Consolidated Mess – Nose-turreted B-24 Production Variants

Published: May 4th, 2012     
Product Image
Cover
Author: Alan Griffith
Reviewed by: 
Paul Mahoney, IPMS# 8943
Company: MMP Books
ISBN #: 978-83-61421-16-0
Other Publication Information: Softcover, 192 pages, period b&w and color photos, color profiles
Price: $59.00
Product / Stock #: White Series #9115

This is probably one of the best, and most descriptive, titles for a modeling/aircraft reference book I have seen.  To quote the author: "The B-24 went through more turret changes than any American combat aircraft before or since."  This books attempts (quite successfully) to guide the reader through these various changes on all of the turret-nosed B-24 models.

There was an absolutely dizzying combination of nose turrets, tail turrets, waist guns, belly turrets and guns, and other modifications/design changes made to the B-24.  The book goes into great detail of each step in the process, and the author makes every attempt to explain the differences clearly for each new piece of this puzzle.  Crystal-clear photos (unless the only one available is less than clear), many previously unpublished, as well as a huge number of line drawings (with differences highlighted in red) accompany a very clear descriptions.

The amount of research this author has conducted is admirable, and the results show.  As much as possible, he provides the reader with everything necessary to figure out how any particular B-24 was fitted out (or at least to make a very good guess).

Initially, B-24Ds were converted to incorporate nose turrets at specified air depots in the US and Australia.  These standardized conversions were anything but standard, and the differences are described in depth.

All defensive armament aspects of the nose-turreted B-24s are covered.  The author starts at the tail and works his way forward.  Different types of turrets, as well as many versions of open gun positions, were used in the tail, and each is discussed.  Two main styles of top turrets were utilized, and, again, each is discussed.  Waist gun stations were initially open-air, but later a variety of sealed hatches was employed.  Belly turrets were sometimes removed (or never installed).  And, of course, a variety of turrets was employed at the nose of the aircraft.  Different styles of navigator and bombardier windows were also installed, often dependent on the type of nose turret.  Each of these aspects is covered in depth by the author.

Besides the armament, there are other little tidbits of interesting information within this book.  New to me was the information that small wheels were often fitted to the tail skid of the B-24.  Apparently, towing the plane on the ground from the tail quite often resulted in the rear fuselage coming down hard on the skid, causing severe damage.  The wheel prevented that.  This wheel is pointed out in several photos and illustrated with line drawings, much like everything else in the book.

The appendices of this book are just as full of information as the body of the text.  One appendix deals with camouflage paint.  The author shows profiles of each of the different B-24 manufacturers' painting styles.  Demarcation lines and patterns on camouflaged B-24s varied quite a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer, but each individual company was pretty consistent in its own paint application.  This type of variance also applied to the anti-glare panels painted on natural metal-finished B-24s.  Again, the author provides profiles highlighting these differences.  Following this is a brief description of the actual camouflage colors, some sample color profiles (of generic B-24s), and a few color pictures.

The second appendix has a table of B-24 serial numbers, broken down by year of manufacture and production block ID.  Next comes a table of all B-24D (non-nose turret) aircraft that were modified in field depots or factories to have a nose turret.

A description of the construction of the bomb bay door panels follows.

The last appendices are dedicated to various one-offs or non-production models, such as single-tail B-24s (not the PB4Ys), and a few other interesting proposals (including a proposed twin B-24 - think Zwilling!)

I did find a few small editing errors in the book, but in a volume of this reach, that is almost unavoidable.  One line drawing does not have the area highlighted in red that is referred to in the text.  Early on in the book, the author uses a set of 3 drawings to highlight the differences in the Davis airfoil used by the B-24.  It is compared to a B-17 and a P-51, yet the B-17 wing cross section (I believe) is labeled as a B-24.  It is a little confusing, but obviously just a small error.  Finally, I did note that there is no Ford/Willow Run B-24H camouflage demarcation pattern drawing in the appendix.  The author is already aware of this and an errata profile is available on MMP's webpage for downloading.  This author is on top of things, and that demonstrates his devotion to this subject (in case reading this book didn't already show that to you!).  That is first-rate service from the publisher and the author.

This book is an absolute treasure trove for anyone wanting to build an accurate turret-nosed B-24.  Armed with this, you should be able to (somewhat easily) figure out, with reasonable certainty, how exactly a particular B-24 would have been outfitted.  The author alludes to a Volume 2, and I am certainly looking forward to it.

Thanks to MMP Books for the review copy, and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Cockpit window variations
    Cockpit window variations
  • Nose armament changes
    Nose armament changes
  • Towing and hand-held twin .50 cal tailguns
    Towing and hand-held twin .50 cal tailguns
  • Bombardier nose window mods
    Bombardier nose window mods

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