FACT FILE Boeing XB-15
The Boeing XB-15 was essentially a giant experimental version of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. When the aircraft completed its maiden flight in October 1937, it was the largest aircraft ever built in the USA. It was developed to test the effectiveness of a bomber with a range of more than 8 000 kms. Only one example of the XB-15 was built. It broke several load-to-altitude records and was used in bombing trials. However, the XB-15 never entered production as it was reasoned that it would offer little advantage over the B-17 in combat, despite its enormous size. Rather than scrapping the prototype, it was converted into a transport aircraft and renamed ‘XC-105’.
During World War II in the early 1940s, the aircraft carried more than
5 000 passengers, 200 tonnes of cargo and more than 40 tonnes of mail. The XC-105 was finally retired in 1944 and scrapped during the following year.