Douglas B-66B Destroyer

Last revised April 28, 2001



The Douglas Destroyer was initially manufactured in two separate versions--a reconnaissance version designated RB-66B (Douglas Model 1329) and a bomber version designated B-66B (Dougla Model 1327A). They were basically similar in overall configuration, differing primarily in the equipment carried.

72 B-66Bs were built, all of them in the Long Beach plant. An additional 69 B-66Bs (55-0315/0383) were cancelled. The last example was delivered in October of 1957. The B-66B was powered by a pair of 10,200 lb.s.t. Allison J71-A-11 turbojets. J71-A-13 turbojets of a similar rating were later retrofitted to most machines. The aircraft's design gross weight was raised to 78,000 pounds, 8000 pounds greater than that of the RB-66B. In comparison with the RB-66B, the bomb bay was lengthened by 17.5 inches, the capacity ot the aft fuselage tanks was increased, and pylons were provided to support extra 500-gallon underwing drop tanks. A K-5 bombing system was provided, subcontracted by Western Electric and Bell Telephone Laboratories.

The first official B-66B flight took place on January 4, 1955. The B-66Bs began entering the Tactical Air Command in March of 1956, which was about a year later than originally expected. The first recepient was the 17th Light Bombardment Wing, based at Hurlburt Field in Florida. In September of 1956, TAC began to transfer its B-66Bs to the United States Air Forces in Europe.

During the early stages of the Southeast Asian War, thirteen B-66Bs were adapted to serve in the electronic countermeasures role as radar jamming aircraft. They were redesignated EB-66B. All of the bombing equipment was removed and replaced by electronic jamming equipment. The tail turret was removed, and automatic jamming equipment was fitted in its place. Numerous antennae protruded from the aircraft, and chaff dispensing pods were carried. They were used during the Vietnam War as electronic warfare aircraft, joining strike aircraft during their missions over North Vietnam to jam enemy radar installations. They were not "Wild Weasel" aircraft, since they did not have provisions to attack the radar installations directly.

Two B-66Bs (53-0488 and 54-0481) were modified for high-altitude parachute drops of Gemini and Apollo space capsules. The bomb bay doors were removed and the capsules were carried semi-externally underneath the fuselage.

Specification of Douglas B-66B Destroyer:

Engines: Two Allison J71-A-11 or -13 turbojets, 10,200 lb.s.t. Performance: Maximum speed 631 mph at 6000 feet. Cruising speed 528 mph. Initial climb rate 5000 feet per minute. Service ceiling 39,400 feet. 900 miles combat radius. Maximum rang 2470 miles. Weights: 42,540 pounds empty, 57,800 pounds loaded, 83,000 pounds maximum Dimensions: Wingspan 72 feet 6 inches, length 75 feet 2 inches, height 23 feet 7 inches, wing area 780 square feet. Armament: 2 20-mm cannon in remotely-controlled tail turret. Up to 15,000 pounds of ordinance could be carried in the internal bomb bay.

Serials of B-66B:

53-0482/0507		Douglas B-66B-DL Destroyer
				0482 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0484 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0485 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0486 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0487 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0488 converted to NB-66B to test air drop of Gemini and Apollo capsules
				0489 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0491 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0492 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0493 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0495 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0496 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0497 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
				0498 converted to EB-66B ECM aircraft
54-0477/0505		Douglas B-66B-DL Destroyer
				c/n 44777/44805
				0481 converted to NB-66B to test air drops of Gemini and Apollo capsules.
54-0548/0551		Douglas B-66B-DL Destroyer
				c/n 44848/44851
55-0302/0314		Douglas B-66B-DL Destroyer
				c/n 44934/44946


Sources:


  1. Post World War II Bombers, Marcelle Size Knaack, Office of Air Force History, 1988.

  2. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920, Volume 1. Rene Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1988

  3. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.