Convair NB-36H

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NB-36H with B-50, 1955 - DF-SC-83-09332.jpeg
The Convair NB-36 in flight, with a B-50.
Role Bomber
Manufacturer Convair
Status Cancelled
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 1
Developed from Convair B-36
Developed into Convair X-6
Serial 51-5712

The Convair NB-36H was a bomber that carried a nuclear reactor. It was also known as the "Crusader".[1] It was created for the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, or the ANP, to show the feasibility of a nuclear-powered bomber. Its development ended with the cancellation of the ANP program.

Design and development[edit]

The NB-36H was converted from a B-36H that had been damaged by a tornado. The original crew and avionics cabin was replaced by a massive lead- and rubber-lined 11 ton crew section for a pilot, copilot, flight engineer and two nuclear engineers. Even the small windows had 10-12 inch thick lead glass.[1][2][3][4] Unlike the planned Convair X-6, the three-megawatt air-cooled reactor in the NB-36H did not power any of the aircraft's systems, nor did it provide propulsion, but was placed on the NB-36H to measure the effectiveness of the shielding.[1]

Flight events[edit]

An underside view of the aircraft.

The NB-36H completed 47 test flights and 215 hours of flight time (during 89 of which the reactor was operated) between September 17, 1955, and March 1957[5] over New Mexico and Texas. Although it was never used, there was a direct hotline[dubious ] to the President's office set up in case of a nuclear accident on board the aircraft.[citation needed]


 United States


The NB-36H in flight. Note the 2 pods; each was mounted near the wingtips of the aircraft and both carried two GE J47 jet engines each.

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Related Development

Comparable Aircraft


  1. ^ a b c "Convair NB-36H "The Crusader"". National Museum of the US Air Force. 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  2. ^ "Convair NB-36: Bomber Aircraft with an Internal Nuclear Reactor". Avia Time. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Converted B-36 bomber (NB-36H)". The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project. Brookings Institution. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Colon, Raul (2007-08-06). "Flying on Nuclear, The American Effort to Built a Nuclear Powered Bomber". The Aviation History Online Museum. Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  5. ^ Atomic Energy Commission and Department of Defense (February 1963). Report to the Congress of the United States – Review of manned aircraft nuclear propulsion program (PDF). The Comptroller General of the United States. p. 141. Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  • Winchester, Jim. Concept Aircraft: Prototypes, X-Planes, and Experimental Aircraft. Thunder Bay Press, 2005. ISBN 978-1592234806

External links[edit]