Douglas B-23 Dragon

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 Douglas B-18 Bolo

The Douglas B-23 Dragon was an American twin-engined bomber developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company as a successor to (and a refinement of) the Douglas 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 testbed for new engines and systems. One was used for turbosupercharger development by General Electric at Schenectady, NY.

After World War II, many examples were used as executive transports with appropriate internal modifications and as a result a large number have survived. With its wartime experience with the type, GE bought and used five of them. 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, redesignated UC-67 in 1943.
C-67 redesignated in 1943.


Douglas B-23 converted to executive transport role at Athens (Hellenikon) Airport in 1973
Douglas B-23 Dragon at JBLM
Douglas B-23 Dragon at Castle Air Museum
Douglas B-23 Dragon at Pima Air & Space Museum


On display

United States

On display
Under restoration or in storage

Specifications (B-23 Dragon)

Data from McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920[13]

General characteristics



See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. 1 2 3 Mondey 1982, p. 111.
  2. "Stinger Gun in Plane's Tail Guards Vulnerable Spot." Popular Science, January 1941.
  3. "UC-67 Dragon/39-031" Retrieved: 15 July 2013.
  4. "B-23 Dragon/39-0036." McChord Air Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  5. "B-23 Dragon/39-0051." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  6. "UC-67 Dragon/39-0047." Castle Air Museum. Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  7. "FAA Registry: N747M." Retrieved: 31 May 2011.
  8. "B-23 Dragon/39-0037." USAF Museum. Retrieved: 18 November 2015.
  9. "B-23 Dragon/39-0038." 1941 Historical Aircraft Group. Retrieved: 25 December 2010.
  10. "FAA Registry: N4000B" Retrieved: 8 July 2014.
  11. "FAA Registry: N777LW." Retrieved: 11 February 2012.
  12. "B-23 Dragon/39-0052." Retrieved: 12 March 2015.
  13. Francillon 1979, pp. 314, 317
  • Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London, Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
  • 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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