USA: Warplanes of the Second World War preserved: Douglas B-23 Dragon

Douglas B-23 Dragon

(NMUSAF Photo)

Douglas B-23 Dragon in USAAC markings during the early 1940s.

The Douglas B-23 Dragon is an American twin-engined bomber developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company as a successor to (and a refinement of) the B-18 Bolo. 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 DC-3, a fully retractable undercarriage, and improved defensive armament. The B-23 was the first operational American bomber equipped with a glazed tail gun position. The tail gun was a .50 calibre (12.7 mm) 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.

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 them were later converted as transports and redesignated UC-67.

The B-23 also served as a testbed for new engines and systems. For example, one was used for turbosupercharger development by General Electric at Schenectady, New York. Another was used for testing cabin pressurization. After the end of the Second World War, many examples were used as executive transports, with appropriate internal modifications, and as a result a large number have survived, both in public and private collections. Howard Hughes (among others) used converted B-23s as personal aircraft. (Wikipedia)

(USAAC Photo)

Douglas B-23 Dragon.

(NMUSAF Photo)

Douglas RB-23 Dragon at Bicycle Lake, California, while assigned to Muroc Lake Army Air Base, 7 Oct 1942.

(Bill Larkins Photo)

Douglas B-23 Dragon, Pacific Lumber Company

Survivors:

(Articseahorse Photo)

Douglas B-23 Dragon (Serial No. 39-0036), McChord Air Museum, McChord AFB, Washington.

(NMUSAF Photo)

Douglas B-23 Dragon (Serial No. 39-0037), 17B-9, in storage at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

Douglas B-23 Dragon (Serial No. 39-0038), being restored for display at the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum in Geneseo, New York.

(aeroprints.com Photo)

(kitmasterbloke)

Douglas B-23 Dragon (Serial No. 39-0051), Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona.

(kitmasterbloke Photos)

(Spartan7W Photo)

(Alan Wilson Photo)

Douglas UC-67 Dragon (Serial No. 39-0047), Castle Air Museum, Atwater, California.

Douglas UC-67 Dragon (Serial No. 39-0057), in storage at Fantasy of Flight, Polk City, Florida.

Douglas UC-67 Dragon (Serial No. 39-0063), being restored to airworthy status in Anchorage, Alaska.

Douglas B-23 Dragon (Serial No. 39-0033), being restored to airworth status, Reg. No. N747M, Bellevue, Washington/Marana Arizona.

(NMUSAF Photo)

Douglas B-23 Dragon tail code 94 MD in flight. Assigned to the Materiel Division at Wright Field.

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