Convair RB-36H Peacemaker (USA)

Convair RB-36H Peacemaker military aircraft heavy bomber airplane at Castle Air Museum, Atwater.


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United States
Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Co. (Convair)
Strategic/Reconnaissance Bomber
Model 36
22 Crew (16 in bomber variant)
6 - 3,800 hp Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 radial engines and 4 - General Electric J-47-GE-19 jet engines with 5,010 lbs. of thrust each
416 mph
44,000 ft.
8,800 mi.
Empty: N/A
Maximum: 358,000 lbs.
230 ft.
162 ft. ¼ in.
46 ft. 10 in.
4,772ft² (443.3m²)
4 - .50 cal machine guns in tail
16 - 20mm electric-fired cannons; 72,000 lbs. of conventional or nuclear bombs
383 B-36H & 73 RB-36H
The B-36 was progressively removed from service as the B-52 became operational in 1955. The last B-36's left active USAF service in 1959

The Convair B-36 Peacemaker was the largest bomber ever built when it first flew in 1946. It  served as America's airborne nuclear deterrence in the early 1950's. It was capable of carrying the Mark 17 thermonuclear hydrogen bomb, which was 24 and 1/2 feet long and weighed an incredible 21 tons. It was carried in the bomb bay and even the B-36 could carry only one of these formidable weapons.

The design of the B-36 began during World War II and was originally intended to allow America to bomb Germany from bases inside America, should England fall into enemy occupation. To this end, the B-36 had a range of over 7,500 miles.

The wing span of the B-36 is 230 feet and mounted on these wings are six propeller engines and four turbojet engines. This led to the phrase " six turning and four burning " used by the aircrews who flew the Peacemaker. The B-36 carried a crew of 16 (22 in the reconnaissance version), who took turns flying the aircraft on its long missions.

Convair RB-36H Peacemaker Mark 17 thermonuclear hydrogen bomb at Castle Air Museum.

Crew members traveled through the fuselage by means of a long narrow tunnel on a creeper trolley similar to ones used by auto mechanics. While one of the most powerful bombers ever built, the Peacemaker never once fired a shot in anger throughout its service history.

The first flight of the B-36 was on August 8, 1946 at Fort Worth, Texas. The longest recorded B-36 flight lasted 51 hours and 20 minutes, non-stop and without being refueled. The last flight of a B-36 was in April, 1959.

The aircraft on display at Castle Air Museum is one of only four B-36 aircraft remaining and the only reconnaissance version. It served with the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Rapid City Air Force Base, South Dakota (Ellsworth AFB after June 1953) from 1952 to 1957. In 1957, it was sent to Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois. There it served as a ground instructional airframe and finally was part of Chanute's Air Museum. It was brought to Castle in 167 pieces, requiring 11 flatbed railway cars to move it. It took the efforts of dozens of volunteers and two and a half years of work to reassemble and paint the B-36.