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

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Stuart Murphy, 24.06.2016

i just finished reading this web page on the B50. I especially enjoyed the emails from crew members, maintenance folks etc. I flew the RB50 at Palm Beach AFB Fla, the WB50 at Kindley AFB, Bermuda, and the RB50 again at Turner AFB, Ga..This got me to a lot of interesting places like England, Azores, North Africa, Iceland, Thule, Panama, New Guinea, Colombia, Japan, Hawaii, Phillipines, Guam, Samoa, Port Moresby, Eniwetok, Austrailia, and other places I can't remember at the moment. It was exciting, important and rewarding. The many people involved were the most rewarding part of it. God bless you all! Hi to Ed Fleck, and Gene Sheldon ! Our ranks are thinning thanks to Father Time. I'd do it again though, how bout y"all? Stu Murphy

Jim Smith, 17.05.2016

I was a tail gunner with "Menting's Meatheads" in the 6091 Recon Sq. in 1955. Flew many recon missions on an RB-50 while at Yokota AB in Japan. Great times except when an engine blew one night on takeoff. Makes for an interesting pucker time. Great engineer had that puppy "fire-out and feathered" in seconds and a great AC (Capt. Carrol V. Menting) had us back on the ground in minutes. Never saw so many fire trucks in my short 20 year old life.

john toole, 29.01.2016

I was at Walker AFBase in Roswell, New Mexico in the ground crew of the B50 and 29's in 830 bomb sqdn. from 1948 until 1952 great aircraft

Dewey Tillman, 22.12.2015

Was an airborne radio Maintenance technician, 1370 PMW AST-7, Guam, 1962. Got to ride the bombardier position during in flight maintenance testing. The take off and landings were fantastic. Nothing like the view of the runway coming up to meet you up close and personal.

wendy bennett, 20.10.2015

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Wendy Bennett, 20.10.2015

This message is in reply to J Stewart, 20.07.2015. My dad was also a weather observer stationed on Guam at the same time. He was suppose to be on that flight but schedules were changed at the last minute. He is still living and talks frequently about this incident. He spent many hours after looking for this aircraft.

My dad was a weather observer stationed on Guam with the 54th weather squadron. The B50 he was flying in went down 500 miles off Guam during typhoon Ophelia in Jan of 1958. He loved flying and took some beautiful pictures from the eyes of several typhoons.Guess the typhoon was stronger than the aircraft. Anyone remember or was it too long ago? My dad was Capt. Marcus George Miller.

J Stewart, 20.07.2015

My dad was a weather observer stationed on Guam with the 54th weather squadron. The B50 he was flying in went down 500 miles off Guam during typhoon Ophelia in Jan of 1958. He loved flying and took some beautiful pictures from the eyes of several typhoons.Guess the typhoon was stronger than the aircraft. Anyone remember or was it too long ago? My dad was Capt. Marcus George Miller.

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.

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