B-24 LIBERATOR MEMORIAL RESTORATION FUND
HONOURING THE RAAF WW2 B-24 LIBERATOR LEGACY
B-24 RESTORATION HANGAR
Located south west of Melbourne are a few remaining hangars of what was once the Werribee airfield. Werribee was built in 1940 to serve as a training field, storage/repair base and operational location for various RAAF units. Located inside one of the few remaining hangars is the current home of the B-24 Liberator Memorial Restoration Fund organisation. The Fund is the owner of one of the only remaining B-24 bomber in the southern hemisphere and only 1 of 8 remaining B-24 airframes still existing in the world, out of the original nearly 19,000 built. After nearly 25 years since the bold vision was started, the ambitious project is getting closer to reaching the goal of preserving a B-24 Liberator to honour the contribution of one of the RAAF's main bombers of the WW2 era.
MEMORIAL GOAL – A LIVING B-24 LIBERATOR
The core aspect of the project is now focused on making the B-24 a "living bomber". It will not be flown but instead restored to a high quality as seen with other "living" warbird aircraft overseas such as the Just Jane Lancaster in the UK, which is now being upgraded to fly. The aim is for the B-24 at Werribee to be shown to the public with all elements "operational". It is hoped that the bomber will eventually be taxi-able. To enable the B-24 to "live", four working examples (and one spare backup) of the Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp 1830 engines are to be used. These powerful and compact engines produce 1,200hp output via a two-row, 14-cylinder, air-cooled radial design. Some of the engines were donated, with one coming from an anonymous person, while two of the engines were purchased from Peter Starr of Dakota National Air. Visitors to the museum can see these engines up close and listen to the sounds via monthly engine running sessions. The hangar is also home to working displays which allow visitors to see how the aircraft systems worked. Visitors can examine up close and watch how the defensive protection of the B-24 worked. The protective fire came from many of its M2 0.5inch /12.7mm machine guns located around the airframe such as in the nose, the upper fuselage, the lower fuselage, the waist of the fuselage and the tail position. The volunteers are rebuilding all of these turrets with inert machine guns, to fit into the airframe and have some turrets already working as ground based displays to enable visitors to look closely at how the turrets operated with a crew member in them. The B-24 Liberator Memorial Restoration Fund is a great example of what can be achieved by a team of passionate, dedicated and organised volunteers. The project funding and ongoing work has mainly relied on the goodwill of volunteers, visitors and public donations to advance from where it was in the 1990s to the present day.
MUSEUM EXPANSION PLANS
The B-24 Fund has developed a strategic and detailed future plan for the ongoing preservation of its collection. It is hoping to keep and upgrade the current hangar, which will also see on display a replica WW2 era Tiger Moth, Oxford aircraft and an Anson trainer. These aircraft types were mainly made from fabric/wood/steel, so they will require extensive work. A CAC Boomerang fighter project could also be donated by its owner to the museum for public display in the future.
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