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Douglas B-23 Dragon

United States (1939)
Picture of Douglas B-23 Dragon Medium Bomber / Maritime Patrol Platform / Crew Trainer
Picture of Douglas B-23 Dragon Medium Bomber / Maritime Patrol Platform / Crew Trainer

Fewer then forty of the Douglas B-23 Dragon bombers were furnished by Douglas Aircraft Company to the United States Army Air Corps prior to World War 2.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Douglas B-23 Dragon Medium Bomber / Maritime Patrol Platform / Crew Trainer.  Entry last updated on 5/15/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The lead-up to World War 2 for the United States saw a period of constant progression for its bomber force. Founded in 1921, the Douglas Aircraft Company was already a common manufacturing brand seen in large American aircraft. The Douglas B-18 "Bolo" medium bomber was one of the primary types taken into service during the 1930s. Introduced in 1936, three-hundred fifty were produced and served with the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), the Canadian Air Force, and the Brazilian Air Force. It held origins in the Douglas DC-2 transport of 1934.

From the B-18's basic design, the company began work on a more refined version under the "XB-22" prototype designation. This aircraft was proposed with 2 x Wright R-2600-3 series "Twin Cyclone" radial piston engines of 1,600 horsepower each and, from this, emerged a USAAC contract order for 38 aircraft. These replaced an order for thirty eight examples originally intended as B-18A bombers from Douglas.

The new bomber was designated B-23 "Dragon" in service and carried the Wright engine pairing in nacelles buried along the wing leading edges, each engine driving three-bladed propeller units. The wing mainplanes were low-mounted along the fuselage sides and the fuselage being well-tapered from nose to tail. The nose section was glazed over for optimal viewing by the bombardier/navigator while the cockpit was stepped. The aircraft was crewed by six personnel. The undercarriage was of a "tail dragger" configuration and retractable with the main legs recessing into the engine nacelles at each wing.

Standard armament was 3 x 0.30 caliber machine guns set about the aircraft for local defense. There was also a single 0.50 caliber heavy machine gun fitted to the tail - the first such installation seen on any American aircraft. Beyond this armament, the aircraft was cleared to carry up to 2,000lb of conventional drop ordnance in an internal bomb bay.
Performance from the Wright engines allowed the aircraft to reach speeds nearing 285 miles per hour while cruising at around 210 miles per hour. Range was out to 1,400 miles and a service ceiling of 31,600 feet could be met. An altitude of 10,000 feet was had in about 6.5 minutes.

Compared to the B-18, the B-23 offered better performance, was given an improved defensive armament fit, and featured an increased wingspan. Its prototype went airborne for the first time on July 27th, 1939 - just months ahead of the official start of World War 2 in Europe (September 1st). Serial production was begun that same month and ended in September of 1940 with all 38 aircraft completed.

By the time of the American entry into the war, the B-23 had already met its performance match as newer, better medium types were taken into USAAC service. As such, the B-23 was never seen as an active combat performer during the war but instead relegated for service use as a trainer, stateside maritime patrol, and transport. In the latter role, it became the "C-67" and was redesignated to "UC-67" in 1943. At least twelve were converted to transports from the existing B-23 stock. Other airframes were set aside, modified, and used in various aeronautical-related tests.

Those that survived the war were eventually sold off and entered extended service lives in the civilian market. A few remain as showpieces around the United States today.






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.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (283mph).

    Graph average of 225 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 B-23 Dragon's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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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
38
38


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1939
Type: Medium Bomber / Maritime Patrol Platform / Crew Trainer
Manufacturer(s): Douglas Aircraft Company - USA
Production: 38
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
United States
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 B-23 Dragon model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
6


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
58.40 ft


Meters
17.8 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
91.99 ft


Meters
28.04 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
18.37 ft


Meters
5.6 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
19,092 lb


Kilograms
8,660 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
32,408 lb


Kilograms
14,700 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Wright R-2600-3 radial piston engines developing 1,600 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
283 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
455 kph


Knots
246 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
1,401 mi


Kilometers
2,255 km


Nautical Miles
1,218 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
31,611 ft


Meters
9,635 m


Miles
5.99 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,500 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
457 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

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

STANDARD:
3 x 0.30 caliber machine guns
1 x 0.50 caliber machine gun at tail position

OPTIONAL:
Up to 2,000lb of conventional drop stores held in an internal bomb bay.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• B-23 - Base Series Designation; definitive production model; 38 examples completed.
• C-67 - Utility transport model converted from B-23 airframes; 12 examples completed.
• UC-67 - Redesignation of C-67 aircraft from 1943 onward.