USAAC Douglas B-18 Bolo
First Albuquerque Visit: 1941
The Douglas B-18 “Bolo” is an American heavy bomber which served with the United States Army Air Corps during the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Bolo was developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company from their DC-2 aircraft to be a replacement for the Martin B-10.
The B-18 was considered obsolete by 1939 partly because in lacked effective armament with no turret or tail guns. The 19th Bombardment Group (BG) brought six B-18’s to Albuquerque’s Kirtland Field in July of 1941 from March Field in California. These aircraft were to be used as navigation and bombing trainers. They could be equipped with the Sperry and Nordon bombsights. When the 19 BG left Kirtland Field for Clark Field in the Philippines in late 1941, the aircraft were left behind to be used by the new Bombardier Training School that operated from 1942 until 1947. The last two training flights for a student bombardier at the school required them to drop five 200-to-500-pound live bombs. Many of these bombs were dropped on nearby bombing ranges including one located on the El Malpais lava field southeast of Grants, New Mexico.
The B-18 aircraft with tail number 8597, the model on display, is seen banking towards Albuquerque’s Kirland Field in this undated photo.
This B-18 aircrew is seen after returning from a training flight at Kirtland Field.
The bombardier’s perch is shown inside of a B-18 Bolo bomber.
A restored Douglas B-18 Bolo is on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force.
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