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Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress)

United States (1947)
Picture of Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress) Four-Engine, High-Altitude, Long-Range Heavy Bomber Proposal

Born from the YB-50C bomber prototype, the Boeing B-54 program saw only one incomplete prototype and a completed mockup before cancellation.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress) Four-Engine, High-Altitude, Long-Range Heavy Bomber Proposal.  Entry last updated on 5/26/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Outstanding issues inherent in the original Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" strategic bomber design of World War 2 (1939-1945) prompted work on a more refined form and this became the "B-50" offering of 1948. Three-hundred seventy examples of the type were built and these saw service into 1965. Similar in form and function to the B-29 before it, the B-50 was essentially an all-new aircraft as it was given more powerful radial piston engines, a reinforced airframe, larger tail fin, and a slew of other benefits.

Even with these changes in place, there still remained carry-over issues with production B-50A bombers that pushed through an even more improved form - the YB-50C. A single B-50A production model was set aside and modified by way of new R-4369 "Variable Discharge Turbine" (VDT) radial piston engines, a 20-foot-longer wingspan, and a 10-foot-longer fuselage. Because of the increased overall dimensions of the aircraft, further reinforcement of the airframe was required and the added span to the wings also forced outrigger landing gear legs to be installed to support the weight of the wings while ground-running. The aircraft promised better operational ranges while operating at a higher altitude and carrying a larger war load.
The YB-50C project soon took on a development road all its own - apart from that of the B-50 series - that it was seen fit to redesignate the new aircraft as the "B-54". A mockup was completed during 1948 for review.

Despite the progress on the program, it coon became clear that jet-powered bomber forms would become the future of the USAF strategic bombing needs leaving the B-54 without a role to fill. This led to the termination of the B-54 program during1949 and no flyable examples were completed (constructed had begun on a prototype).

The USAF originally intended a first-order of 21 bomber forms in the "B-54A" guise and a further 52 would follow as the "RB-54A" - these outfitted with special reconnaissance equipment instead of a bomb-carrying capability.

As finalized, the B-54 design was to feature crew spaces for ten operators. Dimensions included a length of 34 meters, a wingspan of 49 meters, and a height of 10 meters. Gross weight was 104,326 kilograms. The engines of choice became 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-51 series radial piston engines of 4,500 horsepower each. Estimated performance specs included a maximum speed of 430 miles per hour, a cruise speed of 305 miles per hour, a range out to 9,000 miles, and a service ceiling of 40,000 feet.

In terms of armament, there would have been 14 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns fitted to several remote-controlled turrets about the aircraft for local defense against interceptors. The conventional bomb load was rated at 36,000lb.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (432mph).

    Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
0
0


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Origin: United States
Year: 1947
Type: Four-Engine, High-Altitude, Long-Range Heavy Bomber Proposal
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Company - USA
Production: 0
Global Operators:
United States (cancelled)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
10


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
111.55 ft


Meters
34 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
160.76 ft


Meters
49 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
32.64 ft


Meters
9.95 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
168,654 lb


Kilograms
76,500 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
229,997 lb


Kilograms
104,325 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-51 radial piston engines (w/ variable discharge turbines) developing 4,500 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
432 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
695 kph


Knots
375 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
9,010 mi


Kilometers
14,500 km


Nautical Miles
7,829 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
40,026 ft


Meters
12,200 m


Miles
7.58 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

PROPOSED, STANDARD:
14 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine guns in remote-controlled turrets.

PROPOSED, OPTIONAL:
Up to 36,000lb of internally-held stores.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• B-54 - Base Series Designation; based on the YB-50C prototype; incomplete prototype and completed mockup.
• B-54A - Proposed production bomber designation
• RB-54A - Proposed production reconnaissance variant