Consolidated foresaw a market for a large transport to be used by both civil and military operators and started the design as the Model 39 in early 1943. After the merger of Consolidated and Vultee the type was continued as the Convair Model 104. Convair was the trade name of Consolidated Vultee after the 1943 merger.
To produce an aircraft in a short time it became a hybrid: the wings, engines, single vertical tail and landing gear of the PB4Y-2 Privateer (the ultimate US Navy version of the B-24 Liberator) were mated to a entire new circular-section fuselage. The US Navy became interested and signed a letter of intent for 253 aircraft in March 1944. The first prototype NX30039 (c/n 1) was flown for the first time on April 15, 1944 piloted by Phil Prophett and his crew. Due to design deficiencies the Navy cancelled its order but Convair received permission to purchase and complete the second prototype in Navy colours.
Thus the second aircraft was completed as the Convair 104 XR2Y-1 and fitted with R-1830-65 engines NX3939 (c/n 2) made it first flight on September 29, 1944. Eventually this aircraft was given the US Navy registration 09803. American Airlines operated the first aircraft, named City of Salinas, with the support of Convair for three month transporting fresh fruits between Salinas and El Centro, California and cities in the east like Boston and New York.
In airline service the Liberator-Liner would have carried 48 seated passengers or 24 in sleeping berths. A cargo of 18,500 lb (8,392 kg) could be loaded straight from flat trucks into the aircraft through large fuselage doors. However, the type could not compete in performance with, and was much less powerful than current aircraft and as there was no other interest in the design both aircraft were scrapped in 1945.
Max T/O Wt:
Long-range heavy transport aircraft
Four 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-94 Twin Wasp radial engines
110 ft 0 in (33.53 m)
90 ft 0 in (27.43 m)
30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
1,048 sq.ft (97.36 sq.m)
64,000 lb (29,030 kg)
282 mph (454 km/h)
26,000 ft (7,925 m)
4,000 mls (6,436 km)