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|
|Bud Winnett, ragnald=greenhills.net, 11.04.2010|
I first met the B-50D Oct 1951 when I was assigned to the 330th Bomb Sqdn, 93rd Bomb Wing at Castle AFB. Stayed with her till the fazed them out in 1954 for the B-47. Was and Engine specialist but also flew with it as needed. Of all the A/C I have worked on and flown on she was and is myt favaorite. Re the comment from a Pilot earlier, in the 3 1/2 years I flew on then, I do not recall ever having engine failure. Not to say the did not happen, as we all know they did,but not THAT often.
|ed fleck, edfleck=prodigy.net, 06.04.2010|
I was a B50D flight engineer with the 329th Bomb Sqdn.,93rd Bomb Group, Castle AFB,CA from summer 1949 to summer 1954.
Next,1954 to 1955, TB50 flight engineer instructor at Mather AFB, CA.
For those who may not know, the TB50 was a stripped down B50 with the "K" radar system, used for training B47 radar bombardier navigators. On those flights, I would train two navigator students the flight engineer trade up front.
Next three years on the RC 121 Super Connie at McClellan AFB, CA. When enlistment was up, re-upped in the 55th Weather Reccon. at McClellan to get back on a real airplane, the WB 50.
Next, 1958-1962, WB50's at McClellan, Kindley Field Bermuda, Tinker AFB, OK. Retired, joined up with Air America, flew DC6 and Boeing 727's with them.
I'm presently volunteering as "honorary crew chief" at the Castle Air Museum, Atwater CA, on WB50 490351 there. I help maintain the interior of the plane and serve as guide to the visitors on "Open Cockpit Day".
The planes are open to the public Memorial Day Weekend and one other day, usually in the Fall. Check the Museum website fo the schedule. I will be available to answer your questions, anytime, if I can, at 707 448-3987, or at email@example.com. I'll be glad to hear from you.
|Carl Bud Kiesgen, kiesgencak=aol.com, 03.04.2010|
Here is my e-mail address, KiesgenCAK@aol.com "Thank You ", Carl "Bud" Kiesgen 20th. Bomb Sqdn, 2nd. Air Force, Hunter A.F. B. Savannah, Ga. 1952 to 54 (See artcle below.)
|Bud Kiesgen, KiesgenCak=aol.com, 18.03.2010|
I was the right blister gunner on Capt. Wm. D. Brennan's B-50D crew. We were stationed at Hunter A.F. Base, Savannah, Ga. We were in the 2nd. Air Force 20th Bomb Sqdn. We flew to Upper Hayford RAF base near Bristol England TDY once a year for 90 days. Anyone out there from the 2oth. Bomb Sqdn ?. Signed, Carl Bud Kiesgen from Saint Clair Shores, MIchigan
|Charles Haraway, harawayce=yahoo.com, 14.03.2010|
I was a navigator in the 421st AREFS at Yakota AB Japan. We were flying KB-50s when the Gulf of Tonking Incident occurred. For those who do not know about the KB-50 it could refuel three aircraft at the same time. At the start of the Vietnam War we were the only tankers available to refuel fighters in Vietnam. I was on six missions out of Saigon refueling fighters. In late 64 we lost two aircraft due to catastrophic engine failure. My last flight in a KB-50 was on the 9 Feb 1965 delivering the aircraft to the grave yard at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ.
|Bill Leninger, wlenin=q.com, 08.03.2010|
I was a navigator in the 1371st Mapping & Charting SQ at Turner AFB at the same time as Charley Brown. I thought of the RB50 as the Boeing tri-motor.
The surveying mission measured distance between two ground stations using HIRAN. It required line of sight. We hit a true altitude of 45,500 feet while measuring the distance between Gardner's Pinnacle (a rock about 6oo ft tall in the Hawaiian island chain) and Johnston island. On the high altitude missions, there was a tendency for the engines to overheat, requiring one or two engines to be feathered. Fortunately, the RB50 had a good glide slope. We'd head back to Hickam, restarting the engines after they cooled down.
The hairiest time was going in for a landing at Port Moresby, New Guinea with two engines feathered. On approach, a third engine overheated and was feathered. Suddenly we had a monoplane. at 200 feet, had to go around. We lumbered at 200 feet. Due to the terrain, an immediate turn wasn't possible. There was a 200+' hill between us and the sea. After we could turn and head to the sea, the engineer was able to restart another engine. Landed on two engines.
Overall, it was an amazingly safe aircraft.
|Clem Clement, clem.clement=cox.net, 03.03.2010|
Comment on why Boeing does not list the KB:
I flew both the WB and the KB versions. I flew the WB at 55thWRS, McCLellan AFB,CA. We had Boeing tech reps availabe to us who would brief from time to time about systems, changes etc. They were most helpful.
When we got to the 421th AFRES,Yokota, I askwed about the Boeing Tech reps. The answer was that Boeing had decertified the KB due the the modification made: the jets, the 5 miles of plumbing and the 7 miles of wire. This gave me great confidence Supposedly the cert plate was removed from the aircraft. The yoke still showed Boeing.
(Now don't thearten to sue me if I have remembered wrong, please.)
Any way I can remember a tech briefing at Mcclellan where some TDY KB folks wanted to sit in and were denied...
The KB liked to leak fuel from the bomb bay tank inlets, so the prodedure was taht after takeoff both pressureized doors would be opened and crew would "sniff check" the bays for more full smell that normal. If the leak was too bad, we would RTB. T helpon safety they rebuilt allthe electric flap motors in the bays to make them sparkproof. The rebuilt motoe had a white sticker on it garanteeing it would not go boom.
|Brian Carlson, brianc=palpilot.com, 13.02.2010|
My grandfather Kenneth Barrick died on August 14th 1951 as a flight test pilot for Boeing in Seattle aboard the B-50. I am trying to find original articles from the Seattle Times of the crash on Beacon Hill. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
|bob henchy, hank214=yahoo.com, 30.01.2010|
They had b50 at Yokota during the korean war with the 91st SRS. I flem as gunner at Roswell NM, Walker AFB 1953 1955.
Major Tom Carter was my AC. Does anyone have any pictures from Walker of the B50?
|Jack Nuding Col Ret, nudingjb=yahoo.com, 30.01.2010|
I flew the B-50 with the 509th BW Rsw, NM In 1952 during a TDY to England I lost # 1 on a mission over the Med. After shutting down we continued until " 3 failed then we made an emergency landing in Tunis. After our TDY returning to the USA #3 caught on fire. We were unable to extinguish it and made an emergency landing in the Azores. In spite of all those troubles I still have fond memories of the B-50D
|Paul H. O'Brien, hobrien74=cox.net, 28.01.2010|
I was a flight crew member on a B-50D (8054) from Febrary 1951-September 1953 in the 96th Bomb Sqd. Hunter AFB Savannah, Ga. a SAC unit. I flew as a tail gunner & OJT flight engineer. We made three TDY's to England, 1 ea. in 51,52 &53. MY AC was Capt. Razzie Strickland co-pilot was Lt. Killer Cane. Is ther anyone outthere that was also in this outfit. Let me hear from you.
|Herb Greathouse, pegherbgrear=succeed.net, 26.01.2010|
I was stationed at Aviano AFB, Italy, Instrument Shop, 1959/61. KB-50Js would come down from one of the air bases in England, for IFR flights for the F-100s that were TDY there from the states. They alway had some thing to be fixed. One thing I remember, you had to be careful working the the J-47 jet engines because the burned av-gas, instead of JP-4, and being an instrument man I spent some time in the tail pipe checking out the EGT indicating sysem. I also had the opportunity to spend a hot summer day in the tunnel, the one that connect the fwd crew compartment to the aft crew compartment replacing pitot-static plumbing to clear a flight squak - the IFR reel operator's airspeed and altimeter do not agree with the Pilot's A/S and Alt readings. Leaking plumbing causes this.
Got to ride along on a couple of night refueling missions. On one they let me set up in the nose forward of the pilot and co-pilot during approach and landing, for me this was a special treat. As others have said, these were THE FUN TIMES.
|Gene Sheldon, eugenesheldon=bellsouth.net, 12.01.2010|
This is a rugged aircraft with a bad habit of engine failure. Maximum maintenance required to keep her flying. I piloted for approx. 5900 hrs. with a longest non-stop flight from Yakota,Japan to Turner AFB,Ga.with the aid of jet stream tailfwinds. I also flew an extremely high altitude HIRAN mission about 1000NM west of Am. Samoa at 51600 feet radar altitude. This could not be accomplished without the extreme skill and professionalism of our flight engineer. As mentioned earlier 'engine out' operationwas fairly normal however, the hairest emergency was a #3 engine run-away prop that succeessfully feathered after th e aircraft dropped 2500 ft. and flat turned 110 degrees in a few seconds. Every crewmember should experience this once in his life.
|Jerry Eichman, jerryandbon=aol.com, 18.10.2009|
I was a tail gunner on a B-50, aircraft # 9305, stationed at Roswell, N.M. from 1951 to Aug. 1954. Went TDY to Milfenhall, U.K. in 1952 and TDY to Guam in 1953 Was in the 393rd B.S. of 509th B.W. Looking for anyone who spent time with the 393rd.
|Robbie Robinson, randj.robinson=googlemail.com, 16.08.2009|
Dear Sir, Please would you be so kind as to change my e.mail address from firstname.lastname@example.org to :-
email@example.com on the b-50 site requesting information on the 43rd Bomb Wing,.
Thanking you ,
|Michael Moss, mmoss=boykinusa.com, 07.08.2009|
My father was a #1 engine man for the B-50 series. He had to get out of the Air Force not long after his father passed away because my grandmother was with child. As life went on, he never had the chance to re-enlist. i enjoy the stories he tells me and I can tell he has really missed not having a career with the Air Force. My father served around 1950 and was discharged, I believe, in 1956 under honorable conditions. You can still see the excitement in his eyes when he talks of the B-50, B-47, C-46, and the C-124 aircraft. He can still tell you the engine models and how many jugs each one had. He is truly my hero and I am proud to say I am his son. There are only a handful of young people in this generation that carry on that same excitement about their jobs and they serve in all the branches of the armed forces. God Bless them all.
|Boyd M. Fry, bfry=austin.rr.com, 19.07.2009|
This is a note to contact Robbie Robinson. His email address did not work. I have this to say about the B-50 and the 43rd Bomb Wing: My father was a radio operator in the 65th Bomb Squadron in 1953. On August 20, 1953 he had to bail out of a bomber after a pre-dawn take off. The plane exploded over Picacho Peak. I was nine years old at the time. My father was David N. Fry. His AC was Captain, John D. Winter. My dad did survive the jump.
Were you a member of a flight crew, ground crew, or were you a B.R.A.T like me? I have my dadís caterpillar club pin and a copy of the application signed by the AC.
During his assignment at Davis Monthan, he flew in B-29ís, B-50ís and then KB-50ís. I believe the B-47ís were being stationed there at the same time. We left Tucson around October of that year and went to Roswell where he flew in the B-36 bombers. He remained in the Air Force until his retirement in the mid 60ís.
I hope to hear from you. I also remember a Col. Deutschendorfís son who became known as John Denverwhen we were in Tucson.. I also have some questions about the missions he flew in the 1950's. A lot of people have questions about those missions. I believe they flew "picket" around the A-bomb test sights during those missions. He died of a lymphoma type cancer which he had signs of at the time of his retirement.
Boyd M. Fry
|Ed Kellogg, ed_k_ii=yahoo.com, 15.07.2009|
My 86 year old father was a bomber pilot during the big one and he has a solid metal B50D model that is very old. The props are broken and he would like to get replacements or purchase an entire new solid metal B50D model. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions. I can't seem to find anything on it.
|C W Brown, dipole47393=mypacks.net, 15.05.2009|
I have to say after flying the RB50F for about 2600 hours in 1371st Mapping & Charting SQ at Turner AFB it treated me pretty well. Shut down a few engines for precautionary reasons but nothing really hairy. We used to take them to about 40,000 ft on some of our survey mission in S America when we operated out of Georgetown, British Guiana. Also they served us well flying out of Bogota, Eniwetok, American Samoa & Guam. There was a reference to them being replaced in the 1371st by the RC-130 but that aircraft was used by the 1375th M & C Sq. I think the 1371st had the last ones in AF service being replaced by RC135As in the winter of 1967 when I left the squadron for SEA.
|Lawrence Siegel, cuestaco=att.net, 07.05.2009|
In 1959 in was stationed at Yokota AFB in Japan as a 19 year morse code radio operator. Our detachment was a reconnaissance airborne outfit that flew on RB50's. Our missions were (12-15 hours) off the Russian and Chinese coasts to monitor air traffic communications. We flew on two different configured B50's: one we sat up front, and the other in the aft. The temperature was difficult to control and sometimes the front was cold and the aft was 85 degrees+. If you went from the front of the aircraft to the rear you had to go thru a 25 foot tunnel over the bomb bays. We frequently came back on three engines or with the radar out...etc., etc... One time we flew "touch and go" landings at Misawa AFB in Northern Japan while training a new co-pilot. I was asked to ride in the nose and visually scan for other aircraft. There was F-100's also training and it was pretty busy. On one of the landings the engine settings were too high and we kept gliding over the runway until the AC (aircraft commander) grabbed the yoke from the co-pilot and jammed the nose wheel into the ground from 10 or 15 feet. I almost flew into the pilot's feet which were directly behind and above the back of my head. Also, a traditon was if AC hit the tail skid on a landing he was obligated to buy the crew a case of beer....never did get a pay off on that one. FUN DAYS! Thanks, Lawrence Siegel. Lafayette, California
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