Hear the sound of the B-36

Convair B-36 Variants

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Wingspan: 230 feet

Length: 162 feet

Wing Area: 4770 square feet

Maximum Take-off Weight: 410,000 pounds

Maximum Bomb Payload: 2x 42,000 pound Grand Slam bombs

Powerplant: 6x 3500 hp R4360 radial engines, 4X 5,200 pound J47-GE-19 turbojets

XB-36 Prototype

Updated April 6, 2008

Excerpt from the Air Force Engineering Division film report: Experimental and Research Aircraft featuring the first flight of the Convair XB-36 42-13570 prototype of the Peacemaker.

Here's a series of still frames from the video:

Convair XB-36 This panorama was assembled from a sequence of frames in a panning clip. Although the film was exposed in 1946, this panorama did not exist until 2008.

Convair XB-36 First Flight The tip of the vertical stabilizer rises 46 feet, 9 inches above the tarmac.

Convair XB-36 First Flight The tires of the single-wheel main landing gear were nine feet in diameter.

Convair XB-36 First Flight

Convair XB-36 First Flight

Convair XB-36 First Flight The XB-36 taking off on its first flight from Runway 17 at Fort Worth on August 8, 1946.

Convair XB-36 First Flight

Convair XB-36 First Flight The landing gear of the XB-36 remained extended for the duration of the 37-minute flight.

Convair XB-36 First Flight

Convair XB-36 First Flight

XB-36 compared to B-29 To emphasize the size of the prototype XB-36 Peacemaker, it was posed next to the previous superbomber, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Convair photo 10-1796.

XB-36 First Flight The XB-36 initially had main wheel tires nine feet in diameter. They were later replaced with four wheel bogies like those on late production Peacemakers.

XB-36 in flight The XB-36 cockpit was stepped in a conventional fashion. The raised greenhouse canopy was introduced on the YB-36.

XB-36 in flight XB-36 with a C-87 transport version of the Convair Liberator flying chase. Photo courtesy AFFTC/HO.

XB-36 in flight XB-36 in flight. Convair photo 10-2148.

XB-36 in flight Color photo of the XB-36 in flight.

XB-36 in flight Color photo of the XB-36 in flight.

Convair XB-36, 42-13570 XB-36 photo from an Air Force photo album.

B-36 Propellor The propellor of the XB-36 was 19 feet in diameter. Hot air from the manifold was piped through hollow steel joints for anti-icing.

XB-36 Tire Swamp Buggy This swamp buggy was constructed in 1962 with nine-foot diameter, Goodyear 110 Airplane, 34 Ply tires of the type used on the XB-36. The old tires are in need of replacement. Are there any similarly sized tires available? "It was built from a 3/4 ton truck, has two transmissions and a transfer case, Front transmission has 4 gears, the second has 5 gears plus double reverse, giving you a total of 21 forward gears in low range, and another 21 in high range. For a grand total of 42 forward gears." Photo courtesy Jeffrey Wolfe.

B-36A Service Test

B-36A 44-92004 The first B-36A-1-CF, 44-92004 was the second B-36 to fly. It first flew on August 28, 1947, four months before the YB-36. It made one flight in the vicinity of the Convair plant at Fort Worth, during which it was photographed extensively. Two days later it was flown to Wright Field in Ohio for structural testing. It is seen here on its flight to Dayton on August 30 with Col. Thomas P. Gerrity and Beryl Erickson at the controls. Col. Gerrity was one of the Toms of the Tom-Tom project.

B-36A 42-92006 The third B-36A-1-CF, 44-92006 was assigned to service testing at Wright Field. Photo courtesy AFFTC/HO.

B-36A 44-92024 near Sacramento In September 1948, near Sacramento, my father pulled his car off the road to get a picture of the next to last B-36A-15-CF, 44-92024 as it flew overhead. The first production model of the B-36 lacked gun turrets and bombing systems. They were really just huge training airplanes. Photographer: Richard Lockett, Sr.

B-36B Nuclear Bomber

The B-36B was the first model to be equipped with combat systems.

B-36B Model Scale models of the B-36 and V-2 rocket are examined by Brigadier General H, Saylor, right, assisted by Dr. R. W. Porter, GE engineer, while Colonel H. M. Toftoy looks on. Photo was taken during General Saylor's visit to inspect GE facilities for guided missiles research. Note the pairs of gun turrets on the forward and aft fuselage. The cockpit canopy does not exactly resemble the production unit.

Convair B-36B, 44-92033 The insignia red (FS 36116) tail and wingtips of Convair B-36B, 44-92033 indicate that it is one of 18 B-36s assigned to the GEM program. The GEM program investigated the operation of the B-36 in the extremely cold conditions of the forward bases at Goose Bay, Labrador, Limestone, Maine, and Fairbanks, Alaska. The large red surfaces were intended to make the airplane easier to find if it went down on ice or snow in arctic regions.

Convair B-36B, 44-92033 This photograph of Convair B-36B, 44-92033 may have been taken with a red filter to make the red areas on the wingtip and tail appear so bright in comparison to other pictures of GEM B-36s that appear below.

B-36B The fourth B-36B-1-CF, 44-92029 crashed at Carswell AFB on February 8, 1955. It was knocked down by windshear while practicing landings. Photo courtesy AFFTC/HO.

B-36B flying to Chicago flyover B-36B heading to a flyover of Chicago on July 3, 1949. The bulges visible on the top of the wing inboard of the engine nacelles were added to make room for the four-wheeled main landing gear. Photographer: Frank Kleinwechter, former 7th Bomb Group B-36 crew member.

Stormclouds over Carswell AFB Storm clouds loom over Carswell AFB flightline in 1949. Photographer: Frank Kleinwechter, former 7th Bomb Group B-36 crew member.

B-36B of the 7th Bomb Group B-36B of the 7th Bomb Group runs up its engines while visiting Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base (now Travis AFB) on May 14, 1950. Photographer: Frank Kleinwechter, former 7th Bomb Group B-36 crew member.

B-36 with spare engine pods B-36B-1-CF, serial 44-92036, which has been modified with a pair of large pods on either side of the fuselage. Frame 22854 of National Air and Space Museum Archival Videodisc #1.

B-36 with spare engine pods The pods were used to carry extra built-up R-4360 radial engines to deployment bases. Frame 22774 of National Air and Space Museum Archival Videodisc #1.

B-36 Nuclear Bomber

B-36 bomber Two pairs of J-47 jet engines were introduced on the D-model of the B-36. Photo courtesy AFFTC/HO.

B-36F 49-2683 B-36F-5-CF 49-2683 on the old South Base flightline of Edwards Air Force Base. Behind it to the right are a Boeing C-97 Stratocruiser and B-47 Stratojet. On the left is an RB-36. Note the difference in the placement of the bomb bay doors on the RB-36. Rogers Dry Lake can be seen in the background. Photo courtesy AFFTC/HO.

Featherweight B-36 on the Edwards AFB flightline Featherweight B-36 has no nose turret. It is parked on the Edwards Air Force Base flightline. In the background is a modified B-29 Superfortress, a B-52A Stratofortress, B-47 Stratojets and F-100 Super Sabres.

Convair B-36, Boeing B-52B and B-47E at Eglin AFB firepower demonstration Convair B-36, Boeing B-52B and B-47E at Eglin AFB firepower demonstration.

RB-36 Reconnaissance Bomber

In the early 1950s, the RB-36 was one of the primary intelligence gathering airplanes in the Air Force inventory. Where standard B-36 bombers had four bomb bays, the forward bomb bay of the RB-36 was converted to a pressurized camera compartment. The camera compartment was connected to the forward crew compartment by a tunnel through the turret bay and to the aft crew compartment by a tunnel through the bomb bays. The RB-36 was typically equipped with fourteen cameras with focal lengths up to 1200 mm. They used film that was up to 9 inches by 18 inches.

The pressurized sections of the B-36 were skinned with aluminum. The bomb bay and the gun turret bays were skinned with magnesium. RB-36s can be spotted by the shinier aluminum camera compartment with a pair of windows in front of the wing.

RB-36D 49-2688 RB-36D-1 44-92088 was ordered from Consolidated-Vultee as a B-36B bomber without jet engine pods. Before it was built, the order was converted to build it as an RB-36D. It was the first RB-36D to come off the assembly line with the camera compartment already installed. It made its first flight without jet engine pods on December 18, 1949. Jet engine pods were installed on 44-92088 in early 1950. It made a demonstration flight for President Truman at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida on April 22, 1950. Later, 44-92088 tested the Boston camera, which used 18" x 36" film. It had a 240" (6,000 mm) focal length. Photo courtesy Kathy (Dragoo) Matelski.

RB-36D 49-2688 RB-36D-10-CF 49-2688. Note the three electronics intelligence antennae under the fourth bomb bay. Courtesy Air Force Flight Test Center History Office.

RB-36F 49-2708 at Fairchild AFB RB-36F-1-CF 49-2708 of the 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on the ramp at Fairchild AFB. Photo courtesy Fairchild Air Force Base Heritage Museum.

This picture shows the original bomb bay configuration of the RB-36F. The aft bomb bay was sealed and electronics intelligence equipment was housed in the space. Three electronics intelligence antennea were housed in radomes mounted on the underside of the bay. Photo flash bombs were housed in the second bomb bay and an extra fuel tank was installed in the third bomb bay. The second and third bays were equipped with a single pair of doors.

99SRW RB-36 at Fairchild AFB, 1953 RB-36 of the 99SRW (H) at Fairchild Air Force Base in 1953. Photo courtesy Don Gasvoda, former 99th A & E Q-24 Radar/Bomb computer mechanic.

In June 1954, the primary role of the RB-36 fleet was changed to heavy bombardment. Technical Order 1B-36(R)-216 directed that the aft bomb bay should be converted to a functional bomb bay. The electronics intelligence gear and antennae were moved to the aft crew compartment. A short pair of doors covered the second bomb bay. The third and fourth bomb bays were equippped with a single pair of doors.

RB-36F 49-2709 and the FICON pit at Fairchild AFB RB-36F-1-CF 49-2709 at Fairchild Air Force Base on August 28, 1956. The 99th has become a Heavy Bombardment Wing. RB-36F 49-2709 has had white anti-flash paint added to its undersides. The electronics intelligance antennae have been moved aft in accordance with Technical Order 1B-36(R)-216. Photo courtesy Fairchild Air Force Base Heritage Museum.

In the foreground is the pit that was used to load Republic RF-84K Thunderflashes into GRB-36D carrier airplanes of the Fighter Conveyer (FICON) squadron. FICON operatoins had been suspended in January 1956. The wedges served as permanent wheel chocks

GRB-36D Aircraft Carrier

Project FICON: Fighter Conveyer From 1952 to 1956, the Project FICON investigated the potential of carrying various models of the Republic F-84 in the bomb bay of a Peacemaker to perform reconnaissance missions into areas that were too heavily defended for the RB-36 to penetrate.

NB-36H Flying Nuclear Testbed

NB-36H, 51-5712 Flying Nuclear Testbed The "Convair Crusader" NB-36H, 51-5712 was equipped with a functioning air-cooled nuclear reactor and a lead shielded crew compartment. The reactor did not power the airplane. Tests were conducted to determine the effects of radiation on instrumentation and equipment.

Convair YB-60

Wingspan: 206 feet

Length: 171 feet

Wing Area: 5,239 square feet

Maximum Take-off Weight: 410,000 pounds

Maximum Bomb Payload: 72,000 pounds

Powerplant: 8x 8,700 pound J57-P-3 turbojets

YB-60 Page The YB-60 page shows the all-jet competitor to the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.

B-36 Collectibles

Yonezawa Convair B-36 friction drive, tin litho toy The Yonezawa Company of Japan manufactured this Convair B-36 tin litho toy. The friction drive is connected to all six propellers, and it has a wingspan of 26 inches.

Allyn Sales B-36 chrome ashtray This Convair B-36 ashtray was manufactured by the Allyn Sales Company of Los Angeles.

Radio-controlled B-36 Models

Gary Jones electric powered B-36 model Gary Jones' electric powered B-36 model. It flew indoors at the Southwest Aeromodeling Conference in Arlington, TX on May 18 and 19, 2001. The airplane weighs less than 13 ounces, ready to fly. Its wingspan is 51.5 inches. It is constructed mainly of styrofoam. The jet engines were carved from balsa wood.

Gary Jones electric powered B-36 model Gary Jones' electric powered B-36 model in flight. These pictures were taken by Gary's brother, Clevis Jones, Jr.

Will Shea's B-36B model Will Shea's B-36B model has a 113" wingspan and is powered by .46abc engines.

Will Shea's NB-36H model Will Shea's even bigger NB-36H model has a 210" wingspan. It is powered by six G-23 engines and was featured in the Oct. 2001 issue of RCM Magazine.

Proposed Oversize B-36 Cargo Conversion

B-36 based oversized cargo carrier In 1964, Fairchild Stratos Corporation proposed a modification of the B-36 Peacemaker for transporting the second stage of the Saturn V, much the way Conroy modified the Boeing Stratocruiser into the Pregnant Guppy to carry the third stage of the giant rocket.

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eBook editions of Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF

My books in the Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF series are now available as eBooks, at a considerably reduced price compared to the print editions. Following World War II, the US Air Force was faced with the need to extend the range of fighter escorts for bomber airplanes. Several programs explored the feasibility of carrying, launching, and retrieving jet fighters from Convair B-36 bombers.

In 1948 and 1949, the Air Force tested the McDonnell XF-85 Goblin, which was intended to fit inside the bomb bay of the B-36, in a series of launches from a modified Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

From 1949 to 1956, the Air Force explored wing tip coupling, attaching smaller airplanes to the wing tips of larger airplanes, first with a Culver PQ-14 coupled to a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, then with a pair of Republic F-84E Thunderjets coupled to a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, and concluding with tests of Republic RF-84F Thunderflashes coupled to the wing tip of a Convair B-36.

From 1952 to 1956, Project FICON (Fighter Conveyer) evaluated carrying Republic F-84s partially enclosed in the bomb bay of a B-36, concluding with the establishment of squadrons of modified Republic RF-84F Thunderflashes and Convair B-36s in Washington State.

Each volume is profusely illustrated with vintage photographs and diagrams. They can be dowloaded directly from Lulu.com.

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Wing Tip Coupling

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Wing Tip Coupling

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON

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My books are printed on demand by Lulu.com. When you select one, it is placed in your Lulu.com shopping cart. When you place your order, the items are produced, packaged, and shipped directly to you.

Books are 8.5" x 11" with perfect binding, white interior paper (60# weight), white exterior paper (100# weight), and full-color exterior ink.

See full-size covers and more information.

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Wing Tip Coupling

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Wing Tip Coupling

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON
(172 pages Paperback Black & White)


Preview the first several pages of the paperback book.

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON
(172 pages Hardcover Color)


Preview the first several pages of the hardcover book.

Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Wing Tip Coupling
(96 pages Paperback Black & White)


Preview the first several pages of the book.

Project FICON Handbooks

Project FICON Handbooks

Project FICON Handbooks
(236 pages Paperback Black & White)


Preview the first several pages of the book.

Wing Tip Coupling

2018 calendar

You can buy a 2018 calendar featuring photographs of Air Force projects investigating the coupling of smaller airplanes to larger airplanes' wing tips.

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Wing Ttip Coupling

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Wing Ttip Coupling

In the early years of the cold war, the US Air Force attempted to increase the range of airplanes by carrying fuel in hinged wing panels that supported themselves attached to their wing tips. The initial tests used a piloted light plane to simulate the hinged panels. Soon the scope of the experiments expanded to include towing a pair of jet fighters on the wing tips of a giant bomber. Photo sources: Bud Anderson, Air Force, General Dynamics, Lockheed-Martin:

Douglas C-47A 42-23918 and Culver Q-14B 44-68334
Project Tip-Tow: Boeing EB-29A 44-62093 and Republic EF-84D Thunderjets 48-0641 and 48-0661
Project Long Tom: Beechcraft XL-23C
Project Tom-Tom: Convair JRB-36F 49-2707 and Republic RF-84F Thunderflashes 51-1848 and 51-1849

Buy my Wing Ttip Coupling 2018 calendar at Lulu! Put a copy of the Wing Tip Coupling: 2018 calendar in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $14.95.

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Giant Airplanes of the 1940s

  First Flight Wing Span Length Wing Area Gross Weight Engines
Bristol Brabazon






8 x 2,650hp Bristol Centaurus
Hughes Flying Boat (Spruce Goose)






8 x 3,500hp R4360
Convair XC-99






6 x 3,500hp R4360
Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing






8 x 3,700 lb J-35
Convair B-36






6 x 3,500hp R4360, 4 x 5,200 lb J-47
Lockheed R6V Constitution






4 x 3,000hp R4360
Douglas DC-6






4 x 2,100 hp R2800
Douglas C-74 Globemaster






4 x 3,000hp R4360
Blohm und Voss BV-238






6 x BMW 801
Boeing 367 Stratocruiser






4 x 3,000hp R4360
Lockheed 049 Constellation






4 x 2,000 hp R3350
Martin JRM Mars






4 x 2,000 hp R3350
Douglas DC-4






4 x 1,350 hp R2000
Douglas XB-19






4 x 2,000 hp R3350
Tupolev Ant-20bis






6 x 1,200 hp M-34FRNV
Blohm und Voss BV-222






6 x 1,000 hp BMW-Bramo Fafnir 323R

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Books about the Convair B-36 from Amazon.com

Visit the Lockett Books Amazon Webstore for a selection of aviation and space related books and DVDs.

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B-36 CD-ROMs

B-36: Saving the Last Peacemaker The history of the efforts to preserve B-36J, 52-22827 at Fort Worth is well documented in "B-36: Saving the Last Peacemaker"; Second Edition, an html book on CD. This CD-ROM is viewed with your internet browser.

B-36: Moving the Last Peacemaker B-36: Moving the Last Peacemaker. These 875 photos show photographically the effort expended by all of the volunteers over a nine year period to save the aircraft. This CD-ROM is a self contained slide show that does not require a browser to view.

Main B-36 Page Go to the main Convair B-36 page.

Go to home page of the Goleta Air and Space Museum.

Send a message to Brian.