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 81-100 101-120 121-140
Paul H. O'Brien, 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, 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, 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, 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, 16.08.2009

Dear Sir, Please would you be so kind as to change my e.mail address from rm.jm161045@virgin.net to :-
randj.robinson@googlemail.com on the b-50 site requesting information on the 43rd Bomb Wing,.
Thanking you ,
sincerely,
Robbie Robinson.

Michael Moss, 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, 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.

Respectfully yours
Boyd M. Fry

Ed Kellogg, 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, 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, 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

Ross Huxtable, 10.03.2009

I have some original decals that I believe go on a B-50 or were intended for the defunct B54. Not sure if they are all off of the bomber, some may be off of fighters. One reads "Tail skid motor push to reset. Theres just a dozen or so. Anyone know who might wish to have these? Can send photos. Other examples, synchronizer control, Heater fuel, hydraulic CMRA door actuator.

Robbie Robinson, 11.02.2009

I am very interested in the B-50.
Anyone out there having served with the 43rd Bomb Wing at Davis Monthan in 1953 ,please contact me .
Thank you ,
Robbie

Paul Sitton, 06.02.2009

Someone asked if I were related to LTG Ray B. Sitton (RET)and the snswer is affirmative ... He is my brother. Don't know who asked the question but would gladly discuss with them if they are interested. Contact me directly at your convenience. Posted 2-6-09

elroto, 31.10.2008

I have always liked the down and dirty look of the B-50. I had the great oportunity to fly in FIFI a few years ago and I can only say for this rotor head it was a fantastic once in my lifetime experience.

Jack Mac, 16.09.2008

I'm new here!
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the B-50 being fitted with two wing-mounted jet engines. I once worked at the Birmingham, AL Municipal Airport where the AAF had an aircraft modification plant. I've seen many B-50s take off and land that were equipped with the jet engines.

David W Hall SMSGT,USAF (ret), 11.08.2008

THIS IS FOR PAUL SITTON. I WAS WONDERING IF YOU ARE ANY RELATION TO LT.GEN. RAY SITTON, USAF (RET)

John R. Ward, 05.08.2008

I was stationed at Castle Air Force Base, Merced, Ca. from June 1951 until August 1954. We had three squadrons of B50D bombers and the 93rd air refueling squadron with KB29P's and later the KC97 E&F. We went on a TDY to England with these planes for a three month deployment. I was a electrician and spent many hours working on these planes. This was the 93rd Bomb Wing, 328,329,& 330 Bomb Squadrons. We got rid of the B-50's in 1953 and got the B-47 for a short period until the B-52's got there. Not much has been said about the fact that this aircraft had in flight refueling and also single point fueling on the ground. I was sent to school for the engine analizer that was mounted above the flight engineer panel. We could scope every cylinder on these big engines and gave the engineer a better idea of what was going on. I even got to go on flight status at times for test hops. Worked hard but loved troublshooting that plane.

John R. Ward, 05.08.2008

I was stationed at Castle Air Force Base, Merced, Ca. from June 1951 until August 1954. We had three squadrons of B50D bombers and the 93rd air refueling squadron with KB29P's and later the KC97 E&F. We went on a TDY to England with these planes for a three month deployment. I was a electrician and spent many hours working on these planes. This was the 93rd Bomb Wing, 328,329,& 330 Bomb Squadrons. We got rid of the B-50's in 1953 and got the B-47 for a short period until the B-52's got there. Not much has been said about the fact that this aircraft had in flight refueling and also single point fueling on the ground. I was sent to school for the engine analizer that was mounted above the flight engineer panel. We could scope every cylinder on these big engines and gave the engineer a better idea of what was going on. I even got to go on flight status at times for test hops. Worked hard but loved troublshooting that plane.

Jack R. McCollum, 09.06.2008

I was a pilot in the 427th Air Refueling Squadron flying the KB-50 at Langley AFB from 1960 to 1963. There was one J-47 jet engine added below each wing so that we could refuel fighters at altitudes up to 30,000 feet. Each jet engine was equal to one and a half recips. It was a stable and powerful aircraft. The KB's were retired in 1963.

Sam Shumate, 20.05.2008

I was a mechanic on the Pratt & Whitney 4360s that powered the RB-50s of the 1371st Mapping & Charting Sq. stationed in West Palm Beach, Fl. from 1957 to 1959. The B-50 was a strong, powerful aircraft. A weather squadron at WPB used one to fly into hurricanes. The base was moved to Albany, Ga. shortly after my discharge and the C-130 replaced the B-50 in both squadrons.

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