Keystone B-6

The Keystone B-6 was a biplane bomber developed by the Keystone Aircraft company for the United States Army Air Corps.

Keystone B-6A
Keystone B-6A of the 1st Bomb Squadron, 9th Bomb Group, Mitchel Field, N.Y.
Role Light bomber
Manufacturer Keystone Aircraft
Primary user United States Army Air Corps
Number built 5 Y1B-6 + 39 B-6A
Developed from Keystone B-3

Design and development

In 1931, the United States Army Air Corps received five working models (Y1B-6s) of the B-6 bomber. The Y1B- designation, as opposed to a YB- designation, indicates funding outside normal fiscal year procurement. Two of these were redesignations of LB-13s; three were re-engined B-3As. The Air Corps placed an order for 39 production models on 28 April 1931, with deliveries between August 1931 and January 1932.[1]

At the same time, an order was placed for 25 B-4As, the same aircraft but mounting Pratt & Whitney engines instead of Wright Cyclones. Despite their lower sequence number, the B-4As would be delivered last. These were the last canvas-and-wood biplane bombers ordered by the Air Corps.

The performance of the B-6A varied little from the Martin NBS-1 ordered in 1921. Its successor, the monoplane bomber, had a hard time getting accepted. The Douglas Y1B-7 and Fokker XB-8 were originally designed as high-speed reconnaissance aircraft.[1]

Operational history

Keystone B-6 twin-engine airmail plane in snow storm, 1920
Keystone B-6 airmail plane in snow storm, 1934

The B-6A together with B-5A were front line bombers of the United States for the period between 1930 and 1934. Afterwards, they remained in service primarily as observation aircraft until the early 1940s.

B-6 aircraft were used, along with many other Army Air Corps planes, as mail planes in what became the Air Mail scandal of 1934.

On December 27, 1935, six B-6 bombers of the 23rd Bomb Squadron based in Hawaii dropped bombs to divert lava flow from the volcano Mauna Loa away from the port of Hilo.

With the residents of Virginia′s Tangier Island and Maryland′s Smith Island facing starvation after a severe winter storm and with ships unable to reach the islands due to heavy ice in the Chesapeake Bay, an Army Air Corps 49th Bomb Squadron B-6A made a one-hour, 54-mile (87-km) flight from Langley Field, Virginia, to Tangier Island on 9 February 1936 to drop 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of supplies in 50-pound (22.7-kg) parcels to the islanders, flying at an altitude of not more than 10 feet (3 meters). On 10 February, the squadron's B-6As made four similar fights to Tangier Island and one to Smith Island. The flights followed a supply flight to Tangier Island by the Goodyear Blimp Enterprise on 2 February 1936. After the success of the B-6A flights, the 49th Bomb Squadron flew additional flights to drop supplies to the islands using 13 Martin B-10B bombers.[2][3]


Seven aircraft ordered but delivered as the Y1B-4 and Y1B-6 with different engine installations.
Two pre-production aircraft and three converted B-3As, as the LB-10 but with two 575 hp (429 kW) Wright R-1820-1 engines.
Production version of the Y1B-6, 39 built.


 United States

Specifications (B-6A)

General characteristics



  • Guns: 3 × .30 in (7.62 mm) Browning machine guns
  • Bombs: 2,500 lb (1,100 kg); 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) on short runs

See also

Related development

Related lists


  1. ^ a b Baugher, Joe. "Keystone B-6." American Military Aircraft, 11 July 1999. Retrieved: 29 July 2011.
  2. ^ Bentley, Stewart W., Jr., PhD., "The Touch of Greatness: Colonel William C. Bentley, Jr., USAAC/USAF; Aviation Pioneer, Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4490-2386-7, pp. 41–42.
  3. ^ Anonymous, "Bombing Planes to Bring Food to Ice Victims," Chicago Tribune, February 2, 1936.
  • Wagner, Ray. American Combat Planes. New York: Doubleday, 1982. ISBN 0-930083-17-2.

External links

25th Space Range Squadron

The 25th Space Range Squadron is a non-flying squadron of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the Nevada Test and Training Range at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The 25th operates the Space Test and Training Range along with the reserve 379th Space Range Squadron.

The 25th is one of the oldest units in the United States Air Force, its earliest predecessor in the days of the USAAS being organized as the 20th Aero Squadron on 13 June 1917 at Camp Kelly, Texas, and almost immediately redesignated, due to a clerical error, as the 25th Aero Squadron by 22 June. The squadron deployed to France and fought on the Western Front during World War I as a pursuit squadron within the week before the Armistice. The unit was demobilized after the war in 1919.The squadron's second predecessor was organized as the 25th Squadron (Bombardment) in 1921 as part of the permanent United States Army Air Service, the squadron served in the Panama Canal Zone during the Inter-War period, then as part of Twentieth Air Force in the Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II flying Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers. During the Cold War, it was part of Strategic Air Command, equipped with Boeing B-47 Stratojet medium bombers until its inactivation in 1964.

6th Operations Group

The 6th Operations Group (6 OG) is the operational flying component of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

The mission of the 6th OG is the planning and executing global aerial refueling, combatant commander airlift, and specialized missions for US and allied combat and support aircraft. The group extends US global power and global reach through employment of a mix of KC-135R and C-37 aircraft.

The 6th Operations Group is a successor organization of the 6th Group (Composite), one of the 15 original combat air groups formed by the Army before World War II. During World War II, the 6th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), was a B-29 Superfortress group assigned to Twentieth Air Force flying bombardment operations against Japan. Its aircraft were identified by a "R" inside a Circle painted on the tail.

96th Bomb Squadron

The 96th Bomb Squadron is a unit of the United States Air Force 2d Operations Group located at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The 96th is equipped with the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress.

Formed in August 1917, the 96 BS saw combat on the World War I Western Front, in France. It took part in the St. Mihiel offensive and Meuse-Argonne offensive. Later, it served with the Army Air Service and Army Air Corps in the Inter-War period it participated in Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell's 1921 off-shore bombing tests and during World War II fought in the North African and Italian Campaigns. It was a part of Strategic Air Command during the Cold War. Since 1993, the 96th Bomb Squadron has flown the B-52H Stratofortress long-range heavy bomber, which can perform a variety of missions. Today the squadron is engaged in the Global War on Terrorism.

9th Operations Group

The 9th Operations Group is the operational flying component of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, stationed at Beale Air Force Base, California.

The 9th OG's mission is to organize, train and equip Lockheed U-2R, RQ-4 Global Hawk and MC-12W Liberty combat elements for peacetime intelligence gathering, contingency operations, conventional war fighting and Emergency War Order support.

It is a descendant organization of the 9th Group (Observation), one of the 15 original combat air groups formed by the Army before World War II. It is the fourth oldest active group in the USAF, and the seventh created following the establishment of the U.S. Air Service. During World War II, the 9th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy was a B-29 Superfortress group assigned to Twentieth Air Force flying bombardment operations against Japan. Its aircraft were identified by a "X" inside a Circle painted on the tail.

Air Mail scandal

The Air Mail scandal, also known as the Air Mail fiasco, is the name that the American press gave to the political scandal resulting from a 1934 congressional investigation of the awarding of contracts to certain airlines to carry airmail and to the use of the U.S. Army Air Corps to fly the mail.

In 1930, during the administration of President Herbert Hoover, Congress passed the Air Mail Act of 1930. Using its provisions, Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown held a meeting with the executives of the top airlines, later dubbed the "Spoils Conference", in which the airlines effectively divided among themselves the air mail routes. Acting on those agreements, Brown awarded contracts to the participants through a process that effectively prevented smaller carriers from bidding, resulting in a Senate investigation.

The Senate investigation resulted in a citation of Contempt of Congress against William P. MacCracken, Jr., on February 5, 1934, the only action taken against any former Hoover administration official for the scandal. Two days later Roosevelt cancelled all existing air mail contracts with the airlines and ordered the Air Corps to deliver the mail until new contracts could be let. The Air Corps was ill-prepared to conduct a mail operation, particularly at night, and from its outset on February 19 encountered severe winter weather. The Army Air Corps Mail Operation suffered numerous crashes and the deaths of 13 airmen, causing severe public criticism of the Roosevelt Administration.

Temporary contracts were put into effect on May 8 by the new postmaster general, James A. Farley, in a manner nearly identical to that of the "Spoils Conference" that started the scandal. Service was completely restored to the airlines by June 1, 1934. On June 12 Congress passed a new Air Mail Act cancelling the provisions of the 1930 law and enacting punitive measures against executives who were a part of the Spoils Conferences. Although a public relations nightmare for the administrations of both presidents, the scandal resulted in the restructuring of the airline industry, leading to technological improvements and a new emphasis on passenger operations, and the modernization of the Air Corps.

Barksdale Global Power Museum

The Barksdale Global Power Museum (formerly, the Eighth Air Force Museum) is an aviation museum run by the United States Air Force on Barksdale Air Force Base near Bossier City, Louisiana. Hosted by the 2nd Bomb Wing, it maintains a large collection of military aircraft and historical artifacts that illuminate the early days of United States military aviation, the Barksdale base, and the formations of the 2nd Bomb Wing and the 8th Air Force.

The museum aims to preserve the heritage and traditions of the Air Force, particularly those of the 2nd Bomb Wing and other bomber units; to stimulate esprit de corps among Air Force personnel; to educate the public about the Air Force; and to ensure proper stewardship of its aircraft, artifacts, and art.

The museum is located at the north gate, Bossier Gate. The admission is free and the hours of operation are from 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. A gift shop is inside the museum and shares the same business time as the museum.

Beirne Lay Jr.

Beirne Lay Jr., (September 1, 1909 – May 26, 1982) was an American author, aviation writer, Hollywood screenwriter, and combat veteran of World War II with the U.S. Army Air Forces. He is best known for his collaboration with Sy Bartlett in authoring the novel Twelve O'Clock High and adapting it into a major film.

Boeing YB-9

The Boeing YB-9 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber aircraft designed for the United States Army Air Corps. The YB-9 was an enlarged alteration of Boeing's Model 200 Monomail commercial transport.

Keystone Aircraft

Keystone Aircraft Corporation was an early pioneer in airplane manufacturing. Headquartered in Bristol, Pennsylvania, it was formed as Ogdensburg Aeroway Corp in 1920 by Thomas Huff and Elliot Daland, but its name was quickly changed to Huff-Daland Aero Corp, then to the Huff-Daland Aero Company. The company made a name for itself in agricultural aircraft, and then in the United States Army Air Corps' early bomber aircraft. From 1924, James McDonnell was the chief designer.

In 1926, Huff left the company, and it was soon purchased by Hayden, Stone & Co., who increased capital to $1 million (United States) and renamed it Keystone. In 1928, it merged with Loening and was known as Keystone-Loening. In 1929, it was taken over by Curtiss-Wright. Also in 1929, the Keystone- Loening plant on the East River in New York City was closed by Curtis- Wright and the operation was moved to the Bristol, Pa. Keystone plant. A small band of the top Loening management, design and shop workers (all New Yorkers) did not want to go to Bristol. They instead started their own aircraft company in a small rented shop in Baldwin, NY in Jan. 1930. The principal players were Leroy R. Grumman, Leon "Jake" Swirbul and William Schwendler. Grumman Aircraft went on to stellar heights with some of the top Naval aircraft in Navy history. Grumman also designed and built the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) that landed US astronauts on the moon. Keystone itself became a manufacturing division of Curtiss-Wright and ceased production in 1932.Lieut. Comdr. Noel Davis and Lieut. Stanton H. Wooster were killed in their Keystone Pathfinder American Legion while conducting a test flight, just days before they were to attempt a trans-Atlantic flight for the Orteig Prize.

Keystone B-3

The Keystone B-3A was a bomber aircraft developed for the United States Army Air Corps by Keystone Aircraft in the late 1920s.

Keystone B-4

The Keystone B-4 was a biplane bomber, built by the Keystone Aircraft company for the United States Army Air Corps.

Keystone B-5

The Keystone B-5 is a light bomber made by the Keystone Aircraft company for the United States Army Air Corps in the early 1930s. The B-5A was a Keystone B-3A with Wright Cyclone rather than Pratt & Whitney engines.

Keystone LB-6

The Keystone LB-6 and LB-7 were 1920s American light bombers, built by the Keystone Aircraft company for the United States Army Air Corps, called Panther by the company, but adoption of the name was rejected by the U.S. Army.

List of Interwar military aircraft

Interwar military aircraft are military aircraft that were developed and used between World War I and World War II, also known as the Golden Age of Aviation.

For the purposes of this list this is defined as aircraft that entered service into any country's military after the armistice on 11 November 1918 and before the Invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939.

Aircraft are listed alphabetically by their country of origin. Civilian aircraft modified for military use are included but those that remained primarily civilian aircraft are not.

List of United States bomber aircraft

This is a list of United States bomber aircraft

List of aircraft (K)

This is a list of aircraft in alphabetical order by manufacturer beginning with K.

List of bomber aircraft

The following is a list of bomber airplanes and does not include bomber airships, organized by era and manufacturer. A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground or sea targets.

List of military aircraft of the United States

This list of military aircraft of the United States includes prototype, pre-production, and operational types. For aircraft in service, see the list of active United States military aircraft. Prototypes are normally prefixed with "X" and are often unnamed (note that these are not the same as the experimental X-planes, which are not generally expected to go into production), while pre-production models are usually prefixed with "Y".

The United States military employs a designation and naming system to provide identifications to all aircraft types. Until 1962, the United States Army, United States Air Force (formerly Army Air Force), and United States Navy all maintained separate systems. In September 1962, these were unified into a single system heavily reflecting the Air Force method. For more complete information on the workings of this system, refer to United States Department of Defense Aerospace Vehicle Designations.

This list does not include aircraft used by the U.S. military services prior to the establishment of a numerical designation system. For these aircraft, see List of military aircraft of the United States (1909–1919). It also does not include aircraft designated under the pre-1962 United States Navy designation system. For these aircraft, see List of military aircraft of the United States (naval).

Mail plane

A mail plane is an aircraft used for carrying mail.

Aircraft that were purely mail planes existed almost exclusively prior to World War II. Because early aircraft were too underpowered to carry cargoes, and too costly to run any "economy class" passenger-carrying service, the main civilian role for aircraft was to carry letters faster than previously possible. In 1934, some mail services in the USA were operated by the United States Army Air Corps, soon ending in the Air Mail scandal.In the past, mail-carrying aircraft had to carry a special official emblem on the fuselages; in case of British-registered aircraft, a special Royal Air Mail pennant (a blue triangular flag with a crowned bugle emblem in yellow and the letters "ROYAL AIR MAIL" in white) would sometimes be flown as well.

From the late 1940s, mail planes became increasingly rare, as the increasing size of aircraft and economics dictated a move towards bulk carriage of mail onboard airline flights, and this remains the primary method today. Parcel mail, overnight mail and priority mail, however, are still carried aboard what may be considered the spiritual successors of classic, pre-war mail planes; small, general aviation aircraft that have been adapted to the role, with the Cessna 208 and Piper PA-31 Navajo being among the most popular. Cargo airline operators, such as UPS and FedEx, also carry mail along with bulk cargo, aboard converted airliners.

Manufacturer designations
Patrol aircraft
Observation aircraft
Scout aircraft
USAAS/USAAC/USAAF/USAF bomber designations, Army/Air Force and Tri-Service systems
Original sequences
Main sequence
Long-range Bomber
Tri-Service sequence


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