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
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
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).
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)
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
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.
June, 2007 consists of attaching the nacelles and work to the aft
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.
"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.
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.
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.
looking forward gives a good idea of the size of the B-36's large flaps.
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
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
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
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 serveral
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.
after it was decided that the aircraft could benefit from additional
power, four GE J-47 jet engines were added.
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.
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.
3 "Fat Man"
(Mk 4 and 15 photos USAF)
Semi Armor Piercing Bomb
were made to equip B-36s with RASCAL missiles they never fielded
The so called "Boston Camera" that was developed
that was developed by Boston University for the USAF.
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
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.
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
For corrections, information and