The Model 33 was the Consolidated submission for the U.S. Army's very long range bomber competition. A Request for Data was issued in January 1940 to all major aircraft manufacturers. In April four preliminary design studies were received from Boeing, Lockheed, Douglas and Consolidated. In June the Army ranked the designs and assigned bomber designations in order of preference. The Consolidated design was ranked last and assigned XB-32. Both Lockheed and Douglas withdrew from the competition later in the summer, and the final Consolidated design was approved in September. A contract for two prototypes was issued and amended in November to include a third aircraft.
The XB-32 was based on an enlarged B-24 but was essentially an entirely new design. The initial prototype (S/N 41-141) was completed in September 1942 and first flew on Sept. 7; however, after 30 test flights, the plane was destroyed in a crash on May 10, 1943. The second prototype first flew in July 1943 followed by the third's first flight in November.
The third prototype (S/N 41-13886) was completed with the same double tail as the first two prototypes, but early in the flight test program was retrofitted with a single tail taken from a B-29. The single tail was an attempt to solve directional stability problems but it wasn't large enough, and the aircraft was fitted with an even larger vertical stabilizer. This tail assembly, designed by Consolidated engineers, would be used on all production B-32s (retrofitted to the first B-32 S/N 42-108471).
The XB-32 program (like the XB-29 program) was plagued by continual problems and delays. Although the XB-32 started out as insurance against failure of the B-29 and actually flew first, the delays caused the program to lag significantly behind B-29 development. The pending cancellation of the entire program was avoided after a number of recommended changes were incorporated into the B-32 production version. The single tail of the third prototype was retained along with many performance enhancements and changes to make maintenance easier.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: 14 .50-cal. machine guns, two 20mm cannon plus 20,000 lbs. of bombs (maximum) Engines: Four Wright R-3350-13 Cyclone radials of 2,200 hp each (take-off power) Maximum speed: 376 mph at 25,000 ft. Cruising speed: Approx. 250 mph Range: 4,450 miles with 2,000 lbs. bomb load Service ceiling: 30,700 ft. Span: 135 ft. 0 in. Length: 83 ft. 0 in. Height: 20 ft. 10 in. (32 ft. for 41-18336) Weight: 101,662 lbs. (gross weight) Crew: 12 (maximum as designed) Serial numbers: 41-141, 41-142, 41-18336