Huff-Daland produced a series of aircraft for American agricultural and military service that began with the HD-1B and ended with the experimental XLB-3 triplane bomber of 1930. While succeeded by the Keystone Aircraft Corporation (itself eventually falling under the Curtiss-Wright brand label), it nonetheless left its legacy with a line of early bombers in service to the United States Army Air Service (USAAS) during the 1920s. During World War 1 (1914-1918), United States Airmen mainly cut their teeth on bomber types of foreign origin and, in the post-war years, there stood a need for an indigenous light bomber platform to which Huff-Daland developed its "XLB-1" prototype.
To this point, the USAAS had committed to the Martin MB-2 (NBS-1) bombers but the service liked what it saw in the Huff-Daland prototype and commissioned for ten as the "LB-1" (the designation stemming from the words "Light Bomber" which reflected the aircraft's primary service category). For testing, a sole aircraft with a crew of three and powered by single a Packard 1A-2500 engine of 800 horsepower (in the nose driving a two-bladed propeller) was used and this example proved the design sound. Construction incorporated a steel tube frame covered over with fabric skin while the biplane wing arrangement remained typical for this period of aviation featuring parallel struts and a single bay configuration. The undercarriage ("tail dragger" type) was wheeled at the main legs and fixed in place. In testing, the aircraft outperformed the current MB-2s - certainly faster than the competing type.
The overall design showcased a maximum speed of 120 miles per hour with a cruising speed of 105 mph, a range out to 430 miles, and a service ceiling of 11,150 feet. Rate-of-climb reached 530 feet per minute. In comparison, the MB-2 reached a maximum speed of 99 mph, a cruise speed of 92 mph, a range out to 400 miles, a service ceiling up to 7,700 feet, and a rate-of-climb of 390 feet per minute.
In its finalized form as the LB-1, the bomber was given a Packard 2A-2500 engine of 800 horsepower. The crew was also increased from three to four and the bombload peaked at 2,750 lb. Defensive armament was a network of 5 x .303 Lewis machine guns on trainable mounts.
Despite the performance jump, Army authorities were not convinced of the merits of operating a single engine bomber over long distances and over enemy terrain. This terminated the LB-1's chances at seeing widespread production and service for attention then shifted to a twin-engined form - the XLB-3 of 1927. However, only one of this model was built as attention shifted once more to a more promising mark - the XLB-5 - which saw 36 of its kind manufactured under the Keystone name.
5 x .303 Lewis machine guns on trainable mountings about the fuselage.
Up to 2,750 lb of conventional drop ordnance.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 6
LB-1 - Base Series Designation; nine examples constructed; crew of four; outfitted with Packard 2A-2500 series engine (800hp).
XLB-1 - Single-prototype form; crew of three; Packard 1A-2500 series engine (800hp) fitted.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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Image from the Public Domain / United States Air Force Museum.
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