Boeing XB-59 - United States, 1949
Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing XB-59 Supersonic Medium Jet Bomber Proposal.
Entry last updated on 4/25/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
No prototypes of the proposed Boeing XB-59 supersonic strategic bomber were ordered - the role fulfilled by the Convair B-58 Hustler.
The merits of a jet-powered supersonic strategic bomber for the USAF during the early Cold War years led to the termination of the conventionally-powered Boeing XB-55 proposal in 1949. The XB-55 was drawn up to succeed the all-jet-powered B-47 "Stratojet" before a prototype of that series had even flown. However, issues with the proposed turboprop arrangement and success of the B-47 in-the-field led to a cancellation of the XB-55. Instead, thought (and some of the XB-55 project resources) were now turned over to a new venture - a supersonic-minded Boeing bomber in the form of the "XB-59" (company Model 701).
The new bomber was categorized as a medium-class platform and showcased the usual supersonic elements - jet engines housed within the body of the aircraft, a streamlined fuselage and swept-back wing mainplanes and tail surfaces. The cockpit was held at the front over the nose in the usual way and the wing mainplanes were shoulder-mounted along the fuselage sides. The tail unit consisted of a single vertical tail fin with mid-mounted horizontal planes. Four engines would be used to power the design, these being two paired General Electric J73-X24A turbojets with afterburning capability to help achieve desired straightline speeds. The engines were set within the wingroots to maintain aerodynamic efficiency and exhausted along the fuselage sides.
Boeing retained some features of its earlier B-47 approach - and the XB-55 for that matter - in the XB-59 proposal, namely coupled engines, swept-back wings, and a "bicycle" undercarriage arrangement (with outriggers supporting the wings). Like the B-47 it also would carry a crew of three operators as opposed to the XB-55's ten.
Overall dimensions for the proposed product included a length of 123.3 feet, a wingspan of 81.3 feet and a height of 25.4 feet. Empty weight was rated at 63,000 lb with a gross weight registering 148,000lb. Estimated performance specifications were a maximum speed of Mach 2, a range out to 2,380 miles and a service ceiling of 51,000 feet. Beyond an undisclosed internal bombload, the XB-59 was slated to carry 1 x 30mm cannon in a tail position to counter the threat from enemy interceptors emerging from the rear of the aircraft.
The supersonic requirement was eventually fulfilled by a Convair submission which became the B-58 "Hustler" (detailed elsewhere on this site) and this left the XB-59 without a future. No prototypes were ever ordered/built and the project was cancelled before the end of 1952.