Convair B-36H/RB-36H Peacemaker

Last revised February 28, 2000


The B-36H was destined to be the major production version of the B-36, with a total of 83 B-36Hs being built. The B-36H was much the same as the B-36F which preceded it, but had a rearranged crew compartment with a second flight engineer station. In addition, the B-36H featured a new AN/APG-41A radar system in the tail which aimed the two 20-mm cannon in the tail turret. The new AN/APG-41A radar installation featured additional twin tail radomes, and was far superior to the AN/APG-32 gun-laying radar employed by the preceding B-36Ds and B-36Fs. The radar equipment was relocated to inside the pressurized compartment to allow for inflight troubleshooting and repair. The engines were six R-4630-53 and four J47-GE-19, same as those of the B-36F.

The B-36H was flown for the first time on April 5, 1952. The B-36H deliveries did not start until December of 1952, at which time the Air Force already had most of its 34 B-36Fs. A total of 83 B-36Hs were built. The USAF also bought 73 long-range reconnaissance versions of the B-36H under the designation RB-36H. 23 were accepted during the first six months of 1952, and the remainder were all delivered by September of 1953. The Air Force acquired a total of 156 B/RB-36Hs (83 B-36Hs, 73 RB-36Hs), the largest production run of any B-36 version.

For a few months in 1952, all B-36s were restricted to altitudes below 25,000 feet after an RB-36 accident at 33,000 feet was traced to a faulty bulkhead. This restriction remained in place until all bulkheads could be inspected and defective units replaced.

By the mid 1950s, 64 B-36Hs were modified to Featherweight III configuration. It was capable of flying at 423mph at 47,000 feet, the fasted operational B-36 model.

One B-36H was converted into a mid-air refuelling tanker. The Air Force was interested in a tanker which could refuel jet aircraft at higher altitudes and higher speeds than those that could be reached by converted B-29 tankers. The modification contract was approved in February of 1952 and the work was completed in May. Testing with B-47 receiver aircraft took place at the end of May. No other tests took place until January of 1953, when a probe-and-drogue refuelling system was installed. The 9-crew tanker could be converted back to its standard bomber configuration in only 12 hours. However, no other tanker conversions of the B-36 were carried out, since converted B-29s and B-50s, plus the new KC-97, were able to handle mid-air refuelling much more economically.

The B-36H-equipped 42nd wing at Loring AFB, Maine, began to convert to B-52s in June of 1956.

Serials of B-36H/RB-36H:

50-1083/1091		Convair B-36H-1-CF Peacemaker
50-1092/1097		Convair B-36H-5-CF Peacemaker
50-1103/1105		Convair RB-36H-1-CF Peacemaker
50-1106/1110		Convair RB-36H-5-CF Peacemaker
51-5699/5705		Convair B-36H-10-CF Peacemaker
51-5706/5711		Convair B-36H-15-CF Peacemaker
51-5712/5717		Convair B-36H-20-CF Peacemaker
51-5718/5723		Convair B-36H-25-CF Peacemaker
51-5724/5729		Convair B-36H-30-CF Peacemaker
51-5730/5735		Convair B-36H-35-CF Peacemaker
51-5736/5742		Convair B-36H-40-CF Peacemaker
51-5743/5747		Convair RB-36H-10-CF Peacemaker
51-5748/5753		Convair RB-36H-15-CF Peacemaker
51-5754/5756		Convair RB-36H-20-CF Peacemaker
51-13717/13719		Convair RB-36H-20-CF Peacemaker
51-13720/13725		Convair RB-36H-25-CF Peacemaker
51-13726/13731		Convair RB-36H-30-CF Peacemaker
51-13732/13737		Convair RB-36H-35-CF Peacemaker
51-13738/13741		Convair RB-36H-40-CF Peacemaker
52-1343/1347		Convair B-36H-45-CF Peacemaker 
52-1348/1353		Convair B-36H-50-CF Peacemaker
52-1354/1359		Convair B-36H-55-CF Peacemaker
52-1360/1366		Convair B-36H-60-CF Peacemaker
52-1367/1373		Convair RB-36H-45-CF Peacemaker
52-1374/1380		Convair RB-36H-50-CF Peacemaker
52-1381/1386		Convair RB-36H-55-CF Peacemaker
52-1387/1392		Convair RB-36H-60-CF Peacemaker

Specification of Convair B-36H

Engines: Six 3800 hp Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 Wasp Major air cooled radial engines, plus four 5200 lb.s.t. General Electric J47-GE-19 turbojets. Performance: Maximum speed 439 mph at 31,120 feet, 416 mph at 36,700 feet. Cruising speed 234 mph. Stalling speed 123 mph. Initial climb rate 2060 feet per minute. Service ceiling 44,000 feet. Combat ceiling 40,800 feet. Combat radius 3113 miles with 10,000 pounds of bombs. 7691 miles ferry range. Weights: 168,487 pounds empty, 253,900 pounds combat, 370,000 pounds maximum. Dimensions: Wingspan 230 feet 0 inches, length 162 feet 1 inches, Height 46 feet 8 inches, wing area 4772 square feet. Armament: Two 20-mm M24A1 cannon each in six retractable remotely-controlled fuselage turrets, tail turret and nose mounting, with 9200 rounds of ammunition. Normal bomb load up to 72,000 pounds. Maximum bomb load 86,000 pounds

Sources:


  1. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Sqanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  2. Post-World War II Bombers, Marcelle Size Knaack, Office of Air Force History, 1988.

  3. General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors, John Wegg, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  4. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  5. Convair B-36: A Comprehensive History of America's "Big Stick", Meyers K. Jacobsen, Schiffer Military History, 1997.