Maj. C.V. Haynes, the Commanding Officer of the 49th Bomb Squadron, Capt. Old also of the 49th BS, and an unidentified officer stand in front of the Boeing XB-15. (From the collection of Master Sgt. Laird N. Rosborough, who served as radio operator on the XB-15 in 1943.)
Corporal Junior and the Boeing XB-15. The photo was taken during maneuvers at Providence, R.I. (From the collection of Master Sgt. Laird N. Rosborough, who served as radio operator on the XB-15 in 1943.)
Photograph of the crew of the Boeing XB-15 taken at Albrook Field, Panama in 1943. The massive bomber was used by the Army Air Corps for a number of humanitarian missions in Latin America in the late 1930s and early 1940s. (From the collection of Master Sgt. Laird N. Rosborough, who served as radio operator on the XB-15 in 1943.)
The Boeing Model 294 was originally designated XBLR-1 (Experimental Bomber - Long Range) but became the XB-15 before construction was complete. When accepted by the Army Air Corps, it was the largest bomber ever tested in the United States. The XB-15 was powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-11 Twin Wasp radial engines of 1,000 hp each but was still significantly underpowered. The top speed of the bomber was only 197 mph, which was unacceptable and the aircraft wasn't considered for production.
The aircraft had several significant features: an automatic pilot, de-icers, auxiliary power units independent of the main engines to power the electrical system (the first on an aircraft), engines that were serviceable in flight using an access tunnel inside the wing, a crew compartment with rest bunks, galley and lavatory, and double wheel main landing gear.
The XB-15's first flight was Oct. 15, 1937, and it set a world record in 1939 for payload lift capacity and a national distance record for flying a closed-course. The XB-15 was converted to a cargo/transport plane after bomber testing was complete. A large cargo door was added to the aft fuselage and the XB-15 was redesignated XC-105.
In service for eight years, the airplane carried more than 5,200 passengers, 440,000 pounds of cargo and 94,000 pounds of mail. It flew 70 cargo trips and 60 missions including antisubmarine patrol.
XBLR-1 to XB-15 to XC1-05
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Three .30-cal. machine guns and three .50-cal. machine guns; 12,000 lbs. of bombs (maximum) Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-11 Twin Wasp radials of 1,000 hp each Maximum speed: 197 mph Cruising speed: 171 mph Service ceiling: 18,850 ft. Range: 3,400 miles with 2,500 lb. bomb load Span: 149 ft. 0 in. Length: 87 ft. 7 in. Height: 19 ft. 5 in. Weight: 65,068 lbs. gross Crew: 10 Serial number: 35-277