The Atka B-24D Liberator bomber, located at its crash site in Atka Island,
Alaska, played a highly significant role in World War II. In the Aleutian
Campaign against the Imperial Japanese forces from 1942 to 1943--the only
battles fought in North America during the war--it was a superb weapon.
This aircraft flew in at least 18 combat missions before finally succumbing
to bad weather rather than enemy action. Manufactured in 1941, it is now only one of two B-24Ds known
to exist in the world. Designed and built by Consolidated Aircraft, the
original appearance of Serial #40-2367 was that of a four-engine bomber
with twin tail fins. It weighed approximately 36,000 pounds, had a wingspan
of 110 feet and was 67 feet long. It carried a crew of 9 men and was primarily
used for bombing. This B-24D airplane came to Alaska in March 1942 and served
exclusively in the Aleutian Campaign, but had been taken from combat duty
and was being used as a weather observation plane. Had it crashed during
combat, the usual pattern of explosion, fire or total loss at sea, would
have destroyed it. However, on December 9, 1942 it was crash-landed in Atka,
Alaska, in an emergency landing which saved several lives. The tail broke
off in the characteristic B-24 manner, but the tail section is intact, minus
the vertical tail fins, which are in the vicinity of the aircraft. A brief
passage from the 11th Air Force History, 1941-1945, gives the following
Atka B-24 D Liberator-posistion and condition of aircraft at crash
National Park Service photo
by Ted Spencer
On 9 December (1942) Colonel Hart and Brigadier General William E.
Lynd of General Buckner's staff, took off from Adak in a B-24 piloted
by Captain John Andrews. The two officers wished to accompany the weather
plane to make personal observations from Kiska and Attu. The plane reached
Attu, circled over Holtz Bay, and then returned to Adak. Arriving back
at Adak at 1600, the pilot found his base socked in by weather. He notified
the tower that he planned to fly to the far end of Atka Island and attempt
a crash landing. Atka, too, was closed in, and the plane was crash-landed
. . . There was only one casualty. General Lynd sustained a fractured
collarbone and the crew members and Colonel Hart spent an uncomfortable
night on the beach while the personnel of Eleventh Air Force Headquarters
spent an uncomfortable night wondering what had happened to them. The
next day, they were signed by a Navy PBY which landed and put a rubber
boat ashore. The men had adequate food and were able to gather enough
driftwood to build a fire, a difficult problem in the treeless Aleutians.
The castaways were picked up on 11 December by the Navy seaplane tender
USS Gillis, chilly and tired but otherwise unharmed.
The B-24 was the heavy bomber mainstay, built in larger numbers and in more
versions than any other U.S. aircraft during World War II. It served in
every theater of the war and was used by all branches of the U.S. Armed
Forces, as well as the Air Arms of the British, French, Chinese, Dutch,
Australian and Indian Allies. The prototype aircraft was built and first
flown on December 29, 1939, after which 18,187 were manufactured. One of
the most illustrious chapters in the Liberator's story is its service in
the Aleutian Campaign from March 1942 through the end of the war. B-24s
flew in the initial patrols and search missions and are best remembered
for valiant duties performed during the Kiska and Attu
bombing campaign in the summer and fall of 1942 and the re-invasion of 1943.
During this time, hazardous long-range missions were flown from Umnak Island
in the Aleutians to bomb Japanese installations at Kiska and Attu islands.
The concentration of Japanese antiaircraft batteries at Kiska was one of
the largest and deadliest in the Pacific.
Atka B-24 Liberator-front section
showing special design features, unit insignia & 18 bomb mission
National Park Service
photo by Ted Spencer, 1978
The Atka B-24D Liberator is located on Atka Island, Alaska.