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  15 Votes (4.73 Average) and 5,186 Views  

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Unknown/Generic Undesignated (52-2827)


Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ, 21 Apr 18. More from their website:

Manufacturer: CONVAIR
Markings: 95th Bomb Wing, Biggs AFB, El Paso, Texas
Designation: B-36J
Serial Number: 52-2827


The B-36 is the largest bomber and the last piston engine powered bomber produced by the United States. First designed to meet a World War II requirement for a plane capable of hitting targets in Germany from bases in the United States the prototype did not fly until August 8, 1946. The development of the atomic bomb led the Air Force to conclude that it still needed a very long-range bomber capable of delivering the bombs over intercontinental ranges and production of the B-36 was continued despite the end of the war a year earlier. A total of 383 Peacemakers were built between 1947 and 1954. The era of piston engine powered bombers was coming to a quick end with the introduction of the all jet B-47 and B-52. The B-36 was the symbol of American air power in the first years of the Cold War, but even the addition of four jet engines could not bring the B-36 up to the performance standards of the newer aircraft and all of the B-36s were out of service by the first months of 1959.


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Greg ByingtonPhoto Uploader
Here are some of the specs for the B-36:


Wingspan: 230 ft
Length: 162 ft 1 in
Height: 46 ft 9 in
Weight: 410,000 lbs (loaded)
Max. Speed: 435 mph
Service Ceiling: 45,700 ft
Range: 10,000 miles
Engines: 4× General Electric J47 turbojet, 5,200 lbf (23.2 kN) each, and 6× Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 "Wasp Major" radial engine, 3,800 hp (2,835 kW) each
Crew: 13

Greg - I recall once reading in the mid to late 1960's that the idea of resurrecting a B-36 into flying condition was being seriously considered when the Boeing 747 was being developed and tested. This was for the express purpose of training pilots in landings, takeoffs, and ground handling familiarity of a very large aircraft and one where the cockpit was elevated above ground level to such a height. Perhaps nothing else was comparable... but alas, as we know now, this evidently never happened.
Greg ByingtonPhoto Uploader
I hadn't heard that before, Cliff. That's pretty interesting. I guess it might have made sense at the time. It's probably just as well, though. The 747 was/is way ahead of the B-36.
Greg - I recall reading/hearing that back in the days preceding the Boeing 747's actual acceptance and entry into scheduled airline passenger service. I'll presume that all possibilities were being considered at that time for suitable training of the pilots for such a new and large airliner of this size and an aircraft with its flight deck so high above the runway. This part and the ground handling presented unique challenges to the airlines at the time... :-)

I will surmise the Davis Monthan AFB "Boneyard" still had some Convair B-36 aircraft in storage back then that were "available" for such.

Likely the real cost of doing this quickly eliminated such an idea from more serious consideration... including the tremendous operational expense too!
Greg ByingtonPhoto Uploader
Thanks, Cliff. I hadn't really thought about it before. It does make some sense, though.
Chris Collinsworth
Id love to be able and go back to hear one of these taking off.
Greg ByingtonPhoto Uploader
Chris, that would really be something to experience! I read a comment somewhere indicating the it was VERY loud. There is an old Jimmy Stewart movie with him as a B-36 pilot, and maybe some of the audio there might give you an idea of what it was like.
Greg and Chris - that movie is named "Strategic Air Command" and does indeed provide an indication of the sound of a Convair B-36 passing overhead. The movie is currently available via Amazon Prime streaming video.

As to that unique sound, it must be those six massive radial recip powered "pusher" props contributing to this. The Piaggio P.180 Avanti sounds much unlike a Beech King Air when passing overhead and both are turboprops... albeit, the former is a "pusher" type and the latter is a conventional "tractor" type.
Greg ByingtonPhoto Uploader
More from Joe Baugher:

Convair B-36J-10-CF Peacemaker

52-2827 (MSN 383) was last B-36 built. Featherweight Configuration III. ‘Dear John’ / ‘The End.’ Delivered to USAF 14Aug54. 92nd Bombardment Wing, Fairchild AFB, Spokane, WA Was last operational B-36, retired from 95th BW at Biggs AFB, TX Feb 12, 1959 . USAF Museum Loan Program; on loan to the city of Fort Worth, TX. Flown to Amon Carter Field, later Greater Southwest Airport, Fort Worth, Texas 12Feb59. Named ‘City of Fort Worth’. It was displayed from 1959 until the late 1970s, when it was moved to Southwest Aero Museum. Exposed to the extremes of Texas weather, the giant aircraft slowly deteriorated. In the early 1990s the aircraft was disassembled and moved indoors to hangar space at the factory where it was built, donated by Lockheed Aircraft. A group of dedicated volunteers, many of them retired Convair employees who had worked on the original B-36 assembly line, spent 40,000 man-hours restoring the plane. The aircraft is owned by the National Museum of the United States Air Force but was on loan to the B-36 Peacemaker Museum. In 2006, it was agreed that the Peacemaker Museum did not have the proper resources to restore and exhibit the aircraft, and the aircraft was trucked to the Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona where it was restored and is currently exhibited.
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