Aviation of World War II
In November 1939, the commander of the US Army Air Force, General Arnold, asked the War Department for permission to develop a heavy four-engined bomber, which was supposed to surpass the B-24 Liberator and B-17 Flying Fortress in terms of its capabilities. The new aircraft was supposed to have high speed and long flight range to the detriment of the bomb load. The specifications issued by the Army Air Corps on January 29, 1940 required the creation of a bomber capable of delivering 900 kg of bombs to a range of more than 8000 km at a speed of 640 km / h.
The proposed Consolidated aircraft received the designation Model 33 and was a completely new project, despite that. that during its development the experience and technologies obtained during the creation of the "Liberator" were used. It was much larger than the B-24 - 5.18 m longer and 7.62 more in span. The aircraft was supposed to be equipped with new engines with a Wright R-3350-13 "Super Cyclone" turbocharger with a capacity of 2200 hp each, driving Curtiss Electric propellers with a constant speed. The new bomber was supposed to have a cylindrical fuselage with a pressurized crew cabin and remotely controlled weapons. The new project retained the "Davis wing", two-finned tail and the scheme of opening the Liberator's bomb bay doors. Consolidated's proposal was approved by the US Army Air Force on September 6, 1940, and the firm received an order for the construction of three experimental bombers, designated XB-32A. On September 1, 1942, the first XB-32 (41-141) was rolled out at the Consolidated plant in San Diego. The first flight and the first of the malfunctions that accompanied the entire XB-32 program followed a week later at North Island airfield. The problem was minor - the elevator trim failed, but such faults followed one after another. Finally, due to a malfunction in the flap control system, the aircraft crashed in which the pilot died. The delays in the construction of the second prototype resulted in Consolidated losing the contract for the Very Heavy Bomber, which became the Boeing B-29.
When the third prototype XB-32 "Terminator" * left the assembly shop, the US Air Force already believed that the bomber "... is outdated and does not meet the combat standards of 1943." In order for the new car to remain competitive, its design required a large number of changes, and made quickly. They abandoned the two-fin tail in favor of the conventional, single-fin, pressurized cabin, remote shooting installations. The engine nacelles were redesigned and four-blade propellers were installed. In addition, the bomb release system was fully electrified and the M-series sight was installed, as well as a number of other minor changes. Most of the modifications were made on the third prototype XB-32 (41-18336) after the aircraft was rolled out. The 4.87 m vertical tail was borrowed from the B-29, but problems with the stability of the machine forced the development of a new one, 5.94 m high. These modifications were approved by the Army Air Force and Convair received an order for 1200 aircraft. In fact, 115 bombers were built, all (with the exception of three prototypes) at the Fort Worth plant.
The defensive armament of the B-32A was weaker than that of the B-24. "Liberators" carried up to thirteen 12.7-mm machine guns, while the B-32A only ten. Sperry M-17 ball turrets were installed in the nose and tail of the aircraft, another retractable turret from this company was located under the fuselage. On top were two Martin A-15 turrets with improved aerodynamics. After the release of fifteen bombers, a series of 44 training TV-32A was built, from which defensive weapons and part of the systems were removed. The turret locations were covered with fairings and 317 kg of ballast was added to the aircraft to maintain the center of gravity.
* - Convair originally assigned the XB-32 the designation "Terminator", but in August 1944, according to the recommendation of the Technical Subcommittee on aircraft naming, they changed it to "Dominator" However, in the summer of 1945, Assistant Secretary of State Archibald McLeish spoke out against the name, stating that "... it is not suitable for a US combat aircraft." The name was again changed to "Terminator", but by this time the program was closed.
B-32A Dominator. Combat Use.
The program for the creation of the B-32 was so delayed that the bomber would probably never have been able to take part in the hostilities, if not for the insistence of General George Kenny, who insisted on testing the aircraft in battle. The well-proven Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" was already in service and the US Air Force did not have much need for another heavy bomber, in addition suffering from "childhood diseases". But the B-32 made such an impression on General Arnold, the commander-in-chief of the Air Force, that he allowed Kenya to conduct military trials. On May 12, 1945, three B-32 A departed from the Fort Worth plant for the Philippines. Two of them landed at Clark Field airfield twelve days later, and a third plane arrived a day later. On May 29, 1945, the B-32A went on their first combat mission - their target was the Japanese warehouses on Luzon. Before the end of the tests, they completed ten more sorties. Despite minor technical problems, the final conclusion was that the aircraft "is an excellent bomber" and "fit for combat without restrictions."
After testing, three B-32A entered the 386th Bomber Squadron, 312th BG, 5th Air Army. During the summer of 1945, these aircraft operated against targets in the Japanese islands. August 11, 1945, two days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The Dominators were transferred to Yontan Air Force Base in Okinawa. On August 12, four more B-32A joined them, and some time later, two more. There were flights over Tokyo, mainly for reconnaissance. On the night of August 17-18, the first meeting with Japanese fighters took place. The shooters managed to shoot down three enemy aircraft, but one "Dominator" was severely damaged. On August 28, 1945, B-32A made their last combat mission, taking photographs of Tokyo.
After the end of the Second World War, the US Army Air Force gradually removed several thousand Liberators from service. scrapping them. Production of the B-32 was discontinued on September 18, 1945, by which time they had built 118 aircraft, including three prototypes. The last six production B-32A flew from the assembly line directly to the recycling center. Not a single Convair B-32A Dominator bomber has survived to this day.