African Pilot

FACT FILE Boeing XB-15

- ByDivanMul­ler

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.

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Boeing XB-15

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