The Douglas Aircraft
Co. developed the B-18 to replace the Martin B-10 as the Army Air
Corps' standard bomber. The Bolo's design was based on the Douglas DC-2
commercial transport. During Air Corps bomber trials at Wright Field in
1935, the B-18 prototype competed with the Martin 146 (an improved
B-10) and the four engine Boeing 299, forerunner of the B-17. Although
many Air Corps officers believed the Boeing design was superior, only
13 YB-17s were initially ordered. Instead, the Army General Staff
selected the less costly Bolo and, in January 1936, ordered 133 as
B-18s. Later, 217 more were built as B-18As with a "shark" nose in
which the bombardier's position was extended forward over the nose
By 1939, underpowered
and with inadequate defensive armament, the Bolo was the Air Corps'
primary bomber. Some B-18s were destroyed by the Japanese on December
7, 1941. By early 1942, improved aircraft replaced the Bolo as a
first-line bombardment aircraft. Many B-18's were then used as
transports, or modified as B-18Bs for anti-submarine duty.
Span: 89 ft. 6 in.
Length: 57 ft. 10 in.
Height: 15 ft. 2 in.
Weight: 27,000 lbs. loaded
Armament: Three .30-cal. guns (in nose, ventral and dorsal
positions), plus 4,500 lbs. of bombs carried internally
Engines: Two Wright R-1820-53s of 1,000 hp. ea.
Serial Number: 37-469
Other Registrations: N58674
Maximum speed: 215 mph. at 15,000 ft.
Cruising speed: 167 mph.
Range: 2,100 miles
Service Ceiling: 23,900 ft.