LB-30B Liberator AM915

Achinhoan Hill Campbeltown, Kintyre













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: An RAF LB-30A Liberator in flight


B-24 Liberator in RAF service


Photo [pre-1957] Taken by an employee of the UK government. Photo now in the public domain.





Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Consolidated LB-32-2 Liberator Mk I  / AM915


(This aircraft was built originally as USAAC B-24, serial 40-2353)


Type Nickname: "Lib"; "Lumbering Lib"; "Flying Boxcar", and others.


The Consolidated B-24 heavy bomber first flew in 1939. The prototypes were equipped with four Pratt & Whitney 1200hp R-1830-33 Twin Wasp engines. Early production versions were fitted with P&W 1200hp R-1830-41 engines with GE turbo superchargers. Later production versions (B-24Ds) were fitted with P&W R-1830-43 engines. Later variants followed. Their maximum speed was about 487km/h (303mph).

The B-24 was fitted with 11 machine guns and had a bomb carrying capacity of about 3,629kgs (8,000lbs); and, with modifications, had a range of about 4600km (2,858 miles).

Although overshadowed by the B-17 (Flying Fortresses), the B-24 was produced in greater numbers than any other aircraft in history (in excess of 18,000 aircraft).


The RAF gained extra B-24s when they took delivery of an order destined originally for France. Consolidated termed the B-24 aircraft destined for Britain 'LB-30As', as they had been modified to meet British MoD and RAF requirements. The RAF assigned the name Liberator to their new bombers (a name adopted later by the USAAF).

However, since the P&W engines of these Liberators had had their superchargers removed before delivery to the RAF, and since they lacked the self-sealing fuel tanks fitted to the US B-24s, they were found to be unsuitable for use in the European theatre. Thus, initially, the RAF Liberators were assigned to BOAC, and later to RAF Ferry Command, for transport purposes.

A number of Liberators were allocated to RAF Coastal Command. Coastal Command first operated these aircraft in 1941, using them against the U-boats. Later, RAF bomber squadrons also used Liberators in the Middle East and Far East.


Three Liberators (AM915, AM918, and AM920) were converted from their military role to operate with BOAC in a civilian capacity. These aircraft were used to ferry priority passengers and crews across the Atlantic. The Liberator featured on this page was one of these aircraft.



BELOW: Shown here is RAF Consolidated Liberator AM262. After the war, AM262 and other Liberators (including AM915 featured here) were registered to BOAC for civilian use.


raf liberator am262


Photo: Source unknown





Aircraft Accident Details


At the time of this accident, the Liberator was being flown by BOAC pilots in conjunction with RAF Ferry Command crew.


The Liberator had been enroute from Montreal in Canada to Prestwick in Scotland. However, as Prestwick was closed for maintenance, the aircraft was instructed to land at nearby RAF Ayr (Heathfield).


While receiving landing instructions, the pilot requested weather conditions for RAF Stanley Park or RAF Squires Gate near Blackpool. In view of the cloud cover prevailing over Ayr at the time, the pilot considered that it might be advisable to land at an alternative airport.


The Liberator flew over RAF Ayr (Heathfield) and then began turning to head southward for Blackpool. At the time, the pilot believed he was turning over water. In fact, however, he was circling over the Kintyre Peninsula. Very soon, the Liberator struck the east shoulder of Achinhoan Hill at the head of Balnabraid Glen and not far from Arinarach Hill near Campbeltown.


The aircraft disintegrated on impact, killing all 10 personnel on board.






Aircraft Crew / Passenger Casualties


The 10 who died were:


From British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC):

  • Kenneth D Garden (Pilot)

  • G L Paynes (Pilot / 1st Officer)


From RAF Ferry Command (RAFFC):

  • C A Spence, Flt Engr.

  • S W Sydenham, W/Op


Other Military Personnel (Travelling as passengers):

  • Lt Col L H Wrangham

  • Capt S Pickering, USN


Civilian Passengers

  • Count G de Baillet-Latour, Belgium.
  • Prof. Balmain

  • Dr M Benjamin

  • E Taylor





Crash Site Photos


At the moment, there are no crash site photos for this aircraft.






















Crash Date / Site


Accident Date: 1 Sep 1941


Accident Site:

Achinhoan Hill (303m)Balnabraid Glen

(3 miles SE of Campbeltown)


Region: Argyll and Bute (Kintyre)


Nearest town or village:



Nearest large town:



OS Grid Ref. 741 156


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: A few small fragments may still be found at the crash site.



Other air crash in this vicinity:


RAF 652A Avro Anson Mk I / N4939 at Mullach Buidhe.




Aircraft Details


Registration or Serial: AM915 (RAF Registration: Aircraft ex- USAAC, serial 40-2353)


Operator: BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) in conjunction with RAFFC (RAF Ferry Command)


Operating Base: Unknown.


Destination Airport: RAF Ayr (Heathfield) Aerodrome, Ayr, Scotland (but, on approach, the pilot requested redirection instructions for  Stanley Park or Squires Gate Aerodrome, Blackpool,  England.) 


Current Airport Status (Ayr (Heathfield): Partly retail units and partly incorporated into Prestwick Airport.


Current Airport Status (Prestwick):

Operational Civil Airport and Military Air Base; National Air Traffic Services (NATS): Scottish Area Control Centre (SACC), Oceanic Area Control Centre (OACC), Military Control and Engineering; and HMS Gannet.


Current Airport Name: Glasgow (Prestwick) International Airport (EGPK)



Principal airport data courtesy of John Woodside, A Catalogue of UK Airfields





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