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B-23 Dragon
A B-23 Dragon in USAAC markings during the early 1940s
Role Medium bomber
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight 27 July 1939
Primary user United States Army Air Corps
Number built 38
Developed from B-18 Bolo

The Douglas B-23 Dragon was a twin-engined bomber developed by Douglas Aircraft Company as a successor to (and a refinement of) the B-18 Bolo.

Design and development

Douglas proposed a number of modifications designed to improve the performance of the B-18. Initially considered a redesign, the XB-22 featured 1,600 hp Wright R-2600-1 Twin Cyclone radial engines. The complete B-18 redesign was considered promising enough by the USAAC to alter the original contract to produce the last 38 B-18As ordered under Contract AC9977 as the B-23.[1] The design incorporated a larger wingspan with a wing design very similar to that of the Douglas DC-3, a fully retractable undercarriage, and improved defensive armament. Notably, the B-23 was the first operational US bomber equipped with a glazed tail gun position.[1] The tail gun mounted a .50 caliber machine gun, which was fired from the prone position by a gunner using a telescopic sight.[2]

The first B-23 flew on July 27, 1939 with the production series of 38 B-23s manufactured between July 1939 and September 1940.

Operational history

While significantly faster and better armed than the B-18, the B-23 was not comparable to newer medium bombers like the North American B-25 Mitchell and Martin B-26 Marauder. For this reason, the 38 B-23s built were never used in combat overseas, although for a brief period, they were employed as patrol aircraft stationed on the west coast of the United States.[1] The B-23s were primarily relegated to training duties although 18 of the type were converted as transports and redesignated as the UC-67. The B-23 also served as a test-bed for new engines and systems. After World War II, many examples were used as executive transports with appropriate internal modifications and as a result a large number have survived. Howard Hughes (among others) used converted B-23s as personal aircraft.


 United States


Twin-engined bomber version of the B-18 with modified fuselage, 38 built.
Conversion to utility transport with provision for glider towing, 12 conversions from B-23, re-designated UC-67 in 1943.
C-67 re-designated in 1943.


Douglas B-23 converted to executive transport role at Athens (Hellenikon) Airport in 1973


On display
  • 39-031 (HC-APV) - Ecuadorian Air Museum, Quito.[3]

United States

  • 39-0033 - Pissed Away N747M LLC in Bellevue, Washington.[4]
On display
Under restoration
  • 39-0063 - under restoration to airworthiness by Carmacks Commercial Corp. in Anchorage, Alaska.[11]
  • 39-0052 - largely complete wreck at Loon Lake, Idaho.[12]

Specifications (B-23 Dragon)

Data from Joe Baugher's Encyclopedia of American aircraft[13]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 6
  • Length: 58 ft 6 in (17.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 92 ft (28 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 6 in (5.6 m)
  • Wing area: 993 ft² (92.3 m²)
  • Empty weight: 19,089 lb (8,677 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 26,500 lb (12,000 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 32,400 lb (14,700 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-2600-3 radial engines, 1,600 hp (1,194 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 282 mph (245 kn, 454 km/h)
  • Range: 1,400 mi (1,200 nmi, 2,300 km)with 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) of bombs
  • Service ceiling: 31,600 ft (9,630 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,493 ft/min (7.6 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 26.7 lb/ft² (130 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.17 hp/lb (200 kW/kg)


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Mondey 1982, p. 111.
  2. "Stinger Gun in Plane's Tail Guards Vulnerable Spot." Popular Science, January 1941.
  3. "UC-67 Dragon/39-031" John Weeks website. Retrieved: 15 July 2013.
  4. "B-23 Dragon/39-0033." FAA Registry. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  5. "B-23 Dragon/39-0036." McChord Air Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  6. "B-23 Dragon/39-0051." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  7. "B-23 Dragon/39-0057." Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved: 11 April 2012.
  8. "UC-67 Dragon/39-0047." Castle Air Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  9. "B-23 Dragon/39-0037." USAF Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  10. "B-23 Dragon/39-0038." 1941 Historical Aircraft Group. Retrieved: 25 December 2010.
  11. "UC-67 Dragon/39-0063." FAA Registry. Retrieved: 11 February 2012.
  12. "B-23 Dragon/39-0052." Retrieved: 2 September 2011.
  13. Baugher, Joe. "B-23 'Dragon'." Joe Baugher's Encyclopedia of American aircraft, 23 November 2000. Retrieved: 12 June 2010.
  • Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to American Aircraft of World War II. London: Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd., 2002, (republished 1996 by the Chancellor Press), First edition 1982. ISBN 1-85152-706-0.

External links

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