The Douglas B-18, which had been designed to meet a US Army Air Corps requirement of 1934 for a high-performance medium bomber, was clearly not in the same league as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, which had been built to the same specification. Figures highlight the facts: 350 B-18s were procured in total, by comparison with almost 13,000 B-17s. In an attempt to rectify the shortcomings of their DB-1 design, Douglas developed in 1938 an improved version and the proposal seemed sufficiently attractive for the US Army to award a contract for 38 of these aircraft under the designation B-23 and with the name Dragon.
Although the overall configuration was similar to that of the earlier aircraft, when examined in detail it was seen to be virtually a new design. Wing span was increased, the fuselage was entirely different and of much improved aerodynamic form, and the tail unit had a much higher vertical fin and rudder. Landing gear was the same retractable tailwheel type, but the engine nacelles had been extended so that when the main units were lowered in flight they were faired by the nacelle extensions and created far less drag. Greatly improved performance was expected from these refinements, plus the provision of 60 per cent more power by the use of two Wright R-2600-3 Cyclone 14 engines. An innovation was the provision of a tail gun position, this being the first US bomber to introduce such a feature.
First flown on 27 July 1939, the B-23s were all delivered to the US Army during that year. Early evaluation had shown that performance and flight characteristics were disappointing. Furthermore, information received from the European theatre during 1940 made it clear that development would be unlikely to result in range, bombload and armament capabilities to compare with the bomber aircraft then in service with the combatant nations, or already beginning to emerge in the USA. As a result these aircraft saw only limited service in a patrol capacity along the US Pacific coastline before being relegated to training duties. During 1942 about 15 of these aircraft were converted to serve as utility transports under the designation UC-67, and some of the remainder were used for a variety of purposes including engine testbeds, glider towing experiments and weapons evaluation.
Following the end of World War II many surplus B-23s and UC-67s were acquired by civil operators for conversion as corporate aircraft. The majority were modified by Pan American's Engineering Department, equipped to accommodate a crew of two and passengers. Some of them remained in civil use for about 30 years.
|A three-view drawing (562 x 766)|
| ENGINE||2 x Wright R-2600-3 Cyclone 14, 1193kW|
| Take-off weight||14696 kg||32399 lb|
| Empty weight||8659 kg||19090 lb|
| Wingspan||28.04 m||92 ft 0 in|
| Length||17.8 m||58 ft 5 in|
| Height||5.63 m||18 ft 6 in|
| Wing area||92.25 m2||992.97 sq ft|
| Max. speed||454 km/h||282 mph|
| Cruise speed||338 km/h||210 mph|
| Ceiling||9630 m||31600 ft|
| Range||2253 km||1400 miles|
| ARMAMENT||1 x 12.7mm + 3 x 7.62mm machine-guns, 2000kg of bombs|
|Lee Korb, leekproof=aol.com, 16.11.2011|
Great site! Lots of memories...
My father flew a B-23 for Westinghouse Elec. out of Allegheny County airport in Pgh.,Pa. Back in the late '50s. I think he was checked out by Al Uelchi who flew a B-23 for Juan Tripp while he was Pres. of Pan Am. Al was the founder of Flight Safety, and Dad was one of his early customers...
At that time Jaun Trippe's personal aircraft was a B-23 and was hangared at LaGuardia.On occasions it was brought over to Idlewild for maintenance.
|, soccercleats=gmail.com, 20.06.2011|
Douglas B-23 Dragon
|Michael R. Nowicki, mnowicki=vectorhawk.aero, 09.06.2011|
I flew a B-23 in the mid 60's owned by Green Bay Packaging Corp. This A/C had been owned by John Deer Corp and Pan AM. Now sits at the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, Az.
|Nick Oland, w3dse=juno.com, 21.09.2010|
I flew a B-23 for Lehman Brothers of New York City
to Texas and back in 1953 I was a corporate pilot in the
1950s through 1980s
|Connie Luhta, azteclady=aol.com, 24.06.2010|
A B-23 was based at my airport in the 70s. It was purchased by Kermit Weeks, then heavily damaged in Florida by Hurricane Andrew. I hope he is going to rebuild it. I have about 1200 spare parts in my attic that I hope to sell some day.
|Carl, frazer51=yahoo.com, 07.02.2010|
A Dragon, belonging to the University of Wash. was damaged in landing at Kingman AZ in the '80's. I got to go through it while there. In the movie Tucker, there is a short shot of a B-23 with mountains in the background. The B-23 clip was to portray Tucker's flight to the west coast to obtain engines for his cars. Those engines being Franklins (Air Cooled Motors).
|Eugene H, Secord, daisymollymolly=bellsouth.net, 30.12.2009|
In 1956 I went to work for Pan Americam World Airways at Idlewild.At that time Jaun Trippe's personal aircraft was a B-23 and was hangared at LaGuardia.On occasions it was brought over to Idlewild for maintenance.
|SEO, seo=midcoast.com, 02.05.2009|
My father was in the aircraft business in the 1960's and at one point represented a businessman in buying a B-23 as a personal plane. We had a room in the basement full of spare B-23 parts for a while, all gone now.
One of the things I remember him saying was that some of the B-23's were fitted with a dummy extra pair of engines, and were used in filming "Twelve O'Clock High, I don't know if it was the movie or the TV show.
Does anyone know if he was right about that?
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?