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Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) (Model 332)


Super-Heavy Bomber Aircraft Design Proposal


United States | 1944



"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."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/10/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

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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.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) Super-Heavy Bomber Aircraft Design Proposal.
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.
Propulsion
357 mph
575 kph | 310 kts
Max Speed
35,023 ft
10,675 m | 7 miles
Service Ceiling
3,001 miles
4,830 km | 2,608 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) Super-Heavy Bomber Aircraft Design Proposal.
8
(MANNED)
Crew
117.1 ft
35.70 m
O/A Length
207.0 ft
(63.10 m)
O/A Width
42.6 ft
(12.99 m)
O/A Height
109,195 lb
(49,530 kg)
Empty Weight
197,975 lb
(89,800 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) (Model 332) Super-Heavy Bomber Aircraft Design Proposal .
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
Notable series variants as part of the Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) (Model 332) family line.
XB-31 - Base Project Designation
Model 332 - Company Model Designation
B-31 - Assumed production designation
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) (Model 332). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 0 Units

Contractor(s): Douglas Aircraft - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (357mph).

Graph Average of 300 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
GROUND ATTACK
X-PLANE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Douglas XB-31 (Raidmaster) (Model 332) Super-Heavy Bomber Aircraft Design Proposal appears in the following collections:
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