An in-depth look at the incredible ten-engine B-36 Peacemaker

Warren E Thompson profiles the B-36, the bomber that came to symbolise Strategic Air Command

Britain had succumbed to invasion by Germany and the US had become the bastion against Nazi ambitions. How would the USAAF hit targets an ocean away? Launching from Gander, Newfoundland, a return run to Berlin was a distance of 5,700 miles (9,200km)…

This ‘what if’ notion of April 1941 formed the genesis of what became the incredible Convair B-36 Peacemaker. Fortunately, Hitler never got the upper hand over Britain and the American plans were put on the back burner – including the chosen bomber design, a six-engined monster from the drawing boards of the Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Corporation (Convair) of Fort Worth, Texas.

A B-36D with ‘six turnin’ and four burnin’ high over Texas.
A B-36D with ‘six turnin’ and four burnin’ high over Texas. Via Author/Ben Whitaker

On December 7, 1941 everything changed again. Pearl Harbor lay in ruins and the US faced an enemy on the other side of the Pacific. Boeing’s B-29 Superfortress was already in the design phase, the prototype flying on September 21, 1942, and Convair’s long range bomber was dusted down and given new impetus with an order for 100 placed in July 1943.

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