Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster Experimental Pusher Bomber Aircraft
The Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster bomber proposal utilized a distinct twin-engine arrangement in a pusher configuration.
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World War 2 (1939-1945) provided American aeronautical engineers with something of a blank canvas when attempting to sell the U.S. military on new aircraft endeavors. Many companies saw fit to undertake private venture projects to help further their chances in making a potentially lucrative sale and such was the case with Douglas Aircraft Company and their XB-42 "Mixmaster" medium bomber proposal. Medium bomber types were still in demand with American warplanners during the conflict and also provided a "bridge" platform between light attack models and multi-engined "heavies" then in service.
The XB-42 proposal was directed at the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in May of 1943. The design attempted to streamline the existing bomber design approach by mounting its two powerplants inline and at the rear of the fuselage. This left the frontal and middle sections of the fuselage free for crew spaces, defensive armament, and ordnance-carrying options. Similarly, the wings were devoid of any drag-inducing obstructions. Douglas' idea was to fit the two engines, each driving separate propeller units in a contra-rotating fashion, to help offset inherent torque effects and direct propulsion along a more singular path behind the aircraft. Rear-mounted propeller aircraft were nothing new - recognized as "pusher" types - but were unconventional to the more traditional "puller" types that saw their propeller systems mounted at the nose of the aircraft. The engines of choice became two Allison V1710-125 12-cylinder liquid-cooled systems with each engine outputting at 1,325 horsepower.
Dimensions included a length of 53.7 feet, a wingspan of 70.5 feet, and a height of 18.9 feet. A standard crew would be three to include the pilot, copilot, and a dedicated bombardier. The copilot doubled as a gunner. Proposed defensive armament was to include six total 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns set across two twin-gunned, rear-facing mounts at the wing trailing edges and a two guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts. As it was expected that the XB-42 could outrun any interceptor, defensive armament could be kept to a minimum. The internal bomb load was rated up to 8,000 pounds.
The fuselage took on a rather 1950s jet aircraft approach in spite of its 1940s origins. It was well-streamlined from nose to tail with the nose containing the bombardier's position under heavy Plexiglas. The pilot and copilot sat under a "double-bubble" canopy over the nose with a commanding view about the aircraft - their seating was side-by-side. The empennage tapered towards the engine mounts and a cruciform tail plane arrangement was used (dorsal, ventral, and horizontal planes in play). To help clear the ventral tail plane, a tricycle undercarriage was fitted - novel for a time when "tail draggers" were still the norm.
A proposed dedicated attack form, known as the XA-42, intended to feature some sixteen total machine guns with a covered nose section deleting the bombardiers position. Other proposed armament for this model was 1 x 75mm cannon with 2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns.