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The History of B-24A/RLB-30, Serial Number 18
Now known as N24927, "Diamond Lil"
Contracted to be built for France in 1940 and later contracted to be diverted to Great Britain, this Liberator was the 25th built out of a total of 18,482 B-24s.There were 7 aircraft built which were considered to be preproduction, accounting for this being the 25th aircraft, but with Serial NR of 18. In the past, unofficial documents have erroneously referred to this aircraft as having “Serial Number 40-2366”. Although “Contract Number 40-2366” was intended, that number was never officially assigned to this aircraft, because it was never delivered to the Army.
This aircraft’s construction was completed with the designation of AM927 and accepted by the British Air Ministry in May 1941. Two days later, a Consolidated Aircraft Company (CAC) aircrew flew AM927 to Kansas City and handed it over to Trans World Airlines (TWA). TWA had been contracted to conduct flight crew training out of Albuquerque, NM.
AM927 was then flown to what was called the TWA “Eagle’s Nest Flight Center” in Albuquerque, NM to be used to train RAF pilots. The following month, Frank Burcham and Ned MacKrille, TWA instructor pilots, were practicing landings. The right main brake locked up during landing and aircraft departed the runway. There was also significant damage to the bomb bay.
Consolidated initiated a recovery effort over the next 6 months and in December of 1941, the aircraft was flown back to the Consolidated Aircraft Company in San Diego.
Due to the aircraft being damaged too extensively to be returned to service as a bomber, but still flyable, a loan arrangement was made between the British Ministry and Consolidated Aircraft Company for the company to keep possession of AM927 for logistic support and further B-24 development.
AM927 was reconfigured with a solid keel, replacing the bomb bay doors and returned to service in July 1942. This is similar to the configuration of the later C-87 Liberator Express. Throughout the war, the aircraft was used to haul personnel and equipment between the five B-24 production plants and numerous vendors. She was also used extensively for flight test purposes developing such things as improved flight control characteristics for the later model Liberator bombers.
After the war’s end in November of 1945, Britain ceded actual ownership of AM927 to Consolidated Vultee. At this time, the aircraft was given registration number NL24927.
Numerous modifications were made between 1945 and 1947 to improve performance and sustainability that included the long RY-3 nose, and the PBY variant of the P&W 1830 engines and nacelle assemblies.
On November 10, 1948, the aircraft was sold to the Continental Can Company. The aircraft was repainted and outfitted with a luxury interior. The company utilized AM927 for executive transport and cross-country flights between its North American plants for the next 10 years.
In April of 1959, the aircraft was sold and exported to the Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), a Mexican state-owned petroleum company. The Registration became XC-CAY and it was used to transport personnel throughout Latin America and the United States.
In 1967, Pemex decided to upgrade and replace AM927 with a DC-6 aircraft. At this time, AM927 was loaned to the Commemorative Air Force who eventually took full ownership of the aircraft in May 1968. It was Registered as N12905 until 1990 when it was Registered as N24927.
In 1972, AM927 was painted in the colors of the 98th BG, of the Ploesti Raid, and given the name “Diamond Lil”. It toured the U.S. in that configuration for many years. In 1992, it flew across the Atlantic to England, spending several months at Airshows and Tour Stops.
During 2006-2007, the aircraft was reconfigured back to her B-24A/RLB-30 roots which involved removing the fuselage windows, adding .50 Cal guns in the Nose, Waist, Belly, and Tail. It was painted in a darker green/brown camouflage and the “Ol 927” nose art. In April 2012, the CAF’s long-time Liberator legacy nose art “Diamond Lil” was returned.
On May 26, 2012, Diamond Lil experienced a complete hydraulic failure, due to a burst line, and suffered a subsequent nose gear collapse in Charlotte, NC. Temporary repairs were made and the aircraft was flown back to Addison, Texas. Because of the need to fabricate many replacement parts, restoration was not complete until July of 2013.
From mid-2013 through June 2015, Diamond Lil toured the US with successful events, including AirVenture in Oshkosh, Reading WWII Weekend, and Sun N' Fun among others.
In July 2015, Diamond Lil was placed in long term maintenance status for a number of repairs and upgrades. These included resealing of wing fuel tanks and new avionics.
September 1, 2016 was the first flight after the extended maintenance period, which proceeded without incident. However, after a series of pilot training flights later in the day, two ‘high-time’ engines failed, and the aircraft was once again grounded. The need for new engines was not a surprise as three of the four engines were ‘high-time’, but without funds to replace them, it was hoped to fly another year. Instead, Lil joined our B-29 ‘FIFI’ in the hangar at the Vintage Flying Museum at Ft. Worth's Meacham Field as she awaited engines. By early 2018 fund-raising efforts and financial arrangements allowed purchase of three ‘new’ engines for Lil.
October 2018 – Diamond Lil began flying again with her first appearance at Wings Over Dallas and a subsequent Veteran’s Day event in Conway, AR - providing new and older generations the experience of this rare aircraft through aircraft tours and ride flights. After much time in maintenance mode, she is again in excellent mechanical condition and actively touring alongside other APHT aircraft.
Book A Ride Today
$ 650 Per Seat, at the Event and Online.
The B-24, Diamond Lil, Has 10 Available Seats for Purchase. You are Not Buying a Particular Seat. Once Airborne, You May Get Up and Move Around the Aircraft. Each Rider Will Get the Chance to Experience All the Available Compartments. This Includes the Flight Deck Where You Will See the Pilot Positions and Climb All the Way Back to the Tail Gunner Position.
You Can Relive History and Ride on One of the Rarest WWII bombers in Existence by Taking a “Living History” Bomber Ride. This Unique Experience Allows You to Sit in the Veteran's Seats. You Can See and Feel What They Encountered, Minus the Bullets and Flak. Don’t Miss This Once in a Lifetime Experience. It is a Definite Must for Your Bucket List!
Once Airborne, You Will Be Able to Get Up and Move Around the Aircraft. Your Trip Back in Time Will Allow You to Honor the Sacrifices of Countless Men and Women Who Fought and Died for Our Freedom.
Book Your Seat Online Today as Seats Sell Fast and are Often SOLD OUT by the Time We Reach a Tour Stop. Buying Online Guarantees You Have a Seat Reserved on This Beautiful Bomber.
To Purchase a Seat, Click on Our Tour Schedule; There You Will Find Our Tour Stops for This Year. If You Can Join Us at One of These Stops, Click on the Name of the City to Get All of the Information About That Stop. You Will Find a Button to Purchase Your Ride.