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Douglas B-23 Dragon
The Douglas B-23 Dragon was an American twin-engined bomber developed by the
Douglas Aircraft Company as a successor to (and a refinement of) the Douglas
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.
Douglas Aircraft Company
27 July 1939
United States Army Air Corps
Douglas B-18 Bolo
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 testbed for new engines and systems. One was used for
turbosupercharger development by General Electric at Schenectady, New York.
After World War II, many examples were used as executive transports, with
appropriate internal modifications, and as a result a large number have
survived. With its wartime experience with the type, GE bought and used five of
them. Howard Hughes (among others) used converted B-23s as personal aircraft.
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, redesignated UC-67 in 1943.
C-67 redesignated in 1943.
Specifications (B-23 Dragon)
Length: 58 ft 4 3/4 in (17.799 m)
Wingspan: 92 ft 0 in (28.04 m)
Height: 18 ft 5 1/2 in (5.626 m)
Wing area: 993 sq ft (92.3 m2)
Empty weight: 19,089 lb (8,659 kg)
Gross weight: 26,500 lb (12,020 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 32,400 lb (14,696 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-2600-3 radial engine, 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) each
Maximum speed: 282 mph (454 km/h; 245 kn) at 12,000 ft (3,660 m)
Cruise speed: 210 mph (338 km/h; 182 kn)
Range: 1,400 mi (1,217 nmi; 2,253 km)
Service ceiling: 31,600 ft (9,600 m)
Time to altitude: 6.7 minutes to 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
Guns: 3 × .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns, 1 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun in
Bombs: 2,000 lb (910 kg) in bomb bay
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