My father, Bill Hitt, was asst. chief inspector at the Santa Monica plant. He took my cousin.Lorin Heath and I to see the B-19 take off for the first time as we watched from the west end of the runway.
Dean, e-mail, 06.12.2016 21:48
I found on the net that the Hydromatic propellers for the B-19 were made by Hamilton Standard of Windsor Locks Conn.
Robert Munsey, e-mail, 24.05.2016 06:34
I have read that due to the size of the mail gear it was planned to change from the very large wheels and tires to do as done later and use multiple smaller wheels. The cost of the originals was very great. I remember reading that the orginally scheduled test pilot backed out as the escape hatch was too far from the front seat and Army Major the became the test pilot.
emerson gamble, e-mail, 25.03.2015 01:34
The B19 was stationed at Patterson Field and was in Air Dock 2.newspapers on the base and was barred from the hanger for several weeks. Later I was allowed to go into the hanger but with some restrictions. In the early 1980s I was in Texas tocheck on the construction of a Hush House located on Kelly AFB and I heard this airplane and I knew that noise could only be the B19. I pulled off the highway and the B19 flew over me. The evening paper reported that it was on its way to the scrap yard. Ken Bloomhurst wasn'tkidding when he said the dishes rattled on the shelves. We lived inside the landing pattern so we didn't get the same reaction.Old school buddy was telling the truth about the dishes rattling.
Terry Applegate, e-mail, 31.01.2015 20:18
I believe the maiden flight, not a test flight, of the B-19 was from California to Dayton, Ohio. I was with my family at the Dayton airport when it landed. My uncle, Edward F. Harbison, was chief inspector for Douglas and gave the final approval for the first flight. Uncle Ed is my mother's brother. I have an envelope addressed to me that is postmarked and was carried on the maiden flight to Dayton. I was 10 then and lived in Dayton. Ed Harbison is pictured in Life and/or Look magazine aboard the B-19 on it's maiden flight. A wheel from the B-19 was saved after the plane was scrapped and was on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio.
John Gray, e-mail, 15.11.2014 09:01
This is only to thank all of you though most of you are gone and sadly forgotten by all except for your loved ones. My mother and sister-in- law worked at Douglas during the war as riveters. But I do remember seeing the Lockheed P-38 flying overhead during the war - what a sight that was to see! Thanks to all.
David Stevenson, e-mail, 31.10.2014 20:27
The B-19A was at Tinker Field, Okla. for an open house just a few short weeks after VE Day. It had the Allison 3420 engines. It was at that event I first saw a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. Both impressive aircraft!
William Zempel, e-mail, 26.08.2014 02:06
When the B19 arrived at March Field in the summer of 1941 my father somehow arranged to take me on to the base to see it. I was just about to turn 11 years old. I was awed by the size of the plane, but what really got me was the size of the wheels. About 10 years ago my wife and I were visiting the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson, and much to my surprise, I saw a huge wheel which I immediately recognized as from the B19.
John Howell, e-mail, 13.05.2014 01:59
I was with my mom,dad and my brother Don when I saw the B-19 fly over the San Fernando Valley in about 1941. My dad heard about the plane.We lived not to far from Lockeed. The plane seemed to move very slowly across the sky because it was so large. I can still remember it very clearly as it was yesterday, I was 8 years old
Phil, e-mail, 10.05.2014 02:41
We lived in Los Angeles, about 4 miles south of downtown. When the B-19 made its first flight - I believe it was June 27, 1941 - it flew from Santa Monica to March Field in Riverside. Imagine the thrill this 11 year old got when the plane flew almost directly over our home. This plane had Wright R-3350's. There was another XB-19A with Allison V-3420 engines.
Richard Eaton, e-mail, 07.03.2014 19:40
My Great-Granddad was Maj. Stanley Umstead. The test pilot often seen with the cigar in his mouth. We still have a steering yoke from the B-19 in the family. I'll be thrilled to have it one day!
Ken Bloomhorst, e-mail, 16.01.2014 22:39
As a kid growing up. I lived between Wright Field and Patterson Field. I remember the B-19 flying around the area many times. It was the largest plane at that time. It went very slow, I don't know how it remained airborne. I can remember my Mother being unhappy, every time it flew over, all of the dishes rattled in the cabinets.
Anthony Muldoon, e-mail, 09.08.2013 07:50
So a group of people I'm helping to restor a B25 think they have two blades off the prop of the xb19 because of there size and brand (cant think of the name) but they can't find any information on the blades
Rick Houpt, e-mail, 18.04.2013 22:37
One of the others who commented mentioned a ltter delivered on that 1st flight. I just unearthed one of those letters that was written by an uncle who worked for Douglas during that first flight and sent to my father. Wonderful piece of aero history.
Ned Chestnut, e-mail, 16.02.2013 08:36
My father, C.E. Chestnut, worked on building the B-19. We lived in Santa Monica, and When I was about 4 I recall we were allowed to watch the craft take it's first flight. This was a BIG day for all involved all around. I think of that day quite often. I would like to hear from others who were there that day, not many of us left on earth.
Lorin Heath, e-mail, 09.01.2013 00:28
I was fortunate to see the original flight of the B-19 at Clover Field in Santa Monica. My Uncle was head of quality control for Douglas. His name was William C Hitt. He later started Automated Industries. He was a pioneer in Ultra Sound Testing for aircraft parts. (wing spars, etc.)
Fred Willis, e-mail, 22.09.2012 23:07
I went to work for Douglas in October of 1940 in the development tooling department and well remember the first day I walked into the Douglas “Big Hanger” that had been built for construction of the B19. There was this monster airplane well along in construction but not yet on landing gear. I remember the take-off from Clover Field and a short hitch when the Air Corps Major pilot over controlled lift off but quickly got it right. My drawing board was on a balcony over the DC-3 fuselage assembly jigs. On return from army in 1945 I was lucky enough to become the tool engineer on the development of the NIKE, SPARROW and CORPORAL missiles and the X3 airplane.
Tom Stroebe, e-mail, 06.04.2012 05:26
I received a letter from my Grandmother Helen B. Moody that was delivered on the B-19. The flight was from Clover Field, Santa Monica to San Francisco in 1941. I was 13 years old.....what a thrill
Jon Wagner, e-mail, 23.09.2011 04:50
I went to see the B-19 land at March AFB in 1941 with my grandfather and dad when I was 5 years old
J. Gravlin, e-mail, 21.05.2011 15:55
My father, Lester Gravlin, was a tool & dye designer for the B-19. In 1941 (I was 5)he took me to see the maiden flight.When they rolled it out of the hanger, it cracked the concrete and had to be put back until they could reinforce the runway. We went back when this had been done and saw the takeoff. It was huge.
Dave Phillips, e-mail, 08.04.2011 01:31
When I was a young boy about 9 or 10 my father was a Captain in the Material Command at Wright or Patterson Air Base when we went to an air show with the B-19 on display and a Wright Brothers plane sitting on the wing tip of the B-19 celebrating the length of the first flight as being about the length of the B-19 wing. As I remember one of the Wright brothers was there to celebrate. What a sight to remember. Seems to me I saw one of the gigantic wheels from the landing gear of the B-19 on display at the Wright-Patterson Aircraft museum some years back.
Steve Singleton, e-mail, 24.01.2011 18:27
My Dad, Leon Singleton, now a healthy 99-yrs (born in 1911)was a mechanic on the B-19 at the Santa Monica plant. He helped train Rosie the Riveters (my Mother was one)and vividly recalls the aircraft, working on it and even taking a nap inside sometimes on lunch hour. He was in the crowd of Douglas employees in the photos of that first flight.
Ben Beekman, e-mail, 12.01.2011 22:56
I was surprised to learn that the B-19 used eight Allison engines, paired two in each nacelle. Apparently the arrangement worked without any problems since nothing has been written concerning any. Curiously, during WW2 the Germans tried the same thing, mating two Daimler-Benz engines in each of two engine nacelles on the Heinkel He 177 "Greif" bomber.Due to the difficult aircraft specifications they had to meet, and the absence of 2,000+ horsepower engines, they were forced to mate the two powerplants to obtain the 2,750 h.p. necessary to turn each 4-blade propeller. The engine and nacelle design was cramped, with little space normally alloted for safety reasons, resulting in a "sardine can" arrangement. Engine manifold overheating would frequently cause in-flight oil fires in the close spaces with loss of the aircraft. After much discussion as to how to solve the problem, it was decided to replace the four engine-two nacelles design with four engines in four nacelles, each of which would provide ample space for safety. Credit has to be given to the Douglas engineering team for being able to accomplish with paired engines what the Germans at Heinkel were unable to do.
Richard Williams, e-mail, 16.12.2010 04:10
I remember the B19 as a kid 13 only in magazines but had heard the cabin was used as a restuarant. We here locally also had one of its Engines out of our "Park Queen" Kaiser's "Hawaii Kai" It was a"W" engine, Two Allisons on a common crankcase geared together. Lots of accessories marked"MAYTAG".Dont know who actually built it??
Roy Nichols, e-mail, 29.11.2010 23:39
I have a clored (10X16) photo of the B-19 parked in front of the hanger at Santa Monica. It has radial engines and it isn't a tail drager.
Todd, e-mail, 16.11.2010 20:20
To Don Bobzin: The B-19 was never a taildragger, but was designed and built as a tricycle gear aircraft. What you may be thinking of is the B-15 which was also a "technology testbed" type aircraft built by Boeing a little earlier than the B-19. It looked like an overgrown B-17 and was indeed a taildragger.
don bobzin, e-mail, 14.11.2010 21:30
original was a taildragger. does anyone have a picture?
don bobzin, e-mail, 14.11.2010 21:30
original was a taildragger. does anyone have a picture?
Don McClellan, e-mail, 08.11.2010 23:57
I remember the take-off very well, but it was from Santa Monica, not San Diego. They filled a mountain of dirt and realigned roadways to get it off the ground. Once it was up it was over the water and the runway was to short to land at Santa Monica again. I and thousands of other students watched the take-off from the bridges between buildings at Venice High School.
Bob Morse, e-mail, 08.11.2010 05:42
Watched this one take off from San Diego with the thought it would not get off the runway in time to clear the end. It was so slow getting to take-off speed, partly because it was so huge it just looked slow. San Diego was one of the few runways that was strong enough for it to land on.
Todd, e-mail, 04.11.2010 03:24
I've seen the video of that landing and it is a little scary. If you look carefully you can tell that the problem is not with the pilot, but with the control system. There seems to be a fault in the control response in the elevator that induces an oscillation. It really is a shame that the aircraft wasn't preserved for posterity.
John Gaylord, e-mail, 03.11.2010 05:41
My father in law Harry Jones was a Douglas mechanic and was envolved with this aircraft. He mailed a letter on its first flight from Santa Monica to March field. The pilot made a very erattic landing rounding out too high and then working it down. This is still available on some videos.
Felipe, e-mail, 27.10.2010 08:31
My grandfather was served in the Navy during Wirld War II. In 1946, he began working for MASDC in Tucson, Arizona, located adjacent to DMAFB. He worked there for 41 years until his retirement. Throughout my chilhood years and well into my early adulthood, we would discuss various types of aircraft and their merits. A few years before his death in 2002, he gave me the original data plate from the XB-19. It seems he had removed it before it was scrapped.
Hurant Karibian, e-mail, 13.09.2010 17:37
I remember a picture of this plane, before the war, with a man standing next to the landinding gear with the tire taller than he was.
Fred Troy, e-mail, 08.09.2010 02:39
What an interesting article and comments on the B-19. Very few, if any, are aware of the plane. In 1941 I visited my father who was an officer in the Signal Corps and bassed at Wright Field. Knowing how much I was interested in aviation, my father invited a young Army pilot to join us for dinner. He told us stories of flying and invited us to Wright Field the next day for a tour of the B-19. I recall the huge tires and the multi-level enterior. A picture of the plane had a chooice location on the wall in my bedroom. I joined the Army Air Corps a year later becoming a first pilot on a B-17 and completed 35 missions over Germany. Until now, I had not heard anything about the B-19. Thank you.
Art Deco, 09.02.2010 08:57
They might have called it the hemisphere bomber because of the holes left wherever it parks.
Will Winter, e-mail, 09.02.2010 07:52
There is an article on this airplane in the magazine "Air Classics" 45th Anniversary issue. Vol 45 Number 11.
It refers to the B-19 as the Hemisphere Bomber. Implying that it could bomb anywhere in the hemisphere a very long range.
ROY CUMMINGS, e-mail, 18.01.2010 08:24
I FIRST SAW THE B-19 AS A STUDENT PILOT FLYING A CUB IN OCTOBER OR NOV, 1941; I WAS ON AN EARLY SOLO FLIGHT OVER SOCAL WHEN I LOOKED AHEAD AND FOUND MYSELF NOSE TO NOSE WITH THE BIGGEST AIRPLANE I HAD EVER SEEN. TO BE FAIR, HE WAS ABOUT 500 FEET HIGHER BUT, MAN WAS THAT A BIG BIRD!! IN 1960, I WAS WORKING AT THE DOUGLAS SANTA MONICA PLANT AND WAS SHOWN THE MOMENTO OF THE ROLL-OUT OF THE B-19. STLL VISIBLE IN THE ASPHALT OUTSIDE HANGER DOOR WERE TWO LARGE PATCHES WHERE THE WHEELS OF THAT BIRD SANK INTO THE ASPHALT AS SHE WAS FIRST ROLLED OUT.
B.B.Clark, e-mail, 10.01.2010 19:10
This A/C was assigned to the All Weater Flying Center stationed at Clinton County Air Base, Wlmington,Ohio in the late 40s. The famous Col. Ben Kelsey would come to the base from Wright Pat to fly the B-19. A few of us lucky Lieutneants would get to fly co-pilot for him. Col.Ben had a Flight Engineer sargent(he called Rosey) especially assigned to this plane and Rosey's huge control panel was down a set of steps beneath the pilots. Of course engine starting, monitoring etc was all done on interphone. At that time it had the liquid cooled Allisons under the cowl. As I recall these were 2-1710s of the type used on the P-40s etc, mated at the front with a gear box. Therefore the plane had 8 Allisons hauling her along. I still recall that cool sound. Standing beside the single wheel on the main strut, I could just see over the top of the tire. The short time in the right seat is one of the highlights of my aeronautical career. I have one faded photo taken with "The All Weather Flying Center" livery paint job but do not know how to add it to this comment. There is a fine site on the web about Col. Kelsey. An interesting account of his delivering the first P-38 to Mitchell Field on Long Island.
Bob Hufford, e-mail, 11.05.2009 23:49
AS a 12 year old,living just outside of Wright-Patterson A.F. Base in Dayton during the war years, I saw many experimental aircraft flying over the house. THE XB-19 was one I remember as I had never seen anything so big. It landed at Wright Field and had to take right back off as the concrete runway was breaking up under it from the weight. It returned to Wright Field after they were resurfaced with a greater depth of concrete. Bob
James Siscel, e-mail, 26.12.2008 01:31
It was sent to Davis-Monthan AFB and placed in storage in 1946. In 1949 is was cut up for scrap.