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Witteman-Lewis XNBL-1 (Barling Bomber)

Strategic Bomber Prototype

Witteman-Lewis XNBL-1 (Barling Bomber)

Strategic Bomber Prototype

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The mammoth Barling Bomber proved a failure, being underpowered despite its use of six engines.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1923
MANUFACTURER(S): Whitman-Lewis Aircraft Corporation - USA
PRODUCTION: 1
OPERATORS: United States
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Witteman-Lewis XNBL-1 (Barling Bomber) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 6 to 9
LENGTH: 64.99 feet (19.81 meters)
WIDTH: 120.01 feet (36.58 meters)
HEIGHT: 27.00 feet (8.23 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 2,738 pounds (1,242 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 42,569 pounds (19,309 kilograms)
ENGINE: 6 x Liberty L-12A in-line engines developing 420hp each.
SPEED (MAX): 96 miles-per-hour (154 kilometers-per-hour; 83 knots)
RANGE: 170 miles (274 kilometers; 148 nautical miles)
CEILING: 7,726 feet (2,355 meters; 1.46 miles)




ARMAMENT



7 x 7.62mm machine guns on flexible gun mounts
Up to 5,000lbs of bombs
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• XNBL-1 - Principle Prototype with S/N AS 64215
• XNBL-2 - Cancelled Second Prototype (S/N AS 64216 in 1925)


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Witteman-Lewis XNBL-1 (Barling Bomber) Strategic Bomber Prototype.  Entry last updated on 9/9/2009. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Witteman-Lewis XNBL-1 (popularly known as the "Barling Bomber") was an ambitious heavy bomber design from Walter Barling, an engineer with the United States Army Air Service. The aircraft was designed to a US Chief of Staff requirement calling for a long-range strategic bomber. Despite its advanced features, the XNBL-1 failed to impress and was limited to a single constructed prototype model. At the time of its production, the Barling Bomber was the largest aircraft in the world.

Walter Barling had already accumulated experience in the design of large aircraft with his involvement in the failed Tarrant Tabor, another multi-engine large bomber triplane design for Britain. The Tabor's legacy would be quickly sealed in a fatal crash on its first flight. Similarly, the Barling Bomber would still succeed this legacy but in itself become a failure on other levels - it was simply too big and overly ambitious for the time.

The Barling Bomber was designed with a cylindrical-shaped fuselage - in some ways reminiscent of the forthcoming Boeing B-29 Superfortress. The mammoth aircraft sported a triplane wing to which no fewer than six engines were affixed. Engines were of the Liberty L-12A type and developed roughly 420 horsepower a piece. The powerplants were arranged with four of them in a tractor "puller" layout and the remaining two utilized as "pusher" systems. Despite this impressive array of power, the XNBL-1 would be oft-remembered as being much underpowered. The triplane layout was thick with cabling and struts to maintain the weight of the engines and support itself along the fuselage sides. The wing system was mounted well behind the cockpit but just forward of the fuselage center. The empennage was made up of two horizontal tail surfaces joined by four vertical surfaces and the tailplane itself was adjustable from the cockpit.

The Barling could carry a crew between six and nine personnel. Two of these positions were reserved for the pilot and copilot. The remaining positions were assigned to crew members (including a dedicated flight engineer) to man the various onboard areas that included self-defense 7 x 7.62mm machine gun emplacements on flexible mounts. The undercarriage was adjustable to an extent - though not fully retractable - and sported no less than ten wheels. A set of wheels was fixed to the front underside of the nose to prevent the massive aircraft from rolling over onto itself. The rear portion of the aircraft fitted simple tail skid.

The single prototype Barling cost American tax payers the then-lofty sum of $500,000 and required its own $700,000 hangar to store it. This coupled with the underachieving performance of the aircraft earned the project the name of "Mitchell's Folly" due to Brigadier-General William "Billy" Mitchell's strong support. Construction was handled by the Witteman-Lewis Aircraft Corporation.

First flight was achieved on August 22, 1923 with Lieutenant H. R. Harris at the controls and only lasted a short while. Further trials unveiled the systems inherent inadequacies and inevitably forced the project to be grounded for several years until the sole prototype was purposely destroyed under the order of General H. H. Arnold in 1928 - no doubt in an effort to "hide all evidence" of the failed project from the American taxpayer. A second "improved" prototype was planned as the XNBL-2 but the lack of secure project funding made sure that this sequel never materialized.

Despite its legacy as a failed strategic heavy bomber attempt, the Barling Bomber was still a technological pioneer for its time. It is doubtful that even with its engine troubles resolved, the aircraft would have gone on to see much more under its name that it actually did. At any rate, several bomber advancements could eventually be attributed to this Walter Barling design including the use of the adjustable multi-wheel main landing gears, the aerodynamic shape of the fuselage and the idea of separating crew members in their stations across an enclosed fuselage.

Incidentally, the XNBL-1 designation stands for "eXperimental Night Bomber, Long range".




MEDIA









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: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (96mph).

    Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
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  BER
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  MSK
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  TKY
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  SYD
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Witteman-Lewis XNBL-1 (Barling Bomber)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1
1

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


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