Boeing B-50
1947
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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.

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


Specification 
 MODELB-50A
 CREW11
 ENGINE4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-35 Wasp Major, 2610kW
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight76389 kg168410 lb
    Empty weight36764 kg81051 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    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
 PERFORMANCE
    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
Marie Hess, reezehess=aol.com, 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, reezehess=aol.com, 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, rebajb=gmail.com, 30.07.2010

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

Jim Whalen, jimanddonna34=comcast.net, 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, dhs43ht=aol.com, 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, mjnguyen7=cox.net, 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. mjnguyen7@cox.net

Ray A. Gandy Sr., gandy1=earthlink.net, 20.06.2010

I was a HUN Eng. spec. at England AFB 1958-61 Caught a HOP on a KB50J to George AFB for 30 day leave home to Rosemead Ca.Was pretty well hungover when i boarded, flew left bubble, was a pretty rough go with that hangover but wouldnt trade the experience, many memories concerning the 622nd and Kb50js, palled around with three of their mechanics, A/2C Larry Sutton,A2C Henry Watkins & A/2C Bruce Gantt, am in contact with Bruce and would sure like to hear from Scag & Sparrow!!

john mc neill, jmcn5605=sbcglobal.net, 17.06.2010

was #2 engine man on 050 at Mather 1951-1953...we had 11 (?)radar training aircraft at MHR...My cc was msgt stanek
any one remember this?

Esther, esther4371=aol.com, 23.05.2010

My Grandfather was at Castle AFB in 1951, with the 93rd maintenance unit. I just found a group photo, which got me to looking, which brought me here. I see there are a couple of you who were there at the same and just wondered if you knew him. His name was Joe Cottrell. The email links here don't seem to work, so my email is esther4371@aol.com I'd love to hear from anyone who may remember him!

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 edfleck@prodigy.net. 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.
Clem

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.

Thanks,

Brian Carlson

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.

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