Boeing B-50
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Boeing B-50

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.

Boeing B-50DA three-view drawing of Boeing B-50D (582 x 774)

 ENGINE4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-35 Wasp Major, 2610kW
    Take-off weight76389 kg168410 lb
    Empty weight36764 kg81051 lb
    Wingspan43.05 m141 ft 3 in
    Length30.18 m99 ft 0 in
    Height9.96 m33 ft 8 in
    Wing area161.55 m21738.91 sq ft
    Max. speed620 km/h385 mph
    Cruise speed378 km/h235 mph
    Ceiling11280 m37000 ft
    Range7483 km4650 miles
 ARMAMENT12 x 12.7mm machine-guns, 1 x 20mm cannon, 9000kg of bombs

Boeing B-50

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100 101-120
Robert F Carroll, 01.03.2015

I'm writing for my father, Robert F Carroll from Emmetsburg, Iowa. He was stationed at Smyna, TN, Langley VA and Lajes, Azores. 413th and 314th. Anybody? Email is

Robert Danneman, 31.01.2015

Was with the 53rd Weather Recon Sq. in Burtonwood. England--1956-58...

Charles K Crowder, 13.01.2015

Assigned to the 431st 1959 at Turner AFB Albany, Ga. Worked in the Hydraulic shop. We moved to Biggs AFB, El Paso, Tx 1960 and I left the 431st October 1963 fot Bien Hoa, Vietnam.
I remember all the TDY trips to Hickham AFB Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam. Phillipines and you name it. I'd do it again.

James W. Berry, 15.09.2014

My e-mail address is I do not know why it shows up as an = sign instead of the @ sign.

James W. Berry, 15.09.2014

I was in the second integrated basic training group in the Air Force. Flight 4366 from August 9, 1949 for the next 13 weeks at Lackland AFB. After basic training I spent the next 9 months at Shepherd AFB in A & E School. After A & E School, Castle AFB was my home base. I was at Castle from August 1950 until January 1953. We saw TDY at three RAF bases in the UK. I was there when the King died. After a time in EBU I was promoted to S/Sgt. and took over one of the engine change and conditioning crews. I was in the 93rd Maintenance Sqd. We had 22 KB-29's and 45 B-50D. After I was processing for discharged one of the B-50 crashed in Northern California. Before that happened we had a KB-29
sheer a prop shaft and dropped a prop into the bedroom of a house in Bakersfield while they were in the kitchen eating supper. If anyone was there there during these years please send me and e-mail and let us get acquainted. My wife passed away on June 27, 2011. I will soon be 84 years old and am now living in Friends Home, Inc. in Greensboro, NC. One of the problems we had with the planes was a shortage of parts and we would have to get a scounge slip and take parts from a plane that was not scheduled to fly that day and use them on one that was scheduled. Captain Mauldone was one of the test pilots that would fly the plane on a two hour test flight after an engine change. The day I was discharged, he left for Japan for a tour there. I last saw him in Birmingham, Alabama where he was in charge of flight acceptance for the Air Force after we completed the work at Hayes International where we were modifying the B-50's to a three point reel tanker, the KB-50. He had been promoted to Major by the time he came to Hayes.

Roy Peaslee, 24.08.2014

I flew recon missions for USAF Security Service on RB-50Gs out of Yokota AB in 1957. The aircraft and crew were from the 6091st Recon Sqdn and a fine bunch they were. It seems that the aircraft required a great deal of repair as system and engine failures were common but for an additional $50 a month hazardous dut pay it suited the life-style of a 20 year old in Japan. I still have contact with some of my usafss buddies but lost touch with 91st guys. It was a brief but great time in my life.

Rob Carter, 19.08.2014

Hi, I am a member of the Control Tower Museum at Bassingbourn here in the UK. We had B-50D's stationed here between 1950 - 51 from the 96th and 97th bomb groups, and I would love to hear from anyone who was stationed here during that time.
Also any photos of The mighty B-50 at Bassingbourn would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

Ted Britain, 22.07.2014

I served at Kindley AFB in Bermuda from Aug. 61-Aug. 64. Part of that time I served with the 53rd WRS as a dropesound operator. Would love to hear from anyone that flew on the WB50 from Kindley.

Dick Haras, 12.02.2014

Was at Yokota 1963-1965.Was with the 56th WRS. Worked as A mechanic in the 50hr post flt dock on the WB-50. Believe Col MCkibbin was sqd commander. SGT Rue was was our NCO in the hanger. To say the least it was an interesting 2 years.Would like to hear from anyone who was around at that time.

dan merry, 02.02.2014

Mark,My father was on the plane that crashed out of fort Bliss,The accident was april 18 1951. the pilots name is Wells. The navigator was killed, his last name is Dow.He was burried in maine.For some reason there not giving much info. My father had news paper articles on the crash. The info on the crew is. 49-0279 of the 340th bomb squadron, I hope this will help, if i find more ill send it.

Gary Van Singel, 28.01.2014

Flew as Navigator on KB50J with 622 AREFS at England AFB, LA October 1960 to December 1963. During that time we refueled fighters over US and Canada as well as TDY's to Hawaii, Wake, Bermuda and Azores. Refueled over Key West,Fl during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The configuration was 4 props, 2 jets, three refueling hoses. Carried both AvGas and JP4 fuel load. Flight engineer was responsible for keeping the fuel separate and going to the correct engine. The jets could burn either fuel.
Planes were modified to J configuration in Birmingham, Al.

orlo noxon, 02.01.2014

i was a mechanic with the 509 bomb wing walker afb in roswell nm from nov53 util summer of 55 i didn't know that the 509th was the group that dropped the a bomb on japan until much later and i never heard a word about ufo's. the new mexico dust storms were not good for recip engines.

Mac McEachern, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

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