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Author Topic: B-36 Peacemaker  (Read 39986 times)

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wb21

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B-36 Peacemaker
« on: September 09, 2011, 02:55:53 AM »

This REALLY big bird came to my mind (flew one of these back in SFP1), an interesting addition for 1946 (some sort of a counter-Amerika Bomber), Korea (recon variants), and certainly 1956/early Cold War ops:



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   CONVAIR B-36J:
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________
 
   spec                    metric              english
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________

   wingspan                70.1 meters         230 feet
   wing area               443.3 sq_meters     4,772 sq_feet
   length                  49.4 meters         162 feet 1 inch
   height                  14.22 meters        46 feet 8 inches

   empty weight            77,580 kilograms    171,035 pounds
   loaded weight           181,975 kilograms   410,000 pounds

   max speed at altitude   660 KPH             410 MPH / 355 KT
   service ceiling         12,160 meters       39,000 feet
   range                   10,950 kilometers   6,800 MI / 5,915 NMI
   _____________________   _________________   _______________________



Quote
* As America was preparing for World War II in early 1941, there was a fear that Britain would be overrun by Hitler, depriving the US of a forward staging area for Europe. One of the consequences of this mindset was that the US Army Air Corps believed that America might need a bomber that had true intercontinental range, able to fly from North America, attack targets in Europe, and return home without refueling. The Air Corps issued a secret request for proposals on 11 April 1941, specifying a true intercontinental bomber with a range of 16,100 kilometers (10,000 miles); a bombload of 4,540 kilograms (10,000 pounds); a speed of 385 to 485 KPH (240 to 300 MPH); and a ceiling of 10,700 meters (35,000 feet). The bomber would be able to carry a much larger bombload over short distances.

Four companies returned proposals, the winner being the Consolidated "Model 36" -- basically an enlarged derivative of the Consolidated B-32, a heavy bomber that would be produced in small quantities. Consolidated was given a contract for two prototypes of the Model 36 on 15 November 1941. The Model 36 was a huge aircraft, with a wingspan of 70.1 meters (230 feet) and driven by six big radial engines, driving pusher propellers on the back of the wings. The wings were 1.8 meters (6 feet) thick at the roots. The aircraft had a tubular fuselage to ease pressurization, and a twin-fin tail.

By late 1941, the threat of a German invasion of the British Isles had all but vanished. With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, work on the Model 36 went on the back burner while Consolidated churned out PBY flying boats and B-24 bombers that were required to fight the war in the here and now. Although a hundred production aircraft were ordered on 23 July 1943 -- the need for a long-range bomber to attack Japan brought the Model 36 off the back burner for a time -- the first prototype Model 36, the "XB-36", wasn't rolled out until 8 September 1945, and it didn't fly for almost a year, performing its first flight on 8 August 1946, with test pilot Beryl A. Erickson at the controls and eight other aircrew on board.

Officially speaking, the B-36 was named the "Peacemaker", but nobody actually liked that name; the B-36 would sometimes be called the "Big Stick", or the "Magnesium Cloud" as a reference to its construction and high-altitude capabilities. By this time, it wasn't a Consolidated product, since the company had merged with Vultee in 1943 to become the "Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Company". The name was normally abbreviated to just "Convair", though that wouldn't be the "official" name until 1954.

The XB-36 was generally much like the original Model 36 proposal, differing mainly in being fitted with a conventional single-fin tail assembly instead of the twin fins envisioned at the outset. The prototype was unarmed and not fitted with operational kit. It had tricycle landing gear, with single-wheel main gear. The main gear tires were ridiculously huge, with a diameter of 2.8 meters (9 feet 2 inches), and landings were hard on both tires and tarmac. The XB-36 was experimentally fitted with tracked landing gear, but it only flew once in that configuration, the landing gear not holding up well to the exercise.

The second prototype performed its initial flight on 4 December 1947, again with Beryl Erickson at the controls. It was designated "YB-36"; it initially had the single-wheel main gear, but was later refitted with much more practical four-wheel bogies. The YB-36 also had a raised "bugeye" cockpit instead of the conventional cockpit of the XB-36.

The two prototypes were followed by 22 unarmed evaluation machines designated "B-36A". They weren't all that close to operational spec -- in fact, the first B-36A performed its initial flight on 28 August 1947, well before the YB-36 took to the air. After some misgivings, the Air Force -- the service having become independent from the Army in that year -- ordered "B-36B" production variants. Initial flight of the B-36B was on 8 July 1948 and 62 were built. Incidentally, sources tend to be confused on the number of B-36Bs, mostly because some of those ordered as one variant ended up being built as other variants.

By the end of 1948, an operational group of B-36Bs had been formed up at Carswell Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas, right next to the Convair plant. Lacking hangars big enough to accommodate the huge B-36s at the time, ground crews were forced to freeze in the winter and roast in the summer as they tried to keep the aircraft flying. Later, mobile shelters were built that could be rolled over the wings to provide some protection from the elements when hangars of adequate size were not available.

To demonstrate the machine's capabilities, on 7 December 1948 the Air Force decided to commemorate Pearl Harbor by flying a B-36B from Carswell to Hawaii, dropping a 4,500 kilogram (10,000 pound) bomb load, and then coming back home, nonstop and unrefueled. The mission took 35 hours 30 minutes of flight time, covering 13,000 kilometers (8,100 miles) at an average speed of less than 370 KPH (240 MPH). On 20 January 1949, five B-36Bs flew from Carswell to overfly Washington DC as part of the inaugural ceremony for President Harry Truman.

* The B-36B might well have been the end of the road, since in the summer of 1949 it was at the center of a storm of political controversy that threatened the program with cancellation. The Truman Administration had just appointed a new secretary of defense, an attorney named Louis A. Johnson; when Johnson was told to make defense cuts, he did so, giving the axe to a US Navy supercarrier named, somewhat redundantly, the USS UNITED STATES.

The Navy did not take kindly to this act. The USS UNITED STATES was the Navy's gambit to give the service a strategic nuclear strike capability, and to aggravate their frustration, the admirals were not consulted on the cancellation ahead of time. The Air Force wanted to keep control of the nuclear strike mission, with the B-36 as the long-range delivery platform. To complicate matters, Johnson had once been a Convair official -- a conflict of interest that would cause difficulties now, though few paid it much mind then.

The Navy produced a memo that called the B-36 an "obsolete and unsuccessful aircraft" and claimed that Convair had paid off Democratic politicians with millions of dollars. The memo was internal, but by accident or design it ended up in public hands. Navy boosters blasted the B-36 program as a "billion dollar blunder", calling the aircraft a "lumbering cow", saying that all the latest Navy jet fighters could fly rings around it. That was not the case; the B-36 was slow, but with its huge wings it could fly at altitudes above the effective ceiling of most jet fighters. Even if they reached it, the fighters had no maneuverability and the big bomber could easily dodge them.

The USAF hit back, with Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington publicly defending the B-36. A Congressional committee investigated the matter, with the Air Force making a thorough case for the B-36, while the Navy fumbled their argument. The conveniently leaked Navy memo backfired when the committee subpoenaed the officials behind it and tore them to ribbons on the witness stand. The "revolt of the admirals", as it was called, had led to a nasty public confrontation with insults and accusations traded back and forth in the press -- but the end result was that the USS UNITED STATES remained canceled and the B-36 remained alive.

Relations with the USSR had been deteriorating to the point of blatant hostility -- the Soviet blockade of West Berlin beginning in June 1948 had been a real wake-up call -- and the USA needed a long-range bomber to threaten the Soviets with nuclear destruction. The B-36 was the only weapon available to do the job at the time, and so it would be the backbone of the Air Force's Strategic Air Command (SAC) until better weapons then in the pipeline arrived. The Navy would continue to be frustrated by the strategic nuclear strike issue until the late 1950s, when the service began development of the Polaris ballistic missile submarine, a weapon that gave the admirals all the nuclear offensive power they could seriously want. But that's another story.

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* The B-36B was built primarily of aircraft aluminum and magnesium. It was powered by six Pratt & Whitney (P&W) R-4360-41 Wasp Major engines -- the spectacular "corncob" air-cooled radials, with 28 cylinders consisting of four banks of seven cylinders in a spiral. The engines provided 2,610 kW (3,500 HP) each. The prototypes and B-36As had featured the less powerful R-4360-25 variant of the engine, with only 2,240 kW (3,000 HP). The Wasp Majors drove oversized three-bladed pusher props with a diameter of 5.8 meters (19 feet) through driveshafts, with a reduction gearing system cutting prop RPM to half that of the engine to keep the proptips from going supersonic. The props were still said to have a rumbling drone that could shake windows when the aircraft was flying far overhead. To support operations from forward airbases, the USAF obtained a special carrier to allow B-36s to haul two spare Wasp Majors. The carrier was fitted into the forward bombbay, with a pod sticking out to each side of fuselage to accommodate an engine.

The scale of the B-36 could be considered by realizing that the total area of its control surfaces alone -- flaps, ailerons, rudder, elevators -- was more than the wing area of a B-24 Liberator. The flight control surfaces were, surprisingly, all manually operated, with the pilot shifting small "servo tabs" that drove actuators to move the control surfaces. The B-36B had four bombbays, with a tunnel on the lower left side of the fuselage through which a crewman could roll prone on a trolley to move between the front and back crew sections, pulling himself on a overhead rope.

The B-36B had an optical bombsight, as well as an AN/APQ-23 bombing-navigation radar in a blister under the forward fuselage, integrated with the optical bombsight and an electromechanical analog computer in the K-1 bombing system. As mentioned, the B-36 fleet was tasked with the nuclear strike mission and could carry several fission bombs; from 1953, fusion weapons were available, with the B-36 carrying two Mark 17 "Runts", with a weight of 19,050 kilograms (42,000 pounds) each. B-36s performed several "live drops" of nuclear weapons in test programs. In principle, the B-36 could perform conventional bombing, with stores arrangements running from 132 225 kilogram (500 pound) bombs to two 19,505 kilogram (43,000 pound) T-12 bombs.

The bomber could not only carry a big bombload over long distances, it was also fitted with heavy defensive armament. There were twin M24A1 20 millimeter cannon in both nose and tail positions, with an AN/APG-3 gun-laying radar in a small radome above the tail turret, and six remotely-controlled turrets, again each with twin 20 millimeter cannon. Each cannon had an ammunition supply of 600 rounds. The turrets were retractable, hidden in pairs under doors in normal flight, popping up with one turret to cover the left side of the aircraft and the other to cover the right. There were three of these dual-turret installations on the bomber, with two installations on the top -- one behind the cockpit and the other behind the wing -- and one installation on the belly, just underneath the rear top gun positions. The gunners sighted the guns from six blister positions, two in front, four in the rear. There was no provision for switching control of the turrets between gunners; each gunnery station was dedicated to the control of a particular turret. It seems the cannon system was overcomplicated and not very reliable.

The B-36B was flow by 15 aircrew. The aircrew in the forward section included:

 -  Flight commander.
 -  Pilot & copilot.
 -  Bombardier.
 -  Navigator.
 -  Two radio operators.
 -  Two flight engineers.
 -  Observer / gunner.

There were five gunners in the rear compartment. The B-36 featured bunks to allow crewmembers to get some rest on long missions. It also had a head and a galley, with rations heated up the rear section sent forward on the trolley.

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* Complaints about the B-36's performance led Convair engineers to come up with possible tricks to improve performance. A "B-36C" was considered, to be fitted with uprated R-4360-51 engines, which provided an auxiliary "jet exhaust" to increase speed. The new engines would have required changing the configuration from pusher to conventional tractor. However, analysis showed that the performance increase would have been too trivial to be worth the effort, and so the B-36C was never built.

The better solution was to add four jet engines along with the six piston engines, resulting in the "B-36D". The prototype was converted from a B-36B, performing its initial flight in its "mixed power" configuration on 26 March 1949. The jet engines were fitted in pairs in pods, with a single pod outboard on each wing. The jet engine pod was basically lifted from the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. It used General Electric J47-GE-19 turbojets, providing 23.1 kN (2,360 kgp / 5,200 lbf) thrust each. The prototype had used similar but less powerful Allison J35 engines.

The jet engines were only used on takeoff and for boost performance in hostile airspace; they provided a significantly shorter takeoff run, as well as a useful increment of speed and ceiling. When all the engines were running, aircrews described it as "six turning and four burning". The jet intakes were fitted with an "iris" that closed the engines off to reduce drag from "windmilling" when the turbojets were not in use. Interestingly, in long-range cruise it was not unusual to shut down two, or even three, of the piston engines as well.

The B-36D also featured an astrodome blister on top of the canopy, and "snap action" bombbay doors, made up of four hinged panels that folded up on themselves, replacing the roll-open bombbay doors of earlier models. Although the B-36Ds were initially fitted with the K-1 bombing system, they were later refitted with the more sophisticated and reliable K-3A bombing system. The optical bombsight was regarded as redundant and eliminated, with the bombsight panel in the nose faired over with a metal plate. Similarly, the B-36Ds were originally fitted with AN/APG-3 tail radar but were later upgraded to AN/APG-32 tail radar, featuring a "chicklet" style radome. 26 new-build B-36Ds were produced, and 59 of the B-36Bs were rebuilt to B-36D standard. Initial service delivery was on 17 August 1950, to Carswell.

* A strategic reconnaissance version of the B-36D, the "RB-36D", was also built, featuring a manned pressurized module with 14 cameras in the forward bombbay; up to 80 photoflash bombs in the second bombbay; a fuel tank in the third bombbay; and electronic intelligence (ELINT) gear, revealed by an additional antenna fairing under the nose and three fairings under the rear bombbay. There was some variation in bombbay configurations among the RB-36 machines; they could also in principle carry bombloads.

24 new-production RB-36Ds were delivered -- some sources mention conversions from B-36Bs, but these were merely machines that had been ordered as B-36Bs and not built as them. Initial delivery of the RB-36D was on 3 June 1950.

* In addition, 21 B-36As and the YB-36A were upgraded to a standard similar to that of the RB-36D, and given the designation "RB-36E", the first being flown on 18 December 1950. The reconnaissance variants tended to carry large crews, of up to 22, to handle the photographic and ELINT systems.

From the mid-1950s, a "Featherweight" program was conducted to strip out gear from selected B-36s to improve their ceiling. There were "class II" Featherweights that retained their defensive armament, and "class III" Featherweights in which all the defensive armament except for the tail position, with the gunner's blisters either faired over or replaced with flush windows.

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* The "B-36F" was similar to the B-36D, but with uprated P&W R-4360-53 engines with 2,835 kW (3,800 HP) each. The K-3A bombing system and AN/APG-32 tail radar was standard, and a chaff dispenser system was later added. Initial flight was on 28 November 1950, with 34 built. 24 "RB-36F" reconnaissance machines with increased fuel load were also produced.

The "B-36H" was another stepwise refinement of the breed, with an improved flight deck, AN/APG-41A tailgun radar -- featuring twin side-by-side radomes, which likely invited comparisons to a brassiere -- and other small changes. Initial flight was on 5 April 1952, and a total of 83 was built, as well as 73 "RB-36H" reconnaissance machines.

The final production version of the B-36 was the "B-36J" -- there was no "B-36I", the Air Force didn't use "I" as a suffix since it could be confused with a "1". It featured additional wing tanks and reinforced landing gear to handle higher gross weights. Initial flight was on 3 September 1953, with 33 built; all ended up in Featherweight configuration. The last of the batch, the last of 383 B-36s to be built, was delivered to the Strategic Air Command on 14 August 1954. SAC was effectively the B-36's only user; it was never operated by any other nation.

The B-36 did not remain in service long, being phased out in the late 1950s. The type was officially retired on 12 February 1959. The last flight of a B-36 was on 30 April 1959, when a B-36J was flown to Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio, to take up residence in the Air Force Museum, where it still lives today.

* Some crews had fond memories of the B-36, but there were those who hated the thing, and even those who liked it had their horror stories about it. One pilot who called it a "big, wonderful old bird" but said piloting it was "like sitting on your front porch and flying your house around." A less enthusiastic pilot called it a "horrible, lazy beast to fly".

When it crashed, its magnesium construction made for a spectacular and thorough fire. At least nine were lost in accidents. There was also a disastrous incident at Carswell on 1 September 1952, when a tornado ripped across the flightline and damaged 71 B-36s, disabling half of SAC's heavy bomber fleet. 51 of the aircraft were back in service by early October, but the rest had to be rebuilt, with one completely written off.

The B-36's major virtue was its long range, though in practice not as long as had been desired, and in its Featherweight manifestations it could operate well above the reach of enemy defenses of its era. B-36s didn't fly combat missions during the Korean War -- heavy bombing could be performed by Boeing B-29s, the B-36 being reserved for the strategic bombing mission -- but RB-36s performed overflights of Red China and possibly the USSR. The details of these missions were kept secret and remain unclear; there were no losses, and no doubt the defenders were frustrated at watching the Magnesium Clouds fly far overhead.

As far as the B-36's usefulness as a nuclear deterrent went, that could be argued -- but since the B-36 never dropped a bomb in anger, the argument cuts both ways, and it seems that uncertainty afflicted the Soviets as well. Even an ineffective deterrent is a deterrent if an adversary doesn't want to push his luck.


-------------------------------------------------------

Diagram



B-36 diagram, very large pic


----------------------------------------------

Gallery












Cockpit











 ;)





PS: FICON, anyone?

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BT~Tarik

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2011, 07:07:01 AM »

Gosh, and i thought the b29 was big ! And the B17 looks like a fighter close to this giant !  ??? ???
But would be nice to have  :)
+1
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Hangman

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2011, 07:18:50 AM »

Wow really big plane never seen anything like this
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Cranky.1

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2011, 03:52:02 PM »

I remember seeing this movie years ago about the B-36 it's a Cold War Classic.
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Jarink

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2011, 06:40:22 PM »

PS: FICON, anyone?



Did you know you actually posted a second FICON variant?

Note the unusual devices on the wingtips of not only the B-36, but also the RF-86 in the background.
Closeup of the wingtip capture devices. B-36 on the left.

More photos ind information here:
http://www.air-and-space.com/tomtom.htm
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wb21

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2011, 03:14:50 AM »

Yup, the Tom-Tom BTW, that wingtip-to-wingtip parasite fighter program, and it was the RF-84, not RF-86.

By the way, heck, how about a nuke-powered Peacemaker, the NB-36 :o :

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ANDYTOTHED

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2011, 01:02:25 AM »

I do so humbly declare a BUMP is required
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razor1uk

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2011, 06:42:39 AM »

  NB-36 wasn't nuke powered as such, just carried a nuclear reactor inside it that provide some electrical power - mostly to see how flying & gravity acted differently on the atomic reactions than ground based fixed reactors and other experiments.
  Incedenty the reactor in the NB was IIRC, a Westinghouse design, as the nuclear reactors used in US submarines of that era were small enough & almost light enough to fit and fly in such a big & powerful bird, just - all the lead shielding and reactor equipment meaint the plane was very close to being above max weight.
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rdsg

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2011, 01:14:41 PM »

But if you crash it, it wipes out the half of the map. And if your opponent shoot through the lead shield, crew will be die in the radiation...

FICON variants would be awesome with docking/undocking features.
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A1_Phoenix

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2011, 02:13:31 PM »

But if you crash it, it wipes out the half of the map.

Now, i foresee a growing use of kamikaze tactics   ;D

also, as a defending pilot, i'll be not so sure to want THAT thing falling down in flames on my city heheheh

nevertheless, a B-36 must be a good addiction to the game :) greeeat big aluminium box, too bad we have not reflections XD
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razor1uk

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2011, 03:47:29 AM »

  For its size ingame, and its 6 or 8 engines, ingame it could look quite simple to save polygons, mindue the straight sides of its giant cylindrical body would assist in this.
  I'm not sure how the hatches and raising/lowering of the turret system could be easily achieved, maybe only AI controled like Me-210 and AI/playable tail gunner like B-29.

  Also, currently the game (4.101m) can only handle 4 designated engines for AI or player control, so 2 props would have to be either just animations or linked to another engine on each wing, i.e; one engine on each wing is powering 2 props (each of those props recieves same power input) as far as 'game engine' is tricked to make it work.

  Most airfields and bomber airfields just have too many things close to there short runways that damage the plane - unless special airfeilds made with longer runways (3 - 5 times current ingame full length), with control towers and things/objects that'd damage the plane or get hit would have to be moved away from taxi & runway routes on the 'B-36 airfields'.
  This can all be done, but it could take the community time, say a year or two, but boy, golly gee whiz, it'd sure be perty to try and fly (if not 'AI Only')...
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SAS~Anto

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Re: B-36 Peacemaker
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2011, 03:56:55 AM »

No, the game can handle up to 8 engines and has been able so for quite a while ;)
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