Military Review

Bomber Convair B-36 "Peacemaker"

Convair B-36 was originally conceived as a real super bomber. This is an American intercontinental bomber, which forever took its place in stories. Firstly, this bomber became the world's first intercontinental carrier of nuclear weapons. It was with the Convair B-36 bomber that the notion of a global nuclear war entered our lives, and gradually the understanding that there could be no winner in such a war began to penetrate the minds of world politicians. Perhaps that is why this bomber got its unofficial nickname “Peacemaker” (“Peacemaker”). Secondly, this machine has become one of the largest ever built among all combat aircraft: the largest wingspan and height. At the time of its creation, this aircraft was only inferior in size to the famous Hercules flying boat created by Howard Hughes.

The B-36 became the first bomber in the world to fly intercontinental range. This interesting aircraft was designed and produced by Convair in response to the technical requirements of the US Air Corps command, which were prepared on April 11, 1941. The military demanded to create a combat aircraft that would have a maximum bomb load of 32 659 kg. This aircraft should have started from aviation bases located in the United States, deliver 4536 kg of bomb load to targets in Europe.

The main requirement of the military was the range without refueling, which should have been at least 16 093 km, in addition, it was necessary to ensure the flight speed within 386-483 km / h and a practical ceiling of at least 10 670 meters. Of the four proposed aircraft projects, the US military opted for the Model 36, which was distinguished by an airtight fuselage and a wing root with a thickness of 1,83 meter, which provided access during the flight to the power plant, which consisted of 6 piston engines with pushing screws. Initially, the project provided for a two-tail tail, but by the time the XB-36 prototype was fully assembled and ready for rollout from the Fort Worth workshop (September 8 1945), the bomber had one tail fin.

The XB-36 bomber prototype climbed into the sky 8 August 1946 of the year, the car differed with one-wheeled carts of the main landing gear. The second aircraft, designated YB-36, also intended for testing, initially had one-wheeled carts, but later they were replaced by four-wheeled ones, which became standard and on serial bomber. The upgraded version of the aircraft received the designation YB-36A, it differed from the XB-36 exterior shape of the cockpit canopy, which stood for the contours of the aircraft fuselage, the engines on which the modified turbochargers were installed, and the fact that the design of the fuselage and the wing were installed connectors, and also was installed radar.

Even 23 July 1943, the company Convair received a government order for 100 bombers, but only through 4 of the year, 28 August 1947 of the year, the first of the 22 production aircraft B-36A in the unarmed version of the training aircraft, intended for training crews, was able to make his first flight. Serial production of the B-36 bomber, nicknamed Peacemaker, lasted almost 7 years. The last aircraft built was handed over to the US Air Force Strategic Command 14 August 1954, and already 12 February 1959, the last such intercontinental bomber was decommissioned.

When creating the aircraft, the most attention was paid to the achievement of intercontinental flight range. The designers were well aware that the flight range is proportional to the aerodynamic quality of the bomber, the relative mass of its fuel and is inversely proportional to its specific consumption. In order to maximize the aerodynamic quality in the project of the future strategic bomber B-36 Peacemaker, it was decided to use a large elongation wing with laminar profiles. To reduce the level of drag, it was decided to install the engines inside the wing and use pushing screws. The smooth surface of the bomber's fuselage was also not disturbed by any protruding detail; the cockpit was inscribed in its contour, and it was decided to make all defensive installations with twin automatic 20-mm cannons retractable. According to the manufacturer, the aerodynamic quality of the bomber reached 21 units, which was significantly higher than all the bombers of those years. For example, the best American bomber from the Second World War "Boeing" B-29, the figure was 19,1.

To improve the weight perfection of the bomber, the most modern high-strength aluminum alloys 75ST at that time were widely used in its design, and the less important nodes used magnesium alloys AN-M-29. Among other things, about half of the fuselage skin was made of magnesium alloy, for this reason Magnesium Monster was one of the unofficial nicknames of the future B-36 bomber. The total mass of magnesium parts was up to 10% of the total mass of the airframe. In this case, the entire stock of fuel was located in the wing tanks compartments. The wing of the bomber, whose deflection under load reached two meters, was calculated by the designers as a dynamically elastic structure, which at the time was an innovation.

In addition to the intercontinental flight range, another rather difficult requirement of the US military was a huge bomb load. When technical requirements for the bomber were being developed, there was still more than one year before the start of the now famous Manhattan project, and it was possible to increase the strike power of the aircraft so that it could solve strategic tasks, it was only possible by taking on a large number of ordinary bombs. In order to accommodate the specified 32 660 kg bombs, the designers had to design a bomb bay longer than 20 meters and a diameter of about 3 meters. This bomb bay also defined other dimensions of the aircraft, in particular, its famous wingspan of 70 meters.

A sufficiently long bomb bay made it necessary to expand the range of permissible CGs. For this purpose, the wing of the aircraft was given a slight sweep. At the same time, the total volume of the bomb compartment, which was conventionally divided into 4 sections, was 68% of the total volume of the bomber fuselage. Very large cutouts for bomb bays forced the designers to partially abandon the semi-monocoque fuselage design generally accepted in those years. The middle part of the fuselage, located between the two pressurized cabins, was a truss structure with a light magnesium skin. The large size of the aircraft and, therefore, a very large take-off weight exceeding 140 tons, required the designers to use 6 of the most powerful engines at that time - 28-cylinder four-row Pratt & Whitney R-4360-25 air-cooled. At the same time, it was possible to design a booster-free control system for the giant bomber, which was a unique achievement of American aircraft designers.

The serial production of Convair B-36 bombers continued through 14 August 1954, and significantly exceeded the initial order for 100 aircraft. A total of different types of 383 bomber was manufactured. At the same time, the bombers of all modifications, starting with the Convair B-36D model, were equipped with 4 additional jet engines of the company General Electric J47-GE-19, which had 2720 kgf each. As a result, the B-36 bomber holds an unsurpassed record as the aircraft on which 10 engines of two fundamentally different types were installed.

At the same time, jet engines were decided to use only during two phases of the flight - during takeoff and climb, as well as for acceleration and additional climb directly above the target. All the rest of the time, which made up most of the entire flight, these engines remained off. In this regard, the designers had to modify the anti-icing system, connecting the engine and pylon heating to the general aircraft system, otherwise the engines could simply become covered with ice. In addition, the bow cones of the turbofan engines received special sash with electric drive, which in the open position blocked the entrance channel when the engines were turned off. This solution improved the aerodynamics of the aircraft during cruising speeds.

Initially, the Convair B-36 bombers were intended exclusively for "carpet" bombing using conventional high-explosive and incendiary bombs. For this, the aircraft received a huge bomb bay, conditionally divided into parts. Two compartments were located in front of the wing, and two more behind him. In addition, special racks with locks were installed on the main farms of the fuselage, on which, if necessary, it was possible to mount different models of bomb racks. At the top of the bomb bay there were power jumpers, which made it possible to fix the blocks and hoists for the suspension of heavy ammunition.

The nomenclature of the weapons used was very diverse, it included 67 items of various high-explosive, chemical and nuclear bombs and even several types of naval air mines. Bombers Convair B-36 could take on board the entire arsenal of atomic and hydrogen bombs of that period of time. We are talking about the first generation of nuclear weapons, the weight of such bombs did not exceed 5 tons. It was with such a bomb load that the plane could reach its intercontinental flight range, maximum speed and maximum ceiling, which are indicated in numerous reference books. With a maximum load of 32 600 kg, the flight range was significantly reduced. With such a bomb load the plane could not reach the territory of the Soviet Union. At the same time, using the airfields in Alaska, Great Britain, Greenland, or Guam, the Convair B-36 bomber could carry a rather heavy load to the USSR.

With the introduction of US-made B-52 airplanes by the end of 1950, the B-36 was becoming obsolete, and almost all of the vehicles were soon sent for scrap. This was facilitated by the relatively low reliability and complexity of maintenance of piston engines in comparison with gas turbine engines. The power plant B-36, consisting of 6-and screw and 4-x jet engines, had the nickname "six are spinning, four are burning." Due to frequent fires and general insecurity at the suggestion of the crews of the bombers, this formula was changed to the following: “two are spinning, two are burning, two are smoking, two are pinned, and two more have gone somewhere”.

B-36 aircraft never participated in real combat, but were widely used as reconnaissance aircraft (modification RB-36). The huge size of the bomber made it possible to install high-resolution cameras on it, and the high altitude made the aircraft unattainable for fighters and anti-aircraft artillery of those years. It is assumed that at the beginning of the 1950-s RB-36 made at least several reconnaissance flights over the territory of the USSR and the PRC. In addition, the machine was used in a number of experiments. For example, a specially converted bomber, designated as NB-36H, flew with a nuclear reactor operating on board as part of its development program. The purpose of this experiment was to study the effect of radiation on the system of the aircraft and its crew. In the end, work on the development of aircraft with a nuclear power plant did not receive development.

And although the B-36 bomber was never used for its intended purpose, he managed to perform a "bombing", which almost ended in disaster. It is worth noting that such episodes for the United States were not uncommon. Since 1950's, there have been 32 accidents with strategic nuclear weapons, of which 5 could have resulted in a real nuclear explosion. In one of these episodes, and participated 22 in May 1957, the bomber B-36. The plane was carrying a thermonuclear bomb from the Biggs airbase to the Kirtland airbase, located in New Mexico. When approaching the final point of its route, the bomb, the type of which was not named, simply fell out of the plane. The ammunition landed in 7 kilometers from the control tower of the Kirtland air base and only 500 meters from the Sandia nuclear weapons stockpile. The fall resulted in the detonation of a conventional explosive bomb, which in normal conditions initiates the detonation process of the plutonium nucleus. A nuclear explosion did not occur then, but a funnel with a diameter of 7,6 meter and a depth of 3,7 meter was formed at the site of the fall of the strategic ammunition.

Flight technical characteristics of Convair B-36 J-III:
Overall dimensions: length - 49,4 m, height - 14,25 m, wing span - 70,1 m, wing area - 443,3 m2.
Empty weight - 77 580 kg.
Curb weight - 120 700 kg.
Maximum take-off weight - 190 000 kg.
Power plant - 6 Pratt & Whitney piston engines with 3800 hp each. each. Additionally, 4 General Electric turbojet engines were installed with a capacity of 23 kN each.
Maximum flight speed - 685 km / h (turbojets included).
Cruising flight speed - 380 km / h (turbojets are off).
Flight range - 11 000 km with a payload of 4535 kg.
Ferrying range - 16 000 km.
Practical ceiling - 15 000 m.
Gun armament - 16x20-mm automatic guns M24A1
Bomb load - up to 39 010 kg.
Crew - 9 man.

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  1. PlotnikoffDD
    PlotnikoffDD 12 October 2015 07: 39
    False modesty did not stop to choose a less pathos name for the aircraft.
  2. Zaurbek
    Zaurbek 12 October 2015 07: 42
    Beautiful device!
  3. Bongo
    Bongo 12 October 2015 07: 53
    A couple of years ago on "VO" there was a much more detailed article: "Convair B-36 long-range strategic bomber of the United States"
  4. Technologist
    Technologist 12 October 2015 09: 18
    An interesting car, the engineers worked hard. In the years 50-60. There were many interesting devices, both with us and with us.
    1. The comment was deleted.
    2. gjv
      gjv 12 October 2015 09: 58
      Here is an interesting device ...

      For one test flight, 350 modes are tested on the machine. The overall performance of aircraft systems, engines, airborne and radar equipment is checked. The flight qualities of the machine are checked at extremely low and maximally high altitudes in supersonic mode.
      1. yehat
        yehat 12 October 2015 11: 02
        Su34 is considered a controversial machine - there are complaints about the fighter roots of the machine, and the layout still requires verification to prove its effectiveness.
        1. The comment was deleted.
        2. gjv
          gjv 12 October 2015 12: 10
          Quote: yehat
          Su34 is considered a controversial machine - there are claims to the exterminating roots of the machine

          What circles are arguing about? Maybe being in the KVO to make complaints?
      2. aws4
        aws4 13 October 2015 22: 54
        but what is it ???? I don’t understand WHY you wrote it and dragged su 34 ????? I would understand if at the same time our designers created something similar and no less interesting and you would write it .... sorry dear gjv, I did not understand you ....
  5. gregor6549
    gregor6549 12 October 2015 12: 23
    The people, where does SU34? We are talking about a car the creation of which began back in the years of 2 World War, moreover, the car is very unique for its time and also has excellent performance characteristics for a long-distance bomber of that time. So why joke? Indeed, in the USSR in those same years there was nothing better than TU4, which at 95% was a copy of the American B29 could not be createdТ-4
    And the Sukhoi design bureau became famous mainly after one of the captured American Sabers was handed over to Sukhoi for comprehensive study and copying. Fortunately, they refused to copy Saber then, but familiarity with the technical solutions implemented in Sabers made it possible to raise the technical level of the Sukhoi Design Bureau above the level of other Soviet aviation design bureaus.
    1. Bayonet
      Bayonet 12 October 2015 12: 39
      Quote: gregor6549
      The people, where does the SU34?

      How? They dared to lay out an article about the American car, but this is not patriotic! Shit is your B – 36, but our Su – 34 is a thing! smile
      1. fa2998
        fa2998 12 October 2015 21: 10
        And you Bayonet re-read your message, and determine whether you are serious or joking. If this is sarcasm, accept my apologies! hi
    2. yehat
      yehat 13 October 2015 19: 46
      and what is unique about this car? It combined the pre-war developments, as well as the experience in the production and operation of fortresses. I see absolutely nothing unique in this, except for the uniqueness of the design itself, but, strangely enough, almost all planes differ in the same way. The designers simply took the old ideas and made a large plane based on them. About the uniqueness of the wing in a lie article - these solutions were used earlier on smaller or older machines.
  6. Alexey RA
    Alexey RA 12 October 2015 12: 36
    Looking at this bomber, only one thing comes to mind: "Every embodiment of an idea reaches perfection, to the moment when the idea itself falls into decay.". (paraphrasing SN Parkinson).

    B-36, the quintessence of piston strategic bomber aviation, was born and went into the series at the moment when the first stratosucker of the jet era - B-47 - was already stepping on its tail.
  7. Leeder
    Leeder 12 October 2015 13: 34
    That’s what Americans cannot take away, it’s the ability to keep a story. Ours to learn ...
  8. FID
    FID 12 October 2015 13: 58
    Tu-95 is a contemporary of that era ... B-52, modernized, re-motorized, etc. etc. fly and at least that ... But our "couch strategists" will go on .... claiming "obsolescence" or "obsolescence" of our aircraft. It becomes somewhat sad from these statements ...
    1. yehat
      yehat 13 October 2015 19: 52
      in fairness,
      Tu-95 at the time of the beginning of the "peacemaker" service was not yet the famous complex that is now known. He was not even in the sketch and he appeared when the American was living out his last year of service.
  9. wadim13
    wadim13 12 October 2015 16: 41
    There is a very colorful old film "United Strategic Command" about this plane. The B-36 was shown very well there.
  10. fa2998
    fa2998 12 October 2015 19: 26
    Quote: Bayonet
    How? They dared to lay out an article about the American car, but this is not patriotic! Shit is your B – 36, but our Su – 34 is a thing!

    Well done Shtyk! Let's not publish articles about foreign technology at all, even they were milestone and advanced, so this is GOV.BO and NOT PATRIOTIC! Only on this site will Bayonet and other "hurray-patriots" remain. The article is a big plus, with I enjoy reading articles about the history of domestic and foreign aviation. hi
    1. Bayonet
      Bayonet 12 October 2015 20: 40
      Quote: fa2998
      Only on this site will Shtyk and other "hurray-patriots" remain.

      Sarcasm did not understand dear! smile The article is excellent, there would be more of them. If I read my comments, I would understand that I’m not a Urya patriot, but a fighter with this stupidity, for which I constantly get minuses from them!
      Quote: fa2998
      ! Let's not print articles about foreign technology at all,

      That would be absolute stupidity, for that is War Review! Unfortunately, for the most part, what is being printed does not look much like a MILITARY REVIEW! hi
    2. AUL
      AUL 12 October 2015 20: 46
      Fa, if you don't have a sense of humor at all, then you should at least have a feeling that you don't have a sense of humor! Explaining on my fingers: what Bayonet wrote is called "sarcasm." Although some people do not understand this without a smiley.
  11. ivanovbg
    ivanovbg 12 October 2015 19: 31
    A crew of 9 people is a lot, even for such a monster. I remembered the film "Air Convoy".
    1. Bayonet
      Bayonet 12 October 2015 20: 55
      Quote: ivanovbg
      A crew of 9 people is a lot, even for such a monster

      Project B-36 took shape on a huge plane. He was two-thirds more than the previous B-29 Superfortress. Crew: 9 -22 people (depending on version). The crew of the aircraft in the B-36B bomber modification consisted of 15 people: three pilots, four navigators, who could perform the tasks of navigators, scorers, radar operators, two flight engineers, two flight controllers and four side gunners. In long-range flights, the aircraft crew increased due to spare crew members to 18 people. The crew was housed in two pressurized cabins. One of the flight engineers was constantly in the rear cockpit at the sighting station and observed the cleaning and release of the chassis, the deflection of the shields, the operation of engines and screws, and also informed the pilot about the end of the run or the start of the run. On the upper deck in the front cockpit of the front, two pilots were placed in front, followed by a flight engineer, who controlled the power plant, facing the board. The radio operator was on the middle deck of the cockpit and was moved back relative to the flight engineer, and the lower deck housed the scorers serving the radar and the navigator. In the rear cockpit, in addition to the engineer, there were constantly two gunners and resting crew members, for whom six beds were installed there. On reconnaissance aircraft, the composition and size of the crew were different.
  12. The comment was deleted.
  13. Bayonet
    Bayonet 12 October 2015 21: 03
    The Convair B-36 was the only T-12 Cloudmaker heavy bomb carrier aircraft weighing 43600 pounds (19800 kg) and was designed to attack over protected underground bunkers.
    All images are clickable.
  14. Bayonet
    Bayonet 12 October 2015 21: 06
    Model 37 is a project to create a passenger car based on B-36 for transporting 200 passengers on transatlantic lines.
  15. Bayonet
    Bayonet 12 October 2015 21: 15
    Pilots allowed to fly on B-36 aircraft were required to have at least 1000 flight hours on four-engine aircraft, including at least 600 flight hours on a B29 aircraft; in addition, each pilot underwent training on the B-36 for 50 flight hours, initially observing the work of the B-36 pilots, and then he was allowed to fly the aircraft. Especially for the training of the crews of the B-36 aircraft, 11 B-50A were converted into TV-50A training vehicles, on which the crews practiced the technique of using heavy vehicles, without consuming the resource of the aircraft and engines of the more expensive B-36. Despite its gigantic size and large mass and the absence of boosters in the control system, the aircraft was recognized by the flight crew, in the terminology of American pilots a "pilot aircraft", apparently, in our understanding, it is easy to fly.
    The work of the crew of the B-36 aircraft required highly qualified crew, including quite serious engineering training. It is enough to indicate that after the ground crew, which had a staff of 30, completed the preparation of the aircraft for flight, the B-36 crew spent more than one hour inspecting the aircraft, starting the engines and warming them up.
  16. saygon66
    saygon66 12 October 2015 23: 52
    - "Personal, of His Imperial Highness Prince Kirnu, four Golden Banners, a personalized bomb carrier" Mountain Eagle "..." smile
    1. Bayonet
      Bayonet 13 October 2015 06: 23
      "Inhabited Island" Strugatskys. Very consistent! smile hi
  17. Miner
    Miner 13 October 2015 05: 45
    Not a damn device!
    Wow ..

    I didn’t even know about this.
    1. Bayonet
      Bayonet 13 October 2015 06: 26
      Quote: Miner
      I didn’t even know about this.

      That is the plus of such articles - they broaden their horizons. And every empty talk - from the evil one. yes
  18. Kir1984
    Kir1984 13 October 2015 06: 04
    A nuclear bomb fell out of an airplane belay
    It’s good that everything worked out ...
    The location of the screws is interesting, and the plane itself is beautiful.
  19. Filxnumx
    Filxnumx 13 October 2015 07: 15
    Quote: gregor6549
    The people, where does SU34? We are talking about a car the creation of which began back in the years of 2 World War, moreover, the car is very unique for its time and also has excellent performance characteristics for a long-distance bomber of that time. So why joke? Indeed, in the USSR in those same years there was nothing better than TU4, which at 95% was a copy of the American B29 could not be createdТ-4
    And the Sukhoi design bureau became famous mainly after one of the captured American Sabers was handed over to Sukhoi for comprehensive study and copying. Fortunately, they refused to copy Saber then, but familiarity with the technical solutions implemented in Sabers made it possible to raise the technical level of the Sukhoi Design Bureau above the level of other Soviet aviation design bureaus.

    Well, first of all, Tupolev was already deeply working on his project Product "64". And if it were not for Stalin's direct order to copy the B-29 one to one instead of taking from the amers only technical solutions for the airframe and avionics, then it is still unknown what our strategists would fly then, perhaps the Tu-64. And about Saber: there, again, besides the anti-overload suit and instrumentation, there is also an engine turbine, and there is nothing. This is a descendant of Me-1005. True, in 1945 we came across more materials on the Ta-183: the MiG-9 was born.
    1. aws4
      aws4 13 October 2015 23: 14
      Sorry, but that doesn’t count .... but if it weren’t for Stalin’s order .... if it had been for mushrooms then mushrooms were growing in the mouth ..... the fact remains that the Americans created and lifted a beautiful car into the air and the USSR did not. .......... and where is the guarantee that Tu64 would be better than 4- B 29 ????? not to mention this car