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Douglas XB-19

Douglas XB-19 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2022 Title Douglas XB-19
Author William Wolf Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2021 ISBN 9781472847195
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $22.00


Until World War II, two huge oceans shielded the United States from aerial enemies in Europe and Asia.

But the corollary proved equally true: defeating intercontinental foes required American arms to surmount vast distances.

In the 1930s, that simple reality supplied the raison d’être for a “hemispheric” bomber. And that’s the subject of Osprey Publishing’s 16th “X-Planes” installment.

Suitably subtitled, “America's giant World War II intercontinental bomber”, Douglas XB-19 tells the terrific tale in just 80 lavishly illustrated pages.

Author William Wolf’s exercise in aeronautical etiology explores most dimensions of this massive concept-prover’s design and development. And it’s packed with illuminating details.

Readers familiar with today’s Pentagon procurement practices, for instance, might deem Douglas’ original XBLR-2/XB-19 contract almost unbelievably simple – and, from business perspectives, acutely risky.

Commentary also extends far beyond basic airframe development concerns. Such a pioneering project demanded a complex interplay of political, defensive, strategic, propulsion, compliance, manufacturing, and aircrew factors – among many, many others.

Wolf’s summary expertly examines facets of this “flying laboratory” in surprising breadth and depth. And his succinct study metaphorically mines mountains of minutiae to capture the XB-19’s remarkable historical impact.

Period photos, color multi-views, and action paintings illustrate the account. And sidebars, extended captions, and anecdotes further supplement the survey.

Seeking further information? Wolf’s admirably indexed effort also includes two pages of books, articles, manuals, videos, and websites for further reference. But aside from occasional narrative comments, don’t expect annotations.

I thoroughly enjoyed Wolf’s pithy précis. Make it your introduction to Douglas’ groundbreaking XB-19.

Roundly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!