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Douglas B-66 Destroyer Light Bomber (1956)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 9/8/2009

The Douglas-produced B-66 Destroyer was a light bomber designed by Ed Heinemann to replace the aging A-26 Invader in service with the United States Strategic Air Command (SAC). Based highly on the existing United States Navy A3D Skywarrior model, the B-66 was designed and produced alongside the reconnaissance RB-66 models. The definitive EB-66 electronic warfare variant would be born from the development of the preceding two models.

With the similarities inherent in converting an existing system for a new purpose, the United States Air Force bypassed the ordering of prototype models and ordered a handful of preproduction models for testing and further development allowing for the system to fly by 1954 and enter full production by 1955. Though used as a high-level bomber by the US Navy in the form of the A3D Skywarrior, the B-66 Destroyer was limited to reconnaissance duty for the duration of the Vietnam War.

By 1973, the system would be out of circulation with the USAF and see the EB-66 models as the last of their kind. A solid if unspectacular aircraft, the B-66 Destroyer found a home as the USAF and SAC's eye in the sky. One model found life after service as a weather research aircraft while others ended up in the hands of museum curators across the nation.

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Specifications for the
Douglas B-66 Destroyer
Light Bomber

Focus Model: Douglas B-66 Destroyer
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1956
Production: 134

Crew: 3

Length: 75.13ft (22.9m)
Width: 72.51ft (22.10m)
Height: 23.62ft (7.20m)
Weight (Empty): 42,549lbs (19,300kg)
Weight (MTOW): 83,776lbs (38,000kg)

Powerplant: 2 x Allison J71-A-11 / J71-A-13 turbojet engines generating 10,200lbs of thrust each.

Maximum Speed: 634mph (1,020kmh; 551kts)
Maximum Range: 2,467miles (3,970km)
Service Ceiling: 39,370ft (12,000m; 7.5miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 5,000 feet per minute (1,524m/min)

Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
2 x 20mm cannons in remote-operated tail turret assembly.

Up to 15,000lbs of internal ordnance

A3D "Skywarrior" - US Navy version of which the B-66 is based on.

RB-66A - Preproduction Reconnaissance Variant

RB-66B - Production Reconnaissance Variant

B-66B - Bomber Variant of which 145 were produced.

EB-66B - Electronic Countermeasures Conversion Model based on the B-66B variant.

RB-66C - Specialized Reconnaissance Variant of which 36 were produced; crew size of seven.

EB-66C - Redesignation of the RB-66C models from 1966 onwards.

WB-66D - Weather Reconnaissance Aircraft; final variant of the B-66 produced.

X-21 - Northrop Experimental Aircraft based on the B-66 to research laminar flow.

United States of America