gear. This plane was originally named "All American", then amended to "All American/The Dragon's Tail" after nose art was added to the starboard side. While VPB-118 was the first squadron to fly the PB4Y-2 Privateer, all or most crew trained on the Liberator beforehand, and many completed tours of duty as Liberator aircrewmen prior to the formation of VPB-118. On the weekend of July 26-28, 2002, this Collings Foundation plane, as well as their restored B-17, visited Palwaukee Airport in Illinois. I learned about their visit -- as I was driving by on business! I came back and took these photos. There was an enthusiastic crowd there.


B-17 Start-up

The tour companion to the B-24 was this B-17 Flying Fortress. Here we see the pilot preparing to taxi out and take off.

B-17 Fly-By

After the B-17 got airborne, she came around for a fly-by. Unfortunately we did not get the same favor from the B-24 when she left.

B-24 Liberator

"The Dragon and His Tail"

On Saturday the cockpit plexiglass was covered. I took this photo on Sunday to show and you can see the cockpit windows.

Head-on view of Liberator

While the looks of the B-17 draws the crowds, the B-24 is actually a more modern vintage, as readily seen in this head-on view.

Nose Detail

This detail shows the business end of the Liberator -- the nose turret and the bombardier's station. The photo looks horizontally compresessed but is not.

Side View

From this angle you can see why some called the Liberator "The Flying Boxcar". I have read that in certain circumstances the crew needed to prop up the tail to keep it from tipping down from the load. You can see why in this photo.

View Under Wing Towards B-17

In this view you can see the wheel well and superchargers of the B-24 as well as the B-17.


The dedication of the crew is evident in this view of one of the engines

Wing Detail

Here is a wider view of the engine and wing.

Portside View

Here you can see the tarp covering the cockpit, much as they did it during WWII.

Departure of the Liberator

Here is a video screen capture of the Liberator taling off to go to Valparaiso, Indiana


View from Tail Hatch toward Tail Turret

I was standing on the ladder when I took this picture looking back toward the tail turret.

Starboard Waist Gun

The Liberators had only open hatches with wind spoilers, much like this recreation. The Privateers had automatic turrets, which nonetheless were not invinceable.

Belly Turret and Ditching Station

This view shows the belly turret from the inside as well as the ditching station. The yellow bottles are oxygen bottles for high-altitude duty. My understanding is that Navy Liberators did not utilize oxygen because they mostly operated at low altitude. The ditching station is a little hard to see, but has seatbelts and minimal padding. The airmen would be sitting with their backs to the direction of travel. It does not appear that there is any head/neck support, which could have resulted in severe injury or death in case of an actual ditching, which would occur in excess of 100 MPH.

Bomb Bay

This is a little hard to see, but the thin deck in the middle is the walkway from the tail to the front of the plane. The bright orange tanks seem to be modern reserve fuel tanks. You can see the grass of the field we are in below, as well as make out a few dummy bombs. This is the rear bomb bay. There is a guy on the walkway in the front bomb bay.

View from Bomb Bay into Bombardier's Area

Here is another bomb bay view, but you can see into the area under the radio shack/cockpit where the bombardier was stationed. The mechanism for the nose wheel is also located there.


The aircrew had guts, as did the plane itself. Here you can see some of the cables that operate the tail, as well as a zillion other things that do who knows what.
Cockpit/radio area Here you can see the proximity of the radio operator's station and the cockpit. The radioman can literally reach around the bulwark and touch the co-pilot. Notice the radioman's seat, which is mounted on a swivel arm and equipped with seatbelt. The importance of seatbelts was understood by WWII aircrew.

Radioman's Area - Detail

The radioman was never far from the action. This view shows the small window that he could use to check out what was happening. Above and right behind him was the top turret.