The first intercontinental bomber, the Convair B-36 originated from a specification issued on 11 April 1941 which called for an aircraft with ability to carry a maximum bombload of 32659kg and, of even greater importance in view of the state of affairs at that time, to deliver 4536kg of bombs on European targets from bases in the United States. An unrefuelled range of 16093km was a prime requirement, with a maximum speed of 386-483km/h and ceiling of 10670m. Selected from four competing designs, the Consolidated Model 36 featured a pressurised fuselage, and 70.10m span wings with a root thickness of 1.83m to permit in-flight access to the six pusher engines. The aircraft was designed originally with twin fins and rudders, but by the time the XB-36 prototype was ready to be rolled out at Fort Worth, on 8 September 1945, single vertical tail surfaces had been substituted.
First flown on 8 August 1946, the XB-36 had single 2.79m diameter main wheels, also a feature of the YB-36 second prototype on which they were replaced later by the four-wheeled bogies adopted for production aircraft. In this form the aircraft was designated YB-36A and also differed from the first aircraft by introducing a raised cockpit roof. On 23 July 1943 100 aircraft were ordered but it was more than four years before the first of the 22 unarmed crew-trainer B-36A models took off on its maiden flight, on 28 August 1947. Production of the B-36 continued for almost seven years, the last example being delivered to Strategic Air Command on 14 August 1954, and the type was retired finally on 12 February 1959.
| ENGINE||6 x P+W R-4360, 2575kW|
| Take-off weight||162162 kg||357508 lb|
| Empty weight||72051 kg||158846 lb|
| Wingspan||70.1 m||230 ft 0 in|
| Length||49.4 m||162 ft 1 in|
| Height||14.3 m||47 ft 11 in|
| Wing area||443.3 m2||4771.64 sq ft|
| Max. speed||696 km/h||432 mph|
| Cruise speed||362 km/h||225 mph|
| Ceiling||13700 m||44950 ft|
| Range w/max.fuel||16000 km||9942 miles|
| ARMAMENT||12-16 20mm machine-guns, 32600kg of bombs|
|Bruce Bixby, 22.03.2010|
I was trained as a B-36 electronic (electronic basic at Keesler AFB) gunner at Lowery AFB in 1952-3, after training, assigned to Fairchild AFB initially to the 92nd A&E (Aircraft and Electronic)squadron where I armed, repaired and disarmed all eight turrets of the planes of the Wing as required. Later I was assigned to Boardman Bombing/Gunnery Range(Oregon) TDY as a gunnery instructor. Finally assigned to a combat ready crew as a LLAft waist gunner in the 92nd Bomb Wing (326 Squadron) Lt Col Dauherty, captain. We flew typically every two weeks for 20 plus hours on simulated bomb runs with gunnery attacks thruout the western USA, Canada and Alaska. Near the end of my 4 yr enlistment, my crew was TDYed to Japan, I was asked to extend 6 months to go with the crew but stupidly declined.I was then reassigned to a crew in the 99th RBW in the 347th RBS to complete my tour. It was a great life and looking back realized what a great time it was.
|Paul PUrdy, 05.02.2010|
I flew the B-36 from 1956 to 1959 when they retired the last one in February. I was at Biggs AFB, TX, 95 BW, 335 BS. Great airplane and a whole lot more fun to fly than the B-52. I ended up with about 1700 hrs in the B-36 and over 10,00 in the B52. Other than being almost deaf I enjoyed every moment of the time.
|Roland Sigler Msgt Retired, 24.01.2010|
Was assigned to 492 bombsqd 7th bomb wing Carswell AFB. I was a radio ECM operator gunner. I flew from 1949 - 1960. Our crew major J.B Upton was selected as the best crew in SAC ands was featured in the Aug 27 1951 Life Magazine. Would like to know if there is any other crew member still living I would like to hear from them please E-Mail me as soon as possible.
|Bill Bradley, 18.01.2010|
I flew in the B-36 as a K Series Bomb Navigation System Technician from Carswell AFB from 1952-54.We flew around the US Radar bombing various cities, went to Morocco once with just one plane , to check out the facilities for future flights. While visiting the Pima Air museum in about 1989, I bought a B-36 baseball cap and later that day while I was wearing that cap, a fellow came up to me and introduced himself and said that he was the last person to fly the B-36. He was still employed by Mc Donnell Douglas at that time.
|Paul Gettinger, 15.01.2010|
I was assigned to the 5th bomb wing at Travis AFB from 1951 to 1955. I was a ECM technician and enjoyed the deployments that was a part of being in SAC. I never got to fly aboard the aircraft during my career in the Air Force but it later played a part in my future life. Once when I was on leave back in Missouri a funny thing happened. My father was listening to a radio broadcast of a St. Louis Cardinal ball game by Harry Cary. Harry's famous phrase was " Holy Cow". During this game he said to his side kick "Holy Cow" look at the size of that aircraft flying over the stadium. I told my Dad, that's one of my aircraft, a B-36. He said how do you know and I replied-its 6 prop engines have this resonance of it's own, and anybody working on this aircraft didn't have to see it to know what it was. After my discharge from the USAF I went to work for McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis. A new job assignment came up and the supervisor was looking for people that had big aircraft experience. Most of the old timers I worked with had only fighter aircraft experience since the company was a fighter manufacture. In the interview form I had to fill out it asked how many engines did the aircraft have? I put down 10. When I was called up for interview the supervisor asked (smart ass) what aircraft has 10 engines? The reply, the B-36 with ten, six recips and four jet. I did get the job which turned out to be an assignment to Hollaman AFB crewing a B-47. I still have a B-36 ash tray in solid crome, I dont smoke, but I cant part with it as it came from the BX at Travis way back in the 50's
|Kenneth Wheeler, 05.01.2010|
I was stationed at Travis AFB, Ca from mid 54 to mid 58 in the 5th A&E Sqdn. as munitions and weapons tech. It was an awesome aircraft. I did get to fly once on one as a maintenance tech on the bomb release system. Turned out that moisture was getting into the bomb release unit and freezing in the unheated bomb bay. This gave a false light indication on the cockpit bomb release panel. We actually had an incident of a 100 pounder falling off the rack because of it from the jar of the doors closing. That gets your attention. No explosion. Most of the 100 pounders were practice with a small smoke charge for spotting on range drops.
|Bert Fletcher, 09.11.2009|
For about three years, 1951-1953, B-36's used to fly directly over our home on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, usually at what I would guess to be about 30,000 feet. Usually one plane at a time, but sometimes a small formation. They were flying from Carswell AFB to Alaska and return. One morning a formation of about 4 or 5 flew over at what I would guess to be only about 10,000 feet. The noise was overwhelming! And they were leaving contrails at that low altitude. Cold!
When they came over at high altitude, always flying north, you could hear (And see) the plane(s) from horizon to horizon for about 15 minutes. The drone was awesome. I enlisted in the Air Force in 1955 and worked on TB-25's at Bolling AFB, DC, and Lowry AFB, Colorado. The 25's went to MASDC in 1958 and I was discharged in 1959. I really enjoyed those 4 years.
|roly hampden, 23.10.2009|
Who is this turd (below)
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|ALAN J. LEVI, 04.08.2009|
IN 1956 AND 1957 I WAS STATIONED AT WHEELUS AFB, TRIPOLI LYBIA, WE HAD THE PLEASURE OF WATCHING THE B-36 TAKE OFF AND LAND. THE REAL SIGHT WAS WHILE PLAYING GOLF, WE WATCHED THE 36 LAND. IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT TO SEE THAT BEAUTIFUL MONSTER LOW ENOUGH TO BE ABLE TO COUNT THE RIVITS. JUST TO SEE IT GAVE YOU CHILLS AND NO WONDER IT WAS CALLED THE "PEACE MAKER".
|Richard T. Nicolls, 05.07.2009|
USAF, 1959-1954. Initially assigned to Basic Electronics School, Lowry AFB followed by APG-32 Tail Gunners School and upon completion was assigned to the 42nd Bomb Squadron at Carswell AFB performing maintenance on the radar directed B-36 tail gun. Next sent to initial ’71 level Armament Systems School at Lowry AFB. Returned to Carswell AFB and was placed in charge of all 100 hour inspections of the B-36 armament System. Saw the transition from mechanical computer gun laying system to the electro-mechanical system. Transferred to flying status as one of the B-36’s turret gunners (right lower waist). Was assigned member of a Select Crew and experienced many 25 hour minimum training flights over the southern U.S. sometimes with nuclear weapon aboard (simulated or real, I never knew). As a Select Crew, I was able to attain the rank of T/Sgt. There were memorable TDY flights to Puerto Rico and Morocco where we stayed for one week. Completed my enlistment as tail gunner on a light-weighted B-36, but never flew at the extreme altitudes, >63,000 feet, that it was capable of. Very dependable aircraft in my experience. In my 356 hours of B-36 flight only experienced loss of an engine on one flight, prop went into reverse while in final approach on one occasion and our Master Gunner had to go out in the wing and crank down the landing gear on one occasion.
Richard T. Nicolls, M.D.
|John Wagar, 07.05.2009|
I had the extreme pleasure of working on "730" (Which is now "static" at the old Castle AFB in CA)as an aircraft electrician when it was active at Ellsworth AFB in SD 1953,1954 and 1955. can be viewed www.air-and-space.com/castlb36htm. Like a big dummy, I never took the opportunity to fly in one of these giants. The 36 was one of my favorites to be worked on during my 22 years in the USAF. I do have to say that it was the dirtiest one to work on in the engine conpartment. Those 28 cylinder recips really blew a lot of oily sooty crap all over the inside of the engine area. Working in the j-47 area gave me the idea of how nice and clean it could be working on jets. After leaving Ellsworth in 1955, I continued my Air Force career mainly working on jet aircraft of which my favorite "bird" was the A-10 warthog.
John Wagar, Msgt, retired
|James Mancuso, 21.04.2009|
It would be nice if one of the existing B36's could be restored to flying status. It would look fantastic doing the airshow circuit along with the B29 "Fifi". Why the Air Force would not allow it is beyond me. As a flying aircraft, it would be a most fitting tribute to all the men who flew and worked on her during her relatively short service career.
|Neil Randle, 20.03.2009|
After Flight Engineer training at Mather in B-50's was in the 99th at Fairchild as Second Engineer which was an Officer rated job. Attached to several Select Crews.
Made one memorable trip to Guam - took 33.5 hours to get there and 29.5 hours on the return. Mt Rainier never looked so good. Another memory was when as second engineer I had to go out into the starboard wing one night because the landing gear and the 'Canoe door' wanted to come up at the same time. I had to manually crank the gear down and recycle it. A fun experience. The true max gross weight was 410,000 and the 4360's were rated at 3800 hp 'wet'. A person could stand up inside the wing at the third engine out.
|Joseph McKean, 24.01.2009|
I flew in B-52's but wish I had at least one flight in the
B-36. I have always been intriqued with reports mechanics
could go out in the wing to make repairs. I have never
seen any pictures of how they worked their way out the wing. Are there any such pictures. Thanks
|clair w. emel, 04.01.2009|
Does anyone know where I can see a B 36 on the east coast ?
|Gus Anthony, 27.11.2008|
For those interested in the Flight Manuals for the Convair B-36. My son researched and found this CD which is the complete Flight Manuals in great detail.
This CD is available at: www.flight-manuals-on-cd.com Ltd
P.O. Box 38-847
Wellington, New Zealand
|Constantine (Gus) Anthony, 26.11.2008|
I was ann Aircraft performance engineer on B-36s from 1951-1954. Stationed at Fairchild AFB, Fairfield, CA, Biggs at El Paso, TX. Would like to know what happened to Col Pete Sianis, Col. Estes, Lt. Bob Swanson, Frank Cavanaugh. Any leads would be appreciated. I would also like to know that any B-36 restored and on display would allow one to climb aboard and reminice. Gus
|Bob Miller, 22.11.2008|
I was in the USAF 1952-56 thru Lowry B-29 gunnery thence to Carswell AFB tng. for B-36 as tail gunner. Eventually formed with other transfers as a member of a combat-ready crew and shipped to Limestone (Loring AFB ME.) We began flying in B36-Ds "profile missions" mostly around artic regions,and in "show" missions to UpperHeyford England, Preswick Scotland etc. Later (1955-6)we got into "featherweight" H and J models which discarded 14 of the 16 20mm cannons and turrets, (leaving just the radar-controlled tail guns.) These last models were virtually "hot-rods" of the breed and we marvelled at some of the steep angles of attack some pilots achieved in takeoffs...perhaps beyond regulations. All aft-compartment gunners were also "scanners"...an extremely boring job of watching engines, intercooler settings, gear movements locking down lock, canoe-door closing,and any hints of oil leaks, smoke, flame, etc. (We lost at least one engine in flight about 25% of the time) We also were tasked with spotting AD Command fighters who "attacked" us on a fairly regular basis..We used gun cameras in return..learning later how many times we were shot down by F-89s, F-86s, even by Glouster Meteors over Canada. As "gunners" we shared multiple tasks, mostly related to emergency procedures and practices thereof. Aside from loading and arming all the 16 guns under the direction of our "senior gunner", scanner duties, and operating the tail radar armament system...we also could crawl into the wing (at low altitude) and crank down the gear (I never did this, thank God)..we could go to a panel and run a back-up for lowering flaps, and we could also do emergency retraction of the lower and upper turrets (which folded into the fuselage) There were six bunks in the aft compartment of all the models I rode..also an electric stove with 4 burners where we presumably could cook ham and eggs...but we seldom, if ever did that, even on long missions of more than 30 hours. (Inflight "Box lunches" were not all bad, except for the ubiquitous "Purple Plums in Syrup, and the vitamin fortified chocolate bar..) Advancement for combat-ready crews was more rapid than in the rest of the Air Force, (we were told) our AC,Pilots,and Radar/Nav/Bombradiers all gained heavier metal within the first eighteen months after passable flight safety records and a good bombing scores. Enlisted crewmembers would usually make an NCO (E-4+)grade within or shortly after 4 years. As a crew after "combat ready" we became a "select crew" then an "instructor crew" which placed us into other people's aircraft, drilling them remorselessly on SOP. I'm now 75 years old...I think I was told that for a time, in 1954-55, I was the youngest tail gunner in SAC. Those were memorable days.
|John Hampton, 20.11.2008|
I was assigned to the 717th Strat Recon Sq. at Rapid City AFB as an aerial photographer (1953-54). SAC and the B-36 were our nation's main deterent to Russian/Chinese expansion and war threat. In August '54 we attained an altitude of 57,000 feet in a featherweight RB-36E. It was a marvelous aircraft and maintained by excellent ground crews.
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