Military Factory logo

Consolidated B-32 Dominator

United States (1945)
Picture of Consolidated B-32 Dominator Four-Engined Heavy Bomber Aircraft
Picture of Consolidated B-32 Dominator Four-Engined Heavy Bomber Aircraft Picture of Consolidated B-32 Dominator Four-Engined Heavy Bomber Aircraft
+ Images
This entry's gallery contains additional pictures. Click to View.

The Consolidated B-32 Dominator was a fail-safe heavy bomber design requested by the U.S. air service in case that the Boeing B-29 Superfortress was not yet ready to go.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Consolidated B-32 Dominator Four-Engined Heavy Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/27/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Consolidated Aircraft Corporation held an existing relationship with the United States military in delivering large, multi-engined bomber types - its most classic of the World War 2 designs became the PBY "Catalina" flying boat aircraft that found much success throughout the conflict. With the development of the Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" heavy bomber ongoing during the war, all of the United States Army Air Force (formerly the United States Army Air Corps) eggs were seemingly placed into this basket so a move was made to develop another heavy bomber alongside it should the Boeing product not deliver in the timeframe expected. The USAAC approached Consolidated to bridge the gap and this work begat the Consolidated "Model 33" aircraft.

Consolidated engineers returned with a very modern heavy bomber design utilizing all that was learned in the development and operation of the B-24 Liberator heavies and their flying boats prior. A tubular, well-streamlined fuselage was selected with a glazed-over nose section and stepped cockpit with good views from within. Wings were high-mounted along the sides of the fuselage and each carried two radial piston engine in underslung nacelles. The empennage saw the fuselage taper in the normal way to which a twin-finned rudder assembly was arranged along individual supporting horizontal planes at rear - similar to the tail unit as seen in the preceding B-24. The engines - massive Wright R-3350 models of 2,200 horsepower output each - were the same as slated for the upcoming B-29. As the new Consolidated heavy was to operate at high altitudes for its bombing role, the aircraft was to be fully pressurized requiring a dedicated onboard system. No fewer than fourteen defensive machine guns were envisioned to help protect aircraft and crew - with guns fitted to remote-controlled, retractable turret installations directed by periscope viewing.

Content with the proposal, the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) signed on for a pair of XB-32 prototypes. As completed, these prototypes lacked many of the features that would appear on the standardized production form including the pressurization system and the full slew of machine gun armament. Problems with engine cooling and leaks proved common which only served to delay the aircraft during development while progress proved an equally labored venture on the competing B-29 product. The XB-32 first flew on September 7th, 1942 but was lost in a crash the following year.

The second prototype followed and this time a large, rounded single vertical tail fin was fitted - its shape similar to that as seen in the Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" and upcoming B-29 lines. The pressurization issues led to the aircraft being now relegated to the low-to-medium altitude bombing role which allowed engineers to drop the troublesome feature altogether. Problems also persisted with the intended remote-controlled armament and these too were nixed - in their place were conventional, manned, power-operated turrets instead. The second XB-32 followed into the air on November 3rd, 1943.

Finalized B-32s carried a defensive array of 10 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns. The aircraft was outfitted with a Sperry electric-hydraulic twin-gunned ball turret in the nose and belly (this installation being retractable) with two Martin electrically-operated twin-gunned dorsal turrets. A third Sperry ball twin-gunned turret was fitted at the tail to protect the aircraft from trailing interceptors. Its bombload reached 20,000lbs of conventional drop ordnance held internally. Its crew numbered ten. With its streamlined form and Wright series 18-cylinder radial engines, the aircraft reached speeds of 360 miles per hour, cruised at 290 miles per hour, held a service range of 3,800 miles, and reached ceilings of 30,700 feet through a 1,050 feet per minute rate-of-climb. The competing B-29 would go on to showcase similar numbers during its more storied service tenure.


Picture of the Consolidated B-32 Dominator Four-Engined Heavy Bomber Aircraft
Picture of the Consolidated B-32 Dominator Four-Engined Heavy Bomber Aircraft


With 1944 looming, the USAAF moved ahead with an order for 1,500 of the bombers under the B-32 "Dominator" designation . The first of these was not delivered until September of that year to which the B-29 had already been in combat service for nearly half the year. By December, additional B-32 deliveries were limited while B-29s were being received in useful numbers and proving a successful design over Japan. Official service introduction of B-32s was not until late January 1945 and the line was eventually operated through the 312th Bombardment Group and the 386th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy).

Mechanical issues dogged much of the short-lived career of the Dominator - there were unresolved issues with its engines which led to in-flight fires and undercarriage weaknesses led to collapsed landing gears. Despite the deficiencies, the aircraft was pressed into action and saw first combat on May 29th, 1945 in an attack against Japanese supply stores at Luzon. The airframe proved adept as a bombing platform and crews enjoyed the modern onboard accommodations - though there were noted complaints about engine noise in the cockpit and critique of the instrument panel layout. Defensive armament was hailed as very good and the aircraft's major systems were easily accessible by ground personnel for repairs in-the-field.

Regardless, with the need for a fall-back heavy bomber no longer apparent, the B-32 was procured in just 118 total examples - a far cry from the 1,500 originally envisioned. Production ceased in 1945 and, with the Japanese surrender forthcoming by the middle of August, the B-32 line was officially retired as soon as August 30th of that year - becoming nothing more than a footnote in American military aviation history. It was never exported nor passed on to second-line roles like other large aircraft of the period were and only a few notable variants were developed that included the "TB-32" crew trainer and this line produced several sub-variants in time. Active B-32 crews were transferred to B-29s once the Boeing product became available in the numbers required for the USAAF and many under-construction B-32s were simply scrapped at war's end - leaving none under the protection of museums or private owners today.




General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
Bar chart graphic
Performance  
Bar chart graphic
Survivability  
Bar chart graphic
Versatility  
Bar chart graphic
Impact  
Bar chart graphic


Rating: 68 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
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 Consolidated B-32 Dominator's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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
118
118


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1945
Type: Four-Engined Heavy Bomber Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Consolidated Aircraft Corporation - USA
Production: 118
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 Consolidated B-32 Dominator model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
10


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
83.01 ft


Meters
25.3 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
135.17 ft


Meters
41.2 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
33.14 ft


Meters
10.1 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
59,525 lb


Kilograms
27,000 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
99,208 lb


Kilograms
45,000 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
4 x Wright R-3350-23 "Duplex Cyclone" 18-cylinder, air-cooled, turbocharged radial piston engines developing 2,200 horsepower each driving four-bladed propeller units.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
357 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
575 kph


Knots
310 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
2,992 mi


Kilometers
4,815 km


Nautical Miles
2,600 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
36,089 ft


Meters
11,000 m


Miles
6.84 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
658 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
201 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:
2 x 0.50 caliber M2 machine guns in Sperry ball turret at nose.
2 x 0.50 caliber M2 machine guns in Martin forward dorsal turret.
2 x 0.50 caliber M2 machine guns in Martin rearward dorsal turret.
2 x 0.50 caliber M2 machine guns in ventral Sperry ball turret.
2 x 0.50 caliber M2 machine guns in Sperry ball turret at tail position.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 20,000lb of internally-held conventional drop ordnance.
Variants: Series Model 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