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Convair B-36 Peacemaker Bomber Plane

Early thermonuclear Bombs weren't large, they were very large, consequently an intercontinental strategic bomber capable of carrying nuclear bombs internally needed to be very very large, the Convair B-36 Peacemaker designed by Ted Hall in the 1940's was the first such bomber ever made, and therefore also holds the record of being the largest bomber ever made (as nuclear weapons became more efficient the size of their delivery platforms became far smaller).

Convair B-36 Peacemaker Bomber Plane


The Convair B-36 Peacemaker was a revolutionary aircraft, not only was it enormous but late models, as pictured above, were powered by no less than ten engines! four of which were jet engines and six radial engines in a rear facing "pusher" configuration reputably resulting in the flight engineer informing the pilot "Six turning and four burning" when about to take-off on an attack run, the B-36 Peacemaker could also impose peace by the mere threat of it's awesome 86,000 lb (39 tonnes) conventional or nuclear maximum payload combined with a 6,000 mile maximum range.

The last of the 385 Convair B-36 Peacemakers built was retired from USAF service in 1959, this was a result of nuclear weapons becoming smaller and lighter and more efficient, in-flight refuelling reducing the amount and weight of fuel having to be carried for long distance flights, and most importantly the jet engine with it's less volatile fuel (engine fires were all too common on the B-36, many Peacemakers were lost due to fire).

Cnvair B-36J-III Peacemaker Armament:

  • Guns: Twin tail mounted 20 mm (0.79 in) M24A1 cannon
  • Bombs: 72,000 lb (32,660 kg) to 86,000 lb (39,010 kg) of conventional or nuclear gravity bombs

Cnvair B-36J-III Peacemaker Specifications:

  • Crew: 9
  • Length: 162 ft 1 in (49.40 m)    Wingspan: 230 ft 0 in (70.10 m)    Height: 46 ft 9 in (14.25 m)
  • Wing area: 4,772 ft (443.3 m)
  • Empty weight: 171,035 lb (77,580 kg)     Loaded weight: 266,100 lb (120,700 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 410,000 lb (190,000 kg)
  • Engines: Four 5,200 lbf (23 kN) General Electric J47 turbojets and six 3,800 hp (2,500 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 "Wasp Major" radial piston engines
  • Maximum speed: 420 mph (365 knots, 685 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 230 mph (200 kn, 380 km/h)
  • Range: 6,795 mi (5,905 nmi, 10,945 km) with 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) payload
  • Service ceiling: 48,000 ft (15,000 m)

In one notable B-36 fire incident in February 1950, a Mark IV nuclear bomb was on-board when three engines caught fire over the North Pacific, the crew jettisoned the bomb before the aircraft crashed into Mount Kologet in British Columbia. This was the first known "broken arrow" incident. The USAF claimed that although the uranium had indeed been present in the bomb, the plutonium core had been switched for a practice lead core prior to the bomb being jettisoned!

(what good fortune that there was a fake core in the bomb...)

Mark IV nuclear bomb with up too 31 kilotons yield

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