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Douglas B-66 Destroyer "1954"

The Douglas B-66 Destroyer is a light bomber that was designed and produced by the American aviation manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company. The B-66 was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) and is heavily based upon the United States Navy's A-3 Skywarrior, a heavy carrier-based attack aircraft.

Douglas B-66 Destroyer "1954"

RoleLight bomber
National originUnited States
ManufacturerDouglas Aircraft Company
First flight28 June 1954
Introduction1956
Retired1975[1]
Primary userUnited States Air Force
Number built294[2]
Developed fromDouglas A-3 Skywarrior
Developed intoNorthrop X-21

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Douglas B-66 Destroyer "1954"

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Douglas B-66 Destroyer "1954"

The Douglas B-66 Destroyer is a light bomber that was designed and produced by the American aviation manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company.

The B-66 was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) and is heavily based upon the United States Navy‘s A-3 Skywarrior, a heavy carrier-based attack aircraft. Originally, officials intended for the aircraft to be a simple development of the earlier A-3, taking advantage of being strictly land-based to dispense with unnecessary naval features. However, due to the USAF producing extensive and substantially divergent requirements, it became necessary to make considerable alterations to the design, leading to a substantial proportion of the B-66 being original rather than derived from the A-3. The B-66 retained the three-man crew arrangement of the US Navy’s A-3; differences included the incorporation of ejection seats, which the A-3 had lacked.

Douglas B-66 Design

When the A-3 Skywarrior was in development for United States Navy, the project attracted attention from senior officers of the United States Air Force (USAF), who were skeptical regarding claims made about the design’s specifications and capabilities. In particular, the USAF questioned its reported take-off weight of 68,000lb, suggesting that it would be impossible to achieve.[3] USAF general Hoyt Vandenberg ridiculed the proposed A-3 as “making irresponsible claims”.[4] (It has been suggested that this was a part of opposition within the USAF to the Navy’s proposed “supercarriers”: the United States-class, which would have carried the A-3, amongst other aircraft. However, while the supercarrier project did not proceed,[5] flight testing of the A-3 validated its performance. It was recognized that the type was capable of carrying out mission profiles practically identical to that of the much larger Boeing B-47 Stratojet, operated by the USAF. This included an unrefuelled combat radius of almost 1,000 miles. 

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Douglas B-66 Destroyer (1954)

During 1956, deliveries to the USAF commenced. A total of 145 RB-66Bs would be produced. In service, the RB-66 would function as the primary night photo-reconnaissance aircraft of the USAF during this period; accordingly, many examples served with tactical reconnaissance squadrons based overseas, typically being stationed in the United Kingdom and West Germany. A total of 72 of the B-66B bomber version were built, 69 fewer aircraft than had been originally planned. A total of 13 B-66B aircraft later were modified into EB-66B electronic countermeasures (ECM) aircraft, which played a forward role in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, and were stationed at RAF Chelveston with the 42nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, who performed the conversion during the early 1960s. They would rotate out of an alert pad in France during the time that the 42nd had them.

Specifications

  • Crew: 3 (Pilot, Navigator and EWO)
  • Length: 75 ft 2 in (22.91 m)
  • Wingspan: 72 ft 6 in (22.10 m)
  • Height: 23 ft 7 in (7.19 m)
  • Empty weight: 42,549 lb (19,300 kg)
  • Gross weight: 57,800 lb (26,218 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Allison J71-A-11 (later Allison J71-A-13) turbojet engines, 10,200 lbf (45 kN) thrust each 
  • Maximum speed: 548 kn (631 mph, 1,015 km/h) at 6,000 ft (1,800 m)
  • Cruise speed: 459 kn (528 mph, 850 km/h)
  • Combat range: 782 nmi (900 mi, 1,448 km)
  • Ferry range: 2,146 nmi (2,470 mi, 3,974 km)
  • Service ceiling: 39,400 ft (12,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 5,000 ft/min (25 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 74.1 lb/sq ft (362 kg/m2

Guns: 2 20 mm M24 cannon in radar-controlled/remotely operated tail turret

Bombs: 15000 lb (6,800 kg)

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The Douglas B-66 Destroyer is a light bomber that was designed and produced by the American aviation manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company. The B-66 was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) and is heavily based upon the United States Navy's A-3 Skywarrior, a heavy carrier-based attack aircraft.

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