Apr 212011

Blueprint of the Douglas Model 1209 Supersonic Composite Bomber study of 1950. This project may have been drawn up as part of the Generalized Bomber Study (GEBO) that ultimately led to the Convair B-58 Hustler; further details of the design are discussed below.

The Douglas Model 1209 High Speed Composite Bomber study was drawn up on approximately 9/10/50 and finalized the following month; the exact dates are not entirely certain, as the original blueprint shown above was scanned from microfilm and the smaller notes and figures are difficult to read. Documentation on this study is lacking and we must glean what we can from the blueprint. The Model 1209 may have been drawn up as part of the Generalized Bomber Study (GEBO), the first phase of which was initiated in October 1946 to produce a long range supersonic bomber. In Jay Miller’s excellent Aerofax book on the Convair B-58 Hustler, he mentions a Douglas “strip-tease” type bomber study that shed various parts as it progressed to the target and which was capable of flying the entire mission at supersonic speeds; this may be that study, or one closely related to it. The blueprint depicts the aircraft in three basic configurations which are discussed below.

Basic Configuration

The design of the basic Model 1209 is obviously influenced by work done on the concurrent MX-656 (X-3) Stiletto contract. Like the X-3, the Model 1209 had a long, needlelike nose; a low aspect ratio unswept wing; and a very similar aft fuselage and tail design. The crew comprised a pilot, co-pilot, radio operator-navigator, and engineer. The pilot and co-pilot sat in tandem under a long streamlined canopy. A ventral fairing directly beneath the cockpit housed a bombing radar antenna. The nose gear retracted forward into the long nose cone while the main gear retracted somewhat awkwardly forward and upward to rest in a well immediately ahead of the wing leading edge. In its basic short range configuration, the Model 1209 was powered by one ventrally mounted General Electric J53 engine with afterburner. The compact bomb bay was situated immediately behind the cockpit and ahead of the inlet, which might have posed some problems during bomb release.

Takeoff Configuration Extended Range

The long range configuration of the Douglas 1209 featured droppable subsonic wingtips, each of which carried a drop tank containing 6,000 gallons of fuel each. A pair of droppable pods hung from underneath the main wing contained supersonic engines and fuel tanks (two J53 jet engines with afterburners and 2430 gals fuel, each side). Each pod had a long, tapered shock cone of inverted trapezoidal cross section dividing the inlets. Both the engine pods and drop tanks had individual Vee tail surfaces at their aft ends as well as individual droppable takeoff gear to support the immense wait of the composite aircraft. This configuration also had a special droppable tall nose wheel assembly.

Basic Configuration with Power-Fuel-Gear Packages

This configuration of the Model 1209 shown on the left hand side of the blueprint was likely tailored for medium range missions. It carried a pair of “Power-Fuel-Gear Packages” underwing, each housing one J-53 engine with afterburner, 2,500 gals of fuel, and one 52″ x 6″ tire. Each pod had a needlelike shock cone and was hung from prominent streamlined fairings that extended well past the trailing edge of the wing. The basic gear was lengthened 17″ to accommodate the pods.


The Douglas Model 1209 obviously never made it past the drawing board. Convair had already done an enormous amount of work on the problem of achieving a long range supersonic bomber under the original GEBO I contract and had a significant advantage over its rivals, which is likely why it was given the eventual go-ahead to develop the B-58. The Douglas effort had merit but was probably outclassed by similar Convair studies of the period.


Span (Basic Configuration)50'
Span (Takeoff Configuration Extended Range)89' 8"
Height (Takeoff Configuration Extended Range)39' 5"

Image from NARA Archives II, College Park, MD, RG 341


Jay Miller, Convair B-58 Hustler: The World’s First Supersonic Bomber, (Leicester: Midland, 1997), p. 19

  2 Responses to “Douglas Model 1209 High Speed Composite Bomber”

  1. Enhancing the image, the date looks more like 9/10/50 to me, but you probably have a higher resolution scan to work from.

  2. I think you may be correct; changed the date accordingly.

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