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  B-24M-10-CO Liberator Serial Number A72-176  
RAAF
7 OTU

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Mike Lee 2001

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego as a B-24M-10-CO Liberator. U. S. Army serial number 44-41956. Modified into a B-24R with search radar. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Liberator A72-176. Assigned to 7 OTU based at East Sale Airfield to Group Captain Kingwell.

On March 22, 1945 piloted by F/O Ed Crabtree flying from Mascot Airfield to East Sale. Previously, this flight was believed to be the last flight of this B-24.

Three days later on March 25, 1945 piloted by F/O Rex Malcolm Whitburn on a flight from East Sale to Dubbo Airfield then back to East Sale. Also aboard were F/L Lee and F/L Kobelke.

Afterwards, this B-24 was designated instructional Airframe No.5.

Postwar
Disposed on March 23 1948 from East Sale Airfield. The fuselage was purchased by resident George Toye during 1948, but the wings and tail were scrapped. In 1952 the fuselage was transported it to his property aboard logging trucks. Stored outdoors, Toye lived in the fuselage for a time while finishing the construction of his home.

Restoration
Stored at RAAF Werribee this aircraft is being restored by the efforts of B-24 Liberator Restoration Fund Inc. Recovered without most of its internal fittings, but was in excellent condition considering the several decades of outside storage. The restoration team had to replace approximately one third of the original structure including all the corresponding parts such as bulkheads, stringers and main frames.

To provide a set of wings and tail, a salvage team from the organization recovered the wing and tail of B-24D "Bunny Hop / Flying Wolf" 42-41091 during the late 1990s and transported them to Australia, where they were incorporated into the restoration.

As of 2006, they have about 90% of the parts to complete the job.

Relatives
John Whitburn (son of F/O Rex Malcolm Whitburn)
"A2-176 was flown on the 25th March by Rex Malcolm Whitburn (DFC, mentioned in dispatches)."

References
ADF Serials - Liberator A72-176
ADF Serials - Liberator A72-176 Photo Archive

Other source incorrectly state F/O Ed Crabtree was the last to fly this B-24 on March 22, 1945
F/O Rex Malcolm Whitburn Logbook - February 5 - March 27, 1946 via John Whitburn
B-24 Liberator Memorial Restoration Fund Newsletter "The Last Pilot of A72-176" May 2000, page 4
Thanks to John Whitburn, Ralph Cusack and Mike Lee for additional information.

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

Tech Information
B-24

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