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Thread: Liberator serial BZ978

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    Default Liberator serial BZ978

    Have a photo showing the nose of an RAF-bound Liberator VI with the manufacturer or modification center code '30-13' on the nose. Can anyone tie this to an RAF serial?
    In case it helps, have just found a another photo showing '30-410' as KH166 at Louisville Mod Center, Kentucky - it's KH166.
    Regards:
    Robert
    Last edited by robstitt; 30th June 2008 at 19:18.

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    The 30 code tells us it is a B Mk.VI, GR Mk.VIs being coded 29. The recent (superb) Air Britain book sadly does not have a full listing of these Modification Centre numbers, but does say that they do not follow the serials. The GR Mk.VI MCns were recorded: 29-13 is known to be BZ979, and at least the early ones do seem to be in a matching sequence. The 13th B Mk.VI serial was BZ989, but the 4th crashed in the USA before delivery - whether this was before or after going through the Mod Centre is not stated! So the 14th was BZ990 - but this was delivered to Dorval the day before BZ989, so maybe BZ989 was the 13th after all? The next B Mk.VI serial was BZ991, delivered to Dorval the same day as BZ989, EV812 and EV815. Unfortunately, although the earlier BZxxx aircraft staged through Dorval in a reasonable sequence by serial, we have BZ996 and BZ998 going through 16 days before BZ990 - so either of these could be 30-13.

    The RAF serial does go with the USAAF serial, so that's no help.

    I think that's the best this source will provide: it does give EW126 as 30-155.

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    Default Liberator Serial

    Hello Robert & Graham,

    With the help of Air Britain's "KA100-KZ999" and "The British Air Commission & Lend Lease" books, I think that I may have solved it.
    YES "30-13" might well have been BZ989 ex 42-64085.

    I worked from both books to find ONLY B.VI's not to include GR VI's or Mk. VIII's.
    And from that, working back from KH166 as "30-410" the numbers worked out for me, right down to BZ960 becoming "30-001".
    This brought BZ989 as "30-13" that was destined for the Indian theatre.

    I will include a table of these serial numbers soon.

    Alex

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    Graham and Alex:
    It never ceases to amaze me as to how much work Forumites will go to in response to a request. Thanks so much for all your detective work. I should have mentioned it is a B.VI in non-Coastal camouflage. Looks like I can safely state in a caption that it is "... very possibly BZ989."
    I think I mentioned this before but former official BPC Charles Luttman, who had hung on to the BPC files subsequently used by Ken Meekcoms for the excellent AB book, was killed in a car accident shortly after the book was published - Meekcoms has since passed away too. So this invaluable information could well have been lost to us all.
    Graham: I'm curious to know from where you are drawing the Dorval arrival and departure dates.
    Regards:
    Robert

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    Graham:
    Would appreciate learning the date you have for BZ989 (and her sisterships) departing Dorval. The photo was taken at Lagens in the Azores between late October 1943 and January 1944 if that helps pin the aircraft down - the location would very likely indicate she was Middle East or India-bound.
    Best regards:
    Robert

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    My source is the recent Air Britain "The Liberator in RAF and Commonwealth Service" by James Oughton, John Hamblin and Andrew Thomas. It gives a complete (as far as is known) individual history of all such aircraft. A must-buy for all B-24 enthusiasts. I only needed to look at a few pages.... but some queries just light up the curiosity. However, I repeat that it does specifically state that the sequence of MCns did not always align with the serials.

    B.VIs would not wear Coastal Command camouflage - those were GR Mk.VIs.

    If the photo was taken in the Azores, that was not BZ989, because she was delivered via Prestwick.

    BZ988 Dorval - Sydney 22.12.43, Sydney - Gander 25.12.43, Gander - Lagens 27.12.43 via Azores (isn't Lagens the capital of the Azores?),Lagens - Rabat Sale 28.12.43.
    BZ990, dld Dorval 28.11.43; via Azores, arr Karachi 12.12.43
    BZ992 ditto, arr Karachi 17.12.43
    BZ993 dld Dorval 2.12.43, Via Azores to ME arr Cairo 12.5.44
    BZ996 via Prestwick
    BZ997 dld Dorval 1.12.43, via Lagens, arr Karachi 16.12.43
    BZ998 via Prestwick

    Others in the same period via Lagens: EV812, 815 28.11.43; 813 16.12; 814 1.12; 817 5.12 and so on.

    Alex: does EW126 fit in this sequence? EW229 was 30-245, EW157 was 30-186, EW113 was 30-142, KG920 was 30-334, 922 was 336, 923 was 337, 924 was 338. 967 was 358, KH166 was 410, 283 was 477, That's all I can find.

    Later B Mk.VIs were in the 43-xxx sequence, and they were definitely not linked to serials. Sequential RAF serials from KL481 are 43 -60,35,48,39,33,51..... That these were Lend-Lease aircraft may be relevant.

    Annoyingly, it seems that all the OD-painted aircraft seem to have retained the 30-xxx number in service, there are some tantalising photos with MCns partially visible, or just unclear.

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    Graham,

    RAF Lagens = Lajes Field on Terceira Island

    http://www.usconsulateazores.pt/LajesField.htm

    Also:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azores#Cities

    There are five cities in the Azores: Ponta Delgada and Ribeira Grande on São Miguel Island; Angra do Heroísmo and Praia da Vitória on the island of Terceira, and Horta on the island of Faial. Three of these Ponta Delgada, Angra and Horta are considered capital cities in the regional government, homes to the President (Ponta Delgada), the Judiciary (Angra) and the Regional Assembly (Horta).

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Default It's BZ978 / 42-64074

    Robert and all,

    The RAF and US serials for Modification Number 30-13 are definitely BZ978 (a B.VI) and 42-64074.

    As C.O. of 159 Squadron (Dec '43 - July '44), W/Cdr John "Hoppy" Hopkins collected a few 159-related photos, including two of BZ978 / W for Winnie showing crew posing for the camera in front of the forward fuselage (groundcrew in one, aircrew in the other). On each of these prints 30-13 and the stencilling with the US serial are clearly visible. Hoppy's brother, ex-wartime RAF flight surgeon Dr. Tom Hopkins, generously lent me his late brother's photo collection, which I scanned. Excellent quality prints.

    I see that one of these is in the Australian War Memorial collection: SUK12705. You can clearly read the 30-13 but not the US serial number in the version viewable via http://cas.awm.gov.au.

    After suffering serious damage from fighters while attacking Siam rail targets on 6 Oct 1944, BZ978 limped homeward but was lost in a ditching in the Bay of Bengal, short of the first available Allied airfield at Cox's Bazaar. One crewman was killed in the fighter attack and others wounded. 1550526 W/O John "Jock" McKinnon, skipper, not seen after the ditching, was on his final-scheduled op. Despite a massive search over the next few days during which a dinghy with three crewmen was spotted several times in poor conditions, an RAF rescue launch was unable to locate the dinghy and the three fell into Japanese hands. One died in Rangoon Jail, but two survived.

    Regards,

    Matt

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    Matt, Graham and Pavel:
    Thank you all! Do you have delivery dates for BZ978, Graham?
    Regards:
    Robert

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    BZ978 dld Dorval 23.11.43, then via Azores arr Mauripor, Karachi, 12/12/43

    I make it the 9th B Mk.VI by RAF/USAAF serials

    However, I count 10 delivered to Dorval ahead of her, another which crashed, and 3 others delivered on the same day. So somewhere in there is the explanation why she was 30-13.
    Last edited by Graham Boak; 1st July 2008 at 16:52.

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