The Douglas XB-19 was a four-engined, piston-driven heavy bomber produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during the early 1940s. The design was originally given the designation XBLR-2 (XBLR denoting "Experimental Bomber Long Range"). It was the largest bomber built for the USAAF until 1946, with the Convair B-36 surpassing it in size.

Role Heavy bomber
National origin United States
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight 27 June 1941
Retired 17 August 1946
Status Scrapped
Primary user United States Army Air Corps
Number built 1

Design and development edit

The XB-19 project was intended to test flight characteristics and design techniques for giant bombers. Despite advances in technology that made the XB-19 obsolete before it was completed, the Army Air Corps believed the prototype would be useful for testing despite Douglas Aircraft wanting to cancel the expensive project.[citation needed][a] Its construction took so long that competition for the contracts to build the XB-35 and XB-36 occurred two months before its first flight.

The plane first flew on 27 June 1941, more than three years after the construction contract was awarded. It was based at Wright Field from January to November 1942.[2][b] In 1943 the Wright R-3350 engines were replaced with liquid-cooled W24 Allison V-3420-11 by the aircraft division of Fisher Body in support of the XB-39 project.[4][5] As part of the program it was equipped with engine driven auxiliary powerplants.[6][7] After completion of testing the XB-19 was earmarked for conversion into a cargo aircraft, but modifications were not completed, and the aircraft flew for the last time on August 17, 1946. It was eventually scrapped at Tucson in June 1949.[8][9]

Surviving artifacts edit

XB-19A at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base before scrapping.

The new U.S. Air Force had plans to save the B-19 for eventual display, but in 1949 the Air Force did not have a program to save historic aircraft and the Air Force Museum had not yet been built.[10][11] The B-19 was therefore scrapped, but two of its enormous main tires were saved.[c] One was put on display at the Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah and the other has been on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, in the "Early Years" gallery for many years.[13][failed verification]

Specifications (XB-19) edit

3-view line drawing of the Douglas XB-19

Data from McDonnell Douglas aircraft since 1920: Volume I[14]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 16 combat crew, with provision for 2 additional flight mechanics and six-man relief crew
  • Length: 132 ft 4 in (40.34 m)
  • Wingspan: 212 ft 0 in (64.62 m)
  • Height: 42 ft 0 in (12.80 m)
  • Wing area: 4,285 sq ft (398.1 m2)
  • Empty weight: 86,000 lb (39,009 kg)
  • Gross weight: 140,000 lb (63,503 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 162,000 lb (73,482 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 10,350 US gal (8,620 imp gal; 39,200 L) internals with optional auxiliary tanks of 824 US gal (686 imp gal; 3,120 L) capacity
  • Powerplant: 4 × Wright R-3350-5 Duplex Cyclone 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) each [d]
  • Propellers: 3-bladed constant-speed metal propellers, 17 ft 0 in (5.18 m) diameter


  • Maximum speed: 224 mph (360 km/h, 195 kn) at 15,700 ft (4,800 m)
  • Cruise speed: 135 mph (217 km/h, 117 kn)
  • Range: 5,200 mi (8,400 km, 4,500 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 7,710 mi (12,410 km, 6,700 nmi) with auxiliary tanks fitted
  • Service ceiling: 23,000 ft (7,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 650 ft/min (3.3 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 32.6 lb/sq ft (159 kg/m2)
  • Power/mass: 0.057 hp/lb (0.094 kW/kg)


  • Guns:
  • Bombs: 18,700 lb (8,500 kg) internal; maximum bomb load of 37,100 lb (16,800 kg) including external racks with reduced fuel load

See also edit

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists

References edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ The cost of the aircraft was estimated at $3,250,000 in 1941.[1]
  2. ^ While there, it took part in tests to measure noise levels inside aircraft.[3]
  3. ^ The tires measured 96 inches in diameter.[12]
  4. ^ XB-19A later fitted with 4x 2,600 hp (1,900 kW) Allison V-3420-11 24-cylinder engines

Notes edit

  1. ^ "The Job of Air Corps Test Pilots", Air Corps Newsletter, p. 23, 1 July 1941, retrieved 9 January 2021
  2. ^ Final Report: Investigation of Concrete Pavements on Different Subgrades (Report). Ohio River Division Laboratories. January 1946. p. 7. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  3. ^ Beranek, Leo L.; Nichols, Rudolph H.; Rudmose, H. Wayne; Sleeper, Harvey P.; Wallace, Robert L.; Ericson, Harold L. (1944). Principles of Sound Control in Airplanes (Report). Office of Scientific Research and Development, National Defense Research Committee. p. 68. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  4. ^ Aircraft Program Operating Report, Fisher Body Division, General Motors Corporation, p. 59, retrieved 15 February 2022
  5. ^ McSurely, Alexander (25 December 1944). "Data on XB-19 Installations Aid Army's Big Plane Program". Aviation News. Vol. 2, no. 22. pp. 9–10. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  6. ^ Exner, D. W. (January 1944), "Parallel Operation of Airplane Alternators", Technical Data Digest, Technical Data Library, Engineering Division, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 33–34, retrieved 15 February 2022
  7. ^ Miner, J. D. (September 1944). "High Frequency A.C. "Ups" Motor Performance". Aviation. Vol. 43, no. 9. pp. 126–127. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  8. ^ Kaplan, Philip (2005). Big Wings: The Largest Aircraft Ever Built. Pen & Sword Aviation. ISBN 978-1844151783.
  9. ^ Wagner, Ray (2004). American Combat Planes of the 20th Century: A Comprehensive Reference. Reno, Nevada: Jack Bacon & Company. ISBN 0-930083-17-2.
  10. ^ "B-19 Arrives to Join Collection". Arizona Daily Star. 18 August 1946. p. 15. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  11. ^ "Air Force's First Giant Bomber, XB-19, Now Being Demolished", Technical Data Digest, Central Air Documents Office, Navy–Air Force, vol. 14, no. 16, p. 8, 15 August 1949, retrieved 15 February 2022
  12. ^ "Development of Retractable Landing Gear: They Tuck Themselves Away", Air Forces News Letter, Headquarters, Army Air Forces, vol. 24, no. 15, p. 15, September 1941, retrieved 15 February 2022
  13. ^ "XB-19 Main Landing Gear Wheel & Tire". National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  14. ^ Francillon, René J. (1988). McDonnell Douglas aircraft since 1920 : Volume I. London: Naval Institute Press. pp. 307–312. ISBN 0870214284.

Further reading edit

External videos
  Film of the first test flight on 27 June 1941
  Newsreel of the interior of the airplane

External links edit