B-36 Peacemaker

This page is dedicated to the restoration of B-36J  52-2827 at the Pima Air & Space Museum.  It will also include details of the B-36 in general.

    When 52-2827 rolled off the assembly line in 1954 she was the last of 383 B-36s built.  One of the final 14 B-36Js she left the factory as a Featherweight III aircraft.  In that configuration the aircraft carried only tail guns, the nose and retractable turrets being dispensed with.  The purpose was to lighten the airframe providing for better performance, both in speed and altitude.  Upon acceptance by the Air Force 2827 was assigned to the 92nd Bombardment Wing at Fairchild AFB, Washington.  In 1957 she was transferred to the 95th BW at Biggs AFB, Texas before retirement in 1959.  In February, 1959 the 95th BW finished conversion to B-52B aircraft and 2827 was retired to the Greater Southwest International Airport (also known as Amon Carter).






    On the assembly line prior to completion at the Convair plant in Fort Worth.  Being the last of a major program brought out a lot of sentiment as the aircraft neared completion.  The third photo shows the aircraft upon delivery to the USAF.  The small "UNITED STATES AIR FORCE" lettering would soon disappear to be replaced by the larger "U.S. AIR FORCE".  The final photo probably shows 2827 when she transferred to the 95th BW (University of North Texas)


    A line up of B-36Js in Hawaii during the Spring of  1956.  In the foreground is 52-2824 and in the background are 2825, 2826 and 2827.  The box contraption on 2824 is a sampler to collect traces of fallout from the upper atmosphere during reconnaissance missions.  (courtesy of Wayne Reece)

B-36J 52-2827



    Carrying spurious 11th BW markings, 2827 is on display at the Southwest Aerospace Museum in March, 1988.  This museum was located outside Carswell AFB.  By this time the aircraft had been disassembled for the move from the Greater Southwest Airport and reassembled at the new location.  This museum closed in the early 1990s leaving 2827 homeless.  For several years volunteers worked on restoring her at the General Dynamics plant in Fort Worth.  The GD plant had been Convair, this was to change again when Lockheed-Martin bought GD.

    In 2004 the USAF decided that the best course of action to preserve 52-2827 was to loan the aircraft to the Pima Air & Space Museum.  In July, 2005 the aircraft was moved to Pima





    After arrival at Pima it took several months of planning and surveying the condition of the airframe prior to reassembly.  The above photos were taken in November, 2005.




    Reassembly started in late 2005, but progressed slowly due to corrosion in the airframe that had to be dealt with.  Though a great amount of work had been put into preserving the aircraft while still in Fort Worth the Texas climate had been hard on the airframe.  Photos date from March, 2007.







    Progress in June, 2007 consists of attaching the nacelles and work to the aft fuselage.





    In October, 2007 work was well under way in preparation of attaching the aft fuselage to the forward section.  This was accomplished late that year.





    By the time these photos were taken in April, 2008 the aft section was attached and many of the smaller components were under restoration inside the hangar.  Note the transit damage to the nacelle in the background of the first photo.



    By December 0f 2008 the major portions of the airframe were assembled and painting was set to begin.  The Hun to the left was being prepared for repainting, which would be completed in a few weeks.






    By March, 2009 a great deal of work had been accomplished.  The aircraft will be displayed in the markings of the 95th Bomb Wing which it last served with prior to retirement.  The 6th and 95th Bomb Wings were unique in having the area above the crew cabin painted white on most of their airplanes.  This was due to the extreme heat during the summer at Walker and Biggs.

    These photos were taken on Friday March 20, 2009.  Over the weekend the protective paper was removed revealing the SAC badge and the 95th emblem.

    As of May 9, 2009 the outer wing panels were in the process of being attached.  I should have updated photos within a few weeks.  It is quite possible the airplane will be ready for display by Memorial Day.



    After four years of hard work 2827 was placed back on public display in July, 2009.  There are still some minor items to take care of and probably will be for some time.  It is hoped that eventually the airplane will be displayed inside and future plans call for a hangar large enough to house the monster.

    The inscription "City of Ft. Worth"  has been painted on the nose on and off since the airplane was first put on display in Fort Worth.  However, I have not seen any documentation of that name prior to retirement .  While it could have been painted on during Operation Sayonara, it is more than likely a sentimental name painted on during display.

    A few details:


    The B-36 was originally designed with retractable turrets for self defense.  They retracted into the fuselage and mounted 20 millimeter cannons.  The turrets were deleted during the Featherweight  programs.



    The following photos were taken of B-36J 52-2217 at the  Strategic Air & Space Museum.



For many years 2217 was displayed outside at the old SAC Museum just outside Offutt AFB.  In the late 1990s she was moved inside to the new SASM.  The first photo is from Mar, 1990.  The second shot dates from July, 1995 and the final shot is inside in August, 2007.


    The B-36 had three flaps per wing and these are shown starting from the inboard out.  The view looks toward the fuselage and the second looks outboard.  Each set of photos is arranged in the same manner.  The final two photos show the flaps from the front.


    This view looking forward gives a good idea of the size of the B-36's large flaps.


    These views give a good idea of the amount of glass in the cockpit area.  The round openings in the fuselage are for scanning blisters on the upper part (both sides) and crew access on the left.  The scanning blisters were replaced with flat plates on Featherweight aircraft, with the exception of the lower rear blisters which were left in place (or re-fitted) to allow observation of the flaps, main gear  and engines while in-flight.



    The first photo is an August, 2007 view of 52-2217 undergoing a continuing restoration at the SASM.  The second and third photos show the cooling outlet in the rear of the engine nacelles.  The airflow was controlled by the ring forward of the prop.  That ring would move backward and forward to control the amount of air over the engines much in the way cowl flaps control airflow.  The fourth photo illustrates the twin J-47 pods.



    The above views are of the forward bomb bays (looking fore and aft) and the aft bays (looking fore and aft).


The following photos were taken 52-2220 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.



    2220 has been displayed indoors at the NMUSAF for many years.  The dark lighting and tight spaces make it a difficult aircraft to photograph.



    The above views are much the same as the ones taken of 2217. 


The following photos were taken at both the SASM and the NMUSAF.




    The nose gear and a bad shot of the nose well.


    The main gears and wells.

   
    The circular opening is the crew access and the square window is a camera port.

Engines

The B-36 was designed around six Pratt and Whitney R-4360 Wasp Majors, a 3,000 hp engine.






    While the R-4360 never achieved the reliability of the R-2800 it did become a workhorse and went on to power several airplanes in addition to the B-36.  Many air museums have a Wasp Major on display.

    The first photo is one of the engines out of B-36J 52-2827.  It will be on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum.  The second, third and fourth shot are of an R-4360 on display at the NMUSAF.



Later,  after it was decided that the aircraft could benefit from additional power, four GE J-47 jet engines were added.





Props









    The original propellers had round tips.  These were eventually replaced with square tipped blades.  The hole in the front part of the trailing edge is an exhaust port for prop anti-icing.



Weapons


Mark 17 and B-36J

    The Mark 17 thermonuclear bomb was the largest bomb ever produced by the United States.  The only airplane that could realistically carry it was the B-36.  The above photo shows a Mk 17 displayed next to a B-36 at the old SAC Museum.




Mk 3 "Fat Man"
Mk 4
Mk 5
Mk 6
Mark 15 Thermonuclear bomb Mark 17 therm nuclear bomb Mark 36 Thermo nuclear bomb
Mk 15
Mk 17
Mk 36
Mk 39


     (Mk 4 and 15 photos USAF)


AN/M30 250lbs Bomb
1,000lbs Semi Armor Piercing Bomb
4,000lbs Bomb
Leaflet Bomb
MC-1 Chemical Bomb
AN-M26 Parachute Flare


T-12  44,000lbs Bomb



GAM-63 RASCAL

    Though plans were made to equip B-36s with RASCAL missiles they never fielded operationally.






    The so called "Boston Camera" that was developed that was developed by Boston University for the USAF.


Parasite Aircraft






    One odd program was the F-85 Goblin which was designed to be carried in the belly of a B-36.  The idea was to provide fighter protection on long missions, but due to many reasons the program was not a success.  The little fighter could be carried internally and released near the target to provide fighter escort for the bombers.  However, carrying an F-85 reduced the bomb load and the Goblin was at a distinct disadvantage compared to contemporary Soviet fighters.  The idea was for it to be retrieved by hooking up to a trapeze arrangement to return home with the bomber, but in tests a successful hookup was never made.  Two airframes were completed and ironically both survive.  One in the NMUSAF and the other in the SASM.




    Another parasite program was FICON where a B-36 would carry a recon plane to the target.  25 RF-84Ks were special built for the project.  Once again they were to utilize a trapeze system for carriage by the B-36 mother ship.  While not a failure their role was soon taken over by better reconnaissance aircraft and eventually satellites. They later served with the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron.   This well worn example on the left is under restoration at the Wings Over the Rockies Air Museum.  The two photos on the right are of an RF-84K at the Planes of Fame Air Museum.



Convair's B-36 Replacement


    With the increasing performance of jet aircraft it was obvious to Convair the the B-36 was rapidly becoming an outdated design in comparison to the B-47 and B-52.  To compete against the newer aircraft Convair designed an all jet version of the B-36 designated the B-60.  The B-60 was powered by the same J-57 engine that powered the B-52, but saddled with the thick wing of the B-36 the B-60 fell far short of the performance of Boeing's Stratofortress.  As a result only two YB-60s were built and only one ever flew.


All photos are mine unless otherwise credited.

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Page created: 05-09-09

Modified: 09-14-14

Clifford Bossie