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B-36 Peacemaker Convair
B-36 Peacemaker
Intercontinental Strategic Bomber

The B-36 was the world's first true intercontinental bomber, that is a bomber with enough range to carry a heavy bombload to targets halfway around the world. The requirement for this bomber called for an aircraft able to deliver a 10,000 lb payload to targets in Europe from bases in the US. Consolidated won the contract to build the large new aircraft when the company's Model 36 was selected over three competing concepts.

The resulting B-36 Peacemaker, though too late to see action in World War II, was the largest production bomber ever built. The design featured a pressurized fuselage with a raised cockpit for improved visibilty. Besides its size, the most recognizable feature of the B-36 was its six pusher-propeller piston engines. Later models were also equipped with four jet engines mounted in outboard pods permitting increases in maximum takeoff weight, payload, maximum speed, and service ceiling.

Entering service in the late 1940s, the B-36 became the backbone of the US Strategic Air Command in the early days of the Cold War. Several models were also built for reconnaissance duties. One of the more unusual reconnaissance versions featured smaller "parasite" aircraft carried aloft by the gigantic bomber and released during flight to extend the smaller aircraft's range. Other unique variants of the B-36 included the NB-36 radiation research aircraft and XC-99 transport model. Consolidated also built and tested a pure jet derivative called the YB-60, but this new design was rejected by the USAF in favor of the B-52 Stratofortress. The final B-36 was withdrawn from service in 1959.

Data below for B-36J
Last modified 17 March 2012

First Flight (XB-36) 8 August 1946
(B-36A) 28 August 1947
(B-36B) 8 July 1948
(B-36D) 26 March 1949
(RB-36E) 18 December 1949
(B-36F) 18 November 1950
(B-36H) 5 April 1952
(B-36J) 3 September 1953
(XC-99) 23 November 1947
(XB-36G) 18 April 1952
Service Entry 1949
Retirement 12 February 1959

CREW: (RB-36D) 22
(B-36J) 9


$3.7 million

Wing Root NACA 63(420)-422
Wing Tip

NACA 63(420)-517

Length 162.08 ft (49.40 m)
Wingspan 230.00 ft (70.10 m)
Height 46.67 ft (14.22 m)
Wing Area 4,772 ft (443.32 m)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty 171,035 lb (77,580 kg)
Normal Takeoff unknown
Max Takeoff 410,000 lb (185,975 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: unknown
external: unknown
Max Payload

86,000 lb (39,010 kg) [with weight restrictions]
72,000 lb (32,660 kg) [normal]

Powerplant (B-36B) six Pratt & Whitney R-4360-41 radial piston engines
(B-36J) six Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 radial piston engines plus four General Electric J47-19 turbojets
Thrust (B-36B) 21,000 hp (15,660 kW)
(B-36J) 22,800 hp (17,004 kW) plus 20,800 lb (92.5 kN)

Max Level Speed at altitude: 410 mph (660 km/h) at 36,400 ft (11,095 m)
at sea level: unknown
cruise speed: 390 mph (630 mph)
Initial Climb Rate unknown
Service Ceiling 39,900 ft (12,160 m)
Range 5,905 nm (10,945 km) with 10,000 lb (4,535 kg) payload
g-Limits unknown

Gun six retractable and remotely controlled turrets with two 20-mm M24A1 cannons each plus similar weapons in nose and tail turrets
Stations four internal bomb bays
Air-to-Surface Missile none
Bomb various free-fall nuclear bombs
Other none

XB-36 or YB-36 Prototype; 1 built
YB-36A Prototype of the first production model; 1 built
B-36A Unarmed crew trainer and the first production model; 22 built
B-36B First operational model for the USAF; 73 built
YB-36C Proposed version using more traditional tractor-propeller piston engines; not built
B-36D Improved model equipped with four turbojet engines in addition to the six piston engines allowing better performance; 22 built and 64 converted from B-36B airframes
RB-36D Reconnaissance model with a crew of 22 to operate 14 cameras located in two of the four bomb bays; 17 built and 7 converted from B-36B airframes
RB-36E Similar to the RB-36D but converted from YB-36A and B-36A airframes; 22 converted
B-36F Similar to the B-36B but equipped with more powerful engines; 58 built
RB-36F Reconnaissance model based on the B-36F but with increased fuel capacity; 24 built
GRB-36F Developed during the FICON (Fighter in Convair) program and featured an RB-36 with a parasite fighter carried on a trapeze under the fuselage, fighters carried included the XF-85 Goblin and GRF-84F Thuderflash, the GRB-36 aircraft were later used as control planes during guided missile tests; 12 converted
B-36H Improved B-36D with a new flight deck; 83 built
NB-36H Test aircraft equipped with a nuclear reactor to determine the effects of radiation on airframes and equipment
RB-36H Reconnaissance model based on the B-36H; 73 built
B-36J Long-range model with additional fuel tanks and strengthened landing gear, some models had all but one gun turret removed allowing a reduction to 9 crew members; 33 built
XC-99 Experimental transport using the wings, tail, and engines of the B-36 fastened to a new two-deck fuselage accomodating up to 400 troops, 300 stretchers, or 101,000 lb (45,845 kg) of cargo; 1 built and used for special operations missions
XB-36G or YB-60 Proposed B-36 replacement with eight turbojets mounted on a new swept-back wing; 2 built but the type did not enter production in favor of the B-52
X-6 Proposed experimental aircraft based on the B-36 but equipped with a nuclear power source; cancelled




United States (US Air Force)


B-36 Peacemaker

  • Chant, Christopher and Taylor, Michael J.H. The World's Greatest Aircraft. Edison, NJ: Chartwell Books, 2006, p. 110, Convair B-36 Peacemaker.
  • Don Pyeatt's B-36/YB-60 site
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 271, Convair (Model 36) B-36.
  • Jackson, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft. London: Paragon Books, 2002, p. 92, Convair B-36.
  • Miller, Jay. The X-Planes: X-1 to X-45. Hinckley, England: Midland Publishing, 2001, p. 98-111, Convair X-6.
  • Wilson, Jim. Combat: The Great American Warplane. NY: Hearst Books, 2001, p. 26-27, B-36 Peacemaker.
  • Winchester, Jim. Concept Aircraft: Prototypes, X-Planes and Experimental Aircraft. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2005, p. 62-65, Convair B-36 FICON, NB-36H.
  • Winchester, Jim. Military Aircraft of the Cold War. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2006, p. 48-49, Convair B-36 FICON.

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