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How first B-2s to fly became extinct

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Back in the early 1930s, March Field was home to a small fleet of Curtiss Aircraft Company bombers identified as the U.S. Army Air Corps B-2 Condors.

Although the March Field Air Museum displays a scale model of Northrop Grumman’s B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, it is believed none of the 12 B-2 Condors and the prototype XB-2A have survived. And in one of those historical quirks, the Condor’s most serious competitors was the Keystone XB-1.

Advances in technology came so rapidly in the early 1930s that the B-2 Condor type introduced in 1929 was obsolete and retired from service by 1934, but not before heroically performing a mission far from its intended purpose.

On Jan. 17, 1932, six Curtiss Condors, each built to deliver 2,500 pounds of bombs, took off from March Field and flew to the Navajo Tribal Reservation near Winslow, Ariz., where the aircraft delivered 30,000 pounds of food and supplies to 20,000 Navajo and Hopi tribes families isolated by winter storms.

In recognition of that successful humanitarian and hazardous mission, March Field’s 11th Bombardment Squadron, commanded by 1st Lt. Charles H. Howard, became the first group ever to be awarded the Mackay Trophy for Most Meritorious Flight of the year.

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