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#1 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:39 AM

A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground targets, primarily by dropping bombs.
  • Tactical bombers are smaller aircraft that operate at shorter range, typically along with troops on the ground. This role is filled by many designs, including those listed below. In modern terms, any combat aircraft that is not a purpose-designed strategic bomber falls into this category.


#2 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:43 AM

(A-1) Skyraider[/b]Posted ImageUS Navy AD-4NA from VA-176 ThunderboltsTypeAttack aircraftManufacturerDouglas Aircraft CompanyMaiden flight1945-03-18Introduced1950sRetired1970sPrimary usersUnited States Air Force
United States NavyProduced1945-1957Number built3,180The Douglas AD (later A-1) Skyraider was a U.S. single-seat attack bomber of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. A propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, the Skyraider had a remarkably long and successful career.

It carried various nicknames including "SPAD" (after the model of airplane flown in World War I by early American fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker); Able Dog (phoenetic AD); the Destroyer; Hobo; Firefly; Zorro; The Big Gun; Old Faithful; Old Miscellaneous; Fat Face (AD-5 version); Guppy (AD-5W version); Q-Bird (AD-1Q/AD-5Q versions); Flying Dumptruck (A-1E); Sandy (rescue helicopter escort); Crazy Water Buffalo (South Vietnamese nickname).


Contents//

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Development
The Skyraider was originally designed in the 1940s by Ed Heinemann of the Douglas Aircraft Company, as a simpler alternative to the XBTD-1. At the time of the first prototype's flight on 18 March 1945, it was the largest production single-seater aircraft. The low-wing monoplane design started with a Wright R-3350 radial engine, later upgraded multiple times. Its distinctive feature was the presence of seven hardpoints on each wing, enabling it to carry a tremendous amount of ordnance for its size.

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Service
Posted Image Posted ImagePrivately-owned Douglas Skyraider in flightAlthough the Skyraider entered production too late for active service in World War II, it turned out to be of great value in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as its weapon load and 10-hour flying time far surpassed the jets that were available.

Posted Image Posted ImagePrivately-owned AD-4NA Douglas Skyraider with wings foldedOne of the Skyraider's most famous roles was as the "Sandy" helicopter escort. In one incident an A-1 pilot landed under fire to rescue another downed A-1 pilot. Late in the Vietnam war, A-1 roles were taken over by the subsonic A-37 Dragonfly and A-7 Corsair II. Most press accounts credit the Stuka and Sturmovik for inspiration for the AX / A-10 Thunderbolt II dedicated close air support mission in Europe, but it was really the Skyraider in Vietnam which pioneered the concept of tough, survivable aircraft with long loiter times and large ordnance loads. An A-1 was even credited with downing a MiG-17 that happened to fly across its gunsight.

In addition to serving during Korea and Vietnam as an attack aircraft, it was modified into the first airborne early warning aircraft to see service off aircraft carriers. It served in this function in the USN and Royal Navy, being replaced by the E-1 Tracer and Fairey Gannet respectively in those services.

USAF Major Bernard F. Fisher piloted a A-1E on the March 10, 1966 mission for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

USAF Lieutenant Colonel William A.Jones, III piloted a A-1H on the September 1, 1968 mission for which he was awarded Medal of Honor. In that mission, despite significant damage to his aircraft and suffering serious burns, he returned to his base and reported the position of a downed flight crew member.

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Production and variants
Production ended in 1957 with a total of 3,180 built. However, in 1962 the existing Skyraiders were redesignated A-1D through A-1J and later used by both the USAF and the Navy in the Vietnam War.

The Skyraider went through seven versions, starting with the AD-1, then AD-2 and AD-3 with various minor improvements, then the AD-4 with a more powerful R-3350-26WA engine. The AD-5 was significantly widened, allowing two crew to sit side-by-side (this was not the first multiple-crew variant, the AD-1Q being a two-seater and the AD-3N a three-seater); it also came in a 4-seat night-attack version, the AD-5N. The AD-6 was an improved AD-4B with improved low-level bombing equipment, and the final production version AD-7 was upgraded to a R-3350-26WB engine.
  • XBT2D-1 - Single-seat dive-bomber, torpedo-bomber prototype for the US Navy.
  • XBT2D-1N - Three-seat night attack prototypes. Only three aircraft built.
  • XBT2D-1P - Photographic reconnaissance prototype. Only one built.
  • XBT2D-1Q - Two-seat electronics countermeasures prototype. One aircraft only.
  • AD-1 - The AD-1 was the first production model. 242 built. (statistics in table)
  • AD-1Q - Two-seat electronic countermeasures version of the AD-1. 35 built.
  • AD-1U - AD-1 with radar countermeasures and tow target equipment, no armament and no water injection equipment.
  • XAD-1W - Three-seat airborne early warning prototype. AD-3W prototype, one aircraft only.
  • XAD-2 or BT2D-2 - Upgraded attack aircraft, one prototype only.
  • AD-2 - Improved model, powered by 2,700 hp (2,000 kW) Wright R-3350-26W engine. 156 built.
  • AD-2D - Unofficial designation for AD-2s used as remote-control aircraft, to collect and gather radioactive material in the air after nuclear tests.
  • AD-2Q - Two-seat electronics countermeasures version of the AD-2. 21 built.
  • AD-2QU - AD-2 with radar countermeasures and target towing equipment, no armament and no water injection equipment. One aircraft only.
  • XAD-2 - Similar to XBT2D-1 except engine, increased fuel capacity.
  • AD-3 - Proposed turboprop version, initial desigantion of A2D.
  • AD-3 - Stronger fuselage, improved landing gear, new canopy design. 125 built.
  • AD-3S - Anti-submarine warfare model, only two prototypes were built.
  • AD-3N - Three-seat night attack version. 15 built.
  • AD-3Q - Electronics countermeasures version, countermeasures equipment relocated for better crew comfort. 23 built.
  • AD-3QU - Target towing aircraft, but most were delivered as the AD-3Q.
  • AD-3W - Airborne early warning version. 31 built.
  • XAD-3E - AD-3W modified for ASW with Aeroproducts propellor
  • AD-4 - Strengthened landing gear, improved radar, G-2 compass, anti-G suit provisions, four 20 mm cannon and 14 Aero rocket launchers, capable of carrying up to 50 lb (23 kg) of bombs. 372 built.
  • AD-4B - Specialised version designed to carry nuclear weapons, also armed with four 20 mm cannon. 165 built plus 28 conversions.
  • AD-4L - Equipped for winter operations in Korea. 63 conversions.
  • AD-4N - Three-seat night attack version. 307 built.
  • AD-4NA - Designation of 100 AD-4Ns without their night-attack equipment, but fitted with four 20 mm cannon, for service in Korea as ground-attack aircraft.
  • AD-4NL - version of the AD-4N. 36 conversions.
  • AD-4Q - Two-seat electronic countermeasures version of the AD-4. 39 built.
  • AD-4W - Three-seat airborne early warning version. 168 built.
  • Skyraider AEW. Mk 1 - 50 AD-4Ws were transferred to the Royal Navy.
  • AD-5 (A-1E) - Side by side seating for pilot and co-pilot, without dive brakes. 212 built.
  • AD-5N (A-1G) - Four-seat night attack version, with radar countermeasures. 239 built.
  • AD-5Q (EA-1F) - Four-seat electronics countermeasures version. 54 conversions.
  • AD-5S - One prototype to test MAD anti-submarine equipment.
  • AD-5W (EA-1E) - Four-seat airborne early warning version.
  • AD-6 (A-1H) - Single-seat attack aircraft with three dive brakes, centerline station stressed for 3,500 lb (1,600 kg) of ordnances, 30 inches (760 mm) in diameter, combination 14/30 inch (360/760 mm) bomb ejector and low/high altitude bomb director. 713 built.
  • AD-7 (A-1J) - The final production model, powered by a R3350-26WB engine, with structural improvements to increase wing fatigue life. 72 built.
  • UA-1E - Utility version of the AD-5.
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Operators</a> <a href="http://""" target="_blank">


Specifications (A-1H Skyraider)
<H3 style="PADDING-TOP: 0.2em">General characteristics</H3>
  • Crew: One
  • Length: 38 ft 10 in (11.84 m)
  • Wingspan: 50 ft 0 in (15.25 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 8 in (4.78 m)
  • Wing area: 400.31 ft² (37.19 m²)
  • Empty weight: 11,970 lb (5,430 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 13,925 lb as scout; 18,030 lb as bomber (6,315 kg as scout; 8,180 kg as bomber)
  • Max takeoff weight: 25,000 lb (11,340 kg)
  • Powerplant:Wright R-3350-26WA radial engine, 2,700 hp (2,000 kW)
PerformanceArmament
  • Guns:20 mm (0.787 in) cannon
  • Other: Up to 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) of ordnance on 15 external hardpoints including bombs, torpedoes, mine dispensers, unguided rockets, or gun pods


#3 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:48 AM

Convair B-36 <DIV id=wpcontent style="WIDTH: 633px">B-36Posted ImageB-36DTypeStrategic bomberManufacturerConvairMaiden flight1946-08-08Introduced1949Retired1959-02-12Primary userUnited States Air ForceBuilt384Unit costUS$4.1 million (B-36D)[1]The Convair (Consolidated Vultee) B-36 was a strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force, the first to have truly intercontinental range. Unofficially nicknamed the "Peacemaker", the B-36 was the first device to carry a thermonuclear weapon, the largest piston aircraft ever mass-produced, and the largest warplane of any kind. All larger military aircraft have been transports.


History
After Cold War began in earnest with the 1948 Berlin airlift and the 1949 atmospheric test of the first Soviet atomic bomb, U.S. planners sought bombers capable of delivering the very large and heavy first-generation nuclear bombs. The B-36 was the only American aircraft with the range and payload to carry such bombs from airfields on American soil to targets in the USSR, as storing nuclear weapons in foreign countries was (and remains) diplomatically delicate. The nuclear deterrent the B-36 afforded may have kept the Soviet Army from fighting alongside the North Korean and Chinese armies during the Korean War.

The B-36 was arguably obsolete from the outset, because it was piston-powered in a world of jet interceptors. But its jet rival, the B-47, which did not become fully operational until 1953, lacked sufficient range to attack the Soviet heartland from North American airbases and could not carry the huge first-generation hydrogen bomb. (Neither could the other American piston bombers of the day, the B-29 and B-50.) Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) did not become operational until the 1960s. Until the B-52 Stratofortress became operational in the late 1950s, the B-36, as the only truly intercontinental bomber, was the mainstay of the Strategic Air Command (SAC).

Convair touted the B-36 as a "aluminum overcast," a "long rifle" to give SAC a global reach. When General Curtis LeMay headed SAC (1949-57) and turned it into an effective nuclear delivery force, the B-36 formed the heart of his command. Its maximum payload was more than four times that of the B-29, even exceeding that of the B-52. The B-36 was slow and could not refuel in the air, but could fly missions to targets 3,400 miles (5,500 km) away and stay aloft as long as 50 hours. Moreover, the B-36 was believed to have an ace up its sleeve: a high cruising altitude, made possible by its huge wing area, that put it out of reach of all piston fighters and early jet interceptors.

Nevertheless, the B-36 was difficult to operate, prone in its early service years to catastrophic engine fires and other costly malfunctions. To its critics, these problems made it a "billion-dollar blunder". In particular, the United States Navy saw it as a costly bungle that diverted funding and interest from their pet project, aircraft carrier–based nuclear bombers. In 1947, the Navy attacked Congressional funding for the B-36, alleging that the aircraft failed to meet Pentagon requirements. The Navy believed that the dominance of the aircraft carrier in the Pacific during World War II proved that carrier-based airstrikes would be decisive in future wars. To this end, the Navy designed the USS United States (CVA-58), a "supercarrier" capable of launching huge fleets of aircraft — or nuclear bombers. It then pushed to have funding transferred from the B-36 to the United States. The Air Force successfully defended the B-36 project, and the United States was officially cancelled by Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson. Several high-level Navy officials questioned the government's decision, alleging a conflict of interest because Johnson had once served on Convair's Board of Directors. The uproar following the cancellation of the United States was nicknamed the Revolt of the Admirals.


Design
Posted Image Posted ImageA B-36 airframe undergoing structural stability tests.In 1941, the fall of Britain to a German invasion seemed imminent, which would leave United States Army Air Corps (AAC) with no bases in Europe from which to bomb Germany. If this were the case, American bombers would need to reach Europe from bases in North America. Doing so would require a combat range of at least 9200 km, the length of a Gander Newfoundland–Berlin round trip. Hence the AAC sought a bomber of truly intercontinental range.

On April 11 1941, the AAC announced a design competition for an aircraft with a 275 mph (445 km/h) cruising speed, a service ceiling of 45,000 ft (14,000 m), capable of delivering 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) of bombs to targets 5,000 miles (8,000 km) away. These requirements far exceeded the technology of the day. The B-36 concept began with a proposal by Consolidated Aircraft (later Convair) to meet this requirement; the same design request led to the Northrop YB-35. Though the need to bomb Germany from North American bases never arose, the project was not cancelled because the B-36 was seen as playing a possible eventual role in the Pacific war.

The B-36 took shape as an aircraft of immense proportions (see [1] for a table comparing the large aircraft designed in the 1940s). It was two-thirds longer than the previous superbomber, the B-29 Superfortress. Its wingspan and tail height exceeded those of the Antonov An-22, the largest ever mass-produced propeller-driven aircraft. The wingspan of the B-36 exceeded even that of the C-5 Galaxy. Only with the advent of the Boeing 747 and the C-5, both designed two decades later, did aircraft larger than the B-36 and capable of lifting a heavier payload, become routine.

The B-36's enormous wing size made possible fuel tanks large enough to fly very long missions without refueling. The wing area made possible cruising altitudes above the operating ceiling of 1940s-era fighters, jet as well as piston. All versions of the B-36 could cruise at over 40,000 feet (12,000 m). Some claim that the low wing loading resulting from the large wing area made the B-36 more maneuverable at high altitude than the jet interceptors of the day, which either could not fly above 40,000 feet, or if they did, were likely to stall out. Retired fighter pilots of that era do not necessarily agree. Later reconnaissance versions, called "featherweights", had nonessential guns and bombing equipment removed. These are believed to have cruised at 50,000 feet (15,000 m), perhaps even higher.

The propulsion system of the B-36 made it a very unusual beast. All B-36s featured six Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial piston engines, each displacing 4,360 in³ (71.4 L) and the most powerful and perhaps most sophisticated piston aircraft engine ever built. Each engine drove an immense three-bladed propeller, 19 ft (5.8 m) in diameter, mounted on the trailing edge of the wing. This was the rarely employed pusher configuration, favored by aerodynamic theory because the unavoidable propeller turbulence does not interfere with wing lift.

Even though these piston engines delivered 18,000 hp (13.4 MW), early B-36s were slow and required long takeoff runs. This was addressed in two ways. First, later versions of the R-4360 delivered 3,800 hp (2.8 MW) apiece. Second, beginning with the B-36D, Convair suspended from each outer wing a pair of General Electric J47-19 jet engines, modified to run on aviation gasoline. J47s were then added to most extant B-36Bs. The greater power improved performance while taking off and landing, climbing to altitude, cruising at over 35,000 feet, and (hopefully) during combat.

Thus the B-36 came to have 10 engines, more than any other mass-produced aircraft, and yet another unusual feature enabled by its enormous wings. If all engines functioned normally at full power during the pre-takeoff warmup, the lead flight engineer would say to the captain "six [engines] turning and four [engines] burning". Erratic reliability led to the wisecrack "two turning, two burning, two joking, and two smoking", with two engines not accounted for.

The B-36 required a crew of 15. As in the B-29, the pressurized flight deck and crew compartment were linked to the rear compartment by a pressurized tunnel through the bomb bay. In the B-36, one rode through the tunnel on a wheeled trolley, by pulling oneself on a rope. The rear compartment led to the rear gun turret, and featured six bunks and a galley for rest and relief on long missions.

Posted Image Posted ImageThe new XB-36 alongside the first superbomber, the B-29 Superfortress.
From the Maxwell Air Force Base website (original image).The XB-36 featured single-wheel landing gear requiring the largest tires ever manufactured up to that time, 9 ft (2.7 m) tall, 3 ft (1 m) thick, and weighing 1,320 lb (600 kg), with enough rubber for 60 automobile tires [2]. These tires placed so much weight per unit area on runways that the XB-36 was restricted to the Fort Worth airfield where it was manufactured, and to a mere two USAF bases. The single-wheel landing gear was soon replaced by a more conventional [3] four-wheel bogie. A tanklike tracked landing gear was tried on the XB-36 but proved heavy and noisy, and so was quickly abandoned.


Weaponry
The four bomb bays could carry up to 39 metric tons of bombs, almost seven times the load carried by that WWII workhorse, the B-24 Liberator. The B-36 was not designed with nuclear weaponry in mind, because such weapons were top secret during most of the period when the B-36 was engineered (1941-46), and their mode of delivery had yet to be determined. Nevertheless, the B-36 stepped into a nuclear delivery role immediately upon becoming operational. In all respects but speed, the B-36 could match what was arguably its Soviet counterpart, the Tu-95 (still in service). Until the B-52 came on line, the B-36 was the only means of delivering the first generation Mark-17 hydrogen bomb [4], 25 feet (7.5 m) long, 5 ft (1.5 m) in diameter, and weighing 42,000 lbs (19,000 kg), in size the largest American nuclear weapon ever. Carrying this massive weapon required merging two adjacent bomb bays.

The defensive armament consisted of six remote-controlled retractable gun turrets, and fixed tail and nose turrets. Each turret was fitted with two 20 mm cannon, for a total of 16 cannons, the greatest firepower ever carried by a bomber. Recoil from gunnery practice could cause the on-board electronics to malfunction, solid state then being unknown. This contributed to the crash of B-36B 44-92035 on November 22, 1950.


Production
Posted Image Posted ImageThe XB-36 on its first flight.VariantBuilt XB-361 YB-361 B-36A21 B-36B62 B-36D26 RB-36D24 B-36F36 RB-36F24 B-36H83 RB-36H73 B-36J33 Total384 The first prototype XB-36 flew on August 8 1946. The speed and range of the prototype failed to meet the standards set out by the Army Air Corps in 1941. As is often the case with aircraft pushing the size envelope, the XB-36 experienced a number of problems. (For instance, the B-29 Superfortress was plagued by engine problems, and available engines were too weak to afford the Boeing XB-15 a useful top speed.) Many problems with the XB-36 stemmed from its "placeholder" engines, weaker engines used until the intended powerplant became available.

A second aircraft, the YB-36, flew on December 4 1947. It featured a redesigned high-visibility "bubble" canopy, which was later adopted for production. Altogether, the YB-36 was much closer to the production aircraft. Additionally, the engines used on the YB-36 were a good deal more powerful and more efficient. The YB-36 was actually beaten to the air by the first production model: a single B-36A was built with enough equipment to fly to Wright Field, where its airframe was subjected to a battery of physical tests.

The first of 21 B-36As were delivered in 1948. They were admitted interim airframes, intended for crew training and later conversion. No defensive armament was fitted as none was ready. Once later models were available, all B-36As were converted to RB-36E reconnaissance models. The first B-36 variant meant for normal operation was the B-36B, delivered beginning in November 1948. This aircraft met all the 1941 requirements, but had serious problems with engine reliability, and with the availability of armaments and spare parts. Later models featured more powerful variants of the R-4360 engine, improved radar, and redesigned crew compartments. See [5] for more detail on the features and performance of each of 16 variants of the B-36.

The four jet engines raised fuel consumption, thus reducing range. Meanwhile, new air-to-air missiles made hand-aimed guns mounted in heavy turrets obsolete; they were also unreliable. In February of 1954, the USAF awarded Convair a contract to reduce the weight of the entire B-36 fleet by implementing a new "Featherweight" design in three configurations:
  • I removed the 6 movable gun turrets and other defensive hardware.
  • II removed the rear compartment crew comfort features, and all hardware accommodating the XF-85 parasite fighter.
  • III incorporated both I and II.
The six turrets eliminated by I reduced the crew from 15 to nine. III enabled a longer range and an operating ceiling of at least 47,000 feet (14,000 m), features especially valuable for reconnaissance missions. The B-36J-III configuration (the last 14 made) featured a single radar-aimed tail turret, extra fuel tanks in the outer wings, and landing gear allowing the maximum gross weight to rise to 410,000 pounds (190,000 kg). Production of the B-36 ceased in 1954.


Reconnaissance capability
More than a third of all B-36 models were reconnaissance models, designated RB-36. Before the development of the Lockheed U-2, the RB-36 was the mainstay of American photo reconnaissance over hostile territory. It was the only American aircraft having range enough to fly into Asia from bases in the USA, and size enough to carry the bulky high-resolution cameras of the day. The RB-36 performed a number of rarely acknowledged reconnaissance missions, and is suspected of having carried out numerous penetrations of Chinese (and possibly Soviet) airspace.

The RB-36 was well-suited for such reconnaissance missions. Its high cruising altitude made it difficult to intercept, and its fuel capacity enabled missions up to 50 hours long. The RB-36 featured a pressurized camera compartment staffed by a crew of seven, in place of a forward bomb bay. The aft bomb bay contained tanks for extra fuel. The RB-36 cameras could produce very high resolution photographs: pictures of a golf course taken from 40,000 ft (12,000 m) show recognizable golf balls. RB-36s were distinguished by the bright aluminum of the camera compartment (contrasting with the dull magnesium of the rest of the fuselage), and by a series of radar domes under the aft fuselage, varying in number and placement.


Operational history
Unlike the B-52, which has seen action in the Vietnam War and the two Gulf Wars, no B-36 ever dropped a bomb or fired a shot at an enemy. The closest the B-36 came to seeing action was during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the Suez Crisis, when nuclear-armed B-36s were dispatched to Turkey and Morocco.

Though the B-36 had a better than average overall safety record, ten crashed between 1949 and 1954 (three 36Bs, three 36Ds, and four 36H's). Goleta Air and Space Museum maintains a web site [6], with photographs and lengthy excerpts from the official crash reports.

A B-36 was also involved in two "Broken Arrow" incidents. B-36B 44-92075 describes the first loss of an American nuclear weapon. On May 22 1957, a B-36 accidentally dropped a Mark-17 hydrogen bomb on a deserted area while coming in for a landing at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque NM. Only the conventional trigger detonated, the bomb being unarmed. These incidents were classified for decades. See list of military nuclear accidents [7] [8].


Maintenance
The B-36 needed a great deal of maintenance between flights; although in an emergency an aircraft could be "turned" in a few hours for a ferry flight, it took much longer to get the airplane ready for an operational mission. In January 1951 a B-36 amassed 200 hours of flight time (8.3 standard 24-hour missions), an apparent record.

The B-36 was too large to fit in most hangars. Moreover, even an aircraft with the range of the B-36 needed to be stationed as close to the enemy as possible, and this meant the northern USA, Alaska, and the Arctic. As a result, most "normal" maintenance, such as changing the 56 spark plugs on each of its six engines (always at risk of fouling by the leaded fuel of the day), or replacing the dozens of bomb bay light bulbs shattered after a gunnery mission, was performed out of doors, in 100-degree summers and 60-below winters. Special shelters were built so that the maintenance crews could enjoy a modicum of protection while working on the engines. Often, ground crews risked slipping and falling from ice-covered wings, or being blown off by a propeller running in reverse pitch. Some procedures even required a mechanic to sit astride a running engine, a 19-foot diameter propeller at his feet, his hand near the 34-inch diameter cooling fan.

The wings roots were thick enough, 7 ft (2.1 m), to enable a flight engineer to access the engines and landing gear by crawling through the wings. This was possible only at altitudes not requiring pressurization.

The piston engines also had a prodigious appetite for lubricating oil, each engine requiring a 100 gallon (380 L) tank. A former ground crewman has written: "[I don't recall] an oil change interval as I think the oil consumption factor handled that." It was not unusual for a mission to end because one or more engines ran out of oil. Though the B-36 could continue flying with as many as three engines inoperative, the extra stress on the remaining engines put them at risk of failing.

<A name=Engine_fires>
Engine fires
Like all large aircraft powered by piston engines, the B-36 was prone to engine fires, a problem exacerbated by the pusher configuration. When a crash occurred for any reason, the magnesium-rich airframe burned readily.

When thinking about engine fires, keep in mind that:
  • The ambient temperatures typical of the B-36's cruising altitude and of the high latitude bases where it was often stationed, were usually far below freezing.
  • Radial aircraft engines like the R-4360 are air-cooled. Hence the large volume of air flowing past the cylinders during flight underwent substantial warming.
The design of the R-4360 engine tacitly assumed that it would be mounted in the following conventional tractor configuration:

#4 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:50 AM

Convair B-36 B-36Posted ImageB-36DTypeStrategic bomberManufacturerConvairMaiden flight1946-08-08Introduced1949Retired1959-02-12Primary userUnited States Air ForceBuilt384Unit costUS$4.1 million (B-36D)[1]The Convair (Consolidated Vultee) B-36 was a strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force, the first to have truly intercontinental range. Unofficially nicknamed the "Peacemaker", the B-36 was the first device to carry a thermonuclear weapon, the largest piston aircraft ever mass-produced, and the largest warplane of any kind. All larger military aircraft have been transports.


History
After Cold War began in earnest with the 1948 Berlin airlift and the 1949 atmospheric test of the first Soviet atomic bomb, U.S. planners sought bombers capable of delivering the very large and heavy first-generation nuclear bombs. The B-36 was the only American aircraft with the range and payload to carry such bombs from airfields on American soil to targets in the USSR, as storing nuclear weapons in foreign countries was (and remains) diplomatically delicate. The nuclear deterrent the B-36 afforded may have kept the Soviet Army from fighting alongside the North Korean and Chinese armies during the Korean War.

The B-36 was arguably obsolete from the outset, because it was piston-powered in a world of jet interceptors. But its jet rival, the B-47, which did not become fully operational until 1953, lacked sufficient range to attack the Soviet heartland from North American airbases and could not carry the huge first-generation hydrogen bomb. (Neither could the other American piston bombers of the day, the B-29 and B-50.) Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) did not become operational until the 1960s. Until the B-52 Stratofortress became operational in the late 1950s, the B-36, as the only truly intercontinental bomber, was the mainstay of the Strategic Air Command (SAC).

Convair touted the B-36 as a "aluminum overcast," a "long rifle" to give SAC a global reach. When General Curtis LeMay headed SAC (1949-57) and turned it into an effective nuclear delivery force, the B-36 formed the heart of his command. Its maximum payload was more than four times that of the B-29, even exceeding that of the B-52. The B-36 was slow and could not refuel in the air, but could fly missions to targets 3,400 miles (5,500 km) away and stay aloft as long as 50 hours. Moreover, the B-36 was believed to have an ace up its sleeve: a high cruising altitude, made possible by its huge wing area, that put it out of reach of all piston fighters and early jet interceptors.

Nevertheless, the B-36 was difficult to operate, prone in its early service years to catastrophic engine fires and other costly malfunctions. To its critics, these problems made it a "billion-dollar blunder". In particular, the United States Navy saw it as a costly bungle that diverted funding and interest from their pet project, aircraft carrier•based nuclear bombers. In 1947, the Navy attacked Congressional funding for the B-36, alleging that the aircraft failed to meet Pentagon requirements. The Navy believed that the dominance of the aircraft carrier in the Pacific during World War II proved that carrier-based airstrikes would be decisive in future wars. To this end, the Navy designed the USS United States (CVA-58), a "supercarrier" capable of launching huge fleets of aircraft • or nuclear bombers. It then pushed to have funding transferred from the B-36 to the United States. The Air Force successfully defended the B-36 project, and the United States was officially cancelled by Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson. Several high-level Navy officials questioned the government's decision, alleging a conflict of interest because Johnson had once served on Convair's Board of Directors. The uproar following the cancellation of the United States was nicknamed the Revolt of the Admirals.


Design
Posted Image Posted ImageA B-36 airframe undergoing structural stability tests.In 1941, the fall of Britain to a German invasion seemed imminent, which would leave United States Army Air Corps (AAC) with no bases in Europe from which to bomb Germany. If this were the case, American bombers would need to reach Europe from bases in North America. Doing so would require a combat range of at least 9200 km, the length of a Gander Newfoundland•Berlin round trip. Hence the AAC sought a bomber of truly intercontinental range.

On April 11 1941, the AAC announced a design competition for an aircraft with a 275 mph (445 km/h) cruising speed, a service ceiling of 45,000 ft (14,000 m), capable of delivering 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) of bombs to targets 5,000 miles (8,000 km) away. These requirements far exceeded the technology of the day. The B-36 concept began with a proposal by Consolidated Aircraft (later Convair) to meet this requirement; the same design request led to the Northrop YB-35. Though the need to bomb Germany from North American bases never arose, the project was not cancelled because the B-36 was seen as playing a possible eventual role in the Pacific war.

The B-36 took shape as an aircraft of immense proportions (see [1] for a table comparing the large aircraft designed in the 1940s). It was two-thirds longer than the previous superbomber, the B-29 Superfortress. Its wingspan and tail height exceeded those of the Antonov An-22, the largest ever mass-produced propeller-driven aircraft. The wingspan of the B-36 exceeded even that of the C-5 Galaxy. Only with the advent of the Boeing 747 and the C-5, both designed two decades later, did aircraft larger than the B-36 and capable of lifting a heavier payload, become routine.

The B-36's enormous wing size made possible fuel tanks large enough to fly very long missions without refueling. The wing area made possible cruising altitudes above the operating ceiling of 1940s-era fighters, jet as well as piston. All versions of the B-36 could cruise at over 40,000 feet (12,000 m). Some claim that the low wing loading resulting from the large wing area made the B-36 more maneuverable at high altitude than the jet interceptors of the day, which either could not fly above 40,000 feet, or if they did, were likely to stall out. Retired fighter pilots of that era do not necessarily agree. Later reconnaissance versions, called "featherweights", had nonessential guns and bombing equipment removed. These are believed to have cruised at 50,000 feet (15,000 m), perhaps even higher.

The propulsion system of the B-36 made it a very unusual beast. All B-36s featured six Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial piston engines, each displacing 4,360 in³ (71.4 L) and the most powerful and perhaps most sophisticated piston aircraft engine ever built. Each engine drove an immense three-bladed propeller, 19 ft (5.8 m) in diameter, mounted on the trailing edge of the wing. This was the rarely employed pusher configuration, favored by aerodynamic theory because the unavoidable propeller turbulence does not interfere with wing lift.

Even though these piston engines delivered 18,000 hp (13.4 MW), early B-36s were slow and required long takeoff runs. This was addressed in two ways. First, later versions of the R-4360 delivered 3,800 hp (2.8 MW) apiece. Second, beginning with the B-36D, Convair suspended from each outer wing a pair of General Electric J47-19 jet engines, modified to run on aviation gasoline. J47s were then added to most extant B-36Bs. The greater power improved performance while taking off and landing, climbing to altitude, cruising at over 35,000 feet, and (hopefully) during combat.

Thus the B-36 came to have 10 engines, more than any other mass-produced aircraft, and yet another unusual feature enabled by its enormous wings. If all engines functioned normally at full power during the pre-takeoff warmup, the lead flight engineer would say to the captain "six [engines] turning and four [engines] burning". Erratic reliability led to the wisecrack "two turning, two burning, two joking, and two smoking", with two engines not accounted for.

The B-36 required a crew of 15. As in the B-29, the pressurized flight deck and crew compartment were linked to the rear compartment by a pressurized tunnel through the bomb bay. In the B-36, one rode through the tunnel on a wheeled trolley, by pulling oneself on a rope. The rear compartment led to the rear gun turret, and featured six bunks and a galley for rest and relief on long missions.

Posted Image Posted ImageThe new XB-36 alongside the first superbomber, the B-29 Superfortress.
From the Maxwell Air Force Base website (original image).The XB-36 featured single-wheel landing gear requiring the largest tires ever manufactured up to that time, 9 ft (2.7 m) tall, 3 ft (1 m) thick, and weighing 1,320 lb (600 kg), with enough rubber for 60 automobile tires [2]. These tires placed so much weight per unit area on runways that the XB-36 was restricted to the Fort Worth airfield where it was manufactured, and to a mere two USAF bases. The single-wheel landing gear was soon replaced by a more conventional [3] four-wheel bogie. A tanklike tracked landing gear was tried on the XB-36 but proved heavy and noisy, and so was quickly abandoned.


Weaponry
The four bomb bays could carry up to 39 metric tons of bombs, almost seven times the load carried by that WWII workhorse, the B-24 Liberator. The B-36 was not designed with nuclear weaponry in mind, because such weapons were top secret during most of the period when the B-36 was engineered (1941-46), and their mode of delivery had yet to be determined. Nevertheless, the B-36 stepped into a nuclear delivery role immediately upon becoming operational. In all respects but speed, the B-36 could match what was arguably its Soviet counterpart, the Tu-95 (still in service). Until the B-52 came on line, the B-36 was the only means of delivering the first generation Mark-17 hydrogen bomb [4], 25 feet (7.5 m) long, 5 ft (1.5 m) in diameter, and weighing 42,000 lbs (19,000 kg), in size the largest American nuclear weapon ever. Carrying this massive weapon required merging two adjacent bomb bays.

The defensive armament consisted of six remote-controlled retractable gun turrets, and fixed tail and nose turrets. Each turret was fitted with two 20 mm cannon, for a total of 16 cannons, the greatest firepower ever carried by a bomber. Recoil from gunnery practice could cause the on-board electronics to malfunction, solid state then being unknown. This contributed to the crash of B-36B 44-92035 on November 22, 1950.


Production
Posted Image Posted ImageThe XB-36 on its first flight.VariantBuilt XB-361 YB-361 B-36A21 B-36B62 B-36D26 RB-36D24 B-36F36 RB-36F24 B-36H83 RB-36H73 B-36J33 Total384 The first prototype XB-36 flew on August 8 1946. The speed and range of the prototype failed to meet the standards set out by the Army Air Corps in 1941. As is often the case with aircraft pushing the size envelope, the XB-36 experienced a number of problems. (For instance, the B-29 Superfortress was plagued by engine problems, and available engines were too weak to afford the Boeing XB-15 a useful top speed.) Many problems with the XB-36 stemmed from its "placeholder" engines, weaker engines used until the intended powerplant became available.

A second aircraft, the YB-36, flew on December 4 1947. It featured a redesigned high-visibility "bubble" canopy, which was later adopted for production. Altogether, the YB-36 was much closer to the production aircraft. Additionally, the engines used on the YB-36 were a good deal more powerful and more efficient. The YB-36 was actually beaten to the air by the first production model: a single B-36A was built with enough equipment to fly to Wright Field, where its airframe was subjected to a battery of physical tests.

The first of 21 B-36As were delivered in 1948. They were admitted interim airframes, intended for crew training and later conversion. No defensive armament was fitted as none was ready. Once later models were available, all B-36As were converted to RB-36E reconnaissance models. The first B-36 variant meant for normal operation was the B-36B, delivered beginning in November 1948. This aircraft met all the 1941 requirements, but had serious problems with engine reliability, and with the availability of armaments and spare parts. Later models featured more powerful variants of the R-4360 engine, improved radar, and redesigned crew compartments. See [5] for more detail on the features and performance of each of 16 variants of the B-36.

The four jet engines raised fuel consumption, thus reducing range. Meanwhile, new air-to-air missiles made hand-aimed guns mounted in heavy turrets obsolete; they were also unreliable. In February of 1954, the USAF awarded Convair a contract to reduce the weight of the entire B-36 fleet by implementing a new "Featherweight" design in three configurations:
  • I removed the 6 movable gun turrets and other defensive hardware.
  • II removed the rear compartment crew comfort features, and all hardware accommodating the XF-85 parasite fighter.
  • III incorporated both I and II.
The six turrets eliminated by I reduced the crew from 15 to nine. III enabled a longer range and an operating ceiling of at least 47,000 feet (14,000 m), features especially valuable for reconnaissance missions. The B-36J-III configuration (the last 14 made) featured a single radar-aimed tail turret, extra fuel tanks in the outer wings, and landing gear allowing the maximum gross weight to rise to 410,000 pounds (190,000 kg). Production of the B-36 ceased in 1954.


Reconnaissance capability
More than a third of all B-36 models were reconnaissance models, designated RB-36. Before the development of the Lockheed U-2, the RB-36 was the mainstay of American photo reconnaissance over hostile territory. It was the only American aircraft having range enough to fly into Asia from bases in the USA, and size enough to carry the bulky high-resolution cameras of the day. The RB-36 performed a number of rarely acknowledged reconnaissance missions, and is suspected of having carried out numerous penetrations of Chinese (and possibly Soviet) airspace.

The RB-36 was well-suited for such reconnaissance missions. Its high cruising altitude made it difficult to intercept, and its fuel capacity enabled missions up to 50 hours long. The RB-36 featured a pressurized camera compartment staffed by a crew of seven, in place of a forward bomb bay. The aft bomb bay contained tanks for extra fuel. The RB-36 cameras could produce very high resolution photographs: pictures of a golf course taken from 40,000 ft (12,000 m) show recognizable golf balls. RB-36s were distinguished by the bright aluminum of the camera compartment (contrasting with the dull magnesium of the rest of the fuselage), and by a series of radar domes under the aft fuselage, varying in number and placement.


Operational history
Unlike the B-52, which has seen action in the Vietnam War and the two Gulf Wars, no B-36 ever dropped a bomb or fired a shot at an enemy. The closest the B-36 came to seeing action was during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the Suez Crisis, when nuclear-armed B-36s were dispatched to Turkey and Morocco.

Though the B-36 had a better than average overall safety record, ten crashed between 1949 and 1954 (three 36Bs, three 36Ds, and four 36H's). Goleta Air and Space Museum maintains a web site [6], with photographs and lengthy excerpts from the official crash reports.

A B-36 was also involved in two "Broken Arrow" incidents. B-36B 44-92075 describes the first loss of an American nuclear weapon. On May 22 1957, a B-36 accidentally dropped a Mark-17 hydrogen bomb on a deserted area while coming in for a landing at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque NM. Only the conventional trigger detonated, the bomb being unarmed. These incidents were classified for decades. See list of military nuclear accidents [7] [8].


Maintenance
The B-36 needed a great deal of maintenance between flights; although in an emergency an aircraft could be "turned" in a few hours for a ferry flight, it took much longer to get the airplane ready for an operational mission. In January 1951 a B-36 amassed 200 hours of flight time (8.3 standard 24-hour missions), an apparent record.

The B-36 was too large to fit in most hangars. Moreover, even an aircraft with the range of the B-36 needed to be stationed as close to the enemy as possible, and this meant the northern USA, Alaska, and the Arctic. As a result, most "normal" maintenance, such as changing the 56 spark plugs on each of its six engines (always at risk of fouling by the leaded fuel of the day), or replacing the dozens of bomb bay light bulbs shattered after a gunnery mission, was performed out of doors, in 100-degree summers and 60-below winters. Special shelters were built so that the maintenance crews could enjoy a modicum of protection while working on the engines. Often, ground crews risked slipping and falling from ice-covered wings, or being blown off by a propeller running in reverse pitch. Some procedures even required a mechanic to sit astride a running engine, a 19-foot diameter propeller at his feet, his hand near the 34-inch diameter cooling fan.

The wings roots were thick enough, 7 ft (2.1 m), to enable a flight engineer to access the engines and landing gear by crawling through the wings. This was possible only at altitudes not requiring pressurization.

The piston engines also had a prodigious appetite for lubricating oil, each engine requiring a 100 gallon (380 L) tank. A former ground crewman has written: "[I don't recall] an oil change interval as I think the oil consumption factor handled that." It was not unusual for a mission to end because one or more engines ran out of oil. Though the B-36 could continue flying with as many as three engines inoperative, the extra stress on the remaining engines put them at risk of failing.


Engine fires
Like all large aircraft powered by piston engines, the B-36 was prone to engine fires, a problem exacerbated by the pusher configuration. When a crash occurred for any reason, the magnesium-rich airframe burned readily.

When thinking about engine fires, keep in mind that:
  • The ambient temperatures typical of the B-36's cruising altitude and of the high latitude bases where it was often stationed, were usually far below freezing.
  • Radial aircraft engines like the R-4360 are air-cooled. Hence the large volume of air flowing past the cylinders during flight underwent substantial warming.
The design of the R-4360 engine tacitly assumed that it would be mounted in the following conventional tractor configuration:

carburetor -- 28 cylinders -- air intake -- propeller

with air flowing from right to left. The carburetor is bathed in air warmed by engine cooling, and so is unlikely to ice up. The B-36 employed the following pusher configuration:

propeller -- 28 cylinders -- carburetor -- air intake

Because the carburetor is now in front of the engine, it cannot benefit from engine heat. Hence when the intake air was cold and humid, ice gradually obstructed the carburetor air intake, increasing the richness of the air/fuel mixture, until the unburned fuel in the exhaust caught fire. Engine fires of this nature led to the first loss of an American nuclear weapon, described above. Adding electric heating to the carburetor intakes eliminated the probem.


Crew experience
Training missions were typically in two parts, first a 40 hour flight, followed by some time on the ground for refueling and a bit of maintenance, then a 24 hour second flight. When thinking about missions of such great duration, two facts should be kept in mind:
  • Given a sufficiently light load, the B-36 could fly at least 10,000 miles (16,000 km) nonstop;
  • The highest cruising speed of any version, the B-36J-III, was only 230mph (380 km/h). Turning the jet engines on could raise the crusing speed to over 400mph (650km/h), but the resulting higher fuel consumption reduced the range.
Hence a 40 hour mission, with the jets used only for takeoff and climbing, flew 9200 miles (15000 km). Many missions were flown "around the flag pole"; they began and ended at the same base.

The B-36 was not a sprightly aircraft: Lieutenant General James Edmundson likened it to "...sitting on your front porch and flying your house around."[9] Despite its immense exterior size, the pressurized crew compartments were relatively cramped, especially when occupied for 24 hours by a crew of fifteen in full flight kit. Although the rear compartment included six bunks, and the radio compartment behind the flight deck included a couple of bunks, crewmen usually chose to sleep in their seats.

War missions would have been essentially one-way: taking off from forward bases in Alaska or Greenland, overflying the USSR, and landing in Europe or the Middle East. The recollections of crew veterans reveal that while crews were confident of their ability to complete a mission if called upon to do so, they were less confident of surviving the weapon delivery itself. These concerns were borne out by the 1954 Operation Castle tests, in which B-36s flew near atmospheric detonations in the 15 megaton range, at distances believed typical of wartime delivery, and experienced serious heat and blast damage.


Experiments
The B-36 was employed in a variety of aeronautical experiments throughout its service life. Its immense size, range and payload capacity lent itself to use in research and development programs. These included nuclear propulsion studies, and "parasite" programs in which the B-36 carried smaller interceptors or reconnaissance aircraft.

In May 1946, the Air Force began the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) project which was followed in May 1951 by the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program. The ANP program required that Convair modify two B-36s under the MX-1589 project. One of the modified B-36s studied shielding requirements for an airborne reactor to determine whether a nuclear aircraft was feasible. The Nuclear Test Aircraft (NTA) was a B-36H-20-CF (Serial Number 51-5712) that had been damaged in a tornado at Carswell AFB on September 1, 1952. This plane, designated the NB-36H, was modified to carry a 1 MW, air-cooled nuclear reactor in the aft bomb bay, with a 4 ton lead shield between the reactor and the cockpit. The cockpit was encased in lead and rubber, with a 6-inch (15 cm)•thick plexiglass windshield. The reactor was operational but did not power the plane; its sole purpose was to investigate the effect of radiation on aircraft systems. The NB-36H completed 47 test flights and 215 hours of flight time between 1955 and 1957, of which 89 hours were with the reactor critical. The NB-36H was scrapped at Fort Worth in 1958 when the nuclear aircraft program was abandoned.

Other experiments involved providing the B-36 with its own fighter defense in the form of parasite aircraft carried partially or wholly in a bomb bay. One parasite aircraft was the tiny McDonald XF-85 Goblin, which docked using a trapeze system. The concept was tested successfully using a B-29 carrier, but docking proved difficult even for experienced test pilots. Moreover the XF-85 was seen as no match for Soviet aircraft in any case, and so the project was cancelled.

More successful was the FICON project, involving a modified B-36, a GRB-36D "mothership", carrying a F-84 Thunderjet fighter modified for reconnaissance, the RF-84K, in a bomb bay. The B-36 would ferry the RF-84K to the vicinity of the objective, whereupon the RF-84K would disconnect and begin its mission. Ten GRB-36Ds and 25 RF-84Ks were built and saw active service until 1959, when they were quietly withdrawn as newer reconnaissance aircraft were introduced.

Projects TIP TOW and Tom-Tom had F-84s docking to the wingtips of B-29s and B-36s. The hope was that the increased aspect ratio of the combined aircraft would result in a greater range. Project TIP TOW was cancelled when the combination of two EF-84Ds and a specially modified test EB-29A crashed, killing everyone on all three aircraft. The cause was attributed to one of the EF-84Ds flipping over onto the wing of the EB-29A. Project Tom-Tom, involving RF-84Fs and a GRB-36D from the FICON project (redesignated JRB-36F), continued for a few months after this crash, but was also canceled due to the violent flight characteristics induced by the wingtip vortices of the B-36.


Obsolescence
The operational life of the B-36 ended because:
  • Long range jet-powered bombers became feasible, with cruising speeds more than double that of the B-36;
  • The speed and operating ceiling of jet interceptors steadily rose;
  • Radar-guided surface-to air missiles capable of reaching 20,000 meters emerged;
  • The airframe, especially the wings, proved vulnerable to metal fatigue;
  • Wing flexing led to fuel leakage, a common problem.
The B-36 was gradually decommissioned as the B-52 entered service.


Survivors
Only five (and a half) aircraft survive from the 384 produced.
  • YB-36/RB-36E serial number 42-13571. This was the first prototype to be converted to the bubble canopy used on production B-36s. It was on display for many years at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on [url="http://"http://www.answers.com/topic/wright-patterson-air-force-base""]Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. When the Museum was moved to a different location on base, the cost of moving the bomber was more than simply flying a different B-36 to the new location, and the aircraft was slated to be scrapped. Instead, Walter Soplata bought it and transported the pieces by truck to his farm in Newbury, Ohio, where it sits today in several large pieces. The center fuselage currently stores a complete P-47N still contained in its original shipping crate.
  • XC-99 serial number 43-52436, cargo version, in restoration at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio
  • RB-36H serial number 51-13730, on display at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California
  • B-36J serial number 52-2217, at the Strategic Air and Space Museum (formerly Offutt Air Force Base) near Ashland, Nebraska
  • B-36J serial number 52-2220, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio
  • B-36J, serial number 52-2827, the final B-36 built, at the Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona
[/url]
Related models
Main article: Convair B-36 variants In 1951, the USAF asked Convair to build a prototype all-jet variant of the B-36. Convair complied by adding swept wings and eight Pratt & Whitney XJ57-P-3 jet engines to a B-36F. The result was the B-36G, later renamed the Convair YB-60. Although the YB-60 could carry a heavier bomb load than the YB-52, it did not go forward because it was also over 100 mph (160 km/h) slower and suffered from handling problems. [10].

The B-36 was the basis for the Convair XC-99, a double-decked military cargo aircraft, the longest practical aircraft (185 ft, 56 m) of its era. Only one example was ever built; it was extensively employed for nearly a decade, especially for cross-country cargo flights during the Korean War. As of March 2005, plans are afoot to move the unique XC-99 from San Antonio, where it has been retired since 1957, to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

A commercial airliner derived from the XC-99, the Convair Model 37 never left the drawing board. It would have been the first "jumbo" airliner.


Specifications (B-36J-III)
<H3 style="PADDING-TOP: 0.2em">General characteristics
  • Crew: 15 (9 in Featherweight configuration)
  • Length: 162 ft 1 in (49.40 m)
  • <A class=ilnk onclick="assignParam('navinfo','method|4'+getLinkTextForCookie(this));" href="http://www.answers.c...topic/wingspan" target=_top>Wingspan: 230 ft 0 in (70.10 m)
  • Height: 46 ft 9 in (14.25 m)
  • Wing area: 4,772 ft² (443.3 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 63(420)-422 root, NACA 63(420)-517 tip
  • Empty weight: 171,035 lb (77,580 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 266,100 lb (120,700 kg)
  • Maximum Take-Off Weight: 410,000 lb (190,000 kg)
  • Powerplant:
  • General Electric J47 turbojets, 5,200 lbf (23 kN) each
  • 6× Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 "Wasp Major" radials, 3,800 hp (2,500 kW) each
<H3>Performance <H3><H3>Armament <H3>
  • Guns: 16× (2 in Featherweight configuration) 20 mm (0.787 in) M24A1 cannon
  • Bombs: 86,000 lb (39,000 kg)

</H3></H3></H3></H3></H3>

#5 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:51 AM

B-45 Tornado B-45 TornadoPosted ImageTypeStrategic bomberManufacturerNorth American AviationMaiden flight1947-03-17Introduced1948-04-22Retired1959Primary userUnited States Air ForceUnit costUS$1.1 million[1]The North American Aviation B-45 Tornado was the United States Air Force's first operational jet bomber, and the first jet aircraft to be refueled in the air. The B-45 was an important part of the United States's nuclear deterrent for several years in the early 1950s, but was rapidly succeeded by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet.


Development
The B-45 began development in 1944, when the War Department, alarmed by German developments, called for a new family of jet bombers grossing between 80,000 and 200,000 pounds. The North American proposal (NA-130) won, and on September 8, 1944, the company began production of three prototypes based on the NA-130. The end of the Second World War resulted in the cancellation of many projects and delayed many others. In 1946, rising tensions with the Soviet Union caused the Air Force to assign higher priorities to jet bomber development and production. By mid-1946, the XB-45 and XB-46 neared completion, but the XB-47 and XB-48 were still two years away. The USAAF chose to evaluate the first two designs to determine which would be superior operationally. The B-45 proved a superior design, and on January 2, 1947, a contract for immediate production of B-45As was signed.


XB-45
The first flight of the XB-45 was on March 17, 1947 from Muroc Army Air Field. A total of 131 test flights were flown by the three prototype aircraft, one being destroyed early on, killing two pilots.

The USAF accepted one of the two survivors on July 30, 1948, the other on August 31. One was damaged beyond repair in an accident. The last XB-45 was delivered to Wright-Patterson air force base in 1949. It proved excessively difficult to maintain and was relegated as a ground trainer.


B-45A
The B-45A differed from the XB-45 in having improved ejection seats and communications equipment, an E-4 automatic pilot, and a bombing navigation radar.

The first production B-45 flew in February 1948. The Air Force took delivery of 22 in April 1948. They were powered by the less-powerful J35 turbojets, and not considered combat-ready. They were assigned to training duties and various test programs. The next batch were powered by the superior J47 turbojets. The first B-45As entered service in November 1948 with the 47th Bombardment Group. The initial order of 96 was completed in March 1950.

It had been planned to equip five light bomb groups and three light reconnaissance groups with B-45As. Severe budget cuts in the FY 1950 forced the Aircraft and Weapons Board to cancel 51 of the 190 aircraft on order.

The first B-45As were not equipped with bomb fire control systems or bombsights. They suffered from gyrocompass failures at high speeds, unreliable airbrakes, unhooked bomb shackles, engine fires, and inaccurate cockpit gauges. The AN/APQ-24 bombing and navigation radar on some B-45 were maintenance heavy and malfunctions in its pressurization pump limited the altitude at which it could operate.

It was proposed to transfer the 47's B-45s to the Far East, though no suitable transport could be found. At the outbreak of the Korean War it was decided to convert the B-45A to a tactical nuclear bomber. The B-45 could not carry early nuclear weapons due to their large size. Even with the development of smaller bombs, the aircraft required extensive modification.

55 nuclear-capable B-45s arrived in the United Kingdom in 1952. These were modified with a 1,200-gallon fuel tank in the aft bomb bay. Despite technical problems, these were SAC's first-line deterrent in Europe.


B-45B
The B-45B was a proposed variant of the B-45A with improved radar and fire-control systems. None were built.


B-45C
The B-45C was the first jet aircraft capable of aerial refueling. It carried two 1200-gallon wingtip fuel tanks, had a strengthened canopy, and an in-flight refueling receptacle. The first B-45C was flown on May 3, 1949. Only ten were built, and the remaining 33 under construction were converted to RB-45Cs.


RB-45C
Final production variant of the B-45. The bombardier's canopy was faired over and replaced with an oblique camera system. The RB-45C carried two 214-gallon external fuel tanks, or two JATO assisted takeoff rockets. A total of 12 cameras could be carried in four positions. The RB-45C first flew in April 1950, and were delivered from June 1950 to October 1951.
RB-45Cs flew with the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron during the Korean war. The B-29s could no longer fly these missions with impunity. RB-45Cs flew many missions until early 1952, when they were converted to night operations. They were withdrawn shortly afterward.
The RB-45C also flew several long-range reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union during the mid 1950s. On July 29, 1952, an RB-45C made the first non-stop Trans-Pacific flight, having been refueled twice by KB-29s along the way. By 1959 the RB-45C had been replaced by the RB-47E.


Survivors
Three B-45's are currently on display in the United States. B-45A (s/n 47-0008) is currently on display at the <A class=ilnk onclick="assignParam('navinfo','method|4'+getLinkTextForCookie(this));" href="http://www.answers.c...tle-air-museum" target=_top>Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California. B-45C (s/n 48-010) is on display in the Cold War Hanger of the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, and a RB-45C (s/n 48-017) is on display at the Strategic Air Command Museum in Ashland, Nebraska.

#6 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:53 AM

B-47 Stratojet B-47 StratojetPosted ImageUSAF B-47ETypeStrategic bomberManufacturerBoeingMaiden flight1947-12-17IntroducedJune 1951Retired1966, B-47E
1977, EB-47EPrimary userUnited States Air ForceBuilt2,042Unit costUS$1.9 million (B-47E)[1]The Boeing B-47 Stratojet jet bomber was a medium range and size bomber capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and primarily designed for penetrating the Soviet Union. A major innovation in post-World War II combat jet design, it helped lead to the development of modern jet airliners. While it never saw serious combat use, it was the mainstay of U.S. Air Force strategic striking power in the 1950s.


Origins
The B-47 arose from a 1943 U.S. Army Air Forces requirement for a jet bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, which evolved into a formal request the next year. The request specified a speed of 500 mph (800 km/h) or more, a range of 3,500 mi (5,600 km), and a service ceiling of 40,000 ft (12,200 m). It envisioned using the General Electric TG-180 turbojet engine, then in development.

North American, Convair, and Boeing submitted proposals. The first Boeing proposal, the Model 424, was a modification of a conventional propeller-driven bomber design, basically a scaled-down version of the Boeing B-29 fitted with four jet engines.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the ancestor of NASA) performed wind tunnel tests on a composite model of the designs submitted by the manufacturers. (The three submissions were generally similar.)

By this time, the war in Europe was obviously winding to a close. General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, head of the USAAF, asked the prestigious expatriate Hungarian aerodynamicist Theodore von Kármán, of the California Institute of Technology, to form up a committee of American scientists to go to Europe and examine captured German technology.

The result was the "Scientific Advisory Group". One of the members was Boeing's chief aerodynamicist, George Schairer. During his visit to Germany, Schairer examined data obtained by German aircraft manufacturers on the advantages of swept wings, and became so convinced of the merits of such a design that in May, 1945 he wrote a letter to Boeing management suggesting the matter be investigated.

Meanwhile, the USAAF had awarded study contracts to all three aircraft manufacturers working on the jet bomber project, as well as to Martin, which had also decided to join the competition. All of the competing bombers, including the North American B-45, Convair XB-46 and Martin XB-48 would have conventional straight wings with four to six engines, and would lack the performance of the swept wing B-47.

The NACA wind tunnel tests showed that the model suffered from excessive drag. Boeing engineers then tried a revised design, the Model 432, with the four engines buried in the forward fuselage, but although it had some structural advantages there was little effect on drag. At this point Boeing engineers turned to the German swept-wing data. A little design work by Boeing aerodynamicist Vic Ganzer led to an optimum sweepback of 35 degrees.

Boeing modified the Model 432 design with a swept wings and tail, resulting in the Model 448, which was presented to the USAAF in September 1946. The Model 448 retained the four TG-180 engines in the forward fuselage and, at the instigation of project manager George Martin, added two more TG-180s buried in the rear fuselage to provide greater range and performance.

Boeing submitted the Model 448 to the USAAF, only to have it rejected immediately. The Air Force strongly disliked fitting the engines in the fuselage, since that made engine fire or disintegration catastrophic. The engines would have to be moved back out on the wings.

That led straight back to the drag problem, but the engineering team came up with a clean, elegant solution, with the engines in streamlined pods attached to the wings. This innovation led to the next iteration, the Model 450, which featured two TG-180s in a single pod mounted on a pylon about a third of the way outboard on each wing, plus another engine slung from the wingtip.

The Air Force liked the new configuration, and so the Boeing team continued to refine it. One problem was landing gear. There was no space for landing gear in the thin wings, and trying to put conventional tricycle landing gear in the fuselage would have ruined the aircraft's streamlining and degraded its performance. Furthermore, the USAAF was now also insisting that the bomber be able to carry an atomic bomb. As such weapons were very big at the time, that meant a long bomb bay, further limiting space for landing gear.

The solution was a "bicycle" landing gear configuration, with the two main gear assemblies arranged in a tandem, not a side by side, configuration. Outrigger landing gear was to be fitted to the inboard engine pods. The concept had already been tested on a modified Martin B-26 Marauder aircraft.

However, bicycle landing gear made it difficult for a pilot to "rotate" an aircraft into a nose-up position for takeoff. Again, the solution was simple: the landing gear was designed so that the nose-up position was the default. This little change would have a very pleasing effect on an aircraft that was already shaping up to be very elegant, giving the machine the appearance of being ready to leap into the air even when it was sitting still.

There were some other tweaks to the design, such as a wingtip extension to improve range. This had the effect of moving the outboard engines from a wingtip position to an underwing position towards the end of the wings.

The USAAF was very pleased with the refined Model 450 design, and in April, 1947 the service ordered two prototypes, to be designated "XB-47". Assembly began in June, 1947. People involved with the project were very excited, since they believed (correctly as it turned out) they were working on a breakthrough in aircraft design.

However, there was a widespread disinterest in the machine through the rest of the Boeing company, it seems partly because it was so futuristic, leading many to dismiss it as a whizzy experimental aircraft that would be impractical for operational use. Pictures of the initial rollout of the first XB-47 prototype show only about a hundred people watching.

The aircraft was given the name "Stratojet", but the moniker was infrequently used in practice. In fact, the bomber would never receive any nickname that stuck through its entire history.

The XB-47 prototype first flew on 17 December 1947, with test pilots Robert Robbins and Scott Osler at the controls. The aircraft flew from Boeing Field in Seattle to the Moses Lake Airfield in central Washington, in a flight that lasted 52 minutes. There were no major problems, except that Robbins had to pull up the flaps with the emergency hydraulic system and the engine fire warning lights kept popping on, the sensor technology being very unreliable at the time. Robbins reported that the flight characteristics of the aircraft were good.


Variants
Posted Image [url="http://"http://www.answers.com/topic/b47onrunway-jpg""]Posted ImageA B-47A variant on the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California.[/url]
XB-47 / B-47A
The XB-47 was an attractive, "Buck Rogers" aircraft. The 35-degree swept wings were shoulder-mounted, with the twin inboard turbojet engines mounted in very neat pods, and the outboard engines tacked under the wings short of the wingtips. With the exception of a change from the shoulder-mounted wing configuration to being under the fuselage, most future airliners would use a similar configuration, with the engines mounted in under-wing pylons.

The airfoil was 11 times as wide as it was thick. This unusual thinness (dry, no fuel tanks)was required to attain high speed (.86 Mach), but the wing's flexibility was a concern. It could flex as much as 5 feet (1.5 m) up or down, and major effort was expended to ensure that flight control could be maintained as the wing moved up and down. As it turned out, most of the worries proved unfounded. (Wing "twist" limited tree-top speed to 425 knots to avoid control reversal) The wings were fitted with a set of Fowler flaps that extended well behind the wing, to enhance lift at slow speeds.

The bicycle landing gear dictated by the thin wing consisted of a pair of large wheels fore and aft of the bomb bay, with small outrigger wheels carried on the inboard twin-jet pods.

The performance of the Model 450 design was projected to be so good that the bomber would be as fast as fighters then on the drawing board, and so the only defensive armament was to be a tail turret with two .50-cal Browning machine guns, which would in principle be directed by an automatic fire-control system. The two XB-47s were not fitted with the tail turret as they were engineering and flight test aircraft, and in fact the prototypes weren't fitted with any combat gear at all.

Fuel capacity was an enormous 17,000 US gal (64,400 liters), compared to 5,000 US gal (19,000 L) on the B-29. That meant that maintaining fuel trim to ensure a stable center of gravity in flight would be very critical co-pilot duty.

The first prototypes was fitted with General Electric J35 turbojets, the production version of the TG-180, with 3,970 lbf (17.7 kN) of thrust. Early jet engines did not develop good thrust at low speeds, so to assist in takeoffs in heavily loaded condition, the XB-47 prototype was to have 18 solid-fuel rocket-assisted take off (RATO) rockets with 1,000 lbf (4.4 kN) thrust each. Nine such units were built into each side of the lower rear fuselage, arranged in three rows of three bottles.

A related problem was that the aircraft's engines would have to be throttled down on landing approach. Since it could take as long as 20 seconds to throttle them back up to full power, the big bomber could not easily do a "touch and go" momentary landing. A small "approach" chute was provided for "drag" so that engines could be operated at approach speeds with ready-to-spool-up medium power. Typical was an hour of dragging this chute around the landing pattern for multiple practice landings.

The aircraft was so slick that rapid descent ("penetration") from high cruise altitude to the landing pattern required dragging the deployed rear landing gear.

Unusually heavy wing loading (weight/wing area) required a high (180 knot) landing speed. To shorten the landing roll Air Force test pilot Major Guy Townsend promoted the addition of a 9.75m (32 foot) a German-designed "ribbon" drag chute. (Jet engine thrust reversers were still a far-future concept.)

The XB-47 was designed to carry a crew of three in a pressurized forward compartment: a pilot and copilot in a long fighter-style bubble canopy, and a navigator in a compartment in the nose. The copilot doubled as tail gunner, and the navigator as bombardier. The bubble canopy could pitch up and slide backward, but as the cockpit was high off the ground, crew entrance was through a door and ladder on the underside of the nose.

Total bombload capacity was to be 10,000 pounds (4.5 tonnes). Production aircraft were to be equipped with, by the standards of the time, advanced electronics for navigation, bombing, countermeasures, and turret fire control.

The second XB-47 prototype first took the air on July 21, 1948, and was equipped with much more powerful General Electric J47-GE-3 turbojets with 23 kN (5,200 lbf) thrust each. The J47 or "TG-190" was a redesigned version of the TG-180/J35. The first XB-47 prototype was later retrofitted with these engines.

Flight testing of the prototypes was particularly careful and methodical, since the design was so new in many ways. The prototypes initially suffered from "Dutch roll", an instability that caused the aircraft to weave in widening "S" turns. This problem was fixed by the addition of a "yaw damper" control system that applied rudder automatically to damp out the weaving motion. The prototypes also had a tendency to pitch nose up, and this problem was solved by tacking small vanes called "vortex generators" onto the wings that caused turbulence to prevent airflow separation.

Boeing test pilot Rob Robbins had originally been skeptical about the XB-47, saying that before the initial flight he had "prayed to God to please help me" through the flight. The aircraft was so unusual that he simply didn't know if it would fly. Robbins presently realized that he had an extraordinary aircraft.

In early 1948, the United States Air Force (having become a separate service in 1947) sent up a chase plane from Muroc (now Edwards) Air Force Base in California to help calibrate the bomber's airspeed system. Robbins reported later:

[The chase plane] was a P-80 [Lockheed Shooting Star] and Chuck Yeager was flying it. Chuck's a hell of a good pilot, but he had a little bit of contempt for bombers and a little disdain for civilian test pilots. Well, we took off, climbed out, and got up somewhere within four or five points of full throttle speed.

At that point, Chuck called me on the radio and said: "Bob, would you do a 180?" I thought: Hey, Chuck's smart, he just wants to stay reasonably close to Moses Lake, he doesn't have as much fuel as I do. Well, I turned around, got stabilized, and looked for Chuck. He wasn't there. Finally, I got on the radio and said: "Chuck, where are you?"

He called back and rather sheepishly said: "I can't keep up with you, Bob." So Chuck Yeager had to admit to a civilian test pilot flying a bomber that he couldn't keep up! That was something!

Yeager would test-fly the XB-47 later in its development cycle and would years later note that the aircraft was so aerodynamically clean that he had difficulty putting it down on the runway.

By mid-1948, the Air Force's bomber competition had already been through one iteration, pitting the North American XB-45 against the Convair XB-46. The North American design won that round of the competition, and as an interim measure the USAF had decided to put the North American bomber into production on a limited basis as the B-45 Tornado. The expectation was that B-45 production would be terminated if either of the remaining two designs in the competition, the Boeing XB-47 and the Martin XB-48, proved superior.

The XB-47 was clearly an aircraft of enormous potential, but it was still so exotic that many USAF generals didn't take it seriously. At the end of July, USAF General K.B. Wolfe, in charge of bomber production, visited Boeing in Seattle, and Boeing president Bill Allen suggested that the general take a ride on the XB-47.

Wolfe was reluctant, but Allen and others managed to talk him into it, and Guy Townsend gave Wolfe an amazing ride. In early August, Wolfe contacted Boeing and indicated that the Air Force wanted to place an order for ten more of the new Boeing jet bombers. A formal contract was signed on September 3, 1948.

These ten aircraft were designated "B-47A," and were strictly evaluation aircraft. The first was delivered in December, 1950. The configuration of the B-47As was close to that of the initial XB-47 prototypes. They were fitted with J47-GE-11 turbojets, offering the same 23 kN (5,200 lbf) thrust as the earlier J47-GE-3, and they also featured the built-in RATO bottles.

Four of the B-47As were fitted with the K-2 bombing and navigation system (BNS), with an HD-21D autopilot, an analog computer, APS-23 radar, and a Y-4 or Y-4A bombsight. Two were fitted with the tail turret, one of them using an Emerson A-2 fire control system (FCS), another an early version of the General Electric A-5 FCS. The eight other B-47As had no defensive armament.

The B-47As were fitted with ejection seats. The pilot and copilot ejected upward, while the navigator ejected downward. Minimum safe ejection altitude was about 500 feet (150 m).

While the XB-47s had been built by Boeing at their Seattle, Washington, plant, the B-47As and all following Boeing B-47 production were built at a government-owned factory in Wichita, Kansas, where the company had built B-29s in the past. The switch was made as the Seattle plant was burdened with KC-97 Stratotanker production and other urgent tasks.

Most of the B-47As were phased out of service by early 1952, though one did perform flight tests for NACA for a few more years. While the Air Force put the B-47As through their paces, the Cold War was rising to full force, with a hot war intensifying in Korea. The USAF's Strategic Air Command (SAC) needed an effective nuclear deterrent to keep the Soviet Union in line, and the Stratojet was an excellent tool for the task, and Boeing was already working on production bombers.


B-47B
Following a series of preliminary contracts for production B-47s, in November, 1949, even before the first flight of the B-47A, the Air Force had ordered 87 B-47Bs, the first operational variant of the type. The first B-47B flew on April 26 1951. A total of 399 were built, including eight that were assembled by Lockheed and ten that were assembled by Douglas, using Boeing-built parts.

The USAF was impatient to get their hands on as many B-47s as they could as quickly as possible, and signed up Lockheed and Douglas for the additional production. Lockheed-built aircraft were designated by a "-LM (Lockheed Marietta)" suffix and Douglas-built aircraft given a "-DT (Douglas Tulsa)" suffix. Boeing production was designated by a "-BW (Boeing Wichita)" suffix, except for the Seattle-built XB-47s and B-47As, which had a "-BO" suffix.

The initial batch of 87 B-47Bs featured the same J47-GE-11 engines as the B-47As, but all subsequent production featured substantially uprated |J47-GE-23 turbojets with 5,800 lbf (26 kN) thrust. Early production was retrofitted with the improved engines. They all featured the built-in RATO system used on the XB-47 and B-47A.

All featured full combat systems. Early production retained the K-2 BNS installed on some of the B-47As, but most production featured the K-4A BNS, which featured an AN/APS-54 warning radar and an AN/APT-5 electronic countermeasures (ECM) system.

The K-4A used a periscopic bombsight fitted into the tip of the nose of the aircraft, with the transparent plexiglas nose cone of the XB-47 and B-47A replaced by a metal nose cone. There were four small windows on the left side of the nose and two on the right. Another visible change from the earlier models was that the B-47B had a vertical tailplane with a squared-off top, rather than a rounded top as with its predecessors.

The bomb bay of the B-47B was shorter than that of the XB-47 and B-47A, since nuclear weapons had shrunk in the interim. However, the B-47B could carry a much larger bombload, of up to 18,000 pounds (8,200 kg). All B-47Bs carried the tail turret with twin 20 mm guns and the B-4 radar-guided FCS. The B-4 FCS proved troublesome, in fact so troublesome that in some B-47Bs it was replaced with an N-6 optical sight. The copilot could swivel his seat around to face backward and sight the guns directly.

In practice, the enormous fuel capacity of the B-47 was still not enough to give it the range the Air Force wanted, and in fact there had been substantial prejudice against the type among senior Air Force brass because of the limited range of the initial design. Solution of this problem was a high priority, and so an "in-flight refueling (IFR)" receptacle was fitted in the right side of the nose for "boom"-style refueling. This was the main reason for getting rid of the plexiglas nose cone.

The B-47B was also fitted with a pair of jettisonable external tanks, carried between the inboard and outboard engine assemblies. These big drop tanks were very large, with a capacity of 6,750 liters (1,780 US gal).

The B-47B suffered a considerable gain in weight compared to the B-47A, and so as a weight-reduction measure the ejection seats were deleted, and a windbreak panel was fitted to the aircraft's main door to make escapes easier. Some sources also claim that a fatal ejection-seat accident in a B-47A contributed to this decision. Whatever the case, this was not a very popular measure with crews, as getting out of the aircraft even at altitude was troublesome.

Bob Robbins recalled that George Martin, the B-47 program manager, showed him the letter from the Air Force ordering Boeing to remove the seats. Martin told Robbins: "Bob, put that letter in a safe place. The day is going to come when the Air Force is going to regret this decision, and we want to be able to make it very clear where the decision came from to do away with the ejection seats."


B-47E
The designations B-47C and B-47D were applied to special variants that never went into production (described later), and so the next production version of the B-47 was the definitive B-47E.

The first B-47E flew on 30 January 1953. Four "blocks" or "phases" of the B-47E were built, each incorporating refinements on the previous block, and also sometimes featuring production changes within a block. Older blocks were generally brought up to the specifications of later blocks as they were introduced.

Early production "B-47E-Is" also known featured J47-GE-25 turbojets with 27 kN (5,970 lbf) thrust, but they were quickly changed to J47-GE-25A engines, which featured a significant improvement in the form of water-methanol injection. This was a scheme in which a water-methanol mix was dumped into the engines at takeoff, increasing mass flow and so temporarily kicking the thrust up to 32 kN (7,200 lbf). Methanol was apparently added to the water as an anti-freezing agent. The engines left a trail of black smoke behind them when water-methanol injection was on.

In addition, although early B-47E-Is had the 18 built-in RATO bottles, they were quickly exchanged for an external, jettisonable "split V" or "horse collar" rack fitted under the rear fuselage. The rack carried 33 RATO bottles, in three rows of 11 bottles. The built-in RATO system was eliminated because of worries about having the RATO bottles so close to full fuel tanks, and in any case once the rocket bottles were exhausted they were just dead weight. The racks were expendable, and were dropped over specific range areas after takeoff.

Interestingly, B-47s rarely used RATO for takeoffs, as it was expensive and slightly more hazardous than a non-assisted takeoff. Apparently it was reserved for emergency alerts, when bombers had to get off the runway as fast as possible, and was otherwise only done once a year or so as a training measure. Water-methanol injection was a big help on takeoffs when JATO wasn't used.

The internal fuel capacity of initial production B-47Es was cut to 14,627 US gal (55,369 liters) as a weight-saving measure. This was considered acceptable because of the use of the big external tanks and the fact that the USAF had refined mid-air refueling to the point where it could be relied upon as a standard practice.

One particularly welcome change in the B-47E relative to the B-47B was the return of the ejection seats. Air Force brass had reconsidered the decision to delete them and realized it didn't make sense. In addition, the twin 12.7 mm guns in the tail turret were replaced with twin 20 mm cannon to provide more punch, backed up by an A-5 FCS in early production and an MD-4 FCS in later production.

A final change in the B-47E was that most of the windows in the nose were deleted, with only one left on each side. However, many pictures of B-47Es show them with the full set of windows used on the B-47B. Whether the number of windows varied through B-47E production, or whether these were B-47Bs updated to B-47E specification, is unclear.

The B-47E-II featured only minor changes from late production B-47E-Is. The B-47E-III featured an ECM suite, consisting of a radar jammer in a bulge under the fuselage plus a chaff dispenser, as well as improved electrical alternators.

The B-47E-IV was a much more substantial update, featuring stronger landing gear, airframe reinforcement, greater fuel capacity, and a bombload uprated to 25,000 pounds (11,300 kg), though the bomb bay was once again shortened because of the introduction of more compact nuclear weapons.

Another improvement was the introduction of the MA-7A BNS, a major step up from its predecessors. The MA-7A included the AN/APS-64 radar, with a range as long as 240 miles (390 km). The AN/APS-64 could be used as a long range "identification friend or foe (IFF) transponder" interrogator to allow a B-47E-IV to find a tanker or other B-47, or it could be used as a high-resolution ground-targeting radar. The B-47E-IV retained the optical bombsight, though this was rarely used.

A total of 1,341 B-47Es were produced. 691 were built by Boeing, 386 were built by Lockheed, and 264 were built by Douglas. Most B-47Bs were rebuilt up to B-47E standards. They were given the designation of B-47B-II, though it appears that in practice they were simply called B-47Es.


RB-47E/RB-47H/ERB-47H/RB-47K
Posted Image Posted ImageA typical reconnaissance route from Thule AB to Soviet Union flown by RB-47H crews.The B-47E was also the basis for a number of important long-range reconnaissance variants.

Boeing-Wichita built 240 RB-47E reconnaissance variants, similar to the B-47E but with a nose stretched by 34 inches (0.86 meter), giving them an arguably more elegant appearance than the bomber variants of the B-47. The long nose was used to stow up to 11 cameras, which could include:
  • An O-15 radar camera for low-altitude work.
  • A forward oblique camera for low-altitude work.
  • A K-17 trimetrogon (three-angle) camera for panoramic shots.
  • K-36 telescopic cameras.
The RB-47E could carry photoflash flares for night reconnaissance. Although the RB-47E could be refueled in flight, its fuel capacity was increased, to a total of 70,000 liters (18,400 US gal). The navigator controlled the cameras, becoming a "navigator-photographer" instead of a "navigator-bombardier".
  • A total of 32 RB-47H models were built for the electronic intelligence (ELINT) mission, as well as three more specialized "ERB-47Hs". These aircraft featured distinctive blunt, rounded nose and sported blisters and pods for intelligence-gathering antennas and gear. They were designed to probe adversary defenses and then collect data on radar and defense communications signals.
The bomb bay was replaced by a pressurized compartment, which accommodated "electronic warfare officers (EWOs)", also known as "Crows" or "Ravens". There were three Crows on board the RB-47H, but only two on the ERB-47H. A distinctive bulged radome fairing replaced the bomb bay doors. The RB-47H / ERB-47H retained the tail turret, and were also fitted with jammers and chaff dispensers. The only easily recognizable difference in appearance between the RB-47H and ERB-47H was that the ERB-47H had a small but distinctive antenna fairing under the rounded nose.

The first RB-47H was delivered in August 1955 to Forbes AFB, Topeka, Kansas. The ELINT B-47s proved so valuable that they were put through a "Mod 44" or "Silverking" update program in 1961 to provide them with updated electronics systems. Silverking aircraft could be easily recognized by a large teardrop pod for ELINT antennas attached to a pylon, mounted under the belly and offset to one side of the aircraft, as well as a pylon-style antenna attached under each wing beyond the outboard engine. It is unclear if all RB-47Hs and ERB-47Hs were updated to the Silverking specification.

The RB-47H and ERB-47H were highly capable aircraft, but the EWO compartment was not only cramped, with sitting room only, but had both poor noise insulation and climate control. This made 12 hour missions very uncomfortable and tiring, and some sources say that the Crows even had to deal with fuel leaks on occasion. Successful ejection downward (cutting through the belly radome) was impossible on-or-near the ground. Crows sat bobsled-like on the pilot compartment access floor for takeoff and landing; having to crawl encumbered with arctic clothing with parachute to-from their compartment along an unpressurized maintenance shelf during temporary leveloff at 10,000 ft.

Operations of the RB-47H and ERB-47H were top secret with the 10 hour missions generally flown at night and even base commanders often not knowing the details. When crews were asked what they were doing, they always answered that such information was classified. On inquiries on what the blunt black nose was for, they would sometimes reply that it was a bumper, used in in-flight refueling in case they nosed into the tanker. This reply was often believed.

Strategic operations of the 2,000 B-47s required 800 KC-97 Stratotankers. On a typical RB-47H reconnaissance mission covering 5,200 nm (9,360 km), the aircraft would fly from Thule, Greenland to the Kara Sea to Murmansk and then return only to find Thule weathered-in, forcing the flight from the air-refueling/decision point near the northeast shore of Greenland to one of three equidistant alternates: Goose Bay, Labrador, London, or Fairbanks, Alaska. Five KC-97s at Thule were required to support this scenario. Two ground spares and one air spare insured two 20,000 lb (9,090 kg) fuel transfers at a distance of over 600 mi (965 km) from Thule. Tankers returned to Thule to refuel and again repeat the flight to intercept the returning RB-47H six hours later for another air refueling.

On July 1, 1960, a PVO Strany MiG-19 shot down an RB-47H (S/N 53-4281) reconnaissance aircraft in the international airspace over the Barents Sea with 4 of the crew killed and 2 captured by the Soviets and released in 1961. The co-pilot reported that the MiG-19 jammed (whited-out) his MD-4 FCS scope rendering the RB-47H defenseless.

While a few of these aircraft performed special duties during the Vietnam War, such as relaying ELINT data from drones, they were eventually replaced by much more comfortable and capable Boeing RC-135 platforms. The last RB-47H was retired on December 29, 1967.

The final 15 RB-47Es built were fitted with additional equipment, including a "side looking airborne radar (SLAR)" system, and gear to sample the air for fallout from nuclear tests. The Air Force judged them different enough on delivery, beginning in December 1955, to give them a new designation of RB-47K.

The RB-47Ks were generally used for weather reconnaissance missions, carrying a load of eight "dropsonde" weather sensors that were released at various checkpoints along the aircraft's flight path. Data radioed back from the dropsondes was logged using equipment operated by the navigator. The RB-47Ks stayed in service until 1963.

Incidentally, there were B-47F, B-47G, and B-47J variants, but these were all one-shot conversions of B-47Bs or B-47Es, to be discussed later. There never was a B-47I variant. The Air Force never designated a B-47I, because the "I" suffix was too easily confused with the numeral "1."


QB-47
The QB-47 was a pilotless drone variant of the B-47.

Fatal Crash at Eglin - On August 20, 1963, a QB-47 veered off course on its landing approach at Eglin Air Force Base and crash landed on a stretch of road that ran parallel to the runway. Two cars were crushed by the crash landing, killing two, Robert W. Glass and Dr. Robert Bundy, and injuring a third, Dorothy Phillips. Mr. Glass and Dr. Bundy both worked for the Minnesota Honeywell Corporation at the time, a firm which had just completed flight tests on an inertia guidance sub-system for the X-20 Dyna-Soar project at the base. Mrs. Phillips was the wife of Master Sergeant James Phillips, a crew chief at the base. Mrs. Phillips was treated for moderate injuries and released later that day, even though both vehicles were so badly damaged they were hardly recognizable anymore. The QB-47 that crashed was used for Bomarc Missile Program tests, which normally operated from Auxiliary Field Three, located approximately 15 miles from the main base.


B-47s in service
When B-47s began to be delivered to the Air Force, most crews were excited about getting their hands on the hot new bomber. The thing was so fast that in the early days, the B-47 set records everywhere it flew without even trying. The aircraft handled well and comfortably in flight, with a fighter-like light touch to the controls. The big bubble canopy also enhanced the fighter-like feel of the big aircraft, though it could make the cockpit a "hotbox" on sunny days, while the navigator in the nose shivered.

However, it took the Air Force until 1953 to turn the B-47 into an operational aircraft. The big aircraft was sluggish on takeoff and too fast on landings, a very unpleasant combination of circumstances. Furthermore, if the pilot put the machine down at the wrong angle on the bicycle landing gear, the aircraft would "porpoise", bouncing fore-and-aft. If the pilot didn't lift off for another go-round, instability would quickly cause the bomber to skid onto one wing and cartwheel to its destruction.

Improved training led to a good safety record, and few crews felt the aircraft was inherently unsafe or too demanding, but apparently there were aircrews who had little affection for or were even afraid of the B-47. Crew workload was also high, with only three crew members to keep the B-47 flying right. The B-52 Stratofortress, in contrast, generally had six crew, with much less cramped accommodations.

The B-47's reliability and serviceability were also regarded as good. The only major problem was that the electronics systems were not very reliable, unsurprising given the technology available at the time. Much work was done to improve the reliability of the electronics systems, but they remained something of a maintenance headache all through the B-47's operational life.

Several models of the B-47 starting in 1950 included a fuel tank inerting system, in which dry ice was sublimated into carbon dioxide vapor while the fuel pumps operated or while the in-flight refueling system was in use. The carbon dioxide was then pumped into the fuel tanks and the rest of the fuel system, ensuring that the amount of oxygen in the fuel system was low, and thereby reducing the probability of an explosion in flight. Ten carbon dioxide tanks and heaters were involved. The system was implemented largely to reduce risks from static electricity discharges occurring during in-flight refueling.

By 1956 the US Air Force had 28 wings of B-47 bombers and five wings of RB-47 reconnaissance aircraft. The bombers were the first line of America's strategic nuclear deterrent, often operating at forward bases in the UK, Morocco, Spain, Alaska, and Guam. B-47 bombers were often set up on "one-third" alert, with a third of the operational aircraft available sitting on the runway, loaded with fuel and nuclear weapons, crews on standby, ready to take off for no-holds-barred attack against the USSR at short notice.

Crews were also trained to perform "minimum interval take-offs (MITO)", with one bomber following the other into the air at intervals of as little as 15 seconds, to get all the bombers on the way as fast as possible. MITO could be very hazardous, as the bombers left turbulence and, with water-methanol injection, dense black smoke that blinded pilots in the following aircraft.

B-47 bombers apparently performed training missions in which they penetrated Soviet airspace in numbers. The facts behind these missions remain controversial, with some claiming that Curtis LeMay ordered them without presidential knowledge or approval.

The B-47 would be the backbone of SAC into 1959, when the B-52 began to take over and the B-47 wings started to be cut back. Actual B-47 production had ceased in 1957, though modifications and rebuilds continued after that.

Operational practice for B-47 bomber operations during this time went from high altitude bombing to low altitude strike, which was judged more likely to penetrate Soviet defenses. Bomber crews were trained in "pop-up" attacks, coming in at low level (425 knots) and then climbing abruptly on nearing the target before releasing a nuclear weapon, and the similar "toss bombing" procedure, in which the aircraft released the weapon while climbing and then rolled away to depart the target area before the bomb fell back down and detonated.

However, stresses due to low altitude operations led to a number of crashes, and an extensive refit program was initiated in 1958 to strengthen the wing mountings. The program was known as "Milk Bottle", named after the big connecting pins that were replaced in the wing roots.

The only B-47s to see anything that resembled combat were the reconnaissance variants. They operated from almost every airfield that gave them access to the USSR, and they often probed Soviet airspace, and on occasion, B-47 pilots were caught in situations from which mostly speed and evasion in retreat saved them. At least five of these aircraft were fired on, and three of these were shot down. The B-47s fired back with their tail turrets, though it is uncertain if they scored any kills, but in any case these were the only shots fired in anger by any B-47. These missions became impractical upon the introduction by the Russians of the trans-sonic MiG-19. (Similar to the performance of USAF F-100)

Final phaseout of B-47 bomber wings began in 1963, and the last bombers were out of service by 1965. The very last USAF operational aircraft was grounded in 1969. The U.S. Navy kept specialized test aircraft in occasional use up to 1976. The final recorded flight of a B-47 was on 17 June 1986, when a B-47E was flown from the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, to Castle Air Force Base, California, to be put in the air museum there. There are at least 15 B-47s that survive on static display, but none are still flying.


Conversions and special modifications
Aside from production aircraft, there were quite a number of conversions and oddball special modifications in the B-47 line.

B-47B conversions and special modifications

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:54 AM

B-50 Superfortress B-50 SuperfortressPosted ImageB-50 Lucky Lady II, the first-ever aircraft to fly around the world nonstopTypeStrategic bomberManufacturerBoeingRetired1965Primary userUnited States Air ForceProduced1947-1953Built371Unit costUS$1,144,296[1]The Boeing B-50 Superfortress was basically a post-World War II revision of the wartime B-29 Superfortress with new, more powerful 3,500-HP Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radial engines, a taller vertical stabilizer, and numerous detail improvements.

The original designation was B-29D, but the designation was switched because the US Air Force (rightly) believed Congress in 1945 would not fund further development of a World War II-era design, no matter how advanced.

While superficially identical to the B-29, the B-50 was actually quite different. In its primary role, it mostly served as a stop-gap between the obsolete B-29 and the jet-powered B-47 Stratojet.

Boeing built 371 of these between 1947 and 1953, some serving until 1965. A reconnaissance variant, the RB-50B (a B-50B conversion) existed and played an important role in Cold War espionage. An aerial refueling tanker conversion designated KB-50 was used in the Vietnam War.

In 1949, the B-50 Lucky Lady II, commanded by Captain James Gallagher, became the first airplane to circle the world nonstop. This was achieved by refueling the plane in flight.

While not many were ordered, the B-50 was the ultimate expression of the B-29 family and one of the last piston-engined bombers built. The B-50 was retired from its main role as atomic bomber in 1955, and was removed completely from inventory ten years later. No flying examples exist today, although several can be found in various air museums.


Variants and Design Stages
  • XB-44--One B-29A was handed over to Pratt & Whitney to be fitted with the new Wasp Major 28-cylinder engines. Initially designated B-29D, this was eventually changed to B-50A in December [url="http://"http://www.answers.com/topic/1945""]1945. (x1, converted)
  • B-50A--First production version of the B-50. It had new wings that were stronger and lighter than the units on the B-29. It also had taller vertical tail than the B-29. (x60)
  • B-50B--Increase in gross weight over the A model, from 168,480 lb (76,420 kg) to 170,400 lb (77,290 kg). Also included a new type of lightweight fuel cell. (x45)
  • B-50D--Definitive production version of the B-50. The 7-piece nose cone window was replaced by a single plastic cone and a flat bomb-aimer's window. Many included the new boom-type refueling system. (x222)
  • YB-50C--Version to be fitted with the Variable Discharge Turbine version of the R-4360 engine. None were built.
  • RB-50B--All but one of the B-50Bs were converted into the recon role. These were fitted with nine cameras in four stations, weather instruments, and a bomb bay capsule holding the extra crew members. (x44, converted)
  • RB-50E--Special photographic conversions of the RB-50B, modified at Wichita. (x14, converted)
  • RB-50F--Conversions of the RB-50B, fitted with SHORAN navigation radar for special missions. (x14, converted)
  • RB-50G--Conversions of the RB-50B, fitted with electronics countermeasures statios along with the SHORAN radar. (x15, converted)
  • TB-50A--Trainer conversion of the B-50A. (x11, converted)
  • TB-50D--Trainer conversion of the B-50D. (x11, converted)
  • TB-50H--Newly built trainer planes. (x24)
  • EB-50B--Single conversion of a B-50B to be fitted with a track-tread undercarriage. (x1, converted)
  • DB-50D--Drone director conversion of a B-50D, to be used with the GAM-63 Rascal missile. (x1, converted)
  • WB-50 --Weather reconnaissance conversion of the B-50.
  • WB-50D--Weather reconnaissance conversions of outdated B-50Ds, fitted with meteorological equipment. (x36, converted)
  • KB-50--Air to air refueling tanker conversions of the bomber. (x134, converted)
  • KB-50J--Tanker B-50s with improved performance, via two extra General Electric J47 turbojets under the outer wings. (x112, converted)
  • KB-50K--Tanker conversions of the TB-50H trainer aircraft. (x24, converted)
  • B-54A--Proposed version of the YB-50C.
  • RB-54A--Proposed reconnaissance version of the YB-50C.
[/url]
Specifications (B-50D)




References
  • ^ Knaack, MS (1988). Post-World War II bombers, 1945-1973. Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0160022606.
  • "Boeing B-50 Superfortress." Encyclopedia of American Aircraft. Accessed on December 6, 2005.

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:58 AM

B-57 Canberra B-57 CanberraPosted ImageA USAF B-57 dropping 750 lb (340 kg) bombs.TypeBomberManufacturerGlenn L. Martin CompanyDesigned byTeddy PetterMaiden flight1953-07-20Introduced1954StatusRetiredPrimary usersUnited States Air Force
Republic of ChinaBuilt403Unit costUS$1.26 million (B-57B)[1]The Martin B-57 Canberra was a twin-engine jet bomber and reconnaissance aircraft which entered service the 1950s. Originally based on the British English Electric Canberra, the US-built B-57 had envolved into several unique variants.


Development
At the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, the United States Air Force found itself in dire need of an all-weather interdiction aircraft. The piston-engined Douglas A-26 Invaders were limited to daytime and fair weather operations and were in short supply. Thus, on 16 September 1950 the USAF issued a request for a jet-powered bomber with a top speed of 630 mph (1,020 km/h), ceiling of 40,000 feet (12,190 m), and range of 1,150 miles (1,850 km). Full all-weather capability and secondary reconnaissance role had to be included in the design. To expedite the process, only projects based on existing aircraft were considered. The contenders included the Martin XB-51, and the North American B-45 Tornado and AJ Savage. In an extremely rare move, foreign aircraft including the Canadian Avro CF-100 Canuck and the British English Electric Canberra were also given consideration. The AJ and B-45 were quickly dismissed because their outdated designs had limited growth potential. The CF-100 was too small and lacked the sufficient range. The XB-51, while very promising and much faster, had limited maneuverability, a small weapons bay, and limited range and endurance.

Posted Image Posted ImageThe prototype Martin B-57.On 21 February 1951, a British Canberra B.2 became the first-ever jet to make a non-stop unrefuelled flight across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in the United States for USAF evaluation. The Canberra emerged a clear winner of the 26 February flyoff against the XB-51. Since English Electric was unable to produce enough aircraft for both the RAF and the USAF, on April 3 1951 Martin was granted the license to build Canberras, designated B-57 (Martin Model 272) in the US. Remarkably, this was the first foreign aircraft purchased by the USAF since the British Airco DH.4 of World War I. To expedite production, the first B-57A were largely identical to the Canberra B.2s with the exception of more powerful Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire engines of 7,200 lbf (32 kN) of thrust also license-built in the US as Wright J65s. In addition, canopy and fuselage windows were slightly revised, the crew was reduced from three to two, wingtip fuel tanks were added, engine nacelles were modified with additional cooling scoops, and the conventional "clamshell" bomb-bay doors were replaced with a low-drag rotating door originally designed for the XB-51.

The first production aircraft flew on 20 July 1953, and was accepted by USAF on 20 August. During the production run from 1953 to 1957, a total of 403 B-57s were built.


Operational history
The B-57A was not considered combat-ready by the USAF and the aircraft were used solely for testing and development. One of the aircraft was given to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which fitted it with a new nose radome and used it to track hurricanes. The reason for such limited production was that the distinctly British B-57A was considered unfit for the USAF service. Particularly contentious were the odd cockpit arrangement and the lack of guns, the British Canberra having been designed for high-speed interdiction rather than close air support. The definitive B-57B introduced a new tandem cockpit with a bubble canopy, the engines were now started with a pyrotechnic cartridge, the airbrakes were moved from the wings to the sides of the fuselage for increased effectiveness, the controls were now boosted, four hardpoints were fitted under the wings, and the aircraft was given gun armament in the form of 8x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns in the wings, later replaced by 4x 20 mm M39 cannons. The first B-57B flew on 18 June 1954. The aircraft initially suffered from the same engine malfunctions as the RB-57As and several were lost in high-speed low-level operations due to a faulty tailplane actuator which caused the aircraft to dive into the ground. The USAF considered the B-57B inadequate for the night intruder role and Martin put all aircraft through an extensive avionics upgrade. Regardless, by the end of 1957 the USAF tactical squadrons were being re-equipped with supersonic F-100 Super Sabres. The complete retirement was delayed, however, by the start of the Vietnam War.


Vietnam
The deployment of B-57Bs from 8th and 13th Bomb Squadrons to Bien Hoa began with three aircraft lost in collisions on arrival. Additional five aircraft were destroyed with another 15 damaged by a Viet Cong mortar attack in November 1964. The first combat mission was not flown until 19 February 1965, with the first excursion into North Vietnam taking place on 2 March as part of Operation Rolling Thunder. The aircraft typically carried 9x 500 lb (227 kg) bombs in the bomb bay and 4x 750 lb (340 kg) bombs under the wings. In April 1965, Canberras began flying night intruder missions supported by C-123 Provider or C-130 Hercules flare ships and EF-10B Skyknight electronic warfare aircraft. On missions extending into North Vietnam, B-57Bs carried their own flares. On 16 May 1965, an armed B-57B exploded on the runway at Bien Hoa setting off a chain reaction that destroyed ten other Canberras, eleven A-1 Skyraiders, and one F-8 Crusader. Due to combat attrition, in October 1966 B-57Bs were transferred to Phan Rang where they supported operations in the Iron Triangle along with Australian Canberra B.20s. The aircraft also continued to fly night interdiction missions against the Ho Chi Minh trail. Of the 94 B-57Bs deployed to Southeast Asia, 51 were lost in combat and only 9 were still flying by 1969. As the result, the Canberras were withdrawn from service.


Reconnaissance B-57s
Posted Image Posted ImageAn RB-57F Canberra observes the Juniper test.While USAF found the B-57A lacking, the photoreconnaissance RB-57A saw some operational use. First flying in October 1953, RB-57As fully equipped the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Shaw Air Force Base by July 1954. The aircraft were also deployed with USAF squadrons in Germany, France, and Japan. However, operational readiness was poor and the aircraft suffered from significant production delays because of engine problems. Wright had subcontracted production of J65 engines to Buick which resulted in slow deliveries and tendency to burn oil which filled the cockpit with smoke. The problems were ameliorated when Wright took over the production in 1954. RB-57As also suffered from a high accident rate caused in part by very poor single-engine handling, which resulted in the entire fleet spending much of 1955 on the ground. By 1958, all RB-57As were replaced in active service by Douglas RB-66Bs and RF-101As. Air National Guard units extensively used RB-57As for photographic surveys of the United States and traded in their last aircraft in 1971. Two RB-57As were used by the Republic of China Air Force for reconnaissance missions over People's Republic of China. One of these was shot down by a Chinese Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 on 18 February 1958. Two other RB-57As were used by the Federal Aviation Administration to plan high-altitude airways for the upcoming jet passenger aircraft.

Starting in 1959, Martin began to modify retired RB-57As with electronic countermeasures (ECM) equipment in the bomb bay. Redesignated EB-57A, these aircraft were deployed with Defense Systems Evaluation Squadrons which played the role of aggressors to train the friendly air defense units in the art of electronic warfare. Subsequent bomber variants were also modified to fulfill this role.


Variants
B-57A First production version; 8 built. B-57B Definitive production version, tandem cockpit, 8x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns or 4x 20 mm cannons, four underwing hardpoints; 202 built. B-57C Dual-control trainer, first flight 30 December 1954; 38 built. B-57E Target tug, first flight [url="http://"http://www.answers.com/topic/may-16""]16 May 1956; 68 built. B-57G B-57Bs modified as night intruders with FLIR, LLTV and laser designator in the nose, capable of using laser-guided bombs; 16 converted. EB-57A Electronic aggressor aircraft converted from RB-57As. EB-57B ECM aircraft converted from B-57Bs. EB-57D ECM aircraft converted from RB-57Ds. EB-57E Electronic aggressor aircraft converted from B-57Es. RB-57A Photoreconnaissance version with cameras installed aft of the bomb bay; 67 built. RB-57B Photo-reconnaissance aircraft converted from B-57Bs. RB-57D High-altitude reconnaissance version, J57-P-9 engines, wingspan increased to 105 feet (32.00 m), first flight 3 November 1955; 20 built. RB-57E B-57Es modified to all-weather reconnaissance aircraft, used in "Patricia Lynn" missions during the Vietnam War; 6 converted. RB-57F High-altitude reconnaissance version developed by General Dynamics, TF33-P-11A turbofan engines with provision for auxiliary J60-P-9 turbojets, first flight 23 June 1963; 21 built (3 converted from RB-57As, 4 from RB-57Ds, the rest from B-57Bs). WB-57F Weather reconnaissance version. RB-57Fs used for high altitude atmospheric sampling in support of nuclear weapon testing and weather research. [/url]
Operators
United States Air Force, Republic of China Air Force (Taiwan), Pakistan Air Force.


Specifications (B-57B)
Data from Quest for Performance<A href="http://www.answers.c...ra#wp-_note-0">[2]

<H3 style="PADDING-TOP: 0.2em">General characteristics
Drag area: 11.45 ft² (1.06 m²) <LI>Aspect ratio: 4.27 <H3>Performance <H3><LI>Lift-to-drag ratio: 15.0 <H3>Armament <H3>
  • Guns:20 mm (0.787 in) M39 cannon, 290 rounds/gun
  • Bombs:
  • 4,500 lb (2,000 kg) in bomb bay, including nuclear bombs
  • 2,800 lb (1,300 kg) on four external hardpoints, including unguided rockets
<H3>Avionics <H3>
  • APW-11 Bombing Air Radar Guidance System
  • SHORAN bombing system
  • APS-54 Radar Warning Receiver

</H3></H3></H3></H3></H3></H3></H3>

#9 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 01:00 AM

B-58 Hustler B-58 HustlerPosted ImageTypeStrategic bomberManufacturerConvairMaiden flight1956-11-11Introduced1960-03-15Retired1970-01-31Primary userUnited States Air ForceBuilt116Unit costUS$12.44 million[1]The Convair B-58 Hustler was a high-speed jet bomber capable of supersonic flight. The aircraft was developed for the Strategic Air Command during the late 1950s and served between 1960 and 1970.

It received a great deal of notoriety due to its sonic boom, which was often heard by the public as it passed overhead in supersonic flight.

The B-58 had a tailless delta wing with a leading-edge sweep of 60°. With four General Electric J79-GE-1 turbojet engines, it was capable of flying at twice the speed of sound. Although its large wing made for relatively low wing loading, it proved to be surprisingly well suited for low-altitude, high-speed flight. It seated three (pilot, bombardier/navigator, and defensive systems operator) in separated tandem cockpits, equipped with a novel ejection capsule that made it possible to eject at an altitude of 21,000 m (70,000 ft) at speeds up to Mach 2 (2,450 km / 1,320 mph), something impossible with standard ejection seats of the period.

The B-58 typically carried a single nuclear weapon in a streamlined MB-1C pod under the fuselage. From 1961 to 1963 it was retrofitted with two tandem stub pylons under each wing, inboard of the engine pod, for B43 or B61 nuclear weapons for a total of 5 nuclear weapons per airplane. A single M61 Vulcan cannon was mounted in a radar-directed tail turret for defense. Although the USAF explored the possibility of using the B-58 for the conventional strike role, it was never equipped for carrying or dropping conventional bombs in service. A photo-reconnaissance pod, the LA-331, was also fielded. Several other specialized pods for ECM or an early cruise missile were considered, but not adopted.

Posted Image Posted ImageThis was the original XB-58. Accumulating 150 flights, it was the first B-58 to reach both Mach 1 and Mach 2. This particular craft was used for ALBM testing before being scrapped.The B-58 crews were elite, hand-picked from other strategic bomber squadrons. Due to some unique aspects of flying a delta-winged aircraft, the pilots used F-102 Delta Dagger to transition to the Hustler. The aircraft was difficult to fly and its three-man crews were constantly busy but the benefit was exceptional performance. A lightly loaded Hustler would climb at nearly 46,000 ft/min (235 m/s), comparable to the best contemporary fighters, and it could cruise with a payload at 85,000 ft (26,000 m) (Higham 1975). Nevertheless, it had marginal weapons load and limited range compared to the B-52 Stratofortress. It had been extremely expensive to acquire (in 1959 it was reported that each of the production B-58As was worth more than its weight in gold). It was a complex aircraft that required considerable maintenance, much of which required specialized equipment, which made it three times as expensive to operate as the B-52. Also against it was an unfavorably high accident rate: 26 aircraft were lost in accidents, 22.4% of total production. SAC had been dubious about the type from the beginning, although its crews eventually became enthusiastic about the aircraft (its performance and design were appreciated, although it was never easy to fly).

By the time the early problems had largely been resolved and SAC interest in the bomber had solidified, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara decided that the B-58 was not going to be a viable weapon system. Its early retirement, slated for 1970, was ordered in 1965, and despite efforts of the USAF to earn a reprieve, proceeded on schedule. The last B-58s in operational service retired 16 January 1970. A total of 116 B-58s were produced: 30 trial aircraft and 86 production B-58A models. Most of the trial aircraft were later brought up to operational standard. Eight were equipped as TB-58A training aircraft.

A number of B-58s were used for special trials of various kinds, including one used for testing the radar system intended for the Lockheed YF-12 interceptor. Several improved (and usually enlarged) variants, dubbed B-58B and B-58C by the manufacturer, were proposed, but never built.





Trivia
In the 1964 film Fail-Safe, stock footage of B-58s was used to represent "Vindicator" bombers which attacked Moscow.


Variants
  • XB-58 : Prototype. Two built.
  • YB-58A : Pre-production aircraft. 11 built.
  • B-58A : Three-seat medium-range strategic bomber aircraft.
  • TB-58A : Traning aircraft.
  • NB-58A : This designation was given to a YB-58A, which was used for testing the J94 engine. The engine was originally intended for the B-70 Valkyrie bomber.
  • B-58B : Unbuilt version.
  • B-58C : Unbuilt version.

Operators
Specifications (B-58A)
<A class=ilnk onclick="assignParam('navinfo','method|4'+getLinkTextForCookie(this));" href="http://www.answers.c...-58-3-view-jpg" target=_top>Posted ImageData from Quest for Performance[2]

<H3 style="PADDING-TOP: 0.2em">General characteristics
Drag area: 10.49 ft² (0.97 m²) <LI>Aspect ratio: 2.09 <H3>Performance <H3><LI>Lift-to-drag ratio: 11.3 (without weapons/fuel pod) <H3>Armament <H3>
</H3></H3></H3></H3></H3>

#10 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 01:01 AM

B-66 Destroyer B-66 DestroyerPosted ImageTypeLight bomberManufacturerDouglas Aircraft CompanyDesigned byEd HeinemannMaiden flight1954Introduced1956Retired1973Primary userUnited States Air ForceUnit costUS$2.55 million (RB-66B)[1]Posted ImageDouglas RB-66B DestroyerThe Douglas B-66 Destroyer was a Strategic Air Command light bomber based on the United States Navy's A3D Skywarrior, and intended to replace the Douglas B-26 Invader. A RB-66 photo-reconnaissance version was ordered simultaneously.

At first, the Air Force thought the conversion would be an easy matter of removing the carrier-specific features, so no prototypes were ordered, just five pre-production RB-66A models (the reconnaissance mission was deemed higher priority). The list of modifications grew, and before long, the easy conversion became a substantially new aircraft. Many of the changes were due to the Air Force's requirement for low-level operations, while the Navy plane was a high-altitude bomber.

The first RB-66A preproduction aircraft flew in 1954, while the first production RB-66B aircraft flew in early 1955. Deliveries to the USAF began in 1956, and 145 of this model were produced. They were used as the major night photo-reconnaissance aircraft of the USAF during this period.

Meanwhile, 72 of the B-66B bomber version were built, 69 fewer than originally planned. Thirteen B-66B aircraft were modified into EB-66B electronic countermeasures aircraft for the Vietnam War.

The RB-66C was a specialised electronic reconnaissance and ECM aircraft with a crew of seven; 36 were built. The additional crewmembers occupied what was the camera/bomb bay of other variants. RB-66C aircraft had distinctive wingtip pods. They were used over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and later over Vietnam. In 1966, they were redesignated EB-66C.

The final B-66 variant was the WB-66D weather reconnaissance aircraft, 36 of which were constructed.

The EB-66C/E had left USAF service by 1973. One RB-66B is at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.


Specifications (B-66)




References
  • ^ Knaack, MS (1988). Post-World War II bombers, 1945-1973. Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0160022606.

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 01:04 AM

B-1 Lancer B-1 LancerPosted ImageTypeBomberManufacturerRockwell International
Boeing IDSMaiden flight1974-12-23 B-1A
1984-10-18 B-1BIntroduced1986-10-01Primary userUnited States Air ForceBuilt4 B-1A
100 B-1BUnit costUS$283 million in 1998The Boeing IDS (formerly Rockwell) B-1B Lancer is a long-range strategic bomber in service with the United States Air Force (USAF). Together with the B-52 Stratofortress and the B-2 Spirit, it is the backbone of the United States's long-range bomber force.


Development

Original B-1 program
The B-1 was conceived as the Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft (AMSA) program circa 1965. After a prolonged development period, the contract was awarded in 1970 to Rockwell International. The first of four prototype B-1A models (s/n 74-158) flew on December 23, 1974. Intended as a high-speed, long-range bomber capable of a supersonic low-level dash and Mach 2.5 at altitude, the B-1A never went into production. The program was cancelled by decision of President Jimmy Carter in 1977, although flight tests of the four B-1A models continued through 1981.

The first B-1A was scrapped at the Rome Air Development Center, New York. The second (s/n 74-159) flew for the subsequent B-1B program, but crashed on August 29, 1984. This aircraft was equipped with a crew escape capsule, instead of conventional ejection seats. The capsule ejected from the aircraft, but the parachute deployed improperly and the pilot, Doug Benefield, was killed on impact.

The other two B-1As survive. The third prototype (s/n 74-160) is on display at Wings Over the Rockies in Denver, Colorado. The last B-1A (s/n 74-174) also served in the B-1B program. It was on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio for many years before moving to the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. This aircraft has conventional ejection seats and other features distinctive to the B-1B variant instead of the B-1A.


Rebirth of the B-1 program
The Reagan administration restarted the B-1 program in 1981 as part of its overall military buildup. The B-1 was by then intended to serve as an interim bomber in anticipation of the stealthy Advanced Technology Bomber (which emerged as the B-2 Spirit). Cynics noted that the Air Force very astutely spread production subcontracts across many congressional districts, making the aircraft very popular on Capitol Hill.

The first production model of the revised B-1B first flew in October 1984, and the first B-1B, "The Star of Abilene," was delivered to Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene, Texas, in June 1985, with initial operational capability on October 1, 1986. The final B-1B was delivered May 2, 1988. "The Star of Abilene" was recently retired and is now on display at the front gate of Dyess AFB.

The B-1B did not have a popular name during its early USAF service. By the time it was given the official popular name "Lancer" in 1990, it had already become known to its crews as the "Bone" (a contraction of "B one," also said to be inspired by its somewhat eerie shape).


Partial retirement
A total of 100 front-line aircraft were produced at a cost of over $200 million each. After several write-offs, 93 remained by the turn of the century. In 2003 the USAF decided to retire 33 of the B-1Bs to concentrate its budget on maintaining availability of the remaining aircraft, although in 2004 a new appropriations bill called for some of the retired aircraft to return to service. In 2004, the USAF returned seven of the mothballed bombers to service, giving a total force of 67 aircraft, with the rest cannibalized for spares. Five of the seven that were brought back to service went to Dyess AFB in Texas, one to Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota, and another to Edwards AFB in California. In 2005, The Pentagon announced the closing of Ellsworth AFB and the transfer of all operational B-1s to Dyess AFB. However, on August 26, 2005, it was announced that Ellsworth AFB would remain open thus no transfer of Ellsworth's B-1s would occur.


Technology
The B-1B has a blended wing and body configuration, along with variable-geometry design and turbofan engines, to improve range and speed with enhanced survivability. Forward wing settings are used for takeoff, landings and high-altitude maximum cruise. Aft wing settings are used in high subsonic and supersonic flight, enhancing the B-1B's performance. The wings of the B-1B originally were cleared for use at settings of 15, 25, 55, and 67.5 degrees; 45-degree settings were cleared in 1998–1999. When moving wings between those points, pilots must now observe strict maneuvering limits and transition the wings without stopping.

Unlike the B-1A, the B-1B made no attempt at Mach 2+ speeds, although its F101-GE-102 engines are somewhat more powerful than those of the B-1A. Its maximum unclassified speed at altitude is Mach 1.2 (about 950 mph or 1,330 km/h), although its low-level speed, Mach 0.95 (about 700 mph/1,118 km/h) is superior to the B-1A's Mach 0.85. Technically, the current version of the aircraft can exceed it's unclassified speed restriction, but not without risking damage to its modified air intakes which were developed to make the aircraft more stealth-like.

The B-1B's offensive avionics include the Westinghouse (now Northrop Grumman) AN/APQ-164 forward-looking offensive radar set, based on the AN/APG-66 of the F-16, but with electronic beam steering (and a fixed antenna pointed downward for reduced radar observability), synthetic aperture radar, ground moving target indicator (MTI), and terrain-following radar modes, Doppler navigation, radar altimeter, and an inertial navigation suite. From 1995 on, the B-1B Block D upgrade added a Global Positioning System receiver. These features were intended to provide accurate navigation without reliance on ground-based navigation aids.

The B-1B's defensive electronics include the Eaton AN/ALQ-161 radar warning and defensive jamming equipment, linked to a total of eight chaff/flare dispensers and managed by the AN/ASQ-184 defensive management system. The ALQ-161 has proved to be extremely troublesome in service, earning the B-1B an unfortunate reputation as the "world's first self-jamming bomber." Even the current ALQ-161A upgrade is seen as inadequate, although plans for a defensive systems upgrade program (DSUP) were cancelled for budgetary reasons. The B-1B has also been equipped to carry the ALE-50 Towed Decoy System. The Lancer has an additional Doppler tail-warning radar to detect aircraft or missiles approaching from the rear, although the use of the radar raises the risk of detection through its emissions.

Also aiding the B-1B's survivability is its relatively low radar cross-section (RCS). Although not technically a stealth aircraft in a comprehensive sense, thanks to the aircraft's structure, serpentine intake paths, and use of radar-absorbent material, its RCS is about 1/50th that of the B-52 (probably about 26 ft²), although the Lancer is not substantially smaller in mass than the Stratofortress. B-1B pilots have noted that to an enemy radar the B-52 resembles a 747, the B-1 looks like a small Cessna, and the B-2 looks like a bird or a frisbee.

The B-1B has been upgraded since production through the Conventional Mission Upgrade Program. This multi-stage program added a new MIL-STD-1760 smart-weapons interface that enables the use of the Joint Direct Attack Munition and other precision-guided conventional weapons, such as the Wind-Corrected Munitions (WCM) dispenser, and the AGM-154 JSOW (Joint Stand-Off Weapon). Later, future precision miniature munitions such as Small Diameter Bomb will be added. These and other improvements are intended to ensure that the B-1 will be viable through approximately 2020.

Ironically, the provision for precision-guided conventional weapons has been accompanied by the deletion of the B-1B's nuclear capability. The Lancer currently is not equipped to carry or drop nuclear weapons due to the agreements signed under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.


Operational History
Sometimes criticized as redundant, the B-1B was given new life as the new threats of the 21st century emerged, and now fills an important niche in the Air Force inventory. It is worth noting that the project finished on budget, and has higher survivability and speed when compared to the older B-52, which it was intended to replace. With the arrival of limited numbers of B-2s in the 1990s and the continuing use of B-52s, its value has been questioned. However, the capability of a high-speed strike with a large bomb payload for time-sensitive operations is useful, and no new strategic bomber is on the immediate horizon.

Operationally, the B-1B was first used in combat in support of operations against Iraq during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. B-1B Lancers have been subsequently used in Operation Allied Force (Kosovo) and most notably Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During OEF and OIF the B-1 has maintained a 79 percent mission capable rate, a considerable improvement over its previous 57% average rate.
  • Date Deployed: June 1985
  • Unit Cost: $283.1 million per aircraft
  • Inventory:
  • active force: 67
  • mothballed: 24
The B-1B holds several world records for speed, payload and distance. The National Aeronautic Association recognized the B-1B for completing one of the 10 most memorable record flights for 1993.


Crashes and malfunctions
  • A single B-1B was lost in December of 2001 over the Indian Ocean; its crew was rescued. The bomber (of the 20th Bomb Wing [1], designated ICECUBE 44 and bearing the state motto of New Hampshire, "Live Free or Die", on its nosecone [2]) was approximately 100 miles north of Diego Garcia, whence it had departed, flying en route to a long-range combat mission over Afghanistan, when the crew declared an in-flight emergency. Details remain classified, but the crash was attributed by the pilot, Capt. William Steele, to "multiple malfunctions" causing the bomber to go "out of control".[3] Further information from maintenance specialists related the aircraft mishap to the aircrew experiencing electrical bus failures that contributed to an instrument blackout affecting both primary and backup instruments. It was also rumored that the aircraft at the time the aircrew ejected was not in level flight but inverted and quickly heading nose down towards the Indian Ocean. With no visual reference available to the aircrew of level flight, the 4 members ejected safely. The bomber carries what is known as a "structural data collector" or an SDC which constantly records the last 30 seconds of flight control positions, engine throttle settings, and other instrument data. Because of the depth of the water in which the aircraft crashed, the SDC or "Black Box" was unable to be recovered from the wreckage and therefore the true nature of the cause was unable to be positively determined. The aircraft had recently come out of "cannibalization" status prior to the flight that brought it to Diego Garcia. Frequently maintenance will remove parts from a good aircraft to fix others that must fly that day. Due to shortages of parts, this practice is common on many Air Force bases and is not limited to bombers. The aircraft (86-0114) was deemed airworthy prior to flight. Hostile fire was ruled out as a cause for the crash. The crew spent two hours in the water before being rescued by a launch from the USS Russell. This was the first B-1B to be lost in combat operations since the model became operational in 1986. [4]
  • On February 18, 1998, a B-1B flying a training mission out of Dyess Air Force Base was lost over Kentucky when a fire in the cockpit instrument panel shut down the plane's power. All four crew members were able to eject and were rescued safely. In response to a warning light on the #3 engine, the crew took action to shut down the fuel pumps to that engine. However, a panel shortout caused a fire, which shut down fuel to all engines, and prevented them from being restarted. "[T]he uncommanded shutdown of the three engines, in turn, removed all hydraulic and electrical power from the aircraft, rendering the pilots incapable of restarting the engines and controlling the aircraft", noted Col. David A Shunk, with the predictable result that the aircraft crashed into a pasture in Marion, Kentucky. [5]
  • In September 1997, a B-1B from the 28th Bomb Wing, flying a training mission out of Ellsworth Air Force Base crashed in Montana; all four members of the crew were killed. The cause was attributed to the pilot flying too low for the practiced flight maneuver. The maneuver called for a reduction of airspeed and a sharp bank to bring the aircraft around quickly. When the airspeed was lowered, it cause the aircraft to dip even lower so that when the maneuver was executed, the wingtip was driven into the ground destroying the aircraft and killing its crew. [6]
  • 17 people have been killed in B-1B crashes since the first production model's maiden flight in 1984. [7]

B-1R
Posted Image Posted ImageB-1R concept.The B-1R is a proposed replacement for the B-1B fleet.[8] Boeing's director of global strike integration, Rich Parke, was first quoted about the “B-1R” bomber in Air Force Magazine. Parke said the B-1R (R stands for “regional”) would be a Lancer with advanced radars, air-to-air missiles, and F-22 engines. Its new top speed—Mach 2.2—would be purchased at the price of a 20 percent reduction of the B-1B’s combat range. This proposal would involve modifying existing aircraft. The FB-22 and YF-23 are alternative proposals.

Additional enhancements would include network-centric capabilities, air-to-air engagement, active electronically-scanned array radar, improved defensive systems, and opening up existing external hard points for conventional weapons.


Units
Specifications (B-1B Lancer)
Posted Image Posted ImageB-1B Lancer on takeoff from RAF FairfordPosted ImageB-1B at RIAT 2004



Popular culture
  • In the movie Real Genius, a B-1B is outfitted with an air-to-ground laser weapon.
  • The author Dale Brown frequently features B-1 and B-52 bombers in his books.
  • The unofficial 1983 James Bond film Never Say Never Again features a cruise missile launch from a B-1 bomber (although a sequence in which cruise missiles are loaded onto the B-1 was filmed with a Concorde SST substituting for the B-1's undercarriage). [9]


#12 Dr. Teeth

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 01:11 AM

F-117 Nighthawk F-117 NighthawkPosted ImageTypeStealth Bomber/InterdictorManufacturerLockheed MartinMaiden flight18 June, 1981IntroducedOctober, 1983Primary userUnited States Air ForceBuilt54Unit costUS$45 million in 1983The Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk is the world's first operational aircraft completely designed around stealth technology. Flown only by the United States Air Force, it is a direct descendant of the Have Blue stealth prototype program.

The F-117A was widely publicized during the Gulf War. It is scheduled to be replaced by the F-22 Raptor between 2008 and 2020.


Designation
The Nighthawk's designation of F-117A marks it as a fighter bomber, using the same naming format of F, with three rather than two numbers as in the earlier F-111 bomber.

The "F-" designation has never been officially explained. There are several theories. The USAF has always been more proud of its fighters than its ground-attack aircraft, which are sometimes denigrated as "mud movers." Officials may have felt that they could more easily generate political and military support for the radical new aircraft if it were called a "fighter" rather than a bomber or attack plane. The "F-" designation may also have been part of the attempt to keep the Nighthawk secret (the program was classified until the late 1980s). During development the term 'LT', for Logistics Trainer, was often used.

Also a recent televised documentary quoted a senior member of the F-117A development team as saying that the top-notch fighter pilots required to fly the new aircraft were more easily attracted to an F- plane, as opposed to a B- or A- aircraft. There has been something of a class distinction between fighter and bomber crews, particularly in the days of the Strategic Air Command (1945-1991), and flying one type often limited a pilot's prospects for flying the other.

The USAF maintains that F-117A can carry every weapon in the inventory, including air-to-air missiles. That may be technically true, but the aircraft is of unknown capability in air-combat. It is likely a poor dog fighter, but there is no expert opinion on its other abilities.

There is some conjecture about its abilities. It is said that it cannot turn at greater than 5 g though the information is classified. It lacks the radar to guide longer-range missiles, and does not carry shorter-range ones for self-defense. USAF officials once considered putting AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on the F-117 — pilots were even trained to fire them — but there is no evidence that AIM-9s have ever been loaded aboard. It stealth capabilities makes it hard to locate by other fighters and target with radar tracking air-air missiles.


Design and operation
Posted Image Posted ImageAn F-117A Nighthawk in the skies above New MexicoAbout the size of an F-15C Eagle, the single-seat, twin-engine F-117A is powered by two non-afterburning General Electric F404 turbofan engines, and has quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire flight controls. It is air refuelable. In order to lower development costs, the avionics, fly-by-wire systems, and other parts are derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18 Hornet. Among the penalties for stealth are 30% lower engine power and a very low wing aspect ratio, thanks to the high sweep angle needed to deflect incoming radar waves to the sides.

The F-117A is equipped with sophisticated navigation and attack systems integrated into a digital avionics suite. It carries no radar, which lowers emissions and cross-section. It navigates primarily by GPS and high-accuracy inertial navigation. Missions are coordinated by an automated planning system that can automatically perform all aspects of a strike mission, including weapons release. Targets are acquired by a thermal imaging infrared system, slaved to a laser that finds the range and designates targets for laser-guided bombs.

The F-117A's split internal bay can carry 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) of ordnance. Typical weapons are a pair of GBU-10, GBU-12, or GBU-27 laser-guided bombs, two BLU-109 penetration bombs, two Wind-Corrected Munition Dispensers (WCMD), or two Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), a GPS/INS-guided stand-off bomb. It can theoretically carry two examples of nearly any weapon in the USAF inventory, including the B61 nuclear bomb. There are a number of bombs that it cannot carry, either because they are too large to fit in its bomb bay, or are incompatible with the F-117's carry system.


History
The F-117A production decision was made in 1973 with a contract awarded to Lockheed Advanced Development Projects, the "Skunk Works," in Burbank, California led by Ben Rich. The first flight was in 1977, only 31 months after the full-scale development decision. The first F-117A was delivered in 1982, operational capability was achieved in October 1983, and the last delivery was in the summer of 1990. The Air Force denied the existence of the aircraft until 1988, then in April 1990 an example was put on public display at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, attracting tens of thousands of spectators.

Current inventory is 54 airplanes. 36 of those are combat ready, the rest are for training, etc.

During the program's early years, the F-117A fleet was based at Tonopah Test Range, Nevada from 1984 to mid-1992, where it served under the 4450th Tactical Group, absorbed by the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing in 1989. In 1992, the entire fleet was transferred to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, where it was placed under the command of the 49th Fighter Wing. The move eliminated the need for Key Air flights, which flew 22,000 passenger trips on 300 flights from Nellis to Tonopah per month.

Posted Image Posted ImageF-117 landingAs the Air Force has stated [1], "Streamlined management by Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, combined breakthrough stealth technology with concurrent development and production to rapidly field the aircraft.... The F-117A program demonstrates that a stealth aircraft can be designed for reliability and maintainability." The aircraft maintenance statistics are comparable to other tactical fighters of similar complexity. Logistically supported by Sacramento Air Logistics Center, McClellan AFB, California, the F-117A is kept at the forefront of technology through a planned weapon system improvement program located at USAF Plant 42 at Palmdale, California.


Combat
The F-117 has been used several times in war. Its first mission was during Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989. During that invasion an F-117 dropped two bombs on Rio Hato airfield. Later, during the Gulf War, it performed well by dropping smart bombs on Iraqi military targets. It has since been used in the Kosovo War in 1999, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.


Combat losses
One F-117 has been lost in combat, to Serbian/Yugoslav forces. On March 27, 1999, during the Kosovo War, the 3rd Battalion of the 250th Missile Brigade under command of colonel Zoltán Dani, equipped with the Isayev S-125 'Neva-M' (NATO designation SA-3 'Goa'), downed F-117A serial number 82-806 with a Neva missile. According to Wesley Clark and other NATO generals, Yugoslav air defences tracked F-117s with old Russian radars operating on long wavelengths. This, combined with the loss of stealth when the jets got wet or opened their bomb bays, made them highly visible on radar screens. The pilot survived and was later rescued by NATO forces. However, the wreckage of the F-117 was not promptly bombed, and the Serbs are believed to have invited Russian personnel to inspect the remains, inevitably compromising the US stealth technology. [2]

A second F-117A was also damaged during a raid in the Kosovo War, and although it made it back to its base, it never flew again. [3]


Future
With its successes in the Kosovo War and Operation Iraqi Freedom and its extraordinarily high mission capable rate, the F-117 has secured its place as the aerospace "tip of the spear" during the first few nights of military operations when the goal is to blind the enemy by destroying command, control and radar. Yet despite this, the F-117 is still very much an aircraft designed with technologies that were state of the art in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and as such, there has been a preliminary decision to retire the fleet in 2008. Most notably its stealth technology and faceting, while still more advanced than that of any other aircraft but the B-2 Spirit and F-22A, is maintenance heavy. Furthermore, the faceting technology (which limits its aerodynamics) represents an old counter-radar technique that has since been greatly refined.

The increase of production of the F-22A by four planes and its entry as an operational aircraft into the US Air Force has created debate about retiring the fleet. A draft version of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review and the 2007 Defense Budget that were leaked proposed retiring the entire fleet to make room for buying more F-22As.[4] This plan was removed from both the final 2007 Budget and the final QDR.[5]

Critics say that removing the F-117, an attack plane by nature, from service is another sign of the machinations of the largely former-fighter pilots that populate the highest ranks of the Air Force, who, by reputation, have been willing to sacrifice nearly any program in order to preserve the F-22A, the "ultimate fighter". Furthermore, they contend that the F-117 can carry 2 2000 lb bombs in its internal bays (and thus remain stealthy) whereas the F-22A can only carry such bombs on external pylons, breaking its vaunted stealth and manuverability.

Supporters of the proposal argue however that the high maintenance cost and older stealth technology that is vulnerable to long-wavelength radar, combined with a subsonic limit, makes the F-117 more dangerous to fly. They contend that the F-22A is the logical successor considering that:
  • Its stealth is nearly as advanced as the B-2, and reportedly more effective than the F-117.
  • It can fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburners and thus can reach targets more quickly.
  • Its radar absorbing material requires far less maintenance than that of the F-117.
  • The new 250 lb small diameter bomb entering service and designed specifically to fit in the F-22A's internal munitions bays have the same penetrating power as the larger 2000 lb BLU-109 bomb.
With the removal of the proposal of the retirement of the F-117 fleet, it is likely that the aircraft will remain in service for some years to come until their previously scheduled retirement between 2017 and 2025. In fact, 2004 and 2005 saw several mid-life improvement programs being implemented on the F-117, including an avionics upgrade.

Most interestingly, several of the F-117s were painted in a grey camouflage pattern in an experiment to determine the effectiveness of the F-117's stealth during daylight conditions. If the experiment is successful, it might lead to part or all of the fleet changing from their trademark black to this new color scheme, enabling, for the first time, daylight operations in warzones. As of early 2006 the outcome of this experiment is unknown.


Recent developments
In an abrupt reversal of early QDR drafts, in January 2006 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the retirement of the F-117 fleet. Designed as a cost cutting measure, and as part of a larger reorganization and redefinition of the Air Force's mission that includes the retirement of the E-4B fleet, the cancellation of the Boeing E-10 program, as well as the elimination of all but 58 B-52s. Rumsfeld states that this move will not impair the Air Force's ability to deliver the mission of the F-117 which will be accomplished by a growing supply of F-22s.


Specifications (F-117 Nighthawk)



<A name=Trivia>
Trivia
  • A Sprint commercial in the 1990s featured a large schematic drawing of the F-117, which was then subsequently identified incorrectly by Candice Bergen, their speaker, as a B-2.
  • Before it was given an official name, the engineers and test pilots referred to the ungainly aircraft, which went into hiding during daylight to avoid detection by Soviet satellites, as "Cockroaches", a name that is still sometimes used. Another sometimes used nickname is "Wobbly Goblin," due to the aircraft's alleged instability at low speeds, although F-117 pilots report this is incorrect. [6].
  • During the 1999 bombing of Serbia, after a F-117 was shot down by Serbian troops commanded by Zoltán Dani, Serbian performing group Indeksovo radio pozorište composed a satirical song El kondor pada about its pilot.


#13 .Funky.

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 03:48 PM

gr8 info thnks

#14 χтяємє ∂єѕι

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 03:41 AM

AMAZING

#15 Mr. H@n$omE

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 09:00 PM

gr8 info dude but u must have posted it in parts

#16 Pyrotechnic

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 10:09 PM

WoW....nice birds...

#17 kAmIkaZ

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 12:10 PM

hey u got quite acollection here

#18 Mr Nice Guy

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 10:30 AM

:good:

#19 kancharlav

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 12:14 PM

great info dude.

#20 The Pervert

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 07:33 PM

Thanks for the info though it was posted long ago i saw it today only




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