GORDON HUBBARD COLLECTION
No. 3516. Witteman-Lewis XNBL-1 (64215) US Army Air Service
Aeroplane Photo Supply (APS) Photo No. 1974

Witteman-Lewis XNBL-1

06/05/2004. Remarks by Dave Simpson: "This aircraft is always challenging to know what to designate it as. There was only one ever constructed in late October 1922. It was actually designed under the auspices of the US Army Engineering Division as XNBL-1, built by the Witteman Lewis Company, and the design and construction was heavily influenced by Walter H. Barling for better or worse... (Hence the aircraft is also known as Barling XNLB-1 and Witteman-Lewis XNLB-1)

The airframe was so large that when it was transported to Wright Field in Ohio over the winter of 1922-1923 it was the largest single object ever moved by rail in the America's up to that point in time. Even for reassembling the massive "beast", it took a full six months to accomplish.

The one airframe built flew only a couple of times, being so grossly underpowered and heavily encumbered by drag as to be practically useless... it never met the design objectives set for it, only struggling to attain 7,000 ft (2,134 m) in twenty minutes of flight with no bomb load. When loaded up with a full bomb loaded it had a range of only 170 mls (274 km) or 335 mls (539 km) with no bombs). To give you some idea as to how underpowered this plane was, it had an all up gross weight of some 32,203 lb (14,607 kg) and a mere engine capacity of 2,400 hp at take off.

After flight trials ended in 1925, years of neglect and dismantling, it was eventually broken up and scrapped in 1928. A sad ending for an early attempt at constructing a large strategic bomber concept that was just way ahead of its time both in engines, design techniques and manufacturing construction abilities..."


Created June 1, 2004