The B-50's development was approved in 1944, when the aircraft was known as the B-29D. Still in the midst of war, the Army Air Forces (AAF) wanted a significantly improved B-29 that could carry heavy loads of conventional weapons faster and farther. As World War II ended, the production of thousands of B-29s was canceled. The B-29D survived, but its purpose was changed. Redesignated as the B-50 in December 1945, the improved bomber was now earmarked for the atomic role. The decision was prompted by the uncertain fate of Convair B-36, the first long-range, heavy bomber produced as an atomic carrier. Of course, some of the B-29s that had been modified to carry the atomic bomb remained available, and surplus B-29s were being reconfigured for the atomic task. Just the same, the B-29s of war vintage were nearly obsolete. Hence, they would have to be replaced by a more efficient, atomic-capable bomber pending availability of the intercontinental B-36 or of another bomber truly suitable for the delivery of atomic weaponry.
While the short-range B-50 was immediately recognized as a stopgap measure, the magnitude of the aircraft's development problems proved unexpected. The B-50's first difficulties stemmed from its bomb bay which, like that of the B-29, was too small to house the new bomb and its required components. The fast development of special weapons created more complications, since the individual components of every single type of bomb had to be relocated within the bomb bay's narrow confines.
In keeping with the usual vicissitudes accompanying the development of any new or improved aircraft, the B-50 soon exhibited engine malfunctions. Then, cracking of the metal skin on the trailing edge of the wings and flaps dictated extensive modifications. And while these problems were being resolved, new requirements were levied on the aircraft. In 1949, as the proposed RB-36 remained a long way off, and because of the older RB-29's deficiencies in speed, range, and altitude, some B-50s had to be fitted for the reconnaissance role. To make matters worse, fuel tank overflows, leaking fuel check valves, failures of the engine turbo-chargers, generator defects, and the like continued to plague every B-50 version.
Meanwhile, contrary to plans, most B-50s came off the production lines without the receiver end of the new air-to-air refueling system being developed by Boeing. Additional, and successful, modifications therefore ensued. Nevertheless, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) had no illusions. The B-50, along with the B-36 (first delivered in June 1948), would be obsolete in 1951. That the B-50 did not start leaving the SAC inventory before 1953 was due to the production problems and many modifications of its replacement: the subsonic B-47.
|A three-view drawing of Boeing B-50D (582 x 774)|
| ENGINE||4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-35 Wasp Major, 2610kW|
| Take-off weight||76389 kg||168410 lb|
| Empty weight||36764 kg||81051 lb|
| Wingspan||43.05 m||141 ft 3 in|
| Length||30.18 m||99 ft 0 in|
| Height||9.96 m||33 ft 8 in|
| Wing area||161.55 m2||1738.91 sq ft|
| Max. speed||620 km/h||385 mph|
| Cruise speed||378 km/h||235 mph|
| Ceiling||11280 m||37000 ft|
| Range||7483 km||4650 miles|
| ARMAMENT||12 x 12.7mm machine-guns, 1 x 20mm cannon, 9000kg of bombs|
|Mac McEachern, imac=cox.net, 26.11.2013|
I was stationed at Mather AFB from about 1951 till discharged in December of 1954. I was a crew chief on a TB-50 and would like to communicate with anybody that was there around then.
|Eddie Jones, esj5=verizon, 28.10.2013|
I was a crew member/mechnic on the WB50 at Yokota AFB Japan 1962. 1964. Flew many missions from Yokota
|Bob Mann, bp21953=aol.com, 15.06.2013|
For Dean Williams. The symbol CE referred to "circular error", the distance from center of designated target to actual impact point of bomb. While on training missions, this was calculated by ground based electronic stations to evaluate proficiency of the bombing/navigation systems operators. I was one of the techs that maintained that system onboard the big birds.
|Bob Mann, bp219532aol.com, 14.06.2013|
I was with the 97th BW from April 51 thru Jan 54,airborne radar maint. When I arrived at Biggs most of the outfit was TDY to UK. I went to Lakenheath the next time around, the following year.I always enjoyed my time in the B50s
|Ron Williams, ronwmsbarnum=comcast.net, 14.04.2013|
There is a book entitled “Air Force Legends Number 215” by Geoffrey Hays (235 pages at least half photographic) and is the best resource on the B-50 and its history I believe available.
|Ron Williams, ronwmsbarnum=comcast.net, 12.04.2013|
Flew as a gunner in the 329th, 93rd Bomb Wing at Castle AFB in 1953. As an eighteen year old I thought it was all very exciting except for cleaning our fifty caliber machine guns.
The B-50 needed to be jacked up at the nose to load an atomic bomb in the forward bomb bay. We lost our jobs when the B-50's were replaced by B-47's and many of us were retrained as inflight refueling operators on KC-97's one of which was lost with all hands on takeoff.
|Dean Williams, dean.williams=neetrac.gatech.edu, 20.03.2013|
My father, David L. Williams was initially a mechanic and then a flight engineer on RB-50 with the Photo Mapping Wing at Palm Beach AFB, Turner AFB and then Forbes AFB from 1950 to 1967. I am trying to document his life in the USAF and am having problems determining what the various Mission and Duty Symbols are listed in his flight logs. S-3, X-3, 0, 0-1, R-2, R-3 and many variations are listed as Mission Symbols while CE, WG, WE, etc are listed as Duty Symbols. Do any of you flight engineers of this era have an idea as to what these mean. I took so much pride in my fathers service and the long periods of time he would stay away on TDY. The joke was that his wing had teh highest birth rate of any in the USAF and I would agree with having four siblings all within about seven years. I can still see him in my mind walking out to the RB-50 and watching each of the engines come alive belching smoke. Cathcing a glimpse of him at his small window at his engineer station, knowing it would be thre to six months before I would see him again. Beautiful plane! My father only recounted a few of his stories and unfortuantly the best ones I heard from fellow crewmembers at his wake in 1997. I never realized the compexity of his job as a flight engineer and how many times I almost lost him due to failed engines wheather flying to Austraila during a storm and losing multiple engines or losing mutliple engines when returning from Operation Hardtack in the Pacific. With over 5000 hours in the plane I would imagine there were many more stories. All of you were the greatest generation!. Any help on the symbols would be appreciated!
|Pat McGee, pmclago=earthlink.net, 14.02.2013|
Was with 57th WRS Hickam 1955-1958 4860 Eng mech. I don't remember any engine failures besides the ones caused by ground crews (easer to replace than to fix). Spent last few mounths on Eniwetok befor discharged in 1958. I always thought she was a great plane.
|Thomas F Brown, lucywb=juno.com, 03.02.2013|
Tom flew the B-50 as a weather plane in Bermuda. Member of the Huricane Hunter Sqd from 1957 to 1960 He mwas also the electronic Officer.
|Terry Martin, terry1937=ymail.com, 15.01.2013|
Just found this site and wanted to give say hello to all who have flown and worked on the B-50. I was a pilot on WB-50s both at McClellan AFB and Kindley AFB ('58-'62). Great experiences, but not without loads of excitement to say the least. Shut down many, many engines during my five years flying the airplane. Always had problems at high altitudes with the turbo waste gates slamming shut which immediately ruined the engine. Landed twice with only two engines operating and almost ditched near Bermuda after experiencing a massive electrical problem. Saved by a BOAC (now British Airways) 707 who flew up beside us at 1,000' in our descent to impact the water. Spent many hours running around finding and tracking hurricanes but loved every minute of it. To Ed Fleck - hey I remember you well, buddy!
|Bill Goodwin, chilkoot=charter.net, 28.09.2012|
For Leo, The control surfaces on The KB-50 were fabric covered and required a 'Mullins' test every 18 months.
****I'm also interested in any information on a crash of a KB-50 at Plumtree Island near Langley that took place about October 1959. I was enroute from the 427th t0 The 420th at RAF Suclthorpe U.K. the day or evening it happened. Thanks in advance.
|Don Tate, dont88=sbcglobal.net, 30.08.2012|
I mistakenly called the crashed plane in my previous posting as a B-58 which was a typo; I meant B-50.
|Don Tate, dont88=sbcglobal.net, 30.08.2012|
I was born in 1951 near Dayton, Ohio. A few of my classmates and I who grew up here have been discussing a military air crash just south of Dayton around 1957-58. Some of our research lists the plane as a B-58 and shows 11 dead, two of whom were civilian on February 27, 1958. Searches on the internet and local history sites don't list any large bomber accidents in this location. Several references point to a 1957 crash of a B-26, but this was a few miles north of our location. Response from anyone recalling any details about this crash would be appreciated.
|leo, leomhny=yaho.com, 17.07.2012|
Information needed on what material was used for control surfaces at the tail of the B50? Ws it fabric like b29 or metal?
|Jim Strong, jimmystropng65=gmail.com, 15.06.2012|
To C.R.Layton I was also in the 58WRS at Eielson from March 57 until May 58 when I went to McCord AFB to be in Det ? of the 55th. When is the reunion in Branson? I have fond memories of the B-50D but mostly of the great personnel of the Squadrons. I worked on the B-50 at McClellan, McCord, Hickam and of course Eielson. I also flew test flights for engine problems.
|Jerry Reed, camphobo1=msn.com, 06.06.2012|
429 AREFS Langley AFB, VA, 1957-1962. Co-pilot. Aircraft Commander, Instructor Pilot. Lots of great memories and engine out landings.
|Larry Schaffer, lschaffer=att.net, 05.06.2012|
On or about May 12, 1957 Dave Garroway's Wide, Wide World, did a show that featured 3 F100 Sabrejets refueling from a Kb-50 out of the 431st squadron. The video is supposedly on the web, but I can't find it. My father-in-law was the navigator on that flight. If you have any info on this, please let me know.
|Mark Trotter, trotterm17=hotmail.com, 28.05.2012|
I'm looking for info on two B-50 crashes my Dad was in. He was M/Sgt Eullen Trotter, a flight engineer in the 97th Bomb Wing, Biggs AFB. Dad was reassigned to Kelly in early 1953 so the crashes would have been from '48-'52. I believe a gunner died in one of the crashes. Don't know if they were near Biggs or not.
|Earl Justice, ebjustice=hotmail.com, 01.05.2012|
Just ran across this site and have enjoyed reading the comments of others. I also flew on th B50D and went TDY to Lakenheath, England and Sidi Slimane, Africa as a Radio/ECM operator. The plane was great as well as the crew. I believe the 97th Wing introduced the boon type air refueling. Wished I knew where I could get a good photo of the B50D. I went from Offut AFB to Biggs in 1952.
|Roy Emberland, remberland=aol.com, 16.04.2012|
I was a Gunner on the B-50, TDY from Hunter AFB June '53 thru September '53 to LakenHeath and Upperheyford AFBs in England, the B-50 was an excellant aircraft.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?