North American B-45 Tornado
1947
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  BOMBER, RECONNAISSANCEVirtual Aircraft Museum / USA / North American  

North American B-45 Tornado

In 1943, aware of Nazi Germany's advances in the field of jet propulsion, the Army Air Forces (AAF) asked the General Electric Company to devise a more powerful engine than its prospective axial turboprop. This was a tall order, but it eventually brought about the production of the J35 and J47 turbojets. In 1944, 1 year after the jet engine requirements were established, the War Department requested the aircraft industry to submit proposals for various jet bombers, with gross weights ranging from 80,000 to more than 200,000 pounds. This was another challenge, and only 4 contractors answered the call.

Pressed for time, the AAF in 1946 decided to skip the usual contractor competition, review the designs, and choose among the proposed aircraft that could be obtained first. The multi-jet engine B-45, larger and more conventional than its immediate competitor, won the round, with the understanding that if a less readily available bomber was to prove superior enough to supplant it (which the Boeing XB-47 did), that aircraft would also be purchased.

Testing of the XB-45 prompted pre-production changes. North American Aviation, Incorporated, redesigned the nose panel, increased the aircraft's stabilizer area, and lengthened the tailplane by nearly 7 feet. In August 1948, 22 of the 90 B-45s, ordered less than 2 years before, reached the newly independent Air Force. However, the B-45's increased weight, excessive takeoff distance, and numerous structural and mechanical defects generated scant enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, the B-47's future production had become certain, and in mid-1948 the Air Staff actually began to question the B-45's intrinsic value as well as its potential use. Soon afterwards, as President Truman's budgetary axe slashed Air Force expenditures, the programmed production of B-45s was reduced to a grand total of 142, a decrease of 51 aircraft.

Although continuously plagued by engine problems, component malfunctions, lack of spare parts, and numerous minor flaws, the B-45 regained importance. Like all bombers produced after the end of World War II, the B-45 was designed to carry both conventional and atomic bombs. In mid-1950, when U.S. military commitments to the Korean War reempha-sized the vulnerability of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Europe to Soviet attack, the Air Force made an important decision. Since the U.S. planned to produce large quantities of small atomic and thermonuclear weapons in the near future, the use of such weapons, heretofore a prerogative of the strategic forces, would be expanded to the tactical forces, particularly in Europe.

The program that ensued, under the code name of Backbreaker, entailed difficult aircraft modifications because several distinct atomic bomb types were involved and large amounts of new electronics support equipment had to be fitted in place of the standard components. In addition, the 40 B-45s allocated to the Backbreaker program also had to be equipped with a new defensive system and extra fuel tanks. Despite the magnitude of the modification project, plus recurring engine problems, atomic-capable B-45s began reaching the United Kingdom in May 1952, and deployment of the 40 aircraft was completed in mid-June, barely 30 days behind the Air Staff deadline.

All told, and in spite of its many valuable secondary functions, the B-45 did not achieve great glory. The entire contingent, Backbreaker and reconnaissance models included, was phased out by 1959. Yet, the B-45 retained a place in aviation history as the Air Force's first jet bomber and as the first atomic carrier of the tactical forces.

3-View 
North American B-45 TornadoA three-view drawing (800 x 1177)


Specification 
 CREW4
 ENGINE4 x turbo-jet General Electric J47-GE-13/15, 26.7kN
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight50222 kg110721 lb
    Empty weight22672 kg49983 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan29.26 m96 ft 0 in
    Length23.14 m76 ft 11 in
    Height7.67 m25 ft 2 in
    Wing area109.16 m21174.99 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed917 km/h570 mph
    Ceiling12270 m40250 ft
    Range4072 km2530 miles
 ARMAMENT2 x 12.7mm machine-guns, 10000kg of bombs

North American B-45 Tornado

Comments1-20 21-40
Gary, 06.12.2014

I was stationed at Alconbury,arriving in 1955. It was being reopened. I left there in Sept 1958. While there an airman was upset with a girl friend and took one of the B45's up and immediately crashed into the ground scattering debris everywhere and of course killing himself. I can't find any information on this incident.

George Haloulakos, CFA, 26.06.2014

My Godfather, Chris Lembesis [design engineer], worked on the B-45 Tornado, an aircraft that was a positive, if not significant contributor in keeping the peace during the early days of the Cold War. This is mentioned in my book.
HIGH FLIGHT
Aviation as a Teaching Tool for Finance,
Strategy and American Exceptionalism
By George A. Haloulakos, MBA, CFA
ISBN: 9780-1007-2738-0
Order your copy online at: ucsandiegobookstore.com
Or by phone: 858-534-4557
“Partial proceeds support aviation heritage”

Gene Kincaid, 18.06.2013

My older brother Paul Kincaid was stationed at RAF Sculthorpesomewhere around 1953-1956. He was a Jet Engine Mechanic. He told me about how he had to work on this engine that enhaled some poor airman. James(Gene)Kincaid Msgt/1st Sgt retired.

paul scott, 16.04.2013

Wasn't this the aircraft that the Americans gave us Brits to do their dirty work in early reconnaisance over the USSR and take the blame for if we got caught - according to the excellent documentary series, 'Timewatch', episode 'Spies in the Sky'?

Dave Link, 23.03.2013

I was a SHORAN , gen. Radar tech in the 84th bomb squadron at RAF Sculthorpe from apr 56 till sept. 58.My last 6mo. Or so was with the 47th
A&E field maint. Sq. on the N-1 compass sys.The sick B45 John
Langsdale described (05.05.2009) did crash inside of the RAF West
Raynham confines. It claimed the lives of the pilot, our squadron C.O.
The co-pilot and AOB. The gunners life was spared because the gunnery
Sys. Was kaput, and he wasn't on board.
If someone would like a good history of RAF Sculthorpe, the booklet titled
RAF Sculthorpe 50 years of watching &waiting, by Jim Baldwin is a good
Read. # ISBN 0 948899069

CURTIS BERRY, 14.03.2013

Actually, this happened about 1958 NOT 1858. LOL

Curtis Berry, 14.03.2013

Correct E-Mail address

CURTIS BERRY, 14.03.2013

I served at RAF Sculthorpe from 1955-1958 in the Vehicle Maintenance shop. About 1858 while road testing a vehicle on the perimeter track I witnessed a B-45 landing with smoke & fire trailing from an engine. It went off the end of the runway, through the fence & beyond. The nose of the aircraft was badly crumpled, killig the navigator. The only one to arrive before me was the ground safety Officer. In 1994 he was a customer of mine at my Auto Repair shop in Albuquerque, NM. We did not recognize each other but upon talking about our experiences we made the connection. I retired as a MSGT in 1974. I am currently working for Civil Service at age 76 at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM. My work phone is 505-846-1898.

Carty Lawson, 26.06.2012

I was a Q-24 Bomb/Navigation Radar technician with the 84th Bomb Squadron (47th Bomb Wing) at RAF Sculthorpe 1955-1957. In 2000 members of the various squadrons and support organizations of the 47th Bomb Wing (RAF Sculthorpe/RAF Alconbury) formed the 47th Bomb Wing Association (BWA), Ltd. One of the missions of this organization is to publicize the vital role of the B-45 Tornado in the "Cold War" from 1952 to 1958. In 2007 the 47th BWA dedicated a plaque of the B-45 at the Memorial Gardens of the Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Paterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio. May 15, 2009 the 47th BWA dedicated a B-45 Tornado Model and display case at the American Air Museum, (part of the Imperial War Museum), Duxford, Cambridgeshire, England. One of our current endeavors is to get a B-45 Tornado model displayed at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum near Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.
The 47th BWA publishes a newsletter, Contrails, several times a year and sponsors an annual reunion. Interested in becoming a member of the 47th BWA? Contact me at csrmlawson@verizon.net or crlawson16@yahoo.com

Richard E. Swearingen, 29.08.2011

I was assigned to the 47th Bomb Wing, 85TH Bomb Squadron in 1957. I flew as Tail Gunner on the B-45 and also on the B-66 after their arrival. The B-45 armed with twin 50 calibers and the Atomic Bomb in the Bombay, we were ready to deliver. Although the B-45, RB45, B-66 and RB-66 are rarely credited for their service. Each of us who served during that era know we contributed during that COLD WAR period to keeping the peace. I enjoyed the time I was privileged to be part of the 85th Bomb Squadron flying the missions that contributed to keeping the peace.

Anyone who recalls our acquaintance during the time we served at RAF Staion Sculthorpe, please contact me at the above e-mail address.

Jayne Sutton, 09.06.2011

I wondered if anyone out there can help me, I am looking for information/photo's/stories concerning 1st Class Airman Roy Junior Carter on the 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squad, 47th Bombardment Wing, based in Sculthorpe in 1957. Even the smallest amount of info' would be wonderful, Blue Skies to you all out there, Jayne

Arney Hudson, 06.06.2011

I served with the 84th. Bomb Sqdn. for three years (1951-1954) at Langley and Sculthorp as a Radar technican maintaing the Q24 system. Was on flying status for a while flying Radar test flights.I always felt that the B45 was a fine airplane. Would like to hear from any former members of the 84th.

Klaatu, 31.05.2011

This was the U.S. Air force's first operational jet bomber. As such, it deserves to be better remembered than is has been. It also enjoyed a highly successful operational career, although much of what it did was classified. Unfortunately the B-45 has been overshadowed by the Boeing B-47, which quickly succeeded it.

The B-45 was designed for service during World War II, and was a product of WW-II aerodynamic and operational thinking. In contrast, the B-47 was designed with the benefit of post-war technology, and represented a whole new generation.

J Zirin, 12.04.2011

I was part of the modification team from Gentile AFB, sent to Norton AFB to modify the B-45, which included bigger engines, and 20 mm guns in a powered turret in the aft position. I watched the gun installers zero in the 20 mm guns at the calibration stations to ensure accuracy of the guns relative to the sights. The electronics suite was upgraded also to increase survivorability. This work was done Jan - Feb 1952.

Donald Hall, 26.01.2011

I joined the 84th Bomb Squadron at Langley AFB, February 1952, transfering from SAC crewing an RB-36. I served as a radar technician maintaining the Q-24 Bombing System and Shoran set. I was on flight status both at Langley and Sculthorpe, flying test missions. I was at Sculthorpe until I rotated back to the States August 1954. Loved the plane, crews, and the experience in the 84th.

DR G., 23.01.2011

When I arrived in Japan 1955 (Yokota AFB) there were several RB45 on the ramp that were being deactivated. We were Photo Recon and operated B57, F100, F86, and T33's all camera equipped.

Joe Partridge, 15.01.2011

I worked on B- 45'S in El Paso Tex. Biggs A F B from 1954-57 our aircraft had J-35'S If some had J-47's thay must be a later AC than ours.My memory of working on 45'S was how difficult it was to work on a hot eng. because of how close they were to each other you could hardly get your hand very far up inside. Also they had a fixed canopy which caused it get very hot inside that thing, out in the west texas sun. We only had 3, we were a tow target Sqd. We used them for high alt. tracking,for




















I worked on B-45's at Biggs A F B, El Paso, Texas from 1954
till 57. Our aircraft had J-35 Engines. My not so fun memory of the 45 was how close the engines were to each other. It made it very difficult to work on a hot engine. You could hardly get your hand between them and not get burned. They also had a fixed canopy which got very hot in the west Texas sun. I was in the 1st Tow target Sqd. We only has 3 B-45's. We used them for high alt. tracking. Our Sqd. also towed with B-29's, B-26's (Dug.), B-57's.

Alvin Cales, 13.12.2010

I was with the 66 TRW at Sembach in 1955. We had a squadron of RB-45's at RAF Alconbury(10th Tac Recon Squadron). I believe these RB-45's had J-35 engines, not the J-47. Can someone clarify this for me.

Dawn Pennell, 06.12.2010

I am hoping someone may be able to help - my mother-in-law (Sheila Pennell) has recently died - shortly before she died she told my husband who his father was - he was Jack O'Brien (may be O'Ryan) - he was stationed at Sculthorpe in the 1950s - my husband was born in 1956 - we think he came from Maryland USA - would love to trace him - does anyone have any information which may help? Thanks.

J Paradis, 25.10.2010

I served at Sculthorpe in '53 w/ 7th shoran beacon Sqdn which supplied certain Radar info for the flock of B 45's. The 7th had operational sires at Sculthorpe and two or more? at othe RAF Stations in '53-54 & 55. I would like to hear from any personnel w/knowledge or info-

1-20 21-40

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