A Conversation for B36 Peacemaker - Big, Bad and Beautiful
Terrence Started conversation Feb 26, 2011
Your excellent article on the Convair B-36 is lacking a few facts
. One needs to consider: the 1950 A-bomb storage was retained in the USA.
The primary strategic target was the war-making capability of the USSR, i.e. the war plane cities in the Ural Mountains, 4000-target-miles from the USA, and any nuclear attack by the USA would follow a first-strike by the USSR on all our forward military bases, leaving only the B-36 or the Northrop B-35 (per a memo by AF Chief Hoyt Vandenberg) capable to a bombing attack on that target, and nothing else available for five or more years.
A squadron-nujber of Northrop FLying Wing B-35 (incomplete airframes) was available but scrapped by first AF Secretary Symington in 1950, including an airworthy example (YB-35) which airframes were not only far superior in performance to the B-36, but had also demonstrated GCI radar invisibility (stealth) in 1948 ... which was ignored by the Air Force... a fact I confirmed in an hours-long interview with Charles Tucker for my book 'Goodbye Beautiful Wing". Tujcker was the third Northrop test pilot (after Stanley and Bretcher) of the Northrop Flying Wings who was in the aircraft when its stealthiness was discovered and confirmed by multiple runs.
Tucker further stated that the AF claims of Wing instabity were false, and, having flown it more than 100 hours, including completing all the AF stall tests and recovery from a spin at aft CG, said "it was solid as a rock -- a good airplane."
The B-36 configuration flawed its performance by those basic aerodynamic ratios of wing loading, power loading, power-to-wetted-area ratio, and aerodynamic fineness. It had a thinner wing that the B-36 and a higher critical Mach number. The B-36 flew slower, lower, used much more fuel, and since it used the same engines, could never have improvements that the B-35 Flying Wing could not also have.
The Northrop FLying Wing airframe, according to Jack Northrop, was designed for 300,000 lbs., and 49,000 ft. ceiling, and Northrop proposed modifications that would even increase it's already superior speed and altitude, but the AF refused them.
The AF refused to load test the landing gear and wrote-down it's test gross weight, with no explanation.
The AF refused to fix its R4360 engines and props which were untested for Compatibility, and prevented B-35 testing over 15,000 ft., but to prove its Wing airframe Northrop, by swapping in eight jet engines for the four reciprocating engines and changing nothing else, (YB-49) showed that its YB-35 airframe soared to 40,000 ft. and 520 mph in an early test flight at Muroc.
The use of high-fuel-use jets cut the Wing range, (did the same to the B-36), in half. The only aircraft that could have attacked the USSR's prime targets were the prop-only B-35 and B-36.
But because of the configuration of the the B-36's poor aerodynamic ratios, it never would have been able to survive flying WITHOUT ESCORT for 3000 miles over Russia, against the 19,000 USSR interceptors and fighters, guided by nine radar rings. Considering this alone, the B-026 was a better one-way kamikazi choice for the Strategic Air Command, and the B-36 was relegated to PR operations and a few very dangerous intelligence flights which, using the jets for increasing altitude, would have used so much fuel that it never could have made the 4000-mikle-target should a nuclear attack have been required.
The B-35 Northrop Flying Wing, which was stealthy in 1948, could have succeeded, but Symington scrapped and cancelled the wings, partly because his correspondence shows he didn't know the difference between bombers of different range-capabilities. He did, however, order more B-36s from his friend Floyd Odlum's Convair Corporation, which was nearly bankrupt inits 1949 Annual Report, and had no other product to save it.
Just adding the J-47 engine pods that were used on the B-36Ds would have further increased the Wing's superiority over the B-36.
Vip Posted Mar 1, 2011
Wow, that's a lot of information. Thanks for sharing it with us and making this Entry even better!
If you have any other knowledge you would like to share we are always looking for more writers for the Guide.
Good to see you around!
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