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  XB-15 "Grandpappy" Serial Number 35-277  
USAAF
6th AF

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USAAC Oct 15, 1937

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USAAF Oct 15, 1937

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USAAF c1944

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USAAF April 30, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing as the Model 294 (Boeing 294) in Seattle. Constructors Number 1964. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) as XB-15 as an experimental aircraft to test the viability of building a heavy bomber with a 5,000 mile range.

On October 15, 1937 this aircraft made its first flight. Afterwards, assigned to the 2nd Bombardment Group (2nd BG) at Langley Field in Virginia.

This aircraft's first overseas flight was transporting medical supplies for the Red Cross to Chile. During late January 1939 took off piloted by Major Caleb V. Haynes loaded with 3,250 pounds of cargo and made only two stops: France Field in Panama and Lima, Peru before arriving at Santiago, Chile. After delivering the supplies, returned to the United States.

This aircraft's second overseas flight was transporting the body of Mexican flier Francisco Sarabia to Mexico City. On June 10, 1939 took off pilot by Major Caleb V. Haynes transport the body of Sarabia to Mexico City then returned to the United States.

Afterwards, operated from Fairfield, Ohio piloted by Major Caleb V. Haynes with co-pilot William D. Old for flight tests taking off and landing with heavy loads aboard and broke two world records for cargo transported in land based aircraft. During the tests, this aircraft lifted 22,046 pounds of cargo to an altitude of 8,228' and 31,164 pounds of cargo to an altitude of 6,561.6'. Afterwards, Major Haynes was awarded certificates from the National Aeronautics Association (NAA) for an international record for "the greatest payload carried to an altitude of 2,000 metres".

Nicknamed "Grandpappy" (in quotes) on both sides of the nose with nose art nose art of an elephant carrying cargo with the nickname below inside a white circle.

assigned to the 2nd Bombardment Group at Langley Field, Virginia

Initially painted with olive drab upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces at the San Antonio Air Depot (SAAD) at Kelly Field in Texas. Both upper wings had a large U. S. star with red circle at the center. The tail rudder was painted with red and white horizontal stripes. During the prewar period, this aircraft made several flights to Panama including a practice bombing mission.

During World War II, assigned to the 6th Air Force (6th AF).

On March 23, 1943 landed at Albrook Field in Panama. At the Panama Air Depot (PAD) at Albrook Field, extensively modified including the removal of all defensive armament, installation of a cargo bays for 2,500 pounds of cargo, seats for 37 passengers and replacement of the engines with Pratt & Whitney R-1830-11 engines rated at 1000 hp for take off and 850 hp at 6,000' cruising altitude.

On May 6, 1943 the modified aircraft was redesignated XC-105. During July-August 1943 this aircraft was refereed to as "EC-105". This aircraft made many long distance flights, including a non-stop flight to the United States, plus missions to Galapagos Islands.

During August 1943, assigned to the 20th Troop Carrier Squadron (20th TCS). Sometime in late 1943 or early 1944, this aircraft was stripped to a bare aluminum finish but retained the nickname and nose art. On April 30, 1945 this aircraft parked at Seymour Island Airfield in the Galapagos Islands and was photographed from above.

During May 1945, placed into storage at the Panama Air Depot (PAD) at Albrook Field, possibly due to structural damage. By the end of World War II, In total, the XB-15 was in service for eight years, carried more than 5,200 passengers, 440,000 pounds of cargo and 94,000 pounds of mail. It flew 70 cargo trips and 60 missions including anti-submarine patrol missions.

Afterwards, stripped for usable parts and the tail and the rest of the aircraft was bulldozed into a swamp to the east of Albrook Field.

Wreckage
The wreckage of this aircraft was visible above the surface. By 1980, it submerged into the swamp and remains in situ to this day.

Frank Holmann adds:
"Last time I saw that plane was in 1980 while visiting a friend we took a ride all over Albrook even to the back of the field which ends in a swamp, that plane was almost out of sight, nearly underwater."

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - Boeing XB-15 35-277
"MSN 1964. Later converted to XC-105. Dismantled in Canal Zone in late 1945 and dumped"
Alae Supra Canalem page 150-151
My War Story by Frank Holmann page 40-42
FindAGrave - Caleb Vance Haynes (photos, grave photo)
FindAGrave - MG William Donald Old (photo, grave photo)
Other sources state this aircraft was scrapped at Howard AFB during 1945

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Last Updated
May 22, 2020

 

Tech Info
XB-15

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