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B-18 Bolo walkaround — part 1 of 2

4 August 2014

B-18 Bolo walkaround — part 1 of 2

47° 07′ 55″  N / 122° 28′ 56″ W

 

Douglas B-18 Bolo — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo at the McChord Air Museum & Heritage Hill Air Park — photo by Joseph May

Douglas and Boeing entered two very different designs to meet an Air Corps requirement for a heavy bomber in the 1930s. Douglas entered a design built from their DC-2 cargo aircraft sharing its wing and rear fuselage. Boeing broke a paradigm with a sleek and graceful aircraft powered by not two but four engines — later becoming known as the B-17 Flying Fortress. But Douglas won the competition as the powers-that-be thought the B-17 as expensive so it was decided that Douglas would be contracted to build 99 B-18s (252 more would subsequently be built) while Boeing would be engaged to construct 13 YB-17 aircraft. Knowing that Boeing had accurate foresight let us look at the Bolo.

Powered by a pair of Wright R-1825-45 radial engines (930 hp/684kW) the Bolo’s crew of six to seven could carry a maximum bomb load 1200 miles (1920km) at a cruise speed of 167 mph (~270kph).  Offensive armament was 4400 pounds (2000kg) of bombs and the defensive armament was a trio of 0.30 caliber machine guns. Underperforming and poorly armed defensively the B-18 was retasked by 1942 to transport and antisubmarine patrolling duties.

This Douglas B-18 Bolo, in factory fresh condition, is on exhibit at the McChord Air Museum & Heritage Hill Air Park (see the museum review as well as posts of the other aircraft using the search window).

Douglas B-18 Bolo — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo forward section — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo — photo by Joseph May

The Douglas B-18 Bolo had the bombardier above the nose gun position, a convention later reversed on subsequent bombers — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo right side Wright R-1825-45 radial engine — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo right main landing gear — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo crew entry, unit symbol and dorsal hatch/gun position — photo by Joseph May

Douglas B-18 Bolo — photo by Joseph May

This Douglas B-18 Bolo’s colorful rudder — photo by Joseph May

Next Wednesday’s post will be the second half of this walkaround — the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has this fact sheet with excellent photos as well as this fact sheet also with outstanding images.

 

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Trig permalink
    5 August 2014 12:11

    Sadly there was one of these out in the desert south of PHX…had been used for Malathion and therefore nothing you’d want to get next to. There were a lot of airplanes down there… DC-4’s, 6’s, 7’s B720’s complete with bullet holes. I think the DC-4’s are all that is left. They are covered in graffiti and I mean covered!

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      9 August 2014 00:58

      I didn’t have that site on my map — but you’ve clued me in and I found it — thanks 🙂 It might be a good photography location for me, sadly as that may be.

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