Talk:Boeing B-50 Superfortress

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Untitled[edit]

In response to the suggestion that the XB-44 article stub be merged into the B-50 Superfortress article, I would weigh in on the question with the opinion that the XB-44 should be allowed to stand alone in the designation order. Other derivative types such as the YF-95 variant of the F-86 and the YF-97 variant of the F-94 have their own articles with appropriate links to the primary model. It follows that the XB-44 ought to stand alone, as well. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mark Sublette (talkcontribs) August 6, 2006 03:35:37 GMT.

The articles clearly state that XB-44 was a designation for an aircraft later redesignated as the B-50. It's not even a different product specification. —Joseph/N328KF (Talk) 04:16, 6 August 2006 (UTC)



Ahh - but the XB-44 was NOT redesignated the B-50 - that would actually be the B-29D variant... And I quote:

NEW DESIGNATION December 1945

The B-29D became the B-50 in December 1945. Officially, the aircraft's new designation was justified by the changes separating the B-29D from its predecessors. However, according to Peter M. Bowers, a well-known authority on Boeing aircraft, "the redesignation was an outright military ruse to win appropriations for the procurement of an aeroplane that by its designation appeared to be merely a later version of an existing model that was being canceled wholesale, with many existing examples being put into dead storage."

- Marcelle Size Knaack, "Post-World War II Bombers", Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C., 1988, ISBN 0-912799-59-5, page 163.

The XB-44 was a singular modification unto itself. I think we should maintain the experimental model's own page, with links to the later designations...

Mark Sublette 04:17, 17 August 2006 (UTC)Mark SubletteMark Sublette 04:17, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Suggestion[edit]

I suggest that the Boeing B-54 stub be merged to this page. I doubt the B-54 page will ever become more than it is now. --Colputt 00:29, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

  • Concur. Btw, can we find some explanation of what the VDT engine is? The spelled-out term is just a red-link. - BillCJ 01:23, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

I would agree that the XB-54 would fit well here. Mark Sublette 00:36, 9 September 2007 (UTC)Mark SubletteMark Sublette 00:36, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Well - they DID cut-metal for it... I'm not so sure, after all... Mark Sublette 00:38, 9 September 2007 (UTC)Mark SubletteMark Sublette 00:38, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

New edits[edit]

I agree with Adam's assessment of the "improvements" since as is, they are another load of work and until the submissions are made in a verifiable form and have a "readability" factor, then it is more to do on an article. FWIW Bzuk 12:46, 2 October 2007 (UTC).


Obviousely you had swiftly taken the position that i expected. Just to clarify, what's so 'incomprensible' and unverifiable in the form below? Greetings to all for the collaboration one time more gave. --Stefanomencarelli 14:44, 2 October 2007 (UTC)


Being the original B-29 quite undepowered with R-2800 engines, capables of 2,200 hp (B-17 was around the half in mass, but had 1,200 hp engines for an slighty better hp/weight ratio), studies to improve it with enchanced engines were soon started. One B-29 was sent to Pratt & Whitney and converted as a testbed for the new Pratt & Whitney R-4360, a four-row 28-cylinder model.

This machine was called B-29D or XB-44. With the end of the war the order for 200 machines was reduced to only 60, and designation was changed in B-50. on 24 may 1947 was decided to continue the program for this 'new' bomber. This was only in appareance similar to B-29, because many changes were made to improve the basic design.

First, structurally the machine was improved thanks to the new aluminium alloys, 75 ST that replaced the previous 24 ST. This allowed a 16% stronger structure, despite it was 272 kg/600 pds lighter. Tail was over 1,5 m higher because the need for a better control with engines 59% more powerful. Being too tall it was foldable to use the available hangars. R-4360 were extremely powerful, and in six units equipped also B-36. The cooling oil radiator was put well behind in the engine nacelle, a visual difference with B-29.[1]

Crew was normally eleven. One of them was an EW operator, because electronic warfare raised on importance in few years. 13 12,7 mm were available in the classical turrets, already installed on B-29s, and the gross weight was incremented. Performances were overall improved, and the aircraft, called by Boeing Model 345-2, was flown (sN 46-002) for the first time on 25 june 1947.

59 machines were produced, and B-50As delivered from June 1948 to 43rd Bombardment Wing, based at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. Production ended in early 1949. Initially, despite the design was still the same of B-29 there were many faults, affecting turbo-charger, propellers, structures and so on. During 1949 many of these were fixed, and finally B-50s were modiphied for british air refuelling system. B-50 Lucky Lady II was used to evaluate this new system with the first flight around the world. It took 94 hours and two air refuelling by KB-29s. This B-50 was one of 43 Bomb Group, 46-010 .[2]

The role of these machines was since the beginnings, the atomic bombing, also because the fews, old B-29s so modiphied were already obsolete. It was not an easy task to carry 4 t bombs, and B-50 were lifted on the ground to carry them in the belly bay.

Being phased out in 1954 (sobstitued with B-47s), surviving B-50A were transformed in KB-50J.

In the meanwhile new B-50 were produced, with B-50B.[3]. Th first , s/N 47-118, flew in 14 jenuary 1949. This had no a real bomber career, as quickly all the aircrafts were transformed in recognition aircraft, with up to nine photograpic machines. They were of several models: RB-50B were in 1951 modiphied in RB-50E, RB-50F, and RG-50G. All them were, in total, 45 units. The differences were on details, with RB-50F equipped with SHORAN navigation system, that interfered with defensive armament, and 'G' model, extensively modiphied, had 16 crews and electronic missions as primary task. There were six electronic sets, and also ten photograpic machines: 4 K-38s, 36-inch lens or 2 K-38s with 24-inch; 1 L-22A or K-17; 1 A-6 motion picture camera; 3 K-17cs; 1 T-11 with 6-inch lens.

All RB-50s were equipped with ausiliary underwing tanks, and shared also some short-comings. The new model of fuel tank, a lightened one, had still some worryng problems with leaking, and structure was prone to cracks.

The next model was B-50C, with new engines equipped with turbo-compound charger. But this led to a total re-engeneering and the aircraft was not choose due to B-36s, asked by gen. Le May. The new B-50C was the best extrapolable by B-50 basic design, and the maximum take-off weight was over 90 t. This aircraft was called, also, B-54. One built .[4]

B-50D will been the most produced version. Called by Boeing Model 345-9-6, took off in may 1949, and already in june there were the firsts deliveries to SAC, in 93rd and 509th Bombardment Wings. Meant as stop-gap nuclear bomber, pending the advent of B-47s, this machine had a new nose made in a single plastic piece, new avionics, new front turret, only 8 crews, underwing pylons for auxiliary tanks, inflight refuelling probes. The nuclear weapons were Mark 3 and Mark 4, but there were many problems to coordinate USAF and Atomic Energy Commission, and so early B-50s were delivered without nuclear capability..[5]

There were many problems, that plagued these machines in 1949-50. Despite they were the third version of an aircraft that was itself an improved B-29, the malfunctions were extensive, with many aircrafts grounded to fix the problems. They were, among the others, structural crackings, turbocharger malfunctions, AN/APW-24 radar navigation-attack system was extremely unreliable. Once those problems started to be fixed, atomic bombs of the time grew too much to be carried by narrow bomb bays of B-50s (at the time fission bombs were the standards and reached quickly several tons of mass, despite the improvement in tecnology archivied). These bombers were in service until 1955, when they were finally sobstitued with B-47s.[6].

Perhaps all these problems contribued to not send over Korea B-50s, that remained fielded as nuclear bombers or recognition machines. Some of RB-50s were involved in fierce battles wit MiGs, more than capable to intercept these 'super B-29s'. The role of B-50 was mainly as stop-gap nuclear bomber, but also led for the first time to air refuelling; this was the first bomber that was involved with such operation as standards.

DB-50D was involved in the RASCAL missile program, an aptempt to make a nuclear, supersonic missile to strike soviet objectives. It was a failure, but several tests were made from september 1952.

TB-50 were 11 B-50s stripped by armament and used as trainers.

The WB-50D was an Weather reconnissance model, with APM-82 Automatic Navigator, a radar navigation device capable of measuring drift and ground speed, ANQ-7 (a device to measure temperature and humidity), ML-313 Psychometer.[7]. As almost all the B-50s, there were many troubles to install these devices, in spite of the removal of all the militaty installations. Apart this and the usual fuel leakings, the WB-50D served well, until 1967. 36 machines modiphied from mid '50s.

TB-50H, Boeing Model 345-31-26 was another training version.[8]. It was equipped with sophistied devices, like K-1 nav.bombing sistem of B-47, and had provisions for bombs, but not for air refuelling. The weight of 120,000 lbs allowed it to be the faster of all B-50s entered in production, with 418 miles at 9,400 m. It was unarmed, and had 12 crew. First fligth 29 april 1952, with deliveries of 24 machines (instead of the last 24 B-50Ds) between september and march 1953. Entered in service with 3236th Observer Training Squadron, 3235th Observer Training Wing at Mather AFB in California, and used mainly to train B-47s crews with an relatively economic aircraft, but already in 1955 was phased out and converted in KB-50.

KB-50 were the most important modiphics and involved 134 B-50s to sobstitue KB-29, too slow to refuelling jets (that risked to fall in stall). For the first time B-50 proved to be reliable and quite effective in overall performances. KB-50 entered in service from 1956 and in 1957 had already replaced KB-29s. The need to have a better speed allowed the use of two J-47 auxiliary jets.

The first jet-engined B-50 was the KB-50J, capable of 444 mph at 17,000 ft at 179,500 pounds (no weaponry of nay sort were carried).[9]. Jet engines shortened the takeoff distance by 30 percent, and improved the time to climb to normal altitude by 60 percent. With this new engines J47-GE-23, the first aircraft was ready in april 1957, and Hayes Aircraft Corporation converted 112 KB-50s to KB-50J. The first was delivered to TAC on January 16, 1958. This new modiphics KB-50J were used waiting another Boeing product, KC-135 and started to be phased out in 1964, still on time to operate also in Vietnam. They were elderling aircrafts and the reliability was poor, with many faults included fuel cells, as usual. Finally, KB-50K were took in strenght from 1958 to early '60s. They were TB-50K modiphied.

Operational history[edit]

B-50D-90BO 48-086 with R-4360 engine differences visible

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 USAF Strategic Air Command had B-50 Superfortresses (B-50s and RB-50s) in service from 1948 through 1954.

Important services were made by RB-50s, but the deployement of jet interceptors made these high altitude flights too dangerous.

One of them was sent by 55 SRW in Japan, and made a mission on 29 july 1955. 17 persons were in the aircraft over Sea of Japan, when it was attacked by two MiG-15, that had a powerful armament enough to shot down the bomber, despite the heavy defensive armament of this latter. Despite desperate reactions, it was shot down in flames. Only two survived and bailed out, waiting for 12 hours rescue missions. Only one, John E. Roche, was saved with an SB-29, that launched an aluminium boat, while cap Stanley O'Kelly cannot reached the boat. A number were converted into KB-50 tankers and lasted long enough to be deployed to Southeast Asia in support of tactical operations. The type was grounded and removed completely from inventory when wreckage of a KB-50 that broke up in flight in 1965 revealed corrosion problems in the fleet. No flying examples exist today, although several can be found in various air museums.


All by all, B-50 was a real interim aircraft, too small and old to made worldwide tasks that SAC called. Despite it was a low-risk project, it was hampered by many problems, due to the lightened structures and fuel tanks. It was used neverthless for few years as nuclear bomber, and never used its 12 t bombload capability in real wars, because in Korea were sent the older but more numerous B-29s. It was used mainly as tanker, weather reconniscance plane and for secret ferret missions all around URSS and Warsaw Pact, filling a gap caused by delays of B-47s.


One of them was sent by 55 SRW in Japan, and made a mission on 29 july 1955. 17 persons were in the aircraft over Sea of Japan, when it was attacked by two MiG-15, that had a powerful armament enough to shot down the bomber, despite the heavy defensive armament of this latter. Despite desperate reactions, it was shot down in flames. Only two survived and bailed out, waiting for 12 hours rescue missions. Only one, John E. Roche, was saved with an SB-29, that launched an aluminium boat, while cap Stanley O'Kelly cannot reached the boat. A number were converted into KB-50 tankers and lasted long enough to be deployed to Southeast Asia in support of tactical operations. The type was grounded and removed completely from inventory when wreckage of a KB-50 that broke up in flight in 1965 revealed corrosion problems in the fleet. No flying examples exist today, although several can be found in various air museums.


All by all, B-50 was a real interim aircraft, too small and old to made worldwide tasks that SAC called. Despite it was a low-risk project, it was hampered by many problems, due to the lightened structures and fuel tanks. It was used neverthless for few years as nuclear bomber, and never used its 12 t bombload capability in real wars, because in Korea were sent the older but more numerous B-29s. It was used mainly as tanker, weather reconniscance plane and for secret ferret missions all around URSS and Warsaw Pact, filling a gap caused by delays of B-47s.


Briefly, in the note you have provided, on a cursory inspection, there are over 500 errors in sentence grammar, context, syntax, spelling, typos, capitalization, date structure, paragraphing structure, use of plurals, nouns, main titles, sub-titles as well as numerous errors in citations, references and so on. It would be a colossal task to rewrite the sections that were added. The fact that a "textdump" was challenged is perfectly acceptable because the article would be substantially altered. All major changes to an article should be addressed on the "talk" pages. Any disputes fall into the WP:Fork category and should be avoided. FWIW Bzuk 15:08, 2 October 2007 (UTC).

Merger proposal[edit]

The B-44 was merely a test-bed for the installation of Wasp Major engines in the B-29, with the B-29D (later the B-50) being a production derivative with the new engines, and revised structure, as such the single example of the B-44 can be quite happily be covered here. Much of the B-44 article is a duplicate of the B-50 article anyway, so there is little content that needs to be added.Nigel Ish (talk) 14:50, 27 June 2010 (UTC)

  • Support - Per nom. - BilCat (talk) 16:44, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Support - as nomination MilborneOne (talk) 21:30, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Support - Yes, I think the B-44 article should be merged with this one, with information about it being a testbed put in the "Development" section of the B-50 article. It doesn't really make sense to have a separate article for a plane that was a testbed for the B-50's engine. -Compdude123 (talk) 02:00, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
  • Support - Merely the prototype B-50. 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweetly'Petebutt (talk) 13:14, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
DonePetebutt (talk) 15:44, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

KB-50[edit]

Any reason why the KB-50 is a separate article, a lot of KB-50 stuff is still in this article? MilborneOne (talk) 21:48, 29 June 2010 (UTC)