Updated June 16, 2022:
The B-24 Liberator Story
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater is an example of American engineering and production. The B-24 was the most numerous American Combat Aircraft produced during the World War II years exceeding over 18,000 aircraft produced. This was one of the production efforts that gave rise to “Rosie the Riveter.”
Shortly after war’s end however and with the nation wanting to put the war behind it, the B-24 like the tens of thousands of aircraft produced for the war effort were flown to storage airfields such as Kingman Army Airfield Arizona, Walnut Ridge Arkansas as well as several others across the nation. Within 18 months these aircraft were scrapped and smelted into aluminum ingots to manufacture automobiles and durable goods for the burgeoning new era of prosperity.
There were however a few examples which escaped the scrappers torch to survive in other lands to eventually one-day serve as a testimonial to the sacrifice and courage to the men and women who designed, built, maintained and flew these sentinels of democracy into the teeth of hell to preserve a free way of life for generations not yet born. One such example is the B-24 Liberator on exhibit at the Castle Air .Museum in Atwater. It is the only example of its type on the West Coast and one of only approximately 18 known left in existence! This aircraft was constructed by Consolidated Aircraft Company in San Diego in 1945 and with the war winding down and rapid demobilization was declared surplus and found its way to South America where it began hauling cargo over the Andes Mountains.
In the late 1970s the National Museum of the United States Air Force became aware of the aircraft’s existence sitting abandoned on the edge of an airfield in Bolivia. At this time talk of an air museum at Castle Air Force Base in Atwater began to get serious with the museum opening its doors in June 1981. The significance of this aircraft to the heritage of the 93rd Bomb Wing based at Castle Air Force Base was very important, since the unit’s ancestor unit was the famed 93rd Bomb Group during World War II with such harrowing raids as the bombing of “Hitler’s Black Gold” at the Oil Refineries used to power the Nazi war machine in Ploesti Romania flying at treetop height from Libya to accomplish this mission.
The aircraft on display at the museum is in the markings of that group to honor their heroism and high loss of life during those dark days. This aircraft arrived from Bolivia to the Castle Air Museum beginning about 1981 in pieces. Many of which were in crates and not labeled as to what part or where the parts went. Museum volunteers scoured the nation, and world searching for and acquiring parts to restore this aircraft to its former grandeur. After 8 ½ grueling years and 36,000 volunteer hours the B-24 was finally rolled out or the Restoration Hangar in Fall 1989 to an enthusiastic crowd and an impressive fly over by the 93rd Bomb Wing!
The B-24 on display has been on outdoor display at the Castle Air Museum now for nearly 33 years. Time exposed to the elements are taking a toll on this grand lady and defender of freedom. Even with ongoing maintenance and painting we can no longer ignore the fact that this magnificent piece of American history must be preserved in order to teach future generations that we cannot ignore and allow our nation to repeat the mistakes of the past! The time is now to join the museum and support the construction of an 80,000 square foot hangar to preserve the B-24 and up to 20 others currently in the elements for posterity! Every donation to this valiant cause counts! Please help today with your tax deductible donation to the museum and “preserve our military aviation heritage for future generations and to inspire future engineers and aviators.”