Douglas B-23 Dragon
|B-23 Dragon / UC-67|
|A B-23 Dragon in USAAC markings during the early 1940s|
|National origin||United States|
|Manufacturer||Douglas Aircraft Company|
|First flight||27 July 1939|
|Primary user||United States Army Air Corps|
|Developed from||Douglas B-18 Bolo|
Design and development
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. 
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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.
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.
- 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.
Under restoration or in storage
- 39-0033 - to airworthiness by private owner in Bellevue, Washington.
- 39-0037 - in storage at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.
- 39-0038 - for display at the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum in Geneseo, New York.
- 39-0057 - in storage at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida.
- 39-0063 - to airworthiness by private owner in Anchorage, Alaska. Currently stored at Grant County International Airport, Moses Lake, Washington. Flew in 2017.
Specifications (B-23 Dragon)
Data from McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920
- Crew: Six
- 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 (340 km/h, 180 kn)
- Range: 1,400 mi (2,300 km, 1,200 nmi)
- 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 tail
- Bombs: 2,000 lb (910 kg) in bomb bay
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
- List of aircraft of World War II
- List of bomber aircraft
- List of military aircraft of the United States
- Mondey 1982, p. 111.
- "Stinger Gun in Plane's Tail Guards Vulnerable Spot." Popular Science, January 1941.
- Francillion, R.J. (1988). McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920: Volume I. Naval Institute Press. p. 304. ISBN 0 87021-428-4.
- "UC-67 Dragon/39-031" aviationmuseum.eu Retrieved: 15 July 2013.
- "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.
- "UC-67 Dragon/39-0047." Castle Air Museum. Retrieved: 15 December 2017.
- "FAA Registry: N747M." FAA.gov Retrieved: 29 October 2020.
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0037." USAF Museum. Retrieved: 18 November 2015.
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0038." 1941 Historical Aircraft Group. Retrieved: 25 December 2010.
- "FAA Registry: N4000B" FAA.gov Retrieved: 29 October 2020.
- "FAA Registry: N777LW." FAA.gov Retrieved: 29 October 2020.
- n777lw (registration) on Twitter
- "B-23 Dragon/39-0052." aerialvisuals.ca Retrieved: 12 March 2015.
- Francillon 1979, pp. 314, 317
- Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London, Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
- Jesse, William (May–June 1999). "Short-lived Dragon: The Douglas B-23". Air Enthusiast (81): 70–72. ISSN 0143-5450.
- Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to American Aircraft of World War II. London: Hamlyn Publishing Group, 2002, (republished 1996 by the Chancellor Press), First edition 1982. ISBN 1-85152-706-0.
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