GR-V Liberator FL949

Cuilags, Isle of Hoy, Orkney













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: B-24 'Diamond Lil' in flight. The RAF GR-V Liberator featured on this page was a variant of the USAAF B-24 shown here.


B-24 Diamond Lil in flight


Photo : [no date] US Federal Government photo released to the public domain.





Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Consolidated GR-V Liberator / FL949


(This aircraft was built originally by Douglas, Tulsa as B-24D-DT, serial  41-11755)


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).



BELOW: Another variant of this aircraft; this time showing a USAAF B-24H Liberator.


a us b-24h liberator in flight


Photo: Courtesy of the National Museum of the US Air Force





Aircraft Accident Details


On New Years Day 1945, Liberator FL949 (PP-Y) took off from RAF Tain with a relatively new Czech crew—all members of the RAFVR. The aircraft was scheduled to fly north from Tain in Ross-shire, passing over Wick on the Scottish mainland. The Liberator was on anti-submarine patrol duties.

Once clear of Wick, the aircraft then proceeded over Orkney, flying at a fairly low altitude. When the Liberator approached the Isle of Hoy, dense fog was obscuring the pilot's vision. Apparently unaware of the high ground ahead, the Liberator flew straight into the Cuilags at the NW end of Hoy.

(Some reports state that this accident occurred at Rora Head on Hoy. It is uncertain whether the Liberator first struck Rora Head before limping on to crash finally at Cuilags—a few miles further inland. However, the remaining wreckage is located at Cuilags.)





Aircraft Crew Casualties


All on board perished in this accident. Those who died were:

The final resting places of each of these airmen can be determined from the hyperlinks above.

See also this entry for F/Sgt Miloš Bodlák in Encyklopedie BRNA (Czech)

See also War Detectives for some Czech Memorials at Tain (St. Duthas) Cemetery


BELOW: Memorial to the Czech airmen of 311 Squadron RAF Coastal Command . (Individual graves of the airmen who died in this particular accident are shown further down this page)


memorial to 311 Czech squadron raf coastal command


The inscription on the above stone reads:


In memory of all members of 311 Czechoslovak squadron RAF Coastal Command who gave their lives so that we may live.


They shall not be forgotten.



Photo: © 2008 Steven Spink





Memorial Photos


BELOW: The headstone marking the grave of Flt/Sgt Milos Bodlak (22) RAF.


grave - milos bodlak


Photo: © 2008 Steven Spink



BELOW: The grave of Sgt Martin Dorniak (29) RAF.


grave - martin dorniak


Photo: © 2008 Steven Spink



BELOW: The grave of Flt/Sgt Antonin Bednar (31) RAF.


grave - antonin bednar


Photo: © 2008 Steven Spink



BELOW: The grave of Flt/Sgt Ivo Karel Englander (20) RAF.


grave - ivo karel englander


Photo: © 2008 Steven Spink



BELOW: The grave of W/O Oldrich Bures (35) RAF.


grave - oldrich bures


Photo: © 2008 Steven Spink





Crash Site Photos


BELOW: A section of wreckage from Liberator FL949 which crashed at Cuilags, Isle of Hoy, Orkney in 1945. 


wreckage section from liberator FL949


Photo: © 2007 Steve White



BELOW: It is difficult to identify some parts of this wreckage. As can be seen, the small section below is partly corrugated. The actual size can be estimated by comparing the fragment with the sports bag nearby. 


small corrugated section of wreckage


Photo: © 2007 Steve White



BELOW: Possibly, section from tail / elevator / aileron assembly.


possibly, elevator or aileron section


Photo: © 2007 Steve White



BELOW: Part of one of the four Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp engines.


part of one of the four pratt and whitney twin wasp engines


Photo: © 2007 Steve White



BELOW: Another section from the Liberator.


another section from the liberator


Photo: © 2007 Steve White



BELOW: Further scattered wreckage from Liberator GR V / FL949. The loch in the background helps to determine the location of this accident. (See also map and GPS overlay below)


another small section of wreckage lying on the hillside another part of the wrecked aircraft more wreckage sections overlooking the loch below


Photos: © 2007 Steve White



BELOW: A section of wing flap from Liberator FL949 now on display at Lyness Museum, Isle of Hoy.


flap from liberator on display at local museum on hoy


Photos: © 2008 Steven Spink



BELOW: Route map and GPS waypoints to Liberator crash site and locations of scattered wreckage. (Click on map for larger image)


GPS route to crash location


Photo: 2007 Steve White




Photo Gallery


At the moment, there are no additional photos for this crash site in the Photo Gallery.





















Crash Date / Site


Accident Date: 1 Jan 1945


Accident Site:

Cuilags (Cuileags) (433m / 1420ft)


Region: Orkney Isles (Hoy)


Nearest town or village:

Murra, Hoy or Linksness


Nearest large towns:

None on Hoy. Nearest by ferry to Stromness (N) or Kirkwall (E) on Orkney mainland.


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Most of this aircraft was removed by RAF recovery teams. However, some wreckage remains onsite, including parts of Twin Wasp engines, wing sections, etc.




Aircraft Details


Registration or Serial: FL949 (PP-Y) (Built originally by Douglas - Tulsa as B-24D-DT, serial 41-11755)


Operator: RAF; (311 (Czech) Squadron; RAF 18 Grp Coastal Ops)


Operating Base: RAF Tain (X6TA)


Base Location: Tain, Ross-Shire, Scotland


Current Airport Status: Airfield closed in 1946 and returned to agricultural use. Some derelict buildings remain. For photos, click here.


Current Airport Name: RAF Tain; Air Weapons Range (AWR); (Formerly, a large bombing range, which covered a part of the former airfield and the Moray Firth)



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





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