XB-42 Experimental Bomber

A report on the Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster experimental high-speed bomber from the Air Force magazine Impact, Vol. III, No. 8, Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, Washington, D.C., August 1945.

EXPERIMENTAL BOMBER
XB-42 is First in 400-Mile-per-Hour Class

Although there is no present requirement for the plane pictured here, its approach to the basic problems of bombardment is so unusual that it is felt that IMPACT readers will be interested in hearing about it.

Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster Bomber

Nose view reveals XB-42 as our sleekest bomber, with no turrets or engine nacelles to interrupt streamlining.

The traditional American bomber, the B-17 or B-24, is a large, relatively slow plane capable of carrying a moderate tonnage a long distance. It is less efficient as a freight car than its British counterpart, but it is more heavily armed and armored. This means a loss of range or load, also of speed because added turrets, etc., do not improve streamlining. The B-29, the B-32 and yet-unborn monsters like the B-36 are basically like the B-17. They are faster, better armored, but are still “flying fortresses,” depending on their inherent durability to keep them going. Increased armor or range means more weight and more gas, which means bigger engines, which means bigger wings, which again means more weight, etc. The result of all this is that the plane gets larger and larger as its efficiency improves.

However, the bigger you are, the better target you make. Perhaps we are on the wrong track in bomber design. There is no sign of this yet, the B-29 being well able to take care of itself against present countermeasures. But the development of new anti-bombardment weapons. such as the German X-4 and Viper (IMPACT, Vol. III, No. 7). could conceivably prove its wrong.

XB42 Mixmaster Experimental Bomber

Side view shows counter-rotating pusher props, flexible wing guns. Maximum speed is 410 mph at 27,100 feet.

Hence the B-42, which depends primarily on speed for safety. It is small (35,702-lb. gross weight), is beautifully streamlined, has a laminar-flow wing, with its two engines in the rear so as not to lower the efficiency of this wing. It has no gun turrets, thus saving weight, which is used instead for gas or bombs (it will carry up to four tons internally). The theory behind this is simply that high speeds multiply gunnery problems. Closing speeds between two high-performance aircraft make nose attacks impractical. Deflection shots do not pay off. This leaves level and pursuit curve attacks from the rear. To combat these are remote-controlled flexible guns in the wings, aiming aft. Furthermore, one pass is about all the conventional fighter can make. By the time he is back in position, the B-42 is many miles away. Intercepters are given very little time to reach the B-42’s altitude. In addition, its speed and maneuverabilility permit violent evasive action.

A ground-attack version has fixed nose guns in various combinations ranging all the way from eight .50 caliber guns to one 75-mm cannon and two .50s.

 

Atsugi Airfield

Photographs of Japanese Atsugi Airfield near Tokyo after the end of WWII from the U.S. Air Force magazine Impact, Vol. II, No. 9, Sept.-Oct. 1945.

ATSUGI AIRFIELD

First close look many Americans got of Japan was when they landed at this fighter base 32 miles from Tokyo. It was covered with planes, some of them wrecked, many in good condition. But the general impression was that the Japs had a junky, tinny air force. It seemed as if they had been trying to fight a Tiffany war with Woolworth merchandise. Even maintenance was shoddy, typical of Jap fields.

Wrecked Hanger at Atsugi Airfield, Tokyo, Japan in WW2

Pinned down by American air power, Jap planes on Atsugi were squashed by collapse of wooden hangar.

Destroyed Japanese Navy Jack Aircraft near Tokyo in WWII

Flotsam of a beaten air force was assembled on Atsugi, including well-ventilated Navy Jacks below.

Japanese Wreckage in WW2

Tunnel entrance leads to one of maze of corridors which literally honeycombed ground beneath Atsugi's runways.

WW2 Japanese Tunnels at Atsugi Airfield

Atsugi's tunnels were used as a vast storage depot for food, clothes, ammunition, machine tools and aircraft parts.