B-32

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Fourteen B-32s accepted for service tests were followed by 40 TB-32s completed without turrets by March 24, 1945, for the transitional training unit at Fort Worth. On April 17, acceptances began on combat-ready B-32-20-CFs, whose nine crewmen included an operator of the APQ-5B and -13 radar, with a retractable radome in front of the bomb bays. San Diego’s first B-32-20-CO flown on March 17, 1945, became the only one accepted from there.

Since only 14 Dominators had been accepted by the end of 1944, they were too late to replace the B-24 n the war in Europe, and only General George C. Kenney of the Fifth Air Force had requested the B-32s. After Germany surrendered in May, the contract was cut back to only 214 bombers from Fort Worth to supply Kenny’s forces. Convair’s Laddon protested the decision, arguing that the B-32 was a very superior replacement for the B-24 in the Pacific, but official opinion was that B-32s were no longer needed as “insurance against failure of the B-29”. CONVAIR XB-32 (3rd prototype)

Dominators (later renamed Terminators to avoid political inference) were sent to the 312th Bomb Group on Luzon, where two flew the first mission May 29, 1945. Nine B-32s had arrived in the Far East by August 17, when a photographic sweep near Tokyo to confirm Japan’s surrender was the first to encounter enemy fighters. The following day, B-32 gunners got the last Japanese fighter to be downed by American aircraft.

Only 114 B-32s had been accepted at Fort Worth by August 10, and on August 15 Convair was ordered to halt production, sending eight more flyable planes to be scrapped at a disposal center, and also to dispose of two more at San Diego, and 49 nearly-finished aircraft. By the month’s end all B-32 training was halted. CONVAIR B-32-1-CF

Martin’s XB-33
Another heavy bomber design of this period never reached the flying stage. The Martin Model 189 was designed with two Wright R-3350s in response to an AAF medium bomber specification dated October 15, 1940, and on February 11, 1941, Martin was sent an Air Corps Letter of Intent to buy it as the XB-33.

But on April 20, the Model 190 heavy bomber was proposed and the Air Corps contract was made on June 11 for two XB-33 prototypes with four 1,750-hp turbosupercharged Wright R-2600-15s and twin tails. A mockup was inspected in October and after America went to war, an order to build 400 B-33As at the Omaha factory received a Letter of Intent on December 26, and a contract approved January 17, 1942.

Called the Super Marauder by the company, the B-33 had a 134-foot span high wing configuration like the XB-32 and remote-control for ten .50-caliber guns; four in the top turret and two each in the tail and both bottom turrets. Top speed was estimated at 345 mph at 35,000 feet and range 2,000 miles with a 2,000-pound bomb load.

CONVAIR B-32-25-CF

These estimates were not impressive when compared to the B-29 program, and by November 9, 1942, the Air Force had decided to use the Omaha plant for the B-29, or even the promising B-35 flying wing. All B-33 work was stopped by a December 14 order, so the prototypes were never completed. The B-29 was all the bomber needed to end that war.

The war with Japan was over, but the B-29 had another atom bomb to drop. At Bikini atoll, Operation Crossroads tested the effects of a Mark 3 bomb on a target array of ships. On July 1, 1946, a B-29-40-MO supported by eight other B-29s and eight F-13As dropped the weapon in an elaborately monitored and photographed assessment of nuclear warfare.

The Cold War would extend the service life of the B-29s for another decade and another war, and that story will be told in Chapter 26.

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