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The XB-42 Propeller System
Independent Control of Coaxial Propellers — How Did They Do That?
by Tom Fey
Published Memorial Day, 2011

The Douglas XB-42 was a sleek experimental bomber powered by two Allison V-1710 12-cylinder (initially V-1710-103E (E23)) engines that drove contra-rotating pusher propellers in the tail of the aircraft. The design was an attempt to improve upon the speed and maintain the range of a B-17, but in a more efficient package using two engines and a crew of three instead of four engines and a crew of ten. Two prototypes were built and flown, with one additional static test airframe. Eventually, two wing-mounted jet engines were added, resulting in the XB-42A, which survives to this day. Somebody needs to write a book on the XB-42 (two piston engines turning), XB-42A (two turning, two burning) XB-43 (America’s first jet bomber; survives intact) as they are not well known and completely fascinating in design and execution.


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