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B23, An airplane you've never heard of.


New Englander

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Last week I had an extra day in SFO so I drove to Atwater, CA to the Castle Air Museum. This plane belonged to a company I worked for in the '70s. It looked so different then that at first i wasn't sure it was the same plane. I talked with the curator and he let me inside. I searched for it some years back and have been trying to get to see it.

Douglas built the B23 as an improvement of the B18 and hoped to sell a bunch. It has some things in common with a C47 - landing gear and a similar airfoil wing. It has Wright R2600 engines.

Anyway, only 39 were built and none used in combat, rather they were designated UC67 and used for General's transport and the such. After the war they were converted to corporate planes - the Lear Jets of the time.

After being a corporate transport this particular plane became a flight test plane in the late '60s and early '70s for LFE (Laboratory For Electronics) and later, Jenney Flight Engineering, where I worked. It still had the executive interior with some seats removed for radio racks. 

Hanscom Air Force Base was and still is, where lots of military avionics were developed and tested. Only MIT's facility is still operative but back then Raytheon and other companies had active flight test programs running.

Work got slow in the '70s and Jenney became a maintenance facility and later a Beechcraft dealership. We worked on anything that came in so I ended up working on A26s, C47s, a B25, T6s, T34s, C45s, etc., plus lots of GA planes.

I couldn't find a picture a picture as it was then with a stylized Curtis Jenny "J" on the tail but I did find a pic in corporate livery. Jenney sold it mid '70 when it went to Alaska to haul fish. It finally ended up in the museum partially converted back to military configuration in the late '80s but now just a static display.

 

N880L now.jpg

N880L 2.jpg

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3 hours ago, New Englander said:

Douglas built the B23

Never flew it but Northern (Green Bay) Paper Co. had one, used to park it over on the southside at the local FBO when it was in town, couple of my fellow QBs did fly one.  IIRC, Honeywell flew some experimental electronics stuff in one.

best, randy

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I was aware of the B-23. It’s been quite a few years since the thought of them entered my mind. If I remember correctly, the plane was given the nickname of “Dragon”.  

In that top picture of the B-23, what is that plane on the left side of the picture in the back ground. I almost want to say it is a Vulcan bomber???? (British) What is it for sure and what is the scoop on it? 

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13 minutes ago, Howard_P said:

IH's first plane in 1948 was a B-23

Howard, great photo and thanks, an interesting angle in that that angle makes the right hand engine's propeller superimposed upon that "football" ADF antenna look as though they're part of the same assembly.

best, randy

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3 minutes ago, Rick G. said:

that top picture of the B-23, what is that plane on the left side of the picture in the back ground.

Rick, IIRC pretty sure that it is either a Vulcan or Victor, the RAF used to visit us regularly with one when I was at Offutt AFB on the Ops StanBd.  Looks to me like it was taken at some AF museum display, don't know but I'll ask around.  Flown one a long time ago, was an interesting airplane since it's tailwheel was offet off towards one side to allow a machine gun in the lower turret.

best, randy

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1 hour ago, Randy Sohn said:

Rick, IIRC pretty sure that it is either a Vulcan or Victor, the RAF used to visit us regularly with one when I was at Offutt AFB on the Ops StanBd.  Looks to me like it was taken at some AF museum display, don't know but I'll ask around.  Flown one a long time ago, was an interesting airplane since it's tailwheel was offet off towards one side to allow a machine gun in the lower turret.

best, randy

Hello Randy and everyone, OK since posing my question above, I did some searching about that Castle museum. Lo and behold it is a Vulcan bomber! I never realized there was one on display in the U.S.

Years ago I once saw a Vulcan fly a demo display at an air show in Canada. It was a thrilling sight and sound!

Here is a link to that museum- You can find the Vulcan bomber in the link.

https://www.castleairmuseum.org/collection

I wonder if that is the only one on display in the entire U.S.?

Those planes need to be placed under shelter to be saved for future generations.

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19 hours ago, New Englander said:

Douglas built the B23 as an improvement of the B18

Got a bunch of photos taken at our CAF airshow many years ago if you'll send me your E-mail address, 952-440-5267.  Our B-23's on there along with a couple of me taking off in the B-29.  

best, randy

 

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22 hours ago, oldtanker said:

I can understand why it never went into war production. The B25 came out in 41, before Pearl Harbor. It carried more plus had better armaments.

 

Rick

B23 came out in '39, I believe. While an improvement over the B18 it apparently wasn't enough of one. First US bomber with a tail gun position.  I was still pretty slim at 21 but even then I didn't want to try to position myself down there. When we operated the plane the plexi was removed and sheet metal installed. Sometime in the '80's the glass and a dummy gun was installed. N880L was first operated as a corporate plane by Rexall Drug company. I find it quite interesting that IH operated one as well.

B23 tail gun.jpg

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3 minutes ago, New Englander said:

B23 came out in '39, I believe. While an improvement over the B18 it apparently wasn't enough of one. First US bomber with a tail gun position.  I was still pretty slim at 21 but even then I didn't want to try to position myself down there. When we operated the plane the plexi was removed and sheet metal installed. Sometime in the '80's the glass and a dummy gun was installed. N880L was first operated as a corporate plane by Rexall Drug company. I find it quite interesting that IH operated one as well.

B23 tail gun.jpg

That's what I found when I looked it up, 39. 

Rick

 

 

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9 hours ago, Rick G. said:

I was aware of the B-23. It’s been quite a few years since the thought of them entered my mind. If I remember correctly, the plane was given the nickname of “Dragon”.  

In that top picture of the B-23, what is that plane on the left side of the picture in the back ground. I almost want to say it is a Vulcan bomber???? (British) What is it for sure and what is the scoop on it? 

Vulcan

 

 

Vulcan.jpg

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10 hours ago, Randy Sohn said:

Rick, IIRC pretty sure that it is either a Vulcan or Victor, the RAF used to visit us regularly with one when I was at Offutt AFB on the Ops StanBd.  Looks to me like it was taken at some AF museum display, don't know but I'll ask around.  Flown one a long time ago, was an interesting airplane since it's tailwheel was offet off towards one side to allow a machine gun in the lower turret.

best, randy

 

Looks like a Vulcan to me.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Castle+Air+Museum/@37.3649244,-120.5791096,249m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x80916b1c8d90b219:0x7d094bcfe770c07d!8m2!3d37.3648271!4d-120.5779088

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13 hours ago, Randy Sohn said:

Rick, IIRC pretty sure that it is either a Vulcan or Victor, the RAF used to visit us regularly with one when I was at Offutt AFB on the Ops StanBd.  Looks to me like it was taken at some AF museum display, don't know but I'll ask around.  Flown one a long time ago, was an interesting airplane since it's tailwheel was offet off towards one side to allow a machine gun in the lower turret.

I'd re-read this and wanted to separate the two paragraphs, I never flew the Vulcan, only looked at it some when the RAF guys would come over to see us at SAC Hqtrs. at Offutt AFB in OMA.  

The thing I flew years ago was the B-23 and I remember that the tailwheel was offset towards one side so as to allow the lower rear gunner to shoot towards the rear without the tailwheel being in his way. I was hoping that the photos would show that - but no luck.

best, randy

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