Huff-Daland and Co, Inc. of Ogdensburg, New York is not exactly one of the better known aircraft companies. Only a relatively few people still remember this company today. Nevertheless, during the late 1920s and early 1930s, Huff-Daland (and its successor Keystone) was the primary manufacturer of biplane bombers for the US Army Air Corps.
In particular, this company had the honor of producing the first entry in the B-for-bomber series. This category had been introduced in 1924 along with the LB (Light Bomber) and the HB (Heavy Bomber) categories.
The XB-1 was essentially a twin-engined adaptation of the Huff-Daland XHB-1 single-engined heavy bomber. As early as April of 1926, the Army had decided that single-engined bombers were unsatisfactory, concluding that the more conventional twin-engined configuration was safer and had the additional advantage of allowing for a gunner and/or bomb-aiming position to be mounted in the nose.
The XB-1 (serial number 27-334) was originally powered by a pair of 510 hp Packard 2A-1530 liquid-cooled engines, and took to the air for the first time in September of 1927. The B-1 also differed from the XHB-1 in having a twin tail rather than a single tail. Instead of a single rear gunner with his view being blocked by the tail assembly, there were now two gunners, one seated in the rear of each engine nacelle. Twin Lewis guns were provided for each of these gunners, with a third pair provided for a gunner's position in the nose. This particular arrangement was not exactly new, having been tried out on both British and German bombers during World War 1.
A total of five crew members were carried. A pilot and a copilot were seated side-by-side in a cockpit ahead of the wing, a gunner/ bombardier was seated in a nose position, and a gunner was seated in the rear of each engine nacelle.
The Packard engines were later replaced by 600 hp Curtiss V-1570-5 Conquerors, and the aircraft was redesignated XB-1B. By this time, the Huff-Daland company had been reorganized as Keystone.
The XB-1B found itself in competition with the Curtiss B-2 Condor, the Sikorsky S-37B Guardian, and the Fokker-Atlantic XLB-2 high-winged monoplane for Army production orders. The Curtiss design was deemed to be the best of the lot, and only one example of the XB-1B was built.
Specification of the Keystone XB-1B:
Two 600 hp Curtiss V-1570-5 Conqueror liquid-cooled engines. Maximum speed 117 mph at sea level, service ceiling 15,000 feet, range 700 miles with 2508 pound bombload. Weights: 9462 pounds empty, 16,500 pounds gross, 17,039 pounds maximum. Wingspan 85 feet, length 62 feet, height 19 feet 3 inches, wing area 1604 square feet. Armed with six Lewis machine guns, paired in engine nacelle and nose positions.