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Consolidated B-32 Dominator Heavy Bomber (1945)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/7/2012

The Consolidated B-32 was a fail-safe design requested by the US in the case that the Boeing B-29 was not ready to go.

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The Consolidated B-32 Dominator was a limited production four-engine heavy bomber requested by the United States Air Force as a fail-safe design to the complicated, technology-laden Boeing B-29 Superfortress in development. The system appeared in just 118 examples in the final year of the war and was restricted to combat action in the Pacific Theater. Interestingly enough, developmental and mechanical problems almost shelved the entire B-32 project itself. Couple this with the fact that the B-29 arrived in number and it's a wonder the B-32 ever flew.

The B-32 was powered by 4 x Wright R-3350-23 Duplex Cyclone 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines with two turbochargers. The aircraft had accommodations for up to 10 crew reminiscent of the other Consolidated product - the B-24 Liberator. Up to ten 12.7mm (.50 caliber) M2 heavy machine guns were provided for self-defense and mounted in pairs in turrets. A Sperry electric-hydraulic ball turret was mounted in the nose along with two Martin electrically-operated dorsal fuselage turret positions and a Sperry retractable turret in a ventral position. Additionally, a Sperry tail ball turret protected the rear.

Initial deliveries occurred on September 19, 1944 though production delays did nothing to ensure the B-32's legacy. By this time, the superior B-29 of Boeing design had already seen combat in the theater for nearly half of the year. The program barely held on through inquisitions at the political levels to the point that some 40 B-32's were relegated to crew trainers with active B-32 crews transferred to the more capable B-29 types. Mechanical problems continually dogged the B-32 and included fatal issues such as engines catching fire or landing gears collapsing.

Despite these glaring deficiencies, the B-32 project was righted as the system soldiered on. The Dominator was eventually used in anger to good effect, taking part in several sorties that included bridge busting. Its first taste of combat came on May 29th, 1945 against Japanese supply stores at Luzon. Overall, crew accommodations were quite good when all things were considered. It was a capable bombing platform with easily accessible systems for repair and maintenance and the defensive armament was quite well throughout. There were complaints of engine noise within the cockpit and a sense that the cockpit instrument panel left something to be desired.

By the end of the war, B-32 production was entirely cancelled with operational examples all set up for scrap. As a result, no intact specimens were kept for display purposes leaving the B-32 to live on in words and still photography. In the end, the B-32 Dominator was a severely flawed product from the beginning - though it showed strengths in certain areas to recommend it for action long enough to see the end of hostilities in World War 2.

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Specifications for the
Consolidated B-32 Dominator
Heavy Bomber


Focus Model: Consolidated B-32 Dominator
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Consolidated - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1945
Production: 118


Crew: 10


Length: 83.01ft (25.3m)
Width: 135.17ft (41.20m)
Height: 33.14ft (10.10m)
Weight (Empty): 59,525lbs (27,000kg)
Weight (MTOW): 99,208lbs (45,000kg)


Powerplant: 4 x Wright R-3350-23 Duplex Cyclone 18-cylinder air-cooled turbocharged radial piston engines delivering 2,200hp each.


Maximum Speed: 357mph (575kmh; 310kts)
Maximum Range: 2,992miles (4,815km)
Service Ceiling: 36,089ft (11,000m; 6.8miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 658 feet per minute (201m/min)


Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
STANDARD:
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in nose turret
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in forward dorsal turret
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in rearward dorsal turret
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in tail position
2 x 12.7mm M2 machine guns in ventral turret position

OPTIONAL:
Up to 20,000lbs of internal ordnance


Variants:
XB-32 - Prototype Model Designation; 3 exmamples produced; 8 x 12.7mm machine guns positioned in dorsal and ventral turrets along with a combination 2 x 12.7mm machine gun/20mm cannon array rear-firing for each outboard engine nacelle and additional 12.7mm machine guns outboard.


B-32 - Production Model Designation; 75 examples produced; changes to design as requested by the USAF.

TB-32 - Crew trainers sans armament and bombing equipment; 40 examples produced


Operators:
United States