1/72 Academy B-24 Liberator 

Gallery Article by Kevin R. Ingraham on Jan 26 2014

  India Republic Day 



B-24 Liberator Indian Air Force

One of the most remarkable stories of aviation history is that of the resurrection of the B-24 Liberator by the Indian Air Force in the late 1940s. In their postwar drawdown, the British left behind vast amounts of Lend-Lease material, much of it destroyed per L-L requirements or abandoned as unserviceable. In an amazing display of resourcefulness and determination, the Indians reclaimed around 44 of the destitute bombers to be rebuilt to as-new standards by the emergent Hindustan Aviation Ltd. HAL was itself being reborn as a modern aviation corporation from a WW2 maintenance contractor. The aircraft were inspected for their reclamation potential and those selected were rebuilt on site just adequately enough to make one flight to the HAL facility in Bangalore. There, the airframes were stripped and rebuilt to service standards. In a testament to Indian ingenuity and the robust original design of the B-24, the reclaimed bombers flew for the IAF twenty more years, the last retiring in 1968. All of the flyable or restored Liberators in western museums and collections are from those retired by the IAF. The B-24 equipped two squadrons in the strategic bombing and maritime reconnaissance roles until replaced by the Canberra in the bomber role in the mid-1950s and in the late 1960s by the Lockheed Constellation in the MR mission. Known combat operations include the 1962 liberation of the Portuguese colony of Goa and the 1965 war with Pakistan.


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This model represents a bomber of 6 Squadron as it appeared during the early 1960s, the era of the liberation of Goa. The kit is the venerable Academy B-24H with minor modifications to match photos of IAF Liberators. There is some mold wear so care was required in assembling the fuselage to minimize the putty/sand/prime/repeat cycle. The only aftermarket parts used were wheels from Resin-Art (#7307) and a resin .50 cal gun barrel set by Quickboost. As the kit gun barrels are just plastic sticks, the latter is a worthwhile purchase. This example, HE-846, was equipped for maritime recon and so had the belly turret replaced by a scratchbuilt retractable radar dome. Hasegawa has a Coastal Command edition of their B-24 kit that would serve OOB for most IAF airframes, including T/HE-846. If you decide to build one of these remarkable aircraft, examine the photos closely and select a particular airframe. Some antenna fittings and the nose windows in particular could vary widely from airplane to airplane. These aircraft were well maintained and showed little wear. The fit of the wings to the fuselage was so superb that I was able to paint and decal before clicking them together--this considerably eased the project. A B-24’s bomb capacity is about the equivalent weight required in the nose to keep it from being a tail-sitter. The codes are from assorted RAF sheets and the IAF roundels and flashes are from Bright Spark’s excellent IAF sheet. The 6 Squadron logo of a flying dragon was made and generously given by my friend Murli Rajan.

The 1:48 Monogram-Revell kit would serve an IAF project well, the same caveats apply regarding researching the specific airframe. In 72d, the Academy kit is much more affordable than the more recent Hasegawa kit, which is likely to be easier to assemble as the Academy kit had flash and mold shift issues. I haven’t seen the Hase-kit so I cannot make any further comparison. I had no issues that weren’t self imposed—just make sure you attach the tail fins the right side up the first time as it is easy to go the wrong way around. Trust me; correcting this is not as easy as it appears.

For further reference: http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Images/Vintage/Fighters/Liberator/

And many thanks for the knowledge shared by my friends in the Indian Scale Modelers group on Facebook—well worth searching out if you have an interest in modeling the militaries of South Asia or the CBI campaign. Nemaste!

Respectfully Submitted,

Kevin R. Ingraham


Photos and text © by Kevin R. Ingraham