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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Pete Zuras, 20.12.2010

Back in 1968, I believe I flew the last B-50 flying in the Air Force, and made its final landing at Wright Field in Fairborn Ohio. We shut the engines down and turned over the keys to the curator at the Air force museum and there she sits today, configured as the former WB-50 that she was before we modified her as a test bed. Can anyone verify that the co/pilots yoke "horn button" with the Boing B-50 Superfortress logo, is still missing?

My Co-Pilot on that final flight was L/Col George Simpson. My Flight Engineer's name escapes me, but I met up with him at a reunion a couple of years ago.



Ed Fleck, 20.11.2010

Was F/E on B50D's 1949-54, 329 Bomb Sqdn Castle AFB, CA
F/E on TB 50's Mather AFB 1954-55, F/E WB50's 55th WRS McClellan AFB, Kindley Field Bermuda, Tinker AFB,1958-1963 and logged 4,600 hours in eleven years. Now volunteer as crew chief on WB50D 90351 at the Castle Air Museum, Atwater,CA. Let me see if I can answer your questions.

Glenn R. Pigg, 04.10.2010

I arrived at Turner Air Force Base, Albany, Georgia, fresh from Technical School as a Crew Chief type mechanic assigned to RB-50's with 1370th Photo Mapping Wing. There were (16) RB-50's and (16) C-130's aircraft assigned to this wing along with C-54 support airplanes. I went TDY with the RB-50's to Port Moresby, New Guinea. I was also assigned to Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands as well as American Samoa. The information gathered by the wing was used to support down range missle tests and returning Apollo Missions. I greatly enjoyed working on the RB-50 during my time in service. They retired the RB-50's late 1966 and early 1967 with the closing of Turner Air Force Base. They were replaced with (4) RC-135's. One retiring aircraft went to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum. If anyone served with this wing during that period of time please contact me.

Robert B. Spires, 28.09.2010

I was CE (crew engineer) on WB50'S at McCellan AFB 1953/1957.Flew lots of hours in 29'S and 50'S.They were just great aircrafts.would like to hear from anyone who was in the 55th AWS at the time. I have tried to locate some,with no luck.

Bailey,Hardin A., 24.09.2010

Why would a B-50 with "K" radar system be used as a tanker in 1960 there were 24 of these and does anyone know about the 427th out of Robins 55-60

Robert Brown, CMSgt, USAF, (Re, 18.09.2010

I was in the 93 Supply Sqdn, Castle AFB, when we transisioned from the B-29 to the B-50. Many problems because the Supply System did not have many B50 parts. When the Korean War started Colonel Robert H Terrill led us to Mildenhall, UK. He was soon selected at the first AF promotion to BG. I was lucky to be on the first AF promotion list to SSgt. The 328, 329, 330 BS kept us busy in supply. I think all of the 93BW loved the B50.

Jack Allen, 13.09.2010

I was a boom operator at Langley AFB on the KB29s from 1955 to 1957 with 429th air refueling sq.
1957 to 1959 At turner AFB with the 431ST air refueling sq.
on the KB29s then a reel op. on the KB50s
I looking for pictures of the KB 29s any help would be appreciated

Emory Hess, 13.09.2010

The email address for Boyd M. Fry is not a working email address. I haven't been able to send him information on the B50. I was a gunner on the crew his Dad was on. I had flown an earlier mission for another gunner. My best friend flew that mission for me and died when he bailed out. We were good friends of your Dad and Mom, Dave and Georgia. We played cards almost every week. Please contact me for any information you need or want to talk about.
Respectfully, Emory Hess

Merle H. Angell, 06.09.2010

I was crew chief on several TB-50's at Mather from 1952 to 1955 when they were being sent to Arizona for future lawn furniture. My Squadron was 72nd. The 50 was a great bird and will never forget the Take Off Roll in those day. My ship was 48-052. I also took delivery of the last prop bomber made by Boeing, an H model TB-50 S/N 51=470

John Christy, 30.08.2010

I was a tail gunner on the B-50 at Castle Field during 1950
-1952. We went tdy to Lakenheath, England 1951-1952
It was a beautiful plane and operated by great crewmembers.
Commanders Batson, Lovell and Gibson plus Ed Fleck, Hugo Werner, J.Lambert, Robert love and Anthony Novak. We had a wonderfu Co-Pilot, but his name slips me. I spent roughly 19 years in the Air Force and my time with the 329th Bomb Squadron at Castle was the best.

Paul O'Brien, 26.08.2010

I was in 96th bomb squadren 2nd AF, Hunter AFB Savanah,GA. from 1951 thru Sept. 1953. I have a comment left back in January,2010. Am still looking to hear from someone that was also there back then. I have a new e-mail address as listed above.

Briana, 14.08.2010

sorry, correction not John Ward, but Charles Ward. Sorry.

Briana, 14.08.2010

I am looking for a John Ward that was in the airforce and worked at Mcdonnell Douglas. I have been searching to find him. John dated my mother Marion Fererro in approx. 1964, and they lost contact with one another. He has a daughter he never knew that my mother was pregnant. Pls. email me if anyone can help me find the right John Ward. My sister has been looking for her father. My mother lived in St. Louis, MO. and was in the airforce. Thank You for your time. Briana

Marie Hess, 13.08.2010

I visit a gentleman named Homer Davis. He is 91 years old now. He was a pilot on a B50. I'm not sure where he was stationed. Does anyone know him? His biggest thrill in life was flying. I am sure he would love to here from someone who knew him. If you do please e-mail me or call me. my number is 410-830-9636. Thanks

Marie Hess, 13.08.2010

I visit a gentleman named Homer Davis. He is 91 years old now. He was a pilot on a B50. I'm not sure where he was stationed. Does anyone know him? His biggest thrill in life was flying. I am sure he would love to here from someone who knew him. If you do please e-mail me or call me. my number is 410-830-9636. Thanks

Oakley Baker, 30.07.2010

Gunner on RB50E&F in 6091 Recon Yokota AB, 1960 61 AC Bob Schubert $ Shadrick M H Waugh.

Jim Whalen, 27.07.2010

My Sq. was the 55th P.M.SQ. at Ramey AFB, Forbes AFB, Mildenhal RAFB England. 1951-1954 We put some long hours on the 4360 engs in England. You could change up to 7 before the eng. had to be changed. Anyone remeber me or the Periodic Maintenance Sq., drop me a line

Bill Simpkins, 24.07.2010

I would like to chat with anyone that flew B50's at of Hunter AFB in l950 - 51. I was in the 96th Bomb Squadron. My crew was #9. My AC was Joe Lawton. He was as good as their was. If anyone knows of Keith Major (that was he name, not his rank) I would like to hear of this very knowledgeable engineer. Like all other crews at Hunter at that time, we rotated to Bassingboune in England. Here is a little chuckle we had. On TDY to Goose Bay we flew ov the Artic Circle and the navigator said somethink like this: "We are now over the Artic Circle. You can see it if you look down. It is the blue broken line." Sure, we all looked. I would like to hear from any B50 gunner - or rather any remote control turret operator. We can relive those days at Tybee Beach.

Marijane, 08.07.2010

My dad, Wendell R. Buck was with the 93rd Bomb Wing, 330th Squadron at Castle AFB. He flew B-50s and B-52s. He also became a B-50 flight instructor. He was a pilot during WWII and flew a B-24 called Rebel Gal. Later, he flew during the Berlin Airlift and was part of the 12th Troop Carrier Squadron. If anyone knew my dad, I'd love to hear from you.

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