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Final Gravity

'NOVA: Last B-24'
(DVD / NR / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: Dive to the bottom of the Adriatic Sea in search of the Tulsamerican, a B-24 bomber that crashed off the coast of Croatia during World War II.

DVD Verdict: Just so you know what you're getting into here, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator is an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California.

It was known within the company as the Model 32, and some initial production aircraft were laid down as export models designated as various LB-30s, in the Land Bomber design category.

At its inception, the B-24 was a modern design featuring a highly efficient shoulder-mounted, high aspect ratio Davis wing. The wing gave the Liberator a high cruise speed, long range and the ability to carry a heavy bomb load.

Early RAF Liberators were the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a matter of routine. In comparison with its contemporaries the B-24 was relatively difficult to fly and had poor low speed performance; it also had a lower ceiling and was less robust than the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

While aircrews tended to prefer the B-17, General Staff favored the B-24, and procured it in huge numbers for a wide variety of roles.

At approximately 18,500 units including over 4,600 manufactured by Ford Motor Company it holds records as the world's most produced bomber, heavy bomber, multi-engine aircraft, and American military aircraft in history.

The B-24 was used extensively in World War II. It served in every branch of the American armed forces, as well as several Allied air forces and navies, and saw use in every theater of operations.

Along with the B-17, the B-24 was the mainstay of the U.S. strategic bombing campaign in the Western European theater.

Due to its range, it proved useful in bombing operations in the Pacific, including the bombing of Japan. Long range anti-submarine Liberators played an instrumental role in closing the Mid-Atlantic gap in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The C-87 transport derivative served as a longer range, higher capacity counterpart to the Douglas C-47 Skytrain.

By the end of World War II, the technological breakthroughs of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress and other modern types had surpassed the bombers that served from the start of the war.

The B-24 was rapidly phased out of U.S. service, although the PB4Y-2 Privateer maritime patrol derivative carried on in service with the U.S. Navy in the Korean War.

In 1944 a smoking, battle-scarred B-24 Liberator bomber known as the Tulsamerican crashed into the choppy seas off the coast of Croatia, entombing three of its occupants under 135 feet of water.

For years they were lost to the world - and their families. But in 2010, nearly seventy years after the crash, the Department of Defense located the plane.

And in 2017, aided by the Croatian Navy and some of the world's leading underwater archaeologists, they set to work to investigate the wreckage.

Were the B-24s truly as dangerous as the nickname "the Flying Coffin" suggested? And what does that mean for the recovery of the fallen airmen?

In 'Nova: Last B-24,' we watch and learn as the Croatian Navy and some of the world's leading underwater archaeologists work to investigate the wreckage.

Following along with their highly trained team of archaeologists and forensics experts, we observe them search for the crew and identify their remains; one by one. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





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