• The F-7 was a photographic reconnaissance version of the Liberator, obtained by converting existing B-24 airframes at Army modification centers.

    The first XF-7 was obtained in January of 1943 by converting B-24D 41-11653 by removing all the bombing equipment and installing eleven reconnaissance cameras in the nose, bomb bay, and aft fuselage. All the defensive armament was retained. This conversion was carried out at Lowry AB in Colorado. Four additional Consolidated/San Diego-built B-24Ds were converted to reconnaissance configuration under the designation F-7 at the Northwest Airlines Modification Center in St.Paul, Minnesota.

    Most of the reconnaissance conversions were of nose-turreted B-24J, L and M Liberators. The first of these conversions were designated F-7A. The F-7A had a trimetrogon camera located in the nose, and a pair of vertical cameras installed in the aft bomb bay. The full defensive armament suite of the bomber was retained, and the F-7A conversions could externally be distinguished from stock bomber Liberators only by the presence of the additional camera windows cut into the rear bomb bay and into the lower nose. Generally, extra fuel tanks were installed in the forward bomb bay for additional range. The aft bomb bay was sealed shut and a crew compartment was installed for the photo technicians operating the cameras. Heaters were installed to keep the temperature of the compartment constant, more for the film than for the comfort of the crews.

    Later reconnaissance conversions were designated F-7B. The F-7B differed from the F-7A in carrying all five cameras in the aft bomb bay, with the nose camera installation being deleted. The reason for this shift was that the navigator tended to bump up against the nose cameras, knocking them out of adjustment. Most F-7Bs were conversions of late-model B-24Ms, although a few B-24Js and Ls became F-7Bs as well.

    The F-7s were assigned to the following groups: 1st Photographic Group, 4th Photographic Group, 5th Photographic Group, 6th Photographic Group, 11th Photographic Group, and the 311th Reconnaissance Wing.
    IMO they had some of the best noseart of the war
    Below F-7A 42-73047 "The Rip Snorter" of the 20th CMS 6th PRG
    Below F-7A Liberator 42-64047 nose art "Patched Up Piece" 20th Combat Mapping Squadron 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group
    This was Merkling's first nose art painting and was undertaken for John Wooten and his crew. The F-7A was flown overseas from Hunter Field, GA, on 10th February 1944 but en route to Australia Wooten ran into some heavy turbulence. So rough was the trip that the crew were forced to divert to the Air Depot at New Caledonia for repairs. The crew deemed the ship was unfit for combat flying due to the buckling of one of the bulkheads.

    When the plane finally arrived at Nadzab, Wooten's crew had already thought up a name for their ship -- "Patched Up Piece" -- since it had already been patched up even before seeing any action. Al Merkling was offered an Australian dollar a piece from each of the crew to do his painting which he found to be a welcome relief from his tedious work in the photo lab. The aircraft was flown overseas painted in a blue drab finish common to most camera-equipped B24s and Merkling painted his magnificient artwork onto this surface. Later, "Patched Up Piece" was selected to be one of the first B24s of the unit to be stripped back to a natural metal finish of shiny aluminium. During this work, part of the titling was removed, neccessitaing a re-working by Merkling but the figure painting seems to have been left unscathed.
    Wooten's first combat photo mission in the aircraft to Hollandia on 5th April 1944 was successful and he went on the complete a further sixteen sorties in "Patched Up Piece". Several other crews also flew missions in the plane with mixed success completing a total of 31 by 2nd September 1944.
    Below F-7A Liberator Hangover Haven II 20th Combat Mapping Squadron 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group
    Below Two shots of F-7 Liberator 42-73044 "Wango Wango Bird " taken at different times, first one at Saidor New Guinea. 9th June 44. 20th Combat Mapping Squadron 6th Photographic Group
    Below F-7AJ-10-CF 42-64245 "Lady Barbarine" 2nd Photographic Charting Squadron
    Below F-7B serial 44-40616 "Glamouras" of the 2nd Photo Charting Sq 311th Photographic Wing

    Below F-7B serial 44-40967 "Hi-Priority Stuff" of the 2nd Photo Recon Sq

    Below F-7A serial 42-64185 "Off We Go" of the 2nd Photo Charting Sq 311th Photographic Wing

    Below F-7A serial 42-64184 "Photo Fanny" of the 2nd Photo Recon Sq

    Below F-7A serial 42-73020 "Over Exposed" of the 2nd Photo Charting Sq 311th Photographic Wing

    Below F-7A-42-73045 "American Beauty" Of The 20Th Mapping Squadron 6Th Photo Group
    Below F-7 Photo Liberator photomapping version of the B-24 bomber belonging to the 24th Combat Mapping Sqdn Gushkara Bengal 1944
    Below F-7 Liberator of the 20th Combat Mapping Squadron, having her noseart applied
    Below a closeup of a F-7 Liberator of the 20th Combat Mapping Squadron-nose camera
    Below cameraman in the camera bay of an F-7 photo reconnaissance plane start their cameras when their target is reached. The target Leyte Philippine Islands.
    Below another shot of the F-7 camera-install
    Consolidated F-7B s/n 42-64102 reconnaissance aircraft on the ground at Shanghai, China, October-November 1945
    Consolidated F 7B Sn 42 64102 Reconnaissance Aircraft On The Ground At Shanghai China October November 1945
    And if you want to fly in some of these exotics!!
    F7A Skinpack
    Jarinks amazing skins available HERE --

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