|A B-23 Dragon in USAAC markings during the early 1940s|
|Manufacturer||Douglas Aircraft Company|
|First flight||27 July 1939|
|Primary user||United States Army Air Corps|
|Developed from||B-18 Bolo|
Design and development[edit | edit source]
Douglas proposed a number of modifications designed to improve the performance of the B-18. Initially considered a redesign, the XB-22 featured 1,600 hp Wright R-2600-1 Twin Cyclone radial engines. The complete B-18 redesign was considered promising enough by the USAAC to alter the original contract to produce the last 38 B-18As ordered under Contract AC9977 as the B-23. The design incorporated a larger wingspan with a wing design very similar to that of the Douglas DC-3, a fully retractable undercarriage, and improved defensive armament. Notably, the B-23 was the first operational US bomber equipped with a glazed tail gun position. The tail gun mounted a .50 caliber machine gun, which was fired from the prone position by a gunner using a telescopic sight.
The first B-23 flew on July 27, 1939 with the production series of 38 B-23s manufactured between July 1939 and September 1940.
Operational history[edit | edit source]
While significantly faster and better armed than the B-18, the B-23 was not comparable to newer medium bombers like the North American B-25 Mitchell and Martin B-26 Marauder. For this reason, the 38 B-23s built were never used in combat overseas, although for a brief period, they were employed as patrol aircraft stationed on the west coast of the United States. The B-23s were primarily relegated to training duties although 18 of the type were converted as transports and redesignated as the UC-67. The B-23 also served as a test-bed for new engines and systems. After World War II, many examples were used as executive transports with appropriate internal modifications and as a result a large number have survived. Howard Hughes (among others) used converted B-23s as personal aircraft.
Operators[edit | edit source]
Variants[edit | edit source]
- Twin-engined bomber version of the B-18 with modified fuselage, 38 built.
- Conversion to utility transport with provision for glider towing, 12 conversions from B-23, re-designated UC-67 in 1943.
- C-67 re-designated in 1943.
Survivors[edit | edit source]
Ecuador[edit | edit source]
- On display
- 39-031 (HC-APV) - Ecuadorian Air Museum, Quito.
United States[edit | edit source]
- 39-0033 - Pissed Away N747M LLC in Bellevue, Washington.
- On display
- 39-0036 - McChord Air Museum in McChord AFB, Washington.
- 39-0051 - Pima Air & Space Museum adjacent to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.
- 39-0057 - Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida.
- Under restoration
- 39-0037 - under restoration at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.
- 39-0038 - under restoration at the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum in Geneseo, New York.
- 39-0063 - under restoration to airworthiness by Carmacks Commercial Corp. in Anchorage, Alaska.
- 39-0052 - largely complete wreck at Loon Lake, Idaho.
Specifications (B-23 Dragon)[edit | edit source]
Data from Joe Baugher's Encyclopedia of American aircraft
- Crew: 6
- Length: 58 ft 6 in (17.8 m)
- Wingspan: 92 ft (28 m)
- Height: 18 ft 6 in (5.6 m)
- Wing area: 993 ft² (92.3 m²)
- Empty weight: 19,089 lb (8,677 kg)
- Loaded weight: 26,500 lb (12,000 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 32,400 lb (14,700 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-2600-3 radial engines, 1,600 hp (1,194 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 282 mph (245 kn, 454 km/h)
- Range: 1,400 mi (1,200 nmi, 2,300 km)with 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) of bombs
- Service ceiling: 31,600 ft (9,630 m)
- Rate of climb: 1,493 ft/min (7.6 m/s)
- Wing loading: 26.7 lb/ft² (130 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.17 hp/lb (200 kW/kg)
- Bombs: 4,000 lb (1,814 kg)
See also[edit | edit source]
- Douglas DC-3
- Douglas B-18 Bolo
- Douglas XB-22
- Martin B-26 Marauder
- North American B-25 Mitchell
- List of aircraft of World War II
- List of bomber aircraft
- List of military aircraft of the United States
References[edit | edit source]
- Mondey 1982, p. 111.
- "Stinger Gun in Plane's Tail Guards Vulnerable Spot." Popular Science, January 1941.
- "UC-67 Dragon/39-031" John Weeks website. Retrieved: 15 July 2013.
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0033." FAA Registry. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0036." McChord Air Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0051." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0057." Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved: 11 April 2012.
- "UC-67 Dragon/39-0047." Castle Air Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0037." USAF Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0038." 1941 Historical Aircraft Group. Retrieved: 25 December 2010.
- "UC-67 Dragon/39-0063." FAA Registry. Retrieved: 11 February 2012.
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0052." AviationArcheology.com. Retrieved: 2 September 2011.
- Baugher, Joe. "B-23 'Dragon'." Joe Baugher's Encyclopedia of American aircraft, 23 November 2000. Retrieved: 12 June 2010.
- Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to American Aircraft of World War II. London: Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., 2002, (republished 1996 by the Chancellor Press), First edition 1982. ISBN 1-85152-706-0.
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