Douglas RB-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 (Douglas Model 1327A). They were basically similar in overall configuration, differing primarily in the equipment carried. The RB-66B carried flash bombs in its bomb bay for night photography missions and was equipped with a battery of reconnaissance cameras. The RB-66B could be fitted with a removable inflight refuelling probe attached to the right side of the forward fuselage.

The first RB-66B flew in March of 1955, and deliveries began on February 1, 1956. 145 RB-66Bs were built, which made this version numerically the most important of the Destroyer variants. The RB-66B was basically similar to the RB-66A pre-production aircraft, differing in being powered by Allison J71-A-11 turbojets. Higher-thrust J71-A-13 turbojets were fitted at the factory to the last 17 RB-66Bs built, and earlier machines were retrofitted with these engines.

The first RB-66Bs were issued to the 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, based at Shaw AFB in South Carolina in January of 1956. They replaced the obsolescent RB-26 Invader. Two more squandrons within the 363rd TRW, the 41st and the 43rd, were equipped with RB-66Bs by the end of the year. The RB-66B very soon became the primary night photographic reconnaissance weapon system of the Tactical Air Command.

The 12th TRS baseed at Itami, Japan, received its first RB-66Bs by the end of 1956. Two RB-66B squadrons were activated within the USAF in Europe.

In the mid-1960s, 52 RB-66Bs were modified as EB-66E electronic countermeasures aircraft. All of the reconnaissance 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.

Specification of Douglas RB-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 525 mph. Initial climb rate 5000 feet per minute. Service ceiling 38,900 feet. 925 miles combat radius. Maximum rang 2425 miles. Weights: 43,476 pounds empty, 59,550 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.

Serials of RB-66B

53-0409/0481		Douglas RB-66B-DL Destroyer
				0412 modified to test radar and control system of Boeing-MARC BOMARC missile.
				0413 converted to NB-66B.
				0421 used to test P&W TF33 turbofan.  
				0480 converted to EB-66E.
54-0417/0446		Douglas RB-66B-DL Destroyer
				c/n 44717/44746
				0417 converted to EB-66E
				0419 converted to EB-66E
				0423 converted to EB-66E
				0424 converted to EB-66E
				0426 converted to EB-66E
				0429 converted to EB-66E
				0431 converted to EB-66E
				0434 converted to EB-66E
				0435 converted to EB-66E
				0438 converted to EB-66E
				0439 converted to EB-66E
				0440 converted to EB-66E
				0441 converted to EB-66E
				0442 converted to EB-66E
				0443 converted to EB-66E
				0445 converted to EB-66E
				0446 converted to EB-66E
54-0506/0547		Douglas RB-66B-DL Destroyer
				c/n 44806/44847
				0506 converted to EB-66E
				0507 converted to EB-66E
				0508 converted to EB-66E
				0509 converted to EB-66E
				0510 converted to EB-66E
				0511 converted to EB-66E
				0514 converted to EB-66E
				0515 converted to EB-66E
				0516 converted to EB-66E
				0519 converted to EB-66E
				0520 converted to EB-66E
				0521 converted to EB-66E
				0522 converted to EB-66E
				0523 converted to EB-66E
				0524 converted to EB-66E
				0525 converted to EB-66E
				0526 converted to EB-66E
				0527 converted to EB-66E
				0528 converted to EB-66E
				0529 converted to EB-66E
				0531 converted to EB-66E
				0532 converted to EB-66E
				0533 converted to EB-66E
				0534 converted to EB-66E
				0536 converted to EB-66E
				0537 converted to EB-66E
				0539 converted to EB-66E
				0540 converted to EB-66E
				0542 converted to EB-66E
				0546 converted to EB-66E

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.