Sunday, December 18, 2011


B-36  Peacemaker



The B-36B was the first production version of the aircraft and did not have the four outboard jet engines and its speed and ceiling suffered accordingly.  These early versions were particularly difficult to maintain and expensive to fly but they were the only SAC (Strategic Air Command) bomber capable of delivering the new hydrogen bomb.  

B - 36J

Crew:                    16

Power:                   6 - Pratt & Whitney 3600 hp R-4360-53 radial piston engines
                              4 - General Electric 2452 kg / 5400 lb thrust J47-19 turbojets

Max. Speed:          661 kph / 411 mph
Ceiling:                  12,169 m / 39,900 ft
Range:                  10,945 km / 6800 miles
Climb:                    677 m / 2220 ft per minute

Weight -
Empty:                  77,650 kg / 171,035 lb
Max. Take Off:     186,140 kg / 410,000 lb

Size -
Wingspan:            70.1 m / 230 ft
Wing Area:           443.32 sq m / 4772 sq ft
Length:                 49.4 m / 162 ft 1 in
Height:                 14.22 m / 46 ft 8 in

                           16 - 20 mm / 0.78 in cannon in fuselage tail, nose, turrets
                                  20,884 kg / 46,000 lb max. bomb load


B-36 with Escort

The B-36D was the first model to have the four outboard jet engines.  This aircraft has devices on the ends of its wings that were intended to tow its own escort fighters.  Another idea was to store a fighter underneath within one of its bomb bays.  The idea of a fighter escort was eventually dropped altogether.  The picture is from John Weeks.

Flight Engineer Panel

With ten engines to monitor there was a lot going on and the B-36 often used two flight engineers to handle the job.  

Forward Cabin

The forward cabin and a rear crew area were pressurized.  A long narrow tube with a powered dolly was used to convey crew members back and forth.  A seven foot high tunnel also existed in the wings enabling crew members to access the propeller engines in flight.  

World War II Design

The B-36 was first commissioned in early 1941 when it was feared Hitler's army would overrun England and the USA would need an aircraft capable of flying from North America to Germany and back on a nonstop bombing run.  Interest in the B-36 waned with the war's end but events leading to the Berlin Airlift renewed the call for an intercontinental bomber.  

B-29 compared in size with B-36

A striking size comparison between the premiere bomber of World War II and the initial prototype of the B-36.  Note the conventional cockpit of the first design.  


Convair put swept wings with jets and a new tail on its B-36 to compete with the B-52 for SAC's need of a jet powered intercontinental bomber.  The YB-60 had severe handling problems among other issues and was never a seriously considered alternative to Boeing's Stratofortress.  



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