In February 1944 the 22nd was designated Bombardment Group (Heavy) and was assigned to fly B-24 Liberators, the aircraft selected for use in the Pacific for its excellent long range capabilities. The B-24 could fly farther and deliver a heavier bomb load faster than her sister heavy, the much publicized B-17 Fortress. Dubbed by its detractors a �flying coffin,� the tally at war�s end indicated that the Liberator had had a lower loss rate than the Fortress. The 19th and 33rd Squadrons received their transition training at Charters Tower, Australia. After their return, the 2nd and 408 trained in New Guinea.
While still involved in the transition, the Group�s commanding officer, Col. Richard W. Robinson received this message, dated 19 March 1944, from Brig. Gen. Jarred V. Crabb, commander of the Fifth Bomber Command:
I wish to congratulate you, your officers, and men for superior performance today. The manner in which you serviced and reloaded your airplanes for a second strike this date, even though your orders were received just as your planes were landing from the first mission, indicates a high degree of training within your unit. We can all feel justly proud of the organization which can perform as you did.
Please express to your ground personnel my special appreciation for their demonstration of remarkable organization and efficiency of operation. Your air crews also deserve highest commendation for their efficient operation and display of fine discipline which is so necessary when called upon for an emergency mission.
Once the Group was in full operation again, the B-24s were used against Japanese installations, oil refineries, and airfields in Borneo, Ceram, Halmahera and, in September, began neutralizing enemy bases in the Philippines. From the Schouten Islands the outstanding targets for the 22nd were the oil refineries at Balikpapan, a nominal 17 1/2 hour, 2610 mile mission. From December 1944 to August 1945, The Red Raiders struck air fields and installations on Luzon, supported Australian ground forces on Borneo, bombed shipping, airfields, railroads and installations in China and Formosa. The 22nd Bomb Group was the only bombardment group in the entire United States Air Force to fly the B-26s, the B-25s and the B-24s successively in combat.
One of the best four-engine heavy bombers, this plane is powered by 1200
hp. Pratt and Whitney radial engines. It mounts guns in turrets in the
nose, on top of the fuselage, in the belly, and in the tail, and can
carry a bomb load of 7500 lbs. more than 3000 miles. Armament consists
of from 8 to 14 .50 calibre machine guns.
Specifications: Span I 10 ft.; length 66 ft. 4 in.; height 17 ft. II in.; gross weight over 56,000 16.; maximum speed over 300 m.p.h.; cruising range over 4000L mi.
EXTREMELY LONG SLENDER WINGS. PROTRUDING REAR TURRET.
TWIN OVAL FINS AND RUDDERS. STUBBY FUSELAGE.