Douglas B-23 Dragon

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B-23 Dragon
Douglas B-23.jpg
A B-23 Dragon in USAAC markings during the early 1940s
Role Medium bomber
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight 27 July 1939
Primary user United States Army Air Corps
Number built 38
Developed from B-18 Bolo

The Douglas B-23 Dragon was a twin-engined bomber developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company as a successor to (and a refinement of) the B-18 Bolo.

Design and development[edit]

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.[1] 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.[1] The tail gun mounted a .50 caliber machine gun, which was fired from the prone position by a gunner using a telescopic sight. [2]

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]

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.[1] 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, NY.

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.

Operators[edit]

 United States

Variants[edit]

B-23
Twin-engined bomber version of the B-18 with modified fuselage, 38 built.
C-67
Conversion to utility transport with provision for glider towing, 12 conversions from B-23, redesignated UC-67 in 1943.
UC-67
C-67 redesignated in 1943.

Survivors[edit]

Douglas B-23 converted to executive transport role at Athens (Hellenikon) Airport in 1973

Ecuador[edit]

On display
UC-67
  • 39-031 (HC-APV) - Ecuadorian Air Museum, Quito.[3]

United States[edit]

On display
B-23
UC-67
Under restoration or in storage
B-23
UC-67
Wrecks
B-23
  • 39-0052 - largely complete wreck at Loon Lake, Idaho.[12]

Specifications (B-23 Dragon)[edit]

Data from Joe Baugher's Encyclopedia of American aircraft[13]

General characteristics

Performance

Armament

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b c Mondey 1982, p. 111.
  2. ^ "Stinger Gun in Plane's Tail Guards Vulnerable Spot." Popular Science, January 1941.
  3. ^ "UC-67 Dragon/39-031" John Weeks website. Retrieved: 15 July 2013.
  4. ^ "B-23 Dragon/39-0036." McChord Air Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  5. ^ "B-23 Dragon/39-0051." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  6. ^ "UC-67 Dragon/39-0047." Castle Air Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  7. ^ "B-23 Dragon/39-0033." FAA Registry. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  8. ^ "B-23 Dragon/39-0037." USAF Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  9. ^ "B-23 Dragon/39-0038." 1941 Historical Aircraft Group. Retrieved: 25 December 2010.
  10. ^ "FAA Registry: N4000B" FAA.gov Retrieved: 8 July 2014.
  11. ^ "UC-67 Dragon/39-0063." FAA Registry. Retrieved: 11 February 2012.
  12. ^ "B-23 Dragon/39-0052." AviationArcheology.com. Retrieved: 2 September 2011.
  13. ^ Baugher, Joe. "B-23 'Dragon'." Joe Baugher's Encyclopedia of American aircraft, 23 November 2000. Retrieved: 12 June 2010.
Bibliography
  • 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.

External links[edit]