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Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) (Model 332)

United States (1944)
National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1944
Type: Super-Heavy Bomber Aircraft Design Proposal
Manufacturer(s): Douglas Aircraft - USA
Production: 0


The Douglas XB-31 super heavy bomber was proposed against the Boeing XB-29, the Lockheed XB-30, and the Consolidated XB-32 - it was not furthered beyond a design study.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) (Model 332) Super-Heavy Bomber Aircraft Design Proposal.  Entry last updated on 2/10/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Douglas XB-31 "Raidmaster" became one of four submissions passed along to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during World War 2 (1939-1945) attempting to fulfill a requirement for a new long-range, high-altitude "super heavy bomber". The requirement was eventually filled by the Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" with Consolidated's XB-32 selected as an insurance measure (this becoming the B-32 "Dominator"). Before the decision was made, the XB-31 competed against the Boeing submission as did an entry from Lockheed (the XB-30, detailed elsewhere on this site) - both were removed from contention in time.

Origins of the XB-31 lay in the late 1930s when American authorities realized advancements being made in military aircraft in Europe (particularly Germany) were beyond anything that was had in the current inventory. A committee was arranged by the Army for direction and the consensus was to pursue a new very-heavy, long range bomb delivery platform. The outbreak of war in Europe during September 1939 only served to put an emphasis on getting the large aircraft into the sky in short order.

The requirement called for exceptional range and excellent operating altitudes, the latter to help keep the system as far away from enemy interceptors and ground-based fire as possible. Speed was also essential as was a competent bomb load to make the product worth its investment. To this point, the standard heavy bombers in the American stable were the Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" (introduced in 1938) and the Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" (introduced in 1941) - both classics in their own right but eventually outmoded by the advancing nature of the war.

As such, work proceeded on finding their successor - Boeing held a head start on their XB-29 product and eventually won the contract. In 1940, Douglas readied theirs through the "Model 332" initiative to which the U.S. Army designation became "XB-31". On paper, the Douglas submission already surpassed the other three entries in terms of size and operating weight - a mammoth design to be sure.
Douglas engineers elected for a conventional arrangement which sat the flight deck over the nose, the monoplane wings slightly ahead of midships, and a single rudder affixed to the tail. The wing mainplanes were shoulder mounted and each given a pair of underslung engine nacelles. The fuselage exhibited a very streamlined appearance with a very pointed nose section and tapered tail section promoting excellent aerodynamic qualities. The two bomb bays resided in the belly in the usual way. The tail unit incorporated a large-area fin. A tricycle undercarriage was featured and fully retractable into the airframe. Due to the high-altitude operation expected of this massive bomber, crew stations were pressurized. The standard operating crew would number eight. There existed a dorsal and ventral turret, each remotely-controlled by an operator, and armed through 2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns. The tail unit carried a trainable set of 37mm cannons to protect the aircraft's rear from interceptors. The internal bomb load measured 25,000lb. Dimensions were a wingspan of 207 feet, a length of 117.2 feet and a height of 42,6 feet.

Power for the design was to originally come from 4 x Wright R-3350-13 "Duplex-Cyclone" radial piston engines of 2,200 horsepower each. This was later changed (through a redesign) to 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360 "Wasp Major" radial piston engines outputting 3,000 horsepower each. Estimated performance specifications for the bomber included a maximum speed of 360 miles per hour, a range out to 3,000 miles, and a service ceiling of 35,000 feet.

Despite the promising nature of the Douglas entry, Boeing's progress with its XB-29 (and Consolidated with their XB-32) was such that the Douglas and Lockheed submissions were dropped from contention. As such, the XB-31 only ever existed as a design study and nothing more.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (357mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
0
0


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Global Operators:
United States (cancelled)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
8


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
117.13 ft


Meters
35.7 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
207.02 ft


Meters
63.1 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
42.62 ft


Meters
12.99 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
109,195 lb


Kilograms
49,530 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
197,975 lb


Kilograms
89,800 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
ORIGINAL:Wright R-3350-13 "Duplex-Cyclone" radial piston engines developing 2,200 horsepower each; LATER: 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360 "Wasp Major" radial piston engines developing 3,000 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
357 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
575 kph


Knots
310 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
3,001 mi


Kilometers
4,830 km


Nautical Miles
2,608 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
35,023 ft


Meters
10,675 m


Miles
6.63 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns in dorsally-mounted, remote-controlled turret.
2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns in ventrally-mounted remote-controlled turret.
2 x 37mm autocannons in trainable tail position.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 25,000lb of conventional drop stores held in two ventral bomb bays.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• XB-31 - Base Project Designation
• Model 332 - Company Model Designation
• B-31 - Assumed production designation