Douglas XB-19

Go to the Home PageThe Douglas XB-19, carrying Army serial number 38-471, was the largest airplane in the world when it first flew in 1941. These illustrations of the XB-19 appeared in magazines in the 1940s.

Douglas XB-19 Specifications for the Douglas XB-19. It was intended to carry a 36,000-pound bomb load for 2,000 miles.

Douglas XB-19 The XB-19 nears completion in the Douglas factory at the Santa Monica Airport. It was the first bomber equipped with tricycle landing gear and power-boosted controls.

Douglas XB-19 The XB-19 was enormous in comparison to what was the jumbo airliner of its day, the Douglas DC-3. The U. S. Government paid $1,400,064 for it and Douglas spent almost $4,000,000 in company funds to complete it.

Douglas XB-19 Pulling the props through before starting the engines required the combined efforts of six men, two each pulling on the ropes attached to the three propeller blades. The propellers were rotated a few revolutions to expell lubricating oil which collected in the lower cylinders.

Douglas XB-19 The XB-19 taxiing around the Santa Monica Airport. The great weight of the airplane on its single 8-foot diameter main wheels actually broke through the pavement in places.

Douglas XB-19 A crowd of Douglas Aircraft Company employees lines the tarmac (and a few hardy souls are perched on the rooftops) at the Santa Monica Airport as the XB-19 takes to the air for the first time on June 27, 1941. Major Stanley Umstead piloted the XB-19 on this 55-minute flight to March Field near Riverside, California. This image is from a postcard made from an actual photographic print by W. J. Gray of Los Angeles.

This air mail envelope was on board the XB-19 when the photograph above was taken.

Douglas XB-19 The XB-19 cruises over the coast of southern California. Does anybody recognize the location? Perhaps Malibu Point? This is a photo postcard of the Grover Photo Company of Danville Illinois. It was mailed in July 1943. In fact the XB-19 was the third largest airplane built at the time.

Douglas XB-19 The main gear wheels retracted nearly flush with the lower surface of the wing. A tunnel in the wing allowed crewmen to access the engines in flight.

Douglas XB-19 Cockpit and flight engineer's stations of the XB-19.

Douglas XB-19 The XB-19 featured a capacious bombardiers station below the cockpit. The pilot in the left-hand seat is Major Stanley Umstead.

Douglas XB-19 The view from the bombardier's station was magnificent.

Douglas XB-19 Upper turret gunner's station. The XB-19 bristled with guns. The nose turret and the forward dorsal turret were each equipped with a 37mm cannon and a .30-calibre machine gun. The rear dorsal turret, the ventral turret, the tail gunner's station, and a station on each side of the rear fuselage were each provided with one .50-calibre machine. The bombardier was provided with a pair of .30-calibre machine guns located to either side of the bomb aiming station. Another pair .30-calibre machine gun was located in the rear fuselage under the horizontal stabilizers.

Douglas XB-19 The wing of the XB-19 was equipped with large simple hinged flaps and two sets of 45-foot long ailerons.

Douglas XB-19 View aft along the upper fuselage.

Douglas XB-19 Initially the XB-19 was powered by four 2,000 horsepower Wright Cyclone R-3350-5 eighteen-cylinder radial engines.

Douglas XB-19 XB-19 with a Curtiss P-40 chase plane over what is now south-central Los Angeles in 1941. I am not sure if this is an actual color photo or a tinted black-and-white photo. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the XB-19 was camouflaged with olive drab over gray. Its guns were loaded with ammunition and the gunner's stations were manned during its subsequent test flights at March Field.

Douglas XB-19 The XB-19 became the XB-19A when it was re-engined with four 2,600-horsepower Allison V-3420-11 twenty-four cylinder engines in 1944. Each engine was essentially two Allison V-1710 twelve-cylinder engines placed side-by-side and connected to a propeller through a common crankcase. The top speed of the airplane rose from 204 miles per hour to 265 miles per hour. Development problems with the crankcase restricted the V-3420 to use on just a few airplane types.

The XB-19A was flown to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona on August 17, 1946 and placed into storage. That same month it lost its status as the largest airplane in the United States when Consolidated-Vultee completed the XB-36. It sat in the desert for three years, and then the airplane, which should have been the centerpiece of the newly created Air Force Museum, was cut up for scrap metal. The only surviving component of the XB-19 is a single wheel, displayed at Warner-Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

Pre-World War II Giant Airplanes

  First Flight Wing Span Length Wing Area Gross Weight Engines
Douglas XB-19






4 x 2,000 hp R3350
Tupolev Ant-20bis






6 x 1,200 hp M-34FRNV
Martin PBM Mariner






4 x 1,700 hp R2800
Boeing 314






4 x 1,200 hp R2,600
Boeing 307 Stratoliner






4 x 900 hp R1820
Convair PB2Y Coronado






4 x 1,000 hp R1830
Boeing XB-15






4 x 1,000 hp R1830
Boeing Model 299






4 x 750 hp R1690
Tupolev Maxxim Gorky






8 x 900 hp M-34FRN

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