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8-36 Peacem aker

A Photo Chronicle

Meyers K. Jacobsen

Schiffer Military History

Atglen, PA
The author wishes to thank the many individuals This book is respectfully dedicated to the men of Readers and 8-36 bomber enthusiasts can get
and organizations that made this publication possible. the Strategic Air Command who maintained and flew more detailed background information on the history
The assistance of General Dynamics Convair Division, the Peacemaker. A special commendation goes to the of the Peacemaker in "Convair 8-36, A Comprehen-
the San Diego Aerospace Museum, the 7th Bomb members of the 7th Bomb Wing-the first to operate sive History of America's Big Stick," also published by
Wing 8-36 Association, C. Roger Cripliver, James H. B-36s. Schiffer Publishing Ltd. Call 610-593-1777 lor order-
Farmer, Frank Kleinwechter, Scott Deaver, Robert W. ing information.
Hickl, Tim Timmerman and David Menard is gratefully
appreciated. Also, previous research work by Lind-
say Peacock and Joe Baugher is hereby acknowl-

Book Design by lan Robertson.

Copyright O 1999 by Meyers K. Jacobsen

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 99-64161 .

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or used in any forms
or by any means - graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or
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copyright holder.

Printed in China.
ISBN: 0-7643-0974-9

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'l'he Convair B-36 Intercontinental Bomber
It was, and still is, the largest bomber ever to be target 5,000 miles and return. lt also was to have a be the only airplane capable of attacking the Japa-
rrr ',cr.vice with the United States Air Force. speed o1r240 to 300 mph and operate from a runway nese homelands.
In today's Air Force, the B-1 and B-2 Stealth of 5,000 ft in length. Service ceiling was to be 40,000 The president of Convair complained to the
outperform the old Peacemaker on every f ront
r111[;s; ft. This was a tremendous task for the companies that USAAF that it was difficult to secure subcontractors
, ,. that of sheer size and bomb carrying capacity.
r t )[)t entered the competition-Consolidated, Boeing, for an order of only two aircraft, and lhat the company
I l(,rllror can match the 86,000 pound weapons load Northrop, and Douglas. The Boeing B-.1 7, then in ser- would be in a better position if there was the promise
tlr, rl r;ould be carried internally by the 8-36. Unrefueled, vice, could only carry a 4,000 lb. bombload 1 ,000 miles of a large-scale production contract. Consequently, a
rr,,rllrr)r can match the long distance range of the B- and back. "letter of intent" for 100 8-36 bombers was issued on
tr, lor it was the first true intercontinental bomber. Consolidated Aircraft Corporation of San Diego, July 23, 1943. Under the new schedule, the XB-36
l)uring the late 1940s and early 1950s, the 8-36 California, won the competition with its Model 35 (later prototype was to be ready to fly in September 1944.
'.,,r', the mainstay of the USAF's Strategic Air Com- changed to 36), a six engine pusher design, and a The first production 8-36 would be delivered in Au-
rrr,rrrd, which provided the nation's primary nuclear contract for two prototypes was awarded on Novem- gust 1945, with the last one in October '1946.
,lr,lcreflt. Although the big bomber never dropped a ber 15, 1941 . The first prototype was to be delivered Basic conf iguration of the 8-36 changed little over
l,,rnb in anger and never saw combat, it did its job in May 1944,Lhe second six months afterwards. Cost the years from the X8-36 design. Wing span remained
',r,'ll, lrelping to keep the peace during this early Cold of the two experimental planes including engineering 230 ft. with a wing area of 4,772 sq. ft. Length of the
vv, rr period. lt truly earned its nickname, "Peacemaker." and construction was $15 million, with Consolidated fuselage was 163 it. (162.1 ft. on production models),
lhe story of the Peacemaker begins in 1941, be- to receive a fixedJee of $800,000. with a four section sliding panel bomb bay. An 85 ft.
l, rrr ' 4t"t ." had entered the Second World War. ln August 1942, lhe company moved the XB-36 pressurized tunnelthrough the bomb bays connected
Ihe Nazis were overrunning Europe, and the U.S. project, including all the engineering drawings, the the forward and aft crew compartments by means of
'r,r'; concerned that Britain might fall and leave the wooden mock-up, the engineers themselves, and a small trolley. The XB-36 was to be powered by six
r\r rrry Air Corps without potential advance bases. With- some tooling to Fort Worth, Texas, setting up at the of the new Pratt & Whitney 28 cylinder R-4360 Wasp
,'rrl such bases, a bomber ol unprecedented range new Government Plant #4. Consolidated had leased Major engines. Each of the 3,000 hp air-cooled radi-
',,rr rrrld be needed to operate from the North American the huge factory and was busy building B-24 Libera- als drove a 19 ft. three-bladed Curtiss propeller in
rrrlir€rt. Thus, the need and origin of the 8-36 was tors for the war effort. Progress was slow on the XB- pusher configuration. Six intemal fuel tanks with a
lrrrlll. 36 Project, as priority was given lo B-24 production capacity of 21,116 gallons were incorporated into the
and B-32 Dominator development programs. wing for long range flights. 1,200 gallons of oil was
XII-36 PROTOTYPE Consolidated Ai rcraft Corporation became Convai r also carried.
I'rr:r;ident Franklin D. Roosevelt in conference with (Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation) when it The XB-36 design initially featured a twin tail ar-
rtrrrry Chief of Staff George C. Marshall and Maj. Gen. merged with Vultee Aircraft on March 17,1943. At this rangement until replaced by a single tail in late 1943,
I llrrry "Hap" Arnold, Air Corps chief, directed that an time, China appeared near collapse against the in- which was almost 47 fl.lall. Unique to the type was
rlorcontinental bomber be developed. A design com- vading Japanese, and the United States Army Air the "airliner-type" nose design. A giant 1 10" diameter
I ,r
,lition was announced by the Army Air Corps on April Forces was concerned about the possible loss oJ single tire main landing gear, the largest tire ever
I I 1941, that specified, after revisions, that the bases in China from which it intended to launch B-29 manufactured for an airplane, was installed on the XB-
lrrrn)ber be able to carry a 10,000 lb. bombload to a raids against Japan. The longer-ranged 8-36 might 36.

A Photo Chronicle.3
Defensive armament planned for the XB-36 was A. Erickson, was finally ready for its maiden flight. At gear of the XB-36. As for performance, it reached an
to consist of five huge 37mm cannon and ten .50 cal. 10:10 AM on August 8, 1946, the XB-36 lifted off the altitude of 40,000 ft. during its third flight. GE BH-2
guns. The upper and lower forward turrets, each with runway at Fort Worth for the frst time. lt was a wheels- turbosuperchargers being installed in the production
two 37mm guns, were to be manned by a gunner in a down flight, and Erickson, with his eight man crew, models helped theYB-36 to easily outperform the XB-
fashion similar to the turrets on a B-17. No armament cautiously flew it for an uneventful 37 minutes. 36.
was ever actually installed on the XB-36 prototype. However, the XB-36 did display some problems
Progress on the XB-36 was still slow, and enthu- that were troublesome-most of which were eventu- B.36 PROGRAM DEBATE
siasm for the project ebbed and flowed with the for- ally resolved. Engine cooling needed improvement, On December 12, 1946, Gen. George S. Kenney,
tunes of war. However, by mid-l944, the military situ- and propeller vibration adversely affected the wing SAC's first commander, suggested that the procure-
ation in the Pacific had greatly improved. lsland bases structure. The aircraft's overall performance also fell ment contract for 100 B-36s be reduced to only a few
had been secured in order for the USAAF to deploy below expectations, especially in regard to speed.The service test airplanes. He believed the 8-36 to be in-
B-29s and strike the Japanese mainland. The 8-36 X8-36 prototype performance record in 1947 included ferior to the Boeing B-50, an improved version of the
program continued, but no longer had a high priority. a top speed of 315 mph at 30,000 ft. and a service B-29. Shortcomings of the 8-36 were stated to be an
With Nazi Germany's surrender in May 1945, end- ceiling of 38,200 ft. Range was eslimated to be 9,360 effective range of only 6,500 miles, insufficient speed
ing the war in Europe, aircraft production in the U.S. miles with a 10,000 lb. bombload. Gross weight of the and lack of protection for the fuel load. However, the
was drastically curtailed. However, the 100 8-36 con- XB-36 was 270,000 lbs. Air Staff and Gen. Nathan F. Twining, commander of
tract remained intact. The Air Force realized the diffi- After the second prototype, designated the YB- AMC, disagreed with Kenney's assessment and felt
culty and human cost of seizing island bases in the 36, became available in late 1947 for the flight test the problems being experienced by the 8-36 at this
Pacific, and this fact convinced the Air Staff that there program, the XB-36 was returned to shop for some stage in its development were normal and could even-
was still a need for a long range intercontinental modernization, including installation of the new four tually be solved. Gen. Carl A. Spaatz, commander of
bomber. wheel bogie landing gear of the production models. USAAE agreed with Gen. Twining, and the 8-36 con-
Furthermore, the advent of the atomic bomb re- Convair pilots made 53 test flights with the XB-36, log- tract was retained.
quired a long range delivery system capable of reach- ging a total of 'l 17 flying hours. lt was then turned over In fall 1 947 ,Lhe new USAF Aircraft and Weapons
ing targets without the requirement of first obtaining to Air Materiel Command atWright Field, Ohio, in June Board held a conference to determine which aircraft
advance forward bases. ln August 1945, when the war 1948, but later returned to Fort Worth where it was would best support the Air Force's long term plans. At
ended in the Pacific, the Air Staff recommended that used for a short time for training purposes at Carswell that time, the 8-36 was the only bomber capable of
four 8-36 groups be included in the postwar USAAF. AFB, across the field Jrom the Convair plant. carrying atomic weapons against an enemy without
Construction continued on the XB-36 prototype Since it had limited operational value, consider- the need for overseas bases. Some members of the
even after Japan surrended on September 2, 1945, ation was given to modifying the prototype to produc- Board felt the 8-36 was obsolete and should be can-
VJ Day. Labor strikes at Fort Worth in Octoberl945 tion 8-36 standards. This was determined to be too celed in favor of fast jet bombers, such as lhe B-47.
and February 1946 resulted in delays beyond what expensive, and the XB-36 ended its career in 1957 as After prolonged debate, it was decided to keep the B-
was already being experienced from inadequate ma- a derelict used for firefighting training at Carswell. 36 as a special purpose nuclear deterrent bomber. lt
terials and poor workmanship. The XB-36 was over was thought at the time that 100 B-36s would be
two years behind its original schedule. YB.36 enough, and no further production was planned be-
Six days after VJ Day, the XB-36, 42-13570, was The YB-36, 42-13571, flew for the first time on De- yond the original contract.
rolled out of the Convair Experimental Building in Fort cember 4,1947.|t featured a new high-visibility glass
Worth. lt sat on its huge single tire mainwheels, which canopy over a redesigned crew compartment. This B-36A
restricted it to only three airfields in the entire United improved design would enable installation of nose The initial production version was the 8-364. The first
States that had sufficient runway reinforcement. Taxi armament in the production models. However, the YB- airplane of the series off the assembly line was B-
tests began on July 21,1946, and the test pilot, Beryl 36 still shared the same huge single wheel landing 364,44-92004. lt flew Jor the first time on August 28,

4. Convair 8-36
t'r I /, actually four months before the YB-36 took to The first 8-368s were assigned to the 7th Bomb Group The 8-368 had a maximum speed of 381 mph at
rlr, , lt carried no armament and only enough equip-
,1i1'. in November 1948, and its B-36As were gradually 34,500 ft; cruising speed of 212 mph; service ceiling
rrr, ,rrl for a one time flight to Wright Field, where it was transferred to the newly forming 11th Bomb Group, ol 42,500 ft. with a combat ceiling of 38,800 ft; range
, ;r. rr lrrally destroyed during static structural testing. also at Carswell. of 8,175 miles; and a gross weight of 328,000 pounds.
Arrother 21 B-36As were built by Convair (44- On December 5, 1948, a 14 hour long range mis- Of the 62 B-36Bs built, 59 were later converted to B-
t 'rxt5l44-92025). The f irst four B-36As to join the Stra- sion of 4,275 miles was flown at 40,000 ft. Also, on 36D configuration, from '1950 to 1952. All but five of
1,,{trc Air Command at Carswell AFB were 006, 007, December 7-8th, the anniversary of the attack on Pearl these conversions were at Convair's San Diego plant.
rrIr lnd 0'17. 0'15 was the first airplane delivered to Harbor, a 8-368 flew a 35 l12hour simulated combat
rlrr' /ll1 Bomb Group (Heavy) in a ceremony on June mission from Texas to Hawaii and back. Carrying a B-36C
r 1948. None of the B-36As had any armament and dummy 10,000 lb. bomb, which was dropped just off ln order to increase speed, Convair proposed in March
, r'rr ) USed solely for training and crew familiarization. Honolulu, the undetected mock attack was an 1947 lhal34 of the 100 B-36s be fitted with a pro-
I I rc ll-364 model had the same R-4360-25 3,000 hp embarassment for Hawaii defense officials. Total dis- posed new version of the R-4360 Wasp Major, called
\rV, r,1t Majors as the two prototypes and could achieve tance flown was in excess of 8,000 miles. On January the Variable Discharge Turbine, or VDT. lt would re-
r rrr,rximum speed of 345 mph at 31,600 ft. Cruising 26, 1949, a 8-368 established a record bomb lift by quire redesigning the engine installations on the B-
t,,,od was 218 mph, service ceiling 39,100 ft. Com- carrying a pair of dummy 42,000 lb. "Grand Slam" 368 to forward pulling, or tractor propellers. Convair
l, rl r.rdius was 3,880 miles with a 10,000 pound bombs aloft at Muroc (later Edwards) AFB. The first claimed the VDT engine would give the 8-36 a top
L, rrrrl)lodd. Maximum gross weight was 31 0,380 lbs. was released at 35,000 ft., the second from 40,000 ft. speed of 4'10 mph, a 45,000 service ceiling, and a
ln March 1949, another Carswell 8-368 set a new long 10,000 mile range with a 10,000 pound bombload.
II :168 distance record of 9,600 miles on a flight that lasted Convair proposed the last 34 B-36s in the 100
I lrr r lirst fully equipped combat model of the 8-36 was 43 hours, 37 minutes. airplane contract be completed as B-36Cs, with the
tlr. ll-368. lt differed from the 8-364 in having 3,500 The 8-368 was the first 8-36 modified to carry extra cost being met by reducing the originalcontract
lr1, ll 4360-41 Wasp Major engines with water injec- the early atomic weapons. None of the B-36As had to 95 airplanes. Unfortunately, the VDT B-36C project
tr, rrr llaving an additional 500 hp from each of the six been configured to handle atomic bombs, largely be- ran into many technical difficulties related to mating
',r( tnes enabled the 8-36B to take off from a shorter cause engineering specifications pertaining to the the tractor version to the B-36's wide wing. By the
,rnw:ty and yield somewhat better performance at both .1948
atomic bomb had been withheld from Convair for se- spring of it was apparent that the VDT engine
rrr, rxirnum and cruising speeds. curity reasons. Weapons that armed later B-36s in- adapted to the 8-36 was not going to materialize. With
Ihe 8-368 had upgraded electronic equipment, cluded the huge Mk 17 thermonuclear device, which the higher performance B-36C canceled, the Air Force
ir rr :luding the AN/APQ-24 bombing/navigation radar. weighed 21 tons. Other weapons were the Mk lll, Mk considered once again whether to cancel the entire
lt r.oLrld carry a maximum load of 72,000 pounds of lV Mk 5, Mk 6, Mk 15, Mk 18, and Mk 36. 8-36 program.
I ,r rrnbs and was equipped from the beginning with six Although the 8-368 flew a series of impressive However, tests had shown that the 8-36B sur-
r , l rote-controlled retractable turrets, each with a pair demonstration flights, teething problems were evident passed the B-50 in cruising speed at long range, had
,,1 :'0mm cannon, plus two more 20mm cannon each from 7th Bomb Group evaluations. The remote-con- a higher altitude, carried a larger bombload, and had
rrr llro nose and tail turrets. The crew of the 8-368 trolled turrets and 20mm guns were quite complex and a much greater combat radius than the B-50.
, 1,, r:; norffi?lly fifteen-a pilot, co-pilot, radar operator/ prone to frequent failures. Parts shortages were acute, It now seemed the 8-36 might be a better bomber
L )nlbardier, navigator, flight engineer, two radiomen, and it was necessary to cannibalize some 8-36Bs just than anyone had expected. World events then played
tl rrco forward gunners, and f ive rear gunners. to keep others in the air. Ground equipment such as a role in saving the 8-36 program.
The first 8-36B flew on July 8, 1948, with better stands, dollies, and jacks were also in short supply. ln The Soviet's blockade of the city ol Berlin began
rr ,rlormance than the 8-364. Top speed was 381 mph reality, it would not be until 1952 that full operational on June 18, 1948. Cold War tensions were high. Ur-
r', compared to the 345 mph of the previous model. capability would be achieved. gency was now a factor in securing a strategic bomb-

A Photo Chronicle.S
ing force, and Air Force Secretary W. Stuart Symington ter of a heated political controversy. At this time, the ral ArthurW. Radford, commander of the Pacific Fleet,
decided to stay with the 8-36 program since it was Secretary of Defense was Louis A. Johnson, who had denounced the 8-36 as a "billion dollar blunder." Al-
the only true intercontinental bomber then available replaced James V. Forrestal on March 28, 1949. though there were still doubts about the B-36's ability
(ln-flight refueling was not yet fully developed). Johnson once was on the Board of Directors of to survive enemy fighter attacks, the Air Force's 8-36
Gen. Kenney, SAC's commander, agreed-even Convair. Fireworks began when Secretary Johnson program survived the Navy's salvos, and production
though he had earlier criticized the 8-36, favoring in- abruptly canceled the first supercarrier, the "USS continued on the Peacemaker.
stead the B-50. The proposed 34 B-36Cs would fi- United States," then under construction, and pro-
nally be completed as B-36Bs. Later, with in-flight re- ceeded with plans to purchase more 8-36 bombers B/RB-36D
fueling perfected, the B-50 would join the 8-36 in SAC for the Air Force. The decision had been made on the The 8-368 had been berated for being too slow dur-
for a number of years during the late'1940s to mid- grounds that with budget limitations, the government ing the congressional hearings, and Convair had been
1 950s could not afford both new strategic bombers and a busy working on ideas to increase the plane's speed.
new carrier force. The VDT tractor engine concept had failed, and an
8-36 CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS On May Day, 1949, the Soviets showed off a new earlier study to equip the B-368 with four tractor and
The United States Army Air Forces had become a swept-wing jet interceptor, the MiG 15, and there were four pusher turboprop engines mounted in tandem
separate military service from the Army on Septem- doubts the B-36 could successfully defend itself never became a reality. On October 5, 1948, at the
ber 18, 1947. When B-36Bs started entering the SAC against this fast new interceptor. lndividuals, particu- same time as the B-36 congressicnal hearings,
inventory in the fall of 1948, the newly independent larly those in the Navy, expressed concerns that the Convair proposed to the Air Force that two pairs of
U.S. Air Force had 59 groups. The USAF wanted to Air Force was spending a fortune on what could turn turbojets in pods be installed underneath the outer
expand to 70 groups, but was thwarted by FiscalYear out to be a "sitting duck." wing panels.The engines used would be General Elec-
1949 budget restraints. President Harry S.Truman was ln August, an anonymous report circulated around tric J47-GE-19 turbojets of 5,200 lbs. of static thrust
determined to hold the FY 49 defense budget to $11 Washington that accused the Air Force of grossly ex- each, the same basic engines being used to power
billion.The three military services squabbled with each aggerating the importance of strategic warfare. Finally, the Boeing B-47. Development time was saved by also
other over who was to receive the lion's share of the the House Armed Services Committee launched an using the same engine nacelle as the Stratojet. The
money. The Air Force wanted more B-36s, but the investigalion on what became known as the "8-36 four turbojets would be used for take off and for when
Navy wanted a new supercarrier, the first of four, that Controversy." After several weeks of hearings and the short bursts of power were needed for climbing or
would give them a strategic bombing capability. The testimony of Floyd B. Odlum, Chairman of the Board dashing over a target area.
Air Force's position was that strategic bombing should of Convair, Air Force generals George Kenney and The addition of turbojets resulted in the B-36D
remain an Air Force responsibility, and that a Navy Curtis LeMay, and Secretary of the Air Force model. With the jets assisting the six piston R-4360-
strategic bombing capability was redundant. Symington, the investigation closed down after clear- 4'1 engines, maximum speed was increased to over
Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, who had taken over com- ing both the Air Force and Convair of any impropriety. 400 mph, though cruising speed, without the jets, was
mand of SAC in October 1948, recommended that The 8-36 congressional hearings resumed in 212 mph. Service ceiling was improved to 43,800 ft.,
more B-36s be acquired and B-52 production be October, this time to debate whether the defense of and take off run was reduced by almost 2,000 ft. Other
stepped up. The stage was set for one of the ugliest America should rely on a fleet of bombers or on the improvements included quick-action, split bomb bay
and most bitter interservice confrontations in U.S. mili- Navy's proposed fleet of supercarriers. The Navy was doors and metal-covered control surfaces. The 8-36D
tary history. still enraged at the cancellation of its first supercarrier. had a better bombing and navigation system, the K-
A lot of criticism was being fired against the 8-36. The Secretary of the Navy, John L. Sullivan, had even 3A, that replaced the B-368's APG-24 radar. Take off
During 1948, rumors circulated that undue favoritism resigned in protest over the action. and landing weights were increased to 370,000 lbs.
and corruption had entered into the award of the 8-36 A parade of famous generals, admirals, govern- and 357,000 lbs., respectively.
contract and that the performance of the 8-36 did not ment officials, and others appeared before the Com- The prototype 8-36D was a converted 8-368, 44-
live up to Air Force claims. The 8-36 became the cen- mittee and gave their testimony and opinions. Admi- 92057 , and it flew first on March 26,1949, with Allison

6. Convair 8-36
i ,', , ,,rr(;o J47s were not yet available. The modifi- The remote control gun system was difficult to group had received 15 B-368s for training purposes
, rtl,r l)toved successful, and the prototype B-36D operate and maintain, and training for the gunners was until its first RB-36D arrived in June 1950. Due to
,1, rrrrrnr;lrated a speed of 400 mph at 38,280 ft. and found to be inadequate. Tests continued into 1953, materiel shortages, the new R8-36Ds did not become
,, r, lrc(l an altitude of 40,000 ft. Anticipation of im- and in time these problems were solved. operationally ready until a year later.
r , )\/, ,( i Several 8-36Ds were later modified as feather-
I llcrformance led the Air Force, in January 1 949, A total of 24 RB-36Ds were built, and ten of these
' 'lr,r:r(lc to buy 39 more B-36s as bombers and con- weight (lighter weight), high altitude aircraft-being were later converted to GRB-36D FICON parasite
, rl llrc unarmed B-36As to RB-36E reconnaissance stripped of all armament except the tail turret. All non- fighter carriers. Some RB-36Ds were later modified
rrr, lr)lS. essential flying and crew comfort equipment was taken to featherweight configuration in which all but the tail
I lrc first true 8-36D Jlew on July 1 1 , '1949, a monlh out, and the crew was reduced to 13, two fewer than guns were removed-the 22 man crew was further
,1111i' the congressional hearings had
'r started. A year the standard 8-36D crew. reduced to 19. These airplanes were redesignated RB-
I rlr,r, 26 jet-augmented B-36Ds had been converted 26 B-36Ds were built from scratch at Fort Worth, 36D-lll, with Convair doing the modification work from
lrrrrrr 8-3685 and delivered to SAC. On January 16, in addition to some 54 B-36Bs that were converted to February to December 1954.
l'rlrl, six B-36Ds wereflown from Carswell AFB in 8-36Ds at Convair's San Diego Lindbergh Field facil-
l,'xirs to England, landing at RAF Lakenheath after ity. The last B-36D was taken out of SAC service in RB-36E
lr, rvirrg staged through Limestone AFB in Maine. The 1957. Early in 1950, Convair began conversion of the 21 B-
llrrlht returned to Carswell on January 20. This mis- The RB-36D was a specialized reconnaissance 36As (and the sole YB-36) to reconnaissance mod-
',ron demonstrated the global reach oJ the 8-36, as version of the B-36D. lt was almost outwardly identi- els.These converted planes were redesignated as RB-
wt:ll as being ihb first time B-36s had flown and landed cal to the standard 8-36D, except for additional an- 36Es and were almost identical to R8-36Ds. Their six
lrcyond U.S. territory. Another long distance flight to tennas, camera windows, and radomes. R-4360-25 Wasp Major engines were replaced with
I ronch Morocco was made on December 3, when six It carried a crew of 22 ralher than 15; the addi- the more powerful 3,500 hp R-4360-41s installed on
I I 36Ds of the 1
'1th Bomb Wing touched down
at Sidi tional crew members were needed to operate and the B-368/Ds. They were also equipped with J47 tur-
Slimane, having flown nonstop from Carswell AFB. maintain the photographic reconnaissance equipment bojets as fitted on the RB 36Ds. The fourteen cam-
As more B-36s were delivered to the 7th and 1 1th aboard. The forward bomb bay was replaced with a eras in the forward bay included K-17C,K-22A,K-38,
l3omb Wings at Carswell and the 28th Strategic Re- manned, pressurized cabin and filled with fourleen and K-40 types. Normal crew was 22, which included
connaissance Wing at Rapid City AFB (later Ellsworth cameras, while the second bay carried B0T-86 flash five gunners. The last RB-36E of the conversion pro-
AFB) in South Dakota, most of the mechanical prob- bombs, the third an auxiliary 3,000 gallon fuel tank, gram was completed in July 1951 and assigned to
lems with the 8-36 were being identified and corrected. and the fourth had additional countermeasures equip- the 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Group (later Wing)
An early and major 8-36 problem was leakage of the ment (ECM). lt did retain all sixteen of its 20mm guns at Travis AFB, Califomia, along with the other RB-36E
fuel tanks. The electrical system was also unreliable for defensive armament. Performance of the R8-36D aircraft.
and caused frequent fires. lmproved containers and and the similar RB-36E conversions was nearly the
better sealers reduced fuel tank leakages, and same as the B-36D, with a maximum speed of 406 B/R8-36F
changes in the electrical system reduced fire hazards mph. The next model in the 8-36 series was the B-36F, and
during ground refueling operations. The first RB-36D, 44-92088, made its initialflight, its reconnassaince counterpart, the R8-36F. This im-
Landing gear and bulkhead failures were practi- without auxiliary jets, on December 19, 1949-six proved version had more powerful 3,800 hp R-4360-
cally eliminated. However, even by October 1951 the months after the first B-36D had flown. The RB-36D 53 Wasp Majors. Each of these engines generated
B-36's defensive armament system was still operat- actually preceded the 8-36D into service with the Stra- 300 hp more than those of the B-36D. There was also
ing poorly. ln April 1952, Gen. LeMay ordered a se- tegic Air Command by a couple of months. The first improved radar and ECM equipment. The first 8-36F,
ries of gunnery tests to see if the cause of the failures unit assigned RB-36Ds was the 28th Strategic Re- 49-2669, took off on its maiden flight on November
could be determined. connaissance Group at Rapid City AFB. lnitially, the 18, 1950. The first 8-36Fs became operational with

A Photo Chronicle.T
SAC in August 1951 . There were some difficulties with model differed mainly in internal details. A rearranged other B-36s were scheduled to lrc tttorltlllrl ;t:, I l;tr;r;al
the new engines, including excessive torque pressure, flight deck with a second flight engineer's station was carriers under the designation t )l I lt(;l I I k rwovot , tlte
ground cooling, and combustion problems. These added. An improved bombing system called Blue Air Force decided in 1955 thal lltrt ll ,1/ , uttl llto ll 116,
problems were resolved in a relatively short time. Square was installed, and K system components were would carry the GAM-63, and tlrc ( )ttttv;ttt pto;rrt;l was
The K-3A radar system and APG-32 gun laying relocated to a pressurized compartment, enabling eventually canceled. The Rast;irl l)to(ltitnr tlr;oll was
radar were made standard, and beginning with B-36F access at high altitudes. A new AN/APG-41A radar later canceled on September u, llllrll
54-1064, a chaff dispenser, was installed in the tail to system aimed the two 20mm cannons in the tail. lt The B-36H equipped 42nd llrttttlr Wtttr; rtl I oring
confuse enemy radar. The last of 34 8-36Fs was was far superior to the AN/APG-32 gun, laying radar AFB in Maine was the first unit lo r;l;ttl r;tltvotltttq to
manufactured in October 1952, but the Air Force did used on the preceding B-36Ds and B-36Fs. The new the new all-jet B-52 in June 1950.
not get its last one until several months later. A num- installation featured twin tail radomes. Performance of the B-361-l ittt;lutkrtl it loll l;llttcd
ber of 8-36Fs were modified as featherweight aircraft The B-36H was first flown on April 5, 1952. Deliv- of 416 mph at 31j20 ft, cruisino r;Jrcctl l'lt4 ttlplr, nnd
during 1954. eries started in December, by which time the Air Force a service ceiling of 44,000 ft. M;txitntttn (ltorir; wciqht
The Air Force ordered 24 of the reconnaissance had accepted most of its 8-36Fs. 83 B-36Hs and 73 was 370,000 pounds, combat woicllrl l)lril,lXX) ptlttttds.
versions, the RB-36F. The first four RB-36Fs were RB-36Hs were delivered from May '1952 to July 1953. Featherweighted 8-36F and B 361 I lrotttltot:; ittc cred-
accepted in May of 1951 , and the remainder between A total of 156 B/RB-36s were accepted by the Air ited with a top speed of 423 tttl;lt ;ttttl rt4l,(XX) ser-
August and December 1951. The RB-36F's perfor- Force, making it the largest production run of any B- vice ceiling, the best performanr;c ol irtty ll l|(i tnod-
mance was close to the standard B-36F 36 model. els.
Performance of the B-36F included a top speed As a test, B-36H, 51-5710 was converted into a
ol 417 mph at 37,100 ft; cruising speed 235 mph; ser- probe and drogue mid-air refueling tanker. The Air 8.36 IN SAC SERVICE
vice ceiling 44,000 ft; and a combat ceiling 40,900 ft. Force was interested in refueling jet aircraft at higher The Strategic Air Command's first ll ll0 ttnil was the
altitudes and speeds than those reached by KB-29 7th Bomb Group (H) at Carswcll Al ll, loxit:;. lt was
B-36G/YB-60 tankers. The modification contract was approved in part of the 8th Air Force and was ltotttc to tlte Air
The B-36G was the initial designation applied to a February 1952, and tests with aB-47 receiver plane Force's largest bomber at that tinrc, llto t3oeing B-29
swept-wing, jet-powered version of the 8-36. were completed by the end of May. No other tests Superfortress. Carswell's locatiort diror;tly itcross the
Two B-36Fs,49-2676 and 49-2684, were pulled took place until January 1953, when an improved field from the Convair plant tlrat produccd tltc 8-36
from the Fort Worth production line and modified as multiple aircraft system was installed. A nine man was beneficial when trying to rcsolvo oarly technical
B-36Gs. lt was decided to redesignate the two jet tanker crew could convert a standard 8-36 into a tanker problems. The second unit to recoivc B 36s, the 1 1th
bombers as YB-60s, since it was practically a new by installation of a removable 3,000 gallon fueltank in Bomb Group, was also at Carswc.ll, and the two 8-36
airplane. However, it still shared 72/. parls common- the bomb bay. The process took just twelve hours. groups shared the flightline. Tho third 8-36 unit was
ality with the 8-36. However, no further tanker conversions were carried the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Group at Rapid
Only one of the two experimental prototypes ever out, since the new KC-97 could handle mid-air refuel- City AFB, which became SAC's first RB-36 group af-
flew, making its first flight on April 18, 1952. The other ing much more economically, and the Air Force felt its ter briefly training in bomber versions.
plane never received its J57 jet engines. After losing B-36s were better utilized in their bombing/reconnais- ln Decembell950, during the first year of the
a production contract to Boeing's B-52 Stratofortress, sance roles. Korean War, SAC had two Heavy Bomb Groups with
both YB-60s were scrapped in mid-1954. Three B-36Hs, 50-1085/51 -5706151-571 0, were 36 B-36s and one Heavy Reconnaissance Group with
also modified by Convair in 1952 to test the Bell GAM- 20 RB-36s. A typical 8-36 Bomb Group had 18 air-
B/RB-36H 63 Rascal air-to-surface guided missile. lt was 31 ft. craft composed of three combat squadrons of six
The B-36H was essentially the same as the B-36F long, with a launch weight of about'13,000 lbs. At a planes. Each unit also had a couple of "spares" as-
externally, and was powered by the same improved top speed of Mach 2.95, the missile could carry a 3,000 signed. No B-36s were used in Korea, since B-29s
3,800 hp Wasp Major engines and J47 jets. The H pound nuclear warhead up to 1 00 miles. Some eleven were adequate for the task required, and all B-36s

8. Convair 8-36
remained in the continental U.S. for strategic deter- By the beginning of 1954, the Air Force's planned pounds. The B-36J was first flown on September 3,
rence. force of six Heavy Bomb Wings and four Heavy Re- 1953, with delivery to SAC beginning the following
Originally, March AFB, in southem Califomia, was connaissance Wings was operational at eight bases month.
to be the second RB-36 base, but it received B-47s. in SAC. Convair/General Dynamics production of B- The last 14 B-36Js were manufactured as B-36J
lnstead, Travis AFB in northern California near San 36s ended in 1954, but the SAM-SAC program (Spe- Featherweight Ills with all guns removed, except for
Francisco became the second RB-36 unit, getting its cialized Aircraft Maintenance-Strategic Air Com- the tail position. The crew complement was reduced
first RB-36 in January 195'1. mand) returned each plane to the factory for equip- to 13, and the scanning blisters were replaced by flush
During 1951, SAC units were reorganized and ment updating and maintenance until spring 1957. covers with small windows. The reduction in weight
renamed from groups to wings. The 92nd Bomb Wing SAC's RB-36s never saw combat, but some RB- enabled a service ceiling of 47,000 ft. to be reached,
at Fairchild AFB in Washington state got its Iirst B-36s 36s flew rather hazardous reconnaissance missions although some missions were evidently flown as high
on July 29, 1951. Fairchild also became a two 8-36 near or perhaps over Soviet or Chinese Communist as 50,000 ft. ln contrast to other 8-36 featherweights
unit base, like Carswell, when the 99th Strategic Re- territory. which were modified after delivery, these aircraft were
connaissance Wing joined the 92nd the following The year of the highest number of B/RB-36s in built as such on the production line.
month after receiving its first RB-36s. During 1955, service was 1954. SAC inventory shows 209 B-36s Performance of the B-36J included a maximum
the 99th was home to GRB-36D FICON unit, which and 133 RB-36s, atotal o1342 aircraft.Also in 1954, speed of 411 mph, cruising speed of 203 mph, and a
was teamed with RF-84F/K fighters from the 91st Stra- filming started on the movie "Strategic Air Command," service ceiling of 39,990 ft. Featherweight lll B-36Js
tegic Reconnaissance Squadron at nearby Larson which starred Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson, and had a combat range of almost 4,000 miles, maximum
AFB. of course, the impressive 8-36 bomber. The Para- speed of 418 mph at 37,500 ft, and a service ceiling
The year 1952 saw B-36s at Walker AFB, New mount picture became the studio's top grosser of 1955. of 43,600 ft.
Mexico (6th Bomb Wing), and Ramey AFB in Puerto Some of the most beautiful and dramatic aerial se- ln the mid-1950s, B-36s were gradually being re-
Rico (72nd Strategic Reconnaissance Wing). Also in quences ever put on film added to the popularity of placed plane by plane with B-52s. Scrapping of the B-
1952, the number of B-36s allocated to operational ,.SAC."
36 fleet had begun. Planes were flown directly from
units was increased to 30 in a bomb wing, with 10 The four R8-36 Strategic Reconnaissnace Wings their units to Davis Monthan AFB in Arizona, where
aircraft to a squadron. "Spare" aircraft raised the num- were redesignated Heavy Bomb Wings in October the Mar-Pak Corporatian handled their reclamation
ber in each wing to around 36 total. RB-36 strength 1955. All RB-36s were converted to bombers, but re- and destruction. ln 1956, B-36s from the 42nd Bomb
peaked by the end of 1953 at 137 airplanes. tained a latent reconnaissance capability. The intro- Wing, 92nd Bomb Wing, and 99th Bomb Wing all made
fhe 42nd Bomb Wing at Loring AFB, Maine, be- duction of new jet reconnaissance aircraft, including their f inal flights to Arizona.1957 saw more B-36s from
came a 8-36 unit in April 1953, followed in August by the U-2 spy plane, helped seal the fate of RB-36s, the 6th Bomb Wing, 1 1th Bomb Wing, and 28th Bomb
the last 8-36 wing to be formed, the 95th Bomb Wing which were now obsolescent. Wing make the same sad flight, reducing the active
at Biggs AFB, Texas. ln August and September 1953, force to 127 by year's end. The last full calendar year
B-36s of the 92nd Bomb Wing completed the first mass B-36J of operations for the Peacemaker was 1958, when
flight to the Far East, visiting bases in Japan, Okinawa, The B-36J was the final production vesion of the B- the 5th Bomb Wing at Travis and the 7th Bomb Wing
and Guam. The flight took place shortly after the hos- 36. Only 33 airplanes were built, and the last came off at Carswell consigned their B-36s to the scrap heap.
tilities ended in Korea, and was an effort to demon- the assembly line on August 14, 1954.|t was the end Defense cutbacks in FY 1958 had forced B-52
strate U.S. willingness to maintain operations in Asia. of an era. procurement to be stretched out, and consequently,
On October 15-16, the 92nd Bomb Wing again left B-36Js featured two additionalfueltanks, one on the service life of the 8-36 had been extended. The
Fairchild AFB and made another long distance flight the outer panel of each wing, which increased the fuel remaining operational B-36s were supported by com-
to the Far East, this time for a 90 day deployment to load by 2,770 gallons. lt also had a strengthened land- ponents salvaged from planes already sent to Davis
Guam. lt was the first time an entire 8-36 wing had ing gear, permitting a gross take off weight of 410,000 Monthan's boneyard.TheT2nd Bomb Wing at Ramey
been deployed overseas.

A Photo Chronicle.9
flew its final 8-36 mission on NewYear's Day 1959. ln The Air Force accepted a total of 383 B-36s, in- ums in Ohio and Nebrask;r. l] l](i,J 52 22?-0 can be
Decembell958, only 22 B-36s were left in the Air cluding the two prototypes, service test aircraft, and seen at the Air Force Mus;cttrtt ;rt Wriclltt Patterson
Force inventory (all J models). reconnaissance aircraft, but not including the two B- AFB in Dayton, Ohio, and ll ll(i,J lr2 2u17 is on dis-
On February 12, 1959, the last 8-36 at Biggs AFB, 36s converted to YB-60s. Average cost of a 8-36 was play inside the new Strateglir; Air Ootttttt;trtd museum
Texas, was Jlown to Amon Carter Field in Fort Worth $3,776,000. The entire 8-36 fleet was estimated to near Omaha, Nebraska. A tlrirrl ll ll(;.i, !i2 2827, has
to become a memorial. Within two years, all B-36s cost $2 billion in 1950 dollars. been restored by voluntecrs irtttl il; J;rt:scnlly being
had been scrapped except those saved for museum As of summer 1999, four B-36s remain-three stored in several hangars. Plans;rrc lo cventually ex-
exhibits. The last flight ever of a 8-36 took place on currently on public display. A R8-36H, the only RB hibit the plane in a proposed now lltus;outtt building at
April 30, 1959, when B-36J 52-2220 flew north to the and H model, is exhibited at the Castle Air Museum in Alliance Airport, north of Fort Worllr.
Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. Atwater, California. Two B-36Js are located at muse- Major sections of the YB 36 prototypc (in its final
configuration as a RB-36E) arc storcd itt a closed to
the public private air collection ncar Ck:voland, Ohio.

Artist rendering of proposed Nakajima G10N1 "Mount Fuji" six-engined long range
bomber designed to carry out bombing missions against the U.S. from bases in
Japan. Similar in size to the XB-36 with a 206 ft. wingspan and 131 ft. length, the
bomber was to be powered by 2,500 hp Nakajima NK11A radials. lt was to have
an 1 1 ,000 lb. bombload and a top speed oI 423 mph. G10N1 bombers might have
been bombing California cities in 1946 or 1947 if the war had proceeded differ-
ently. Still on the drawing board at war's end, the Japanese, like the Germans,
had realized too late the importance ol a strategic bombing force. (llustration by
John Batchelor)

10. Convair 8-36

Another six engine design of the Axis was the Junkers Ju 390. Powered by six 1,700 hp BMW 801D
radials, the Ju 390-1 was flown for the lirst time in August 1943 as an unarmed cargo plane. A maritime
reconnaissance version, the Ju 390-2, was a longer aircralt with a range ol 6,000 miles and a top speed of
314 mph. Armament consisted ol four 20mm cannons and three 13mm guns. lt also was equipped with
search radar.The second model had a wingspan of 165 lt. and was 121 ft. long, bigger than a B-29.The
twin tail plane was delivered in January 1944 to a base near Bordeaux and once f lew a 32 hour transatlan-
tic patrol said to have turned back to occupied France only twelve miles off the U.S. coast, just north of
New York City. lf the Germans had converted the Ju 390 to a bomber, it might have been the lirst true
intercontinental bomber, not the 8-36 Peacemaker. (San Diego Aerospace Museum)


Model 36 Design Study in February 1942. (Consolidated Aircraft


A Photo Chronicle.l l
li ?()llr $(;illc wind tunnel model
()l llro Xl'l-36. Earlier engine na-
r:r'llrr rrll llrlnke ducts and origi-
ilil1 lwln lrrll rrrrangement are evi-
(ktnl. .,uno 1942. (Consolidated
Alr r:r rrll Corl)oration)


r,Al 10 0uN,i
1t000 il{o1)
I roo rNoc)


e,37 M.X. CANNON 4. CAL 50 GUNS



\ aoua cop
12-4000 L8. BOMBS
OR 28-2000 . ,
OR 44- 1600 r
0R72-tOo0, .'
ORl32- 5OO ' .

2,37 MM CAflNOSS
1200 SIOS) FUEL CAP 21. ll6 cAL
orl caP t,t76 cAL
XB-36 general lunctions showing luel and
oil tanks, bomb bay arrangement, and early
armament system. Notice the crewmen in the
lorward upper and lower turrets, similar to
WWll B-17 ot B-24 gunners. (Consolidated
Aircraft Corporation)

12. Convair 8-36

The XB-36 Prototype at
rollout, 82.5% completed.
Two B-32 Dominators in the
background will quickly be
scrapped with the end of the
war. (Convair)

Artist's rendering of 8-36 engine nacelle design that was to house the Pratt
& Whitney "X" engine that became the 28 cylinder R-4360 Wasp Major.

A Photo Chronicle.l3
ffi' T


+l* i

:# t

ffi* t
/iil*t.- '

Enginee test nacelle outside the Experimental Building at Convair, Fort Worth, where the new 3,000 hp Wa

Major engine
er was run hundreds of hours. (Convair)


XB-36 3-view drawing of the plane's conliguration. (Convair)

14. Convair 8-36

;trdry--;;qie"ilnlr-q.i.Fi'ry .r ,m'T-ffi gi#1n .l'E:5
4i I t't t
'i*rr*:**-; *"-'
L, ,,

,i !

t' _.#
,d{. .
t -l
$'q',t-: -l;;
| -.r";l-".t***



NEring completion in April1946,the XB-36 h.s had its engines and propelleE installed. Notice the American flaglhal hangs on one olthe huge sliding doors of lhe Exp€rlmentrl
Bulldlnq. {Convah)

A Photo Chronicle.l5
Two views of the finished XB-
36 as it prepares lor a series ol
ground and taxi tests prior to
its first flight. Notice the tall
single tail that replaced the
original twin tail shown in early
design studies. Summer 1946.

16. Convair 8-36


oflheenlire 8-36 prcgram was in jeopady until Convairpilots Erickson and creen tanded the biO bomber satety. (Convair)

A Fhoto Ghronicle"'t7

Two views ol the XB-36 in

flight. The clean, aerody-
namic lines of lhe aircraft
can be appreciated in these
photographs. (Convair)

18. Convair 8-36

Convair employees and Air Force personnel inspect the damage to the right landing gear.
Erickson had brought the XB-36 in and "bicycled" down the runway on the damaged gear.
When the plane ran olf the runway, the 1 10" diameter tire sank only g inches into the soft dirt.
Broken side brace strut clearly visible. (Convair)

The xB36 rewing up ils engines in 1950 with a neu rrack-rype experimenral landing gear. The gear was not lnrended lor prcduction moders, bur was b€ing tesred lo prove rhe
feasibility ot a tmck-lype gear on a planess large as a 8" did make a loud sc@ching nois€ when il took ofl for lhe lirsl and only llme on March 261h. (Convan)

A Photo Chronicle.l9
Mockup of new 8-36 nose design with raised canopy for better visibility,
June 1945. Notice dummy 20mm cannon frontal gun installation. An earlier
nose armament proposal in 1944 included barbette gun turrets mounted on
each side of the nose right below the cockpit. (Convair)

i* lI 1[.
\rrd\'J .5-1__ I
".#h* Miri


Overhead view of new bubble-type glass canopy that covered the pilot, co-pilot, and flight engineer,
June 1945. The redesigned layout was more eflicient than in the XB-36. Notice real metal seats in basi-
cally an all-wood mock-up. (Convair)

20. Convair 8-36

The YB-36, 42-13571 was the production-standard 8-36. lt is seen here with its tail being
tilted downward in order to clear the factory doors. Notice the propellers have not yet been
installed and the new nose gun position is covered. (Convair)

lhe XB'36, suryasslng the XB'36's highestallilude by Eching 40,000 fl. on only its thid tllght. (Convalr)

A Photo Chronicle.2l
3\ '),,.


22. Convair 8-36

B-36As on the production line in FortWorth during 1947.The first 8-36A in the foreground is 44-
92004, which was reserved as the static test example. The second aircraft down the Cbnvair line is
44-92005. ln all22 B-36As would be completed by December 1948. (Convair)

8-36A,44-92004, llew to Ohio on August 30,1947.

Col.Tom P. Gerrity was the pilot, Beryl Erickson was
an observer. The plane carried only equipment nec-
essary for the one time flight. Landing atWright Field
allet a 4 hour 40 minute f light, the second 8-36 ever
to lly was gradually torn apart during static struc-
tural tests in a specially equipped hangar. (Convair)

A Photo Chronicle.23

q \ ,t


no*andihe buz numbel BM.ltog. (Convah)

This underside view of 8-36A,44-92006, in flight shows oll the immense

size of the bomber with ils 230 ft wing. (Peter Bowers/David Menard)

24. Convair 8-36

B-364,44-92022, cruises over the countryside on a training f light.
BM-022 was used lor training and crew familiarization, as were
all the 8-36A models. (USAF)

' .J

BM-005 getting ready to land with its gear extended. Plane was assigned to Air
Materiel Command (AMC) atWright Patterson AFB, Ohio, for evaluation. (Author's

A Photo Chronicle.25
''City of Fort Worth." Loc.tion ot aidietd ts unknown, but appears n;r to be Forrworth (San Di€go Aerosprce Museumi


26. Convair 8-36

ffit$iss PF


';i;:;; ... 6' Pro
;::i'i1 ;; ,' ; ;''1
f f I lVh it n eg lt r rt
i 5'
s/' v rr /' a i
t t."(t /rtt
t1 w t

lrlr I// t'

i;;,a "ttore fhon 3oo mPh
cormrC;iling..'4ooo9^^^,. pounds or bombs
;#;'.;:.:id:dri'o mir'i wittr 10000
'ciJi...... lotb
i,ioiiilut load'.. 72,000 pounds MA,XIMUM SERVI CE
t+.including 4' mo n reIief crew
io"itr.... 2l.ll6"qollons (:, nrr/ro,r,l lrril atr.;\ BOMB LOAD CEILIN G
, iltis tnlonl t/',nr,,/,iir.
,iilx'.\. nnl
lh;;,'.; //;,-'1",,r
;;;7 l/rtrt lonr rn'ru
uul,i t,,,,/,/ clrc/r //r wr/'/
ry.'rq -<tttft' ilt
//ta tttil(rfr,
irr ltr.r -</,t/,'
(P = 5,69q 1-95.1 (FEET)
r 8'36s yolume....17.724 cubic feet...
'ou,t/ ht s'/te ht /ett dtrnt,h' //r't'ttu rotuns,
ibn bomb bou hos o voltime of i2.100 cubicfeef .
;rttltyt/ ht //tit/ of /irt' railrorrt/ lVcrJh/

I .j" .
[" j ''i" ''Joo
u'Joo o'Joo u'loo u'loo 7,OOO SpOO 9,OOO

,,"t,. ;,* : ' 'l .F: ,

"';: -.. , .t*. f ,

.t.:,.:, (MILES)
;,...-,.1., .,::,.- :.,.-.,,.,:;,i_,,, ",t,

A youngster having specifications of the 8-36A explained to him by a crewman at the'1948 Performance chart comparing World War ll heavy bombers to the Air Force's newest intercon-
lnternational Air Exposition, which celebrated the opening of NewYork's ldlewild (later John F. tinental bomber, the 8-36. (Convair)
Kennedy) lnternational Airport. Sliding panels of the forward bomb bay partially obsure the
buzz number BM-015, the "City of Fort Worth." (USAF)

A Photo Chronicle.2T
*;.. fi i Six Pratt & Whitney R-4360-25 Wasp Majors powered the B-
36A. Each air-cooled engine developed 3,000 hp. (Author's

Lelt wing engines, #1,#2and #3 showing the ring-shaped airplugs. Exhaust gases lrom the engine were
vented from the bottom of the nacelle. The #1 engine in the loreground has its airplug partially open. The
number of diamonds visible to the tlight engineer indicated the airplug's position. (RKO/ Walter Jefleries)

28. Convair 8-36

An airman ponders the size of the 19 ft. propellers on #4, #5 and #6 engines on the right wing of
a B-36A at Carswell AFB. Notice the C-54 transports and World War Il era B-29s in the distance.
(Author's collection)

Mechanics working on a 8-36 powerplant fitted with the more ellicient square-tipped propel-
lers. (Author's collection)

A Photo Chronicle.29
Engine change is underway on 44-92060. with 28 cylinders and 56 spark plugs, keeping each
9-36 engine running was a demanding task for Air Force mechanics. The Pratt & Whitney R-
4360 Wasp Maior radial engine was the ultimate development of the piston engine-future SAC
bombers would be powered by jets. (USAF)

lrl'/ (,.





Unveiling of the new Carswell Air Force Base sign on a obviously windy winter day, January 30,
1948. Formerly known as FortWorth Army Air Field, the base was renamed in honor of Con-
gressional Medal of Honor winner, Maj. Horace S. Carswell, Jr., of Fort Worth. Carswell was a B-
24 pilot shot down while attacking a Japanese cruiser and destroyer. Maj. Gen. Roger M. Ramey,
8th Air Force commander, salutes Mrs. Carswell as he walks to greet her. (USAF)

30. Convair 8-36

Three new B-36Bs lor the 7th Bomb Group on the flightline at Carswell. The 9-368 model had
water-injected 3,500 horsepowerWasp Majors and was the lirst lully combat equipped model.
The aircralt in the foreground is 44-92040. (USAF)


included si{eon 20mm cannons ln elEht lurrets. The turets wero retractable, excepl lor lhe nose.nd tait. (Convair)

A Photo Chronicle.3l
; at,










32. Convair 8-36

The 1
'l th Bomb Group f lightline, also
at Carswell in spring 1949.Two ol
the aircraft have red tails, indicating
:/,$$d!ll1 l;,Tflw
they are part ol the 18 plane Gem
program lhat involved cold weather
testing in Alaska. The 8-368 in the
loreground, 44-92032, would later
crash at Fairchild AFB in 1954 when
assigned to the 92nd Bomb Wing.

Below Left: Bomb bay of the 8-36

was cavernous compared to World
War ll bombers. Capacity was 72,000
lbs. ol bombs, or lwo 43,000 lb.
"Grand Slam" bombs. Two airmen
are seen here working on the bomb
racks in the forward bomb bay. Just
behind them, another airman passes
under the huge main wing spar box.

Right: 8-368,44-
92077, is framed
by the wing and
fuselage of an-
other 7th Bomb
Wing 8-368. The
triangle symbol
on the tail meant
the plane was as-
signed to the Bth
Air Force. Later a
letter J would be
added io indicate
7th Bomb Wing,
11th Bomb Wing.
(RKO/Walter Jeft-

A Photo Ghronicle.33
Amusing illustrations from 8-36A and 8-368 llight manuals.
Later B-36H and B-36J manuals were more reserired with less wt{ Et{ us I ilq r{E eo i,lt'lufl I eATtoN TU BE WIT t{ rH E
cartoon-type drawings. (USAF/Scott Deaver) AIRPLANE tI{ At{ INELINED ATTITUDE TI{E EART

)-<,sv6F(Jtr P}<Vr/> AKE u)Ep_uURtNG LANDING, pOWEll SIIOULDBE

AS TilE SropptN6 potNT tS p,EAciiEDrb lv-oion'or_1lNa-e-rt-rW[dd

34. Gonvair 8-36

B-368s from Carswell flying
formation over theTexas coun-
tryside. B-36s in formation
were an impressive but rare
sight. Combat missions were
based on a one plane-one tar-
get concept. Top speed of the
8-368 was 3Bl mph (USAF/Don

The Convair Fort Worth plant as seen lrom the air in 1949. Carswell AFB is just across the f ield
in the distance. The sole XC-99, cargo and transport version of the 8-36, can be pinpointed just
under the wingtip of the photo plane in the picture, along with six B-36s in the north yard area.

A Photo Chronicle.35
One of five Carswell B-36s flies low over the Capitol during the lnauguralion of President
Harry S.Truman on January 20,1949. (USAF)

PresidentTruman shakes hands with a crewmember ol a Carswell 8-36 from the 26th Bomb
Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, that participated in an eleven plane aerial demonstration at
Andrews AFB on February 15, 1 949. The demonstration was for the benef it of the President
and members of the U.S. Senate at their request. (USAF)

36. Convair 8-36

PresidentTruman waving to photographers lrom an open entry hatch on a 8-36 Peacemaker
put on display at Andrews AFB lor his personal inspection.The name Peacemaker was never
adopted ollicially by the Air Force-it was ludged the winner ol 60 entries in a contest spon-
sored by Convair among its employees in spring 1949. (USAF)

An early study of the 8-368 airplane which proposed increasing its speed by using eight
XT35 Curtiss-Wright gas turbines placed in four tandem nacelles.Top speed would suppos-
cdly have been 448 mph. Convair oflered to install the gas turbines on one test 8-36 in Febru-
ary 1947, but nothing came of the proposal. (Convair/ Bill Plumlee)

A Photo Ghronicle.3T
Model ot the proposed YB-36C which would have used variable
discharge turbine (VDT) engines based on the standard R-4360.
Top speed was estimated to be 410 mph. However, it would have
been necessary to redesign the 8-36 lrom a pusher-type configu-
ration to a tractor-type version. Problems with adapting the VDT
engine to the B-36's wing eventually caused the cancellation ol
the program in spring '1948. (Jones collection)



J3Sssince production General Electric J4?-E-19s were not yel available. Norice lack ol brachg struts on the ier pods. (Convair)

38. Convair 8-36

Front view ol the B-36Ds new let nacelle with iris blades closed. Unlike the J-
47s on the B-47 bomber, 8-36 jet engines would not be used continually in
flight, and consequently were shut down when not needed. The iris blades
controlled air intake and prevented windmilling when not in operation. The
boost from jets was mainly used lor take off, climbing, and speeding over a
target. Notice the side brace strut, added after vibration problems were en-
countered. (RKO/Walter Jefleries)

Close-up of one of the prototype B-36D's iet pods. Each J47 iet developed 5,200 pounds ot static
thrust.057 llew with production J47s installed on July 11,1949.The technician is plugging in a
ground generator. Notice the taxi light, same as those on the B-47 pods. (Convair)

A Photo Chronicle.39
but laler canceled in lavor ol odeing more B-36s. (Edwards AFB Ofiice ol History)

40. Convair 8-36

Artist rendering ol the USS United Stafes,
-,Y CVA-58. The 65,000 ton ship was to be the
first of lour in a new class of flush-deck
supercarriers. When it was abruptly canceled
,,U by Secretary of Defense Johnson in April 1 949
in order to purchase more 8-36 bombers, the
ensuing controversy led to a series of con-
gressional hearings in August and October.
However, the charges ol impropriety in pro-
curement of the 8-36, and favoritism toward
the Air Force's stated role in providing the
nation's sole strategic bombing force were
dismissed, and both Convair and the Air
Force were cleared. The charges by the Navy
that the 8-36 was a "sitting duck" and could
not adequately delend itself against enemy
jet fighters was explored but not resolved. lt
was decided to continue with the 8-36 pro-
gram since it was still the best bomber avail-
able at the time. (National Archives)

Artist rendering of a RB-36 being "attacked"

by Navy Banshee jets. The Navy claimed it
could easily shoot down the lumbering 8-36.
A test duel between the two was proposed
but never conducted, canceled by the Secre-
tary ol Defense for national security reasons.
(D. Sherwin)

A Photo Chronicle.4l
B-368s at Convair San Diego lor the "B to D" conversion program. Filty-four
8-36Bs were brought up to B-36D standards in San Diego, and live were con-
verted in the FortWorth plant.The program started in April 1950 and ended in
February 1952. (Convair)

gl* .$-:

#*. .."41g

Major modilication work on B-36s at the San Diego Lindbergh Field plant included adding jet pods,
new quick-action bomb bay doors, metal control surfaces, and interior equipment upgrading. Aircraft
on the right is 8-368,4492043, which had dropped two 42,000 pound "Grand Slam" conveniional
bombs in a January 1949 demonstration. (Convair)

42. Convair 8-36

Converting B-368s to jet-augmented D models was done in an outdoor work area. Four red-tailed B-
36s, formerly in the Gem program, can be seen here at the Lindbergh Field facility. The coding se-
quence, FW-SD, indicates the airframe's position in the original Fort Worth production sequencjand
its position on the San Diego line. (ACME)

New quick-action bomb bay doors were installed on the B-36Bs and the B/HB-36Ds
then being built in Fort worth. The two section hinged door panels opened and
closed hydraulically in just two seconds. All subsequent 8-36 models would leature
these doors that replaced the former sliding panels previously used on the two
prototypes, B-36As, and 8-36Bs. (USAF)

A Photo Chronicle.43
Night shift at Convair San Diego in 1950. Planes were too large to be brought
inside the old factory building, so "B to D" modilication work was done mostly
outside in the adjacent yard area. Security was of concern at the time since the
Korean War had just broken out in June, and raged during the entire conversion
program. Espionage or sabotage by Communists was considered a real possiblity.

8-368, 44-92057, the prototype

B-36D, is shown here on a test
llight over FortWorth. Notice the
production sequence number
54, clearly visible on the nose.

44. Convair 8-36

orderforihe plane to cafty bombs in lhe rcar bays. {Convair)

Left: A RB-36 photographer aims his ob-

lique camera lrom the lorward cabin com-
partment. (USAF)

Right: Pholo technician at his console in

a R8-36. Film could be developed in llight
if necessary, using a small on-board dark-
room. (USAF)

A Photo Chronicle.45
{ trl
F z,
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ro o
ot "f
rf lrl
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I @
a lrl
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o o
o Jo
3 a
(o o
tr ro
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46. Convair 8-36

TUmET (81


tTlTt(x XALKf, Y


General arrangement drawing of the 8-36D. The 85 ft. communication

c0ttulflclTto[ tube connected the forward and rear pressurized crew compartments.
To travel through the tunnel a crewman had to lie on his back on a
small cart and pull himsell along by means of an overhead rope. Most
lt^vlcAToR'5 crewmen did not like to use the tube, since it was dark, eerie, and
ITATION noisy. lt also could be dangerous if decompression ever occurred.
Small windows in the tube permitted inspection ol the bomb bays at
pressurized altitudes. Otherwise, inspection could be done by using a
narrow catwalk running along the opposite side. (Convair)

Pilot's and co-pilot's stations on the B-36D flight deck. Notice the controls
for the auxiliary iets located above on the canopy, and the wheel to the left ol
the pilot, for nose wheel steering. (Convair)

A Photo Ghronicle.4T
.. _lt-
I , j\"j,
; /1,

Two views ol a RB-36H at an open house al san Francisco lnternalional Airport.

t.._ ,.t ./ .t .---

a.t 4., ,a.i d ; u
| * ifto


It displays its sixteen 20mm cannons to the public: the two-gun nose turret, the
two upper lorward retractable turrets each with two guns, and the upper and lower
aft retractable turrets each with two guns. All six retractable turrets carried 600
rounds each. The tail turret, like the nose turrel, had two guns and handled 400
rounds. This array of turrets made the 8-36 the most heavily-armed bomber in
history, but the ellectiveness of this delensive system was never actually tested in
combat. (Larkins collection)

Leff; B-36D llight engineer's station. Pilot's throttle controls are duplicated lor the
\ flight engineer. Fuel mixture levers are to the lelt ol the longer throttle controls,
while those needed for the electrical system are to the right. (Convair)

48. Convair 8-36

ffi An airman checks the guns in the lorward upper turrets. Notice that the
access panels on the turrets have been removed for servicing. (Author's

Close-up of a B-36's nose showing stowed 20mm cannons, nose gun sight, UHF antenna, and oval window lor
optical bombing which was later made obsolete by K-system pariscopic sight and radar. (RKO/Walter Jeffries)

A Photo Chronicle.49

Hometown Formolion
A three-plane formation, or cell, was the standard 9-36 defensive plan. lt was called "HOMETOWN." However, B-
36s rarely flew in formation, since each plane was usually assigned its own target with a specific mission plan.


3 RIGH! tonwam 7 rlGHr r.OW[r AFI
{t 5 wil.t txTEND ro covEr AnEAs 2 t t.
ALso atEAS 1, 5. 6, E 7 wllt IrAKE PtltOOrC VtSUAL
. cfltcKs or atta 8.1

Fislde ol Seorch ond Fire Plan Ybw

Plan view of lields ol search and fire for the 8-36. (USAF)

50. Convair 8-36

Side view o{ the B-36's fields of search and fire. (USAF)


2 uF FOIWAnD 6 tEF tOWEt AFr
(DUilNG PSnIOOS fiAr AtE NOI CrmCAt atEAS a & 5
wr.t EXTEND to covEt 2 I 3. AISO AREAS ,a, 5,
6 & 7 wltl I{AKE pErloDtc CHTCX OF AREA 8.}

I:ive hundred pound bombs loaded on racks in a bomb bay ol a 8-36. Photo was supposedly taken belore
a bombing demonstration held at Eglin AFB Proving Ground in Florida. (7th BombWing 8-36 Association)

A Photo Chronicle.Sl
i,ffi I l,::t:ilti:

basically idenlicaltolhe FB-36D Notice the circle X symbol on the tail, which signilios il asassigned lo the 5lh SFW and 15th Air Force. (Bodie colleclion)



lhe "unlled slat$ alr Force" letierlng on lhe fus€l5ge has b€€n replaced by much large lelt€rs. {Mede olmsied)

52. Gonvair 8-36


Seen here a 1957 flight to Wright

Patterson AFB, Ohio, carrying a
B-58 airframe attached to its
bomb bay, is B-36E 49-2677.The
propellers were removed on en-
gines #3 and #4 to acccomodate
the B-58, which was minus its
four J79 iet engines and other
equipment. lt was scheduled to
be torn apart in static structural
tests like the 8-36 had experi-
enced ten years earlier. B-36Fs
had more powerlul3,800 hpWasp
Major engines with a top speed
ol 417 mph, with a service ceiling
of 44,000 ft. (USAFiDon Bishop)

l-he B/R8-36H models, also with *d{.i;F}P",e

rrnproved 3,800 hp engines,
were lhe most produced of the
8-36 series. ln all, 156 examples
were built by Convair. Here B-
36H, 50-1092, is exhibited at a
Detroit air show on September
1, 1952. The triangle U symbol
on the tail indicates the plane is
from the 11th Bomb Wing, Bth
Air Force. (AAHS/William

A Photo Chronicle.53
Under guard at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, in May 1956, is RB-36H,51-13717.The
plane is lrom the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. Notice the three ECM anten-
nas are located as far back as possible to allow use ol the aft bomb bay when the RB-
36s' primary role changed to bombing. (Merle Olmsted)

ag.ind rhe ellecls ol a nuclear blast. (lre e Olmsled)

54. Convair 8-36

A 7th Bomb Wing 8-368 llying low over the Gulf of Mexico. Notice the shad-
ows on the water ol two other bombers in the formation. (7th Bomb Wing B-
36 Association)

SAC operations became global in nature. One

of six B-36s from the 7th BombWing is shown
here in the snow at Limestone (later Loring)
AFB in January 1951. This particular aircralt
is B-36D, 49-2652. All of the B-36s staged
through the Maine base for the overwater
llight to the United Kingdom. This airplane
earlier sported phoney markings in 1950
when it was going to be featured in the
aborted RKO motion picture, "High Frontier."

A Photo Ghronicle.S5
Lakenhealh. ll was lhe lirsl lihe a 8-36 was ever seen in Eurcpe. nussian diplomats in London w€re lmpre$ed wlth lts masslve slze. (USAR

B-36H, 52-1366, being refueled on the snow-covered f lightline at Loring

AFB. Notice the lethal AN/APG-32 tail gun system with the twin ra-
domes enclosed in a single cover. (USAF)

56. Convair 8-36


4*ii {
*nf4il$ s#*s

Huge hangar built at Rapid City Air Force Base (later Ellsworth AFB) in South Dakota. lt could easily accomodate two B-36s with room to spare. (Author's collection)


crash of a RB-36 in Nswioundland. (Author\ coll€clion)

A Photo Chronicle.ST
"GCA" ALL THE WAY. A little "humor" from the photo lab at Ellsworth AFB.
$. s. A':
" (USAFiRobert L. Bartlett)





I i:y:'t: i! t:N t:: I r:tt \,

i: ..

B-36D, 44-92065, originally a 9-368. Markings show it is as-

signed to the 92nd Bomb Wing at Fairchild AFB, Washington.
The circle W indicates 15th Air Force, and the W, 92nd BW. lt
also carries an "Alley Oop" cartoon figure on the nose be-
longing to the 3261h Bomb Squadron. (David Menard)

58. Convair 8-36

Carrying the markings of the 7th Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force in Sep-
lember 1950, this B-36D experienced two severe occurences during
its career. lt was {irst damaged in the tornado that ravaged the Carswell
flightline on September 1, 1952. Later, when assigned to the 95th Bomb
Wing, it crashed at El Paso,Texas, in 1954. One crewman was killed,
several injured. (USAF)

Fifteen man crew ol a 8-36 checking each other's equipment

during a pre-flight inspection prior to a 20 to 40 hour mission.

A Photo Chronicle.59
All the comforts ol home! Preparing breaklast aboard a 8-36, which had a small stove and oven. Later, during
"featherweighting," the galley was tossed out. (USAF)

ffi*B! t,,


The 23 man crew of a 72nd Bomb Wing R8-36 prepare for inspection
before boarding the aircraft. The 72nd was based at Ramey AFB,
Puerto Rico, the only 8-36 base located outside the continental United
States. (USAF/Jim Ballard)

60. Convair 8-36

An aerial view of Ramey AFB in the mid-lifties.Two RB-36s can be seen parked near the
base crash and rescue services building. Ramey was known as the "country club" of B-
36 bases due to its tropical location. (Richard "Pogo" Graf)

Head on view of B-36E #1064, revealing a second 8-36 from the 6th
Bomb Wing, Walker AFB, New Mexico, parked right behind it. Notice
these are featherweighted B-36Fs, as is evidenced, in part, by the lack
of nose turrets. (Thomas Gannon)

A Photo Chronicle.6l
Above: Dramatic shot ol a R8-36 from the 99th Strategic Reconnaissance
Wing in flight toYokota AFB, Japan, during a deployment in '1956. (James
W. Church)

Creating a cloud of dust, another R9-36 from Fairchild AFB backed into its
parking place after arrival at Yokota AFB. (James W. Church)

62. Convair 8-36

"Six Turnin' and Four Burnin"' personilied. B-86J, #2225, assigned
to the 11th Bomb Wing, at altitude over the Mediterranean during
the Lebanon crisis in 1956. This particular plane was also the win-
ner of the Fairchild Trophy for bombing accuracy in 1956. (Reginald
M. Beuttel, Jr.)

A flight of RB-36s lrom the 72nd Bomb Wing, returning

after a 1955 deployment to Turkey.The aircraft returned
singularly and rendezvoused near Puerto Rico to lorm
up and return in formation. Notice the blackened hori-
zontal stabilizers...oil from many hours of llying. (Rob-
ert M. Cameron)

A Photo Chronicle.63
Remains of 8-368, 44-92079, which crashed
into LakeWorth during a night take off on Sep-
tember 15, 1949. Five of the 13 crewmen were
killed. lt was the first crash of a 8-36 resulting
in fatalities. Notice the Convair factory in the
distance. (7th Bomb Wing 8-36 Association)


Two B-36s of the 7th Bomb Wing tossed into each other during the tornado that
struck Carswell AFB on September 1, 1952. A total of 106 planes were damaged,
including some across the f ield at the Convair plant. All B-36s, except one beyond
repair, were back in service by May 11, 1953. (USAF)

64. Convair 8-36

lit: i:i::



Not really an accident, but more of an embarassment,

RB-36H,51-13730, was tilted back on its tail by a gust
ol wind while on display at Chanute AFB, lllinoii, in
May 1957.Today,730, after relocation in 1991 to the
Castle Air Museum in central California, is back on
exhibit surrounded by aircraft contemporary to its era,
such as aB-47 and B-52. (George E. Mayer)

A Photo Chronicle.65

Aerial view of the Fort Worth
plant-estimated to be 1953 or
1954. Originally built by the U.S.
government, the mile-long fac-
tory first produced B-24s, then
B-32s for the war effort. 8-36
production was to last from
1947 through 1954. Over the
years, the plant has seen sev-
eral company names, including
Consolidated, Convair, General
Dynamics Convair Division,
Lockheed, and most recently,
Lockheed Martin. The 8-36 was
the largest airplane ever built
at the facility, and the huge
buildings have produced a
number of smaller size military
planes, such as the B-58, F-1 1 1 ,
and F-16 built in later years to
present. (San Diego Aerospace

66. Convair 8-36


Being towed at Lindbergh Field at
Convair San Diego, RB-36D, 49- NdSTJ'WII$
2695, has completed maintenance
in the SAM-SAC program. Se-
quence numbers on the nose indi-
cate it is the 119th plane built at
FortWorth and the TBth to undergo
SAM-SAC mainlenance and equip-
ment updating. This particular
plane would later be modified into
one of the ten GRB-36s assigned
to the 99th Strategic Reconnais-
sance Wing. (Convair)

_%d ,Wwy-

Dramatic mass flyover ol Carswell B-36s and military parade

sequence from Convair-produced documentary lilm, "Target:
Peace." lt premiered at the Spreckels Theaier in San Diego on
October 19,'l949.The film showed the American public the gi-
ant 8-36 bomber for the first time and explained its role in help-
ing keep the nation at peace. (San Diego Aerospace Museum)

A Photo Chronicle.6T
"" !1l!!".s
" .e -d*WficFrsr's

68. Convair 8-36

"Star," of the Paramount film, "Strategic Air Command," B-36H, 51-5734. Plane was from the 26th Bomb
Squadron, 11th BombWing. Actually two other B-36s were also painted with number 5734 (for backup) at
one time. (USAF)

5734 (in foreground) on the flightline at Carswell AFB, Texas, where most of the
Opposite: Two views of B-36D, 49-2652, which was going to
8-36 sequences were f ilmed for the 1955 motion picture, "Strategic Air Command."
be used in the RKO film, "High Frontier"-starring Richard
A 7th Bomb Wing 8-36 is being refueled in the background. (Author's collection)
Widmark, Fred MacMurray, Claude Rains and Ann Blyth. Most
of the markings were false, such as the triangle L on the tail
(There was no bomb wing identified with the letter L). Although
the serial number on the tail lin is accurate, the 001 buzz num-
ber does not match. The 18th Air Force emblem on the tail is
fictional, and finally, the unit badge on the nose is fake, too.
Russian spies must have been confused! (RKO/Walter

A Photo Chronicle.69
Actor Jimmy Stewart watches Harry Morgan monitor the llight engineer's instruments, while
Barry Sullivan, as co-pilot, reads the check-off list prior to take off.

lhis manner in order lor rhe rail ro cler the top ol tho dooruay. Dellveryol2S2T completed SACg 836 ileel and ended an era. (cen€rat DynamicscoMir)

70. Gonvair 8-36

Almost five years laler,2827 was flown to Amon Carter Field in Fort Worth from Biggs
AFB for retirement ceremonies on February 12, 1959. lt was the last SAC 8-36 mission
ever flown. (General Dynamics Convair)


A Photo Chronicle.Tl
smellered down io aluninum ingots. Byea y 1961 they allwere gone. (USAF)



! ;. ;

, Ntl
tiii ;,, ... .,,,.; rili;[ir:r;t,.' , r.:,Ii;li j,:t r; ;;. ;;,,,.

Flying into the wild blue yonder for a final flight, a B-36J heads north and eastward from Davis Monthan to the Air
Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.The llight took place on April 30, 1959, and was the very last time a 8-36 was ever
seen or heard in the skies over America and the rest of the World. (Author's collection)

Wasp Malor engine being removed trom a 8-36

undergoing reclamation in April 1957 at Davis
Monthan. The R-4360s could still be used on
other Air Force aircraft, such as the C-124
Globemaster. (MASDCiScott Deaver)

72. Convair 8-36

* .d.- Model ol proposed commercial trans-
aaaa a raaaaaa port version of the B-36, called Convair
atrlfattlltl Model 37, like the XC-99, it would use
the same wing, engines, and landing
araltllaaal{l gear of the bomber, but would have
had a double-deck fuselage and taller
tail. Pan Am originally ordered 15 air-
liners in 1945, but took options on only
three, linally canceling altogether.The
plane was designed to carry 204 pas-
sengers and B tons ol cargo between
London and New York in only nine

,t,,,',,1' I hours. (Consolidated Aircraft Corpo-


The XC-99 cargo/transport under construction at Convair San Diego's plant in 1947.The
double-deck fuselage was built in San Diego, with the wing, engines, and landing gear
shipped from Fort Worth. The engines installed were the same 3,000 hp Wasp Majors as
on the XB-36. As a troop carrier, the XC-99 was to transport 400 lully combat equipped
soldiers. As a cargo plane, it was designed to carry 100,000 pounds of cargo on its two
interior decks. (San Diego Aerospace Museum)

A Photo Chronicle.T3
The XC-99, 43-52436, taking olf from San Diego's Lindbergh Field in December 1947. lt
2. DIHEDT.AL first flew, for nearly three hours, on November 24th-piloted by Russell R. Rogers and
Beryl Erickson, the XB-36's original pilot. Notice the XC-99 used the same single wheel
main landing gear as the XB and YB-36 prototypes. (Convair)

no.r Dla. n^Arr.l wnttLs

ood6oo n ---\

3-view drawing ol Model 37/XC-99's configuration. Basic dimensions were: wingspan 230
ft. (same as the 8-36), fuselage 182 ft. 6 in, luselage height 20 ft. 6 in, height of tail 57 ft. 6
- in. At the time it was the largest landplane in the world, a contemporary of the Hughes
Flying Boat-the largest seaplane ever built. Not until the appearance of the C-5A and the
AAODEL 37 747 did the XC-99 shrink a little in size. (San Diego Aerospace Museum)

74. Convair 8-36


4\ t :! t.t \: ti th itkw wrftWryff W: : -i.t I i i,|lwflia !

t! ili t :


Srrt 1'o


Aircmfl/San Dleso Aercspace Museum)

Clean lines of the XC-99 are evident in this photograph

taken over the sea off the southem California coast.

A Photo Chronicle.T5
wllh lhisgear in January 1949. (san Diego Aercspi@ Mlseum)

76. Convair 8-36

Flight deck of the XC-99. An Air Force crew usually was eight men, including two rear
scanners to monitor powerplants in llight. Notice position of the llight engineer and
large center control console that could be reached by him. (Edwards AFB Oflice ol


o '*
\hi' :.h
'"1't I

: I i : ::i:: ll,,tl. ;iii4

The XC-99 near the end of its glory
days in 1955. A radome has been
added to the nose and white anti-
thermal paint to the top ol the nose
seclion to reduce heat. During the
7,400 hours that the XC-99 was
flown, it broke 21 international
records for cargo-carrying aircralt.
Though the XC-99's record was im-
pressive, it never achieved a pro-
duction contract trom the Air Force.
After nearly eight years of service
operating out of Kelly AFB, San
Antonio, Texas, the XC-99 was re-
tired in March 1957.Today, the XC-
99 is stored at Kelly AFB, needing
restoration work and a new mu-
seum home. (Author's collection)

A Photo Chronicle.TT
(san Dleso Aerosp.ce Museum)

The Y8-60 prototype in llight. lt

was, at the time, the largest iet air-
plane in the world. Boeing's Dash
B0 and the XB-52 prototype were
both smaller in size.Wingspan was
206 ft, luselage length 171 ft. and
tail height 60 ft. 5 in. Gross weight
was 410,000 lbs, the same as lhe
B-36J. Only the forward crew com-
partment was retained, allowing a
crew of live: pilot, co-pilot, naviga-
tor, bombardier/radar operator, and
radio operator/tail gunner. Bomb
load was about the same as a 8-36.
Convair crews llew theY8-60 some
66 hours accumulated in 20Ilights.

78. Convair 8-36

program was abruplly canceled on January 20th. Tho perbrmance of lhe YB{o was disappoinling; lop speed was 508 mph, some 100 mph slower lhan lhe B-52. The second YB-60 never
received ltg engines and was scrapped withoul ever being llown. Both planes were cut up at Cor 6ir in July 1954. (Edw.rds AFB Ollie of History)



Nolice the open he y-shielded Ecape h.tch on top ol the cEw compartment. (CoNair/Nrlion.l Atomic MGeum)

A Photo Chronicle.T9
Operating mainly over re-
mote, unpopulated areas of
New Mexico and Texas, the
reactor never actually pow-
ered the NB-36H. A closed-cir-
cuit television system moni-
tored the reactor and the
plane's ten engines in flight.
flights were made
A total of 47
by the plane, nicknamed the
"Convair Crusader," from
September'17, 1955, to March
28, 1957. Notice the circular
radiation symbol on the tail,
and the air scoop for reactor
cooling on each side of the
rear fuselage. (General Dy-
namics Convair)

The NB-36H designation, with the letter "N" prefix, did not stand for "nuclear,', but rather
for an aircraft permanently modified for test purposes, and after the tests were com-
pleted, it would not be returned to its original configuration. Exact disposition of the NB-
36H is not known, but it was scrapped in 1957. Rumors of its burial in a Nevada mineshaft
have recently surfaced, and the radioactive site is planned to be inspected by the Depart-
ment of Energy as part of its cleanup plan. lt will not be studied until after the year 2001
due to its low priority. (Convair)

80. Gonvair 8-36


:ir lj, il"*ta.

. !, i':LT.:t :;,,!.!:!.:::i

and rcconnaissance jsrs by having rhem operate as paEsiles lrom 8-36 bombers deslEnaled GRB369. Here GBB-36D 49-2696 loads a BF-84F,51-1847 which was lhe reconnais-

most oten Ende4ou*d wirh the mothershlp afler lake otl. (aclrE)

A Photo Chronicle.Sl
Ten GRB-36Ds with cradle mechanisms to receive RF-B4Ks in llight
were teamed up with 25 RF-84KS from the 91st Strategic Reconnais-
sance Squadron at Larson AFB,Washington.The GRB-36Ds were also
based in Washington at nearby Fairchild AFB with the 99th Strategic
Reconnaissance Wing. On a typical mission, the GRB-36 carried the
fighter out to a 2,810 mile radius and launched the parasite at an alti-
tude of 25,000 lt. The RF-84K then could make a high-speed photo run.
The parasite could be picked up in mid-air, or while enroute to the
target area. Night operations were possible, but more risky. (General
Dynamic Convair)

Close-up ol the retrieving cradle on the prototype GRB-36F, 49-2702. Notice proto-
typeYRF-84F,49-2430 modified with a latch-hook and downturned tail surfaces. Once
attached and partially retracted into the modilied bomb bay, the pilot ol a RF-B K
could climb out of his plane and enter the GRB-36D in llight. He could then change
film, cameras, reluel, or even use the toilet facilities. However, this teaming arrange-
ment ol the 99th SRW and 91st SRS was discontinued after less than a year of opera-
tions in mid-1956.Withdrawal of the GR8-36D/RF-84K composite coincided with the
introduction of the Lockheed U-2 spyplane into service. (General Dynamics Convair)

82. Convair 8-36

ProjectTOM-TOM was another approach to the parasite fighter program started
alter FICON had begun. F-84s were to be towed by means of wingtip hook'up
attachments. Some of the advantages were: to provide improved penetration
into a target area; being able to strike multiple targets; and being able to place
more bombs on a single specified target. Shown here is a RF-B4F making a
successful wingtip docking with GR8-36F, 49-2707. However, the inherent dan'
ger involved in coupling the two aircraft eventually led to the cancellation of
the program in 1953. (Convair/Dave Menard)

Probably the most distinctive feature ol the 8-36 Peacemaker was its mas-
sive size, dwarfing all other production aircraft ol its era. Consequently, it
was easy to see why the 8-36 was olten compared in publicity photos
posed with a smaller plane to dramatically show olf the Air Force's giant
r:;;M{ new bomber. Here in the north yard at Convair Fort Worth, the XB-36 dis-
plays its unique nose profile in comparison with a civilian lightplane.With
wings removed, several such lightplanes could easily be accomodated in
the B-36's bomb bays. (David Anderton)

A Photo Ghronicle.S3

span ol the c-87 was 110 fi, aboutthe size ot iusl one ol lhe 8-365 huge winqs. (usaF)

84. Convair 8-36

# \l

photosraph. (conv.h)





Another lightplane, looking like a toy, rests under a wing

of 9-368, 44-92039, at a 1948 airshow. (David Menard)

A Photo Chronicle.S5
,-,,-,,*,ffi a

Special group photo ol Air Force bombers from the 1930s through the 1950s: a Douglas B-18 "8o1o,"
the 8-36 "Peacemaker" dominating the group portrait with a 230 ft. wingspan. (USAF)

86. Convair 8-36


sth Strategic Beconnaissance Wing {later Bomb Wing), Travis AFB, California. 42nd Bomb Wing, Loring AFB, Maine.
Squadrons were the 23rd, 31st and 72nd Bomb Squadron. January 9, | 951 , to Squadrons were lhe 69th,70th and 75th Bomb Squadron. April 1,1953toSep-
September 30, 1958. tember 15, 1956.
TAIL CODE: CIRCLE X. Circle was 15th Air Force, X identilied the 51h SRWBW IAIL CODE: Notailcode assigned, as lhe code was phased outin 1953.

6th Bomb Wing, Walker AFB, New Mexico. 72nd Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (later Bomb Wing), Ramey AFB, Puerto
Squadrons were the 24th, 39th and 40th Bomb Squadron. August 28, 1952 to Rico.
August 27,1957. Squadrons were the 60th, 73rd and 301st Bomb Squadron. October 27, 1952 to
TAIL CODE: TRIANGLE R (unverified). niangle was 8th Air Force, R identified January1,1959.
the 6th BW. TAIL CODE: SQUARE F. Square was 2nd Air Force, F identified the 72nd SRW/
7th Bomb Wing, Carswell AFB, Texas.
Squadrons were the gth, 436th and 492nd Bomb Squadron. June 26, 1948 to 92nd BombWing, Fairchild AFB, Washington.
May 30, 1958 Squadrons were the 325th,326th and 327th Bomb Squadron. July 29, 195'1 to
TAIL CODE: TRIANGLE J. Triangle was 8th Air Force, J identified the 7th Bomb March 25, 1956
Wing. TAIL CODE: CIRCLE W. Circle was 15th Air Force, W identified 92nd Bomb Wing.

11th Bomb Wing, Carswell AFB, Texas. 95th Bomb Wing, Biggs AFB, Texas.
Squadrons were the 26th,42nd and 98lh Bomb Squadon December 1, 1948 to Squadrons were 334th,335th and 336th Bomb Squadron. August31,1953to
December 13, 1957. February 12,1959.
TAIL CODE: TRIANGLE u. Triangle was 8th Air Force, U identifiedthe 11th Bomb TAIL CODE: No tailcode assigned as the code was phased out in 1953.
Wing ggth strategic Reconnaissance wing (later Bomb Wing), Fairchild AFB, washing-
28th Shategic Reconnaissance Wing (later Bomb Wing), Ellsworth AFB, South ton
Dakota. Squadrons were the 346th, 3471h and 348th Bomb Squadron. August 1 , 1951 to
Squadrons were the 72nd,717th and 718th Bomb Squadron. July 13, 1949 to September4,
May 29, 1957. 1956. TAIL CODE: CIRCLE I Circle was 15th Air Force, I identified the 99th SRW/
TAIL CODE:TRIANGLE S. Triangle was 8th Air Force, S identified the 28th SRW BW.

A Photo Chronicle.ST
Serial numbers Quantity Model Remarks
Like all military aircraft, the 8-36 had its share of
42-13570 1 XB-36 Prototype accidents and losses. Normal development problems
42-13571 1 YB-36 Modified to R8-36E standard. and the demand of SAC operations took their toll. By
44-92004t92025 22 B-36A All but 004 modified to RB-36E. the end of the ten year service life of the Peacemaker,
44-92026t92098 73 B-36B 32 planes had been destroyed in various mishaps,22
49-2647/2668 22 B-36D of which were flying accidents or crashes. Tragically,
49-2669t2675 7 B-36F 176 officers and crewmen lost their lives.
49-2676 1 YB-36G Later redesignated YB-60. 8-36 accidents should not be singled out for spe-
49-2677t2683 7 8.36F cial attention, since other bomber programs that were
49-2684 1 YB 36G Later redesignated YB-60. contemporary with the 8-36 had their own tragic
49-2685 1 B-36F losses. Considering the large amount of flying time
49-2686/2702 17 R8-36D accumulated by the 8-36 during training missions that
49-2703t2721 19 RB-36F could be 20 to 40 hours in length, the loss rate per
50-'1064/1082 '19
B-36F hour Jlown was certainly better than average. Most B-
50-1 083/1 097 15 B-36H 36 pilots and crewmen considered the 8-36 a very
50-1 098/1 1 02 5 RB-36F safe airplane to fly.
50-1 103/1 1 '10 B RB-36H To a large extent, the number of accidents per B-
51-5699t5742 44 B-36H 51 -57 12 redesignated N8-36H 36 unit reflected the length of time the unit was active
51-5743/5756 14 R8-36H and when it began operations. The 7th and 1 1th Bomb
51-13717t13741 25 RB-36H Wings at Carswell AFB had the 8-36 for almost a de-
52-1343t1366 24 B-36H cade and were the first units to get the plane, putting
52-1367t1392 26 RB-36H it through its earliest trials. They consequently had a
52-2210t2226 17 B-36J greater share of mishaps. At the other end, the 72nd
52-2812t2827 16 B-36J SRWBW at Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico, active for
less than 7 years, only had a single ground accident
TOTAL 385 aircraft loss. Notably, the 99th SRW/BW at Fairchild AFB,
active for less than 6 years, was the only wing to never
have a major accident.

88. Convair 8-36

Convoir 8-36 Peocemoker A Photo Chronicle explores the history of the Strotegic
Air Commond's biggest bomber thot helped keep the peoce during the eorly
yeors of the Cold Wor, The six-engined 8-36 - loter ten engine - wos the the first
intercontinentol bomber thot could fly ocross continents, hit its torget ond return to
bose unrefueled - long o dreom of oir plonners, Presented here through the use of
historicol photogrophs is the history of this mognificent oirplone, from its origin just
prior to Americo's entry into World Wor ll in 194.l, to its finol doys in .l959 when its
lost missions were flown, This book will give the reoder o concise overview of the
story of the Peocemoker in the I 94Os- I 950s. A seriol number listing is included, os
well os o list of oll ten 8-36 bomb wings.

A SCHIFFER MILITARY HISTORY BOOK l|]tllflllilllltt]Uffll [iriliuq

ISBN: 0-?bq3097r-t-9