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B-23 Dragon - Castle Air Museum

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B-23 Dragon Medium Bomber

B-23 Dragon Castle Air Museum

Designed by Douglas Aircraft Company as a replacement for the B-18 Bolo, the B-23 Dragon carried a crew of 6, had two 1,600 hp Wright Cyclone R-2600-29 radial engines, a maximum speed of 282 mph, a service ceiling of 28,200 feet, and a range of 1,445 miles.

According to the museum information, this B-23 Dragon, serial number 30-045, is an "A" model. It was made a ground instructional airframe at McChord Army Air Force Base in Washington State after serving as a bomber in the the U.S. Army Air Corps from July 1940 to August 1942 when t was dropped from the Army Air Forces inventory.

B-23 dragon tail gun - Castle Air Museum

Armament for the B-18 included three .30 caliber machine guns, (one in nose, dorsal, ventral positions), one .50 caliber machine gun in the rear, and a 4,000 pound bomb load. The B-23 has the distinction of being the first U.S. bomber to have a gun in the tail position. The glazed rear position can be see in the photo on the right.

The markings seen on the wings and tail in the photo below, are indicative of the United States pre-WWII insignia which included the white star with the a red center dot on the wings, and 13 red and white horizontal stripes on the tail rudder.


B-23 Dragon wing and tail insignias

Although it was faster and had a greater range than the B-18 it was to replace, the performance of the B-23 was overshadowed by that of contemporary bombers such as the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-25 Mitchell and the B-26 Marauder. Only 38 B-23s were built and none were used in overseas combat during WWII. Instead, it was used for anti-submarine patrol, training and testing purposes, and transport. After World War II, some B-23 were used for executive transport, including the one used by Howard Hughes.



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