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Boeing B-50 Superfortress

United States (1948)
Picture of Boeing B-50 Superfortress Heavy Bomber / Long-Range Reconnaissance Platform
Picture of Boeing B-50 Superfortress Heavy Bomber / Long-Range Reconnaissance Platform Picture of Boeing B-50 Superfortress Heavy Bomber / Long-Range Reconnaissance Platform
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The Boeing B-50 series was a direct development of the B-29 Superfortress of World War 2 fame - though seventy-five percent a new aircraft.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing B-50 Superfortress Heavy Bomber / Long-Range Reconnaissance Platform.  Entry last updated on 10/23/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content Β©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Though looking every bit the direct copy of the World War 2-era Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" heavy bomber, the Boeing B-50 incorporated enough new elements to deem it an all-new aircraft - retaining just 25 percent of the original's base design. Changes that distinguished the B-50 from its predecessor included an all-new, more efficient and resilient wing and fold-down vertical tail surfaces for housing in existing USAF hangars. The B-50 was a further development of the B-29 with a more evolved over-battlefield role and was taken into service by the United State Air Force's Strategic Air Command (SAC) as a high-altitude, long-range nuclear-capable bomber.

With its B-29 pedigree, the B-50 largely retained the same overall form - this included use of a four engine arrangement. These were made up of Pratt & Whitney R-4360-35 "Wasp Major" 28-cylinder radials outputting at 3,500 horsepower each. Internally, the aircraft housed ten crewmen and was locally-defense by 12 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns fitted to remotely-controlled turret barbettes. There was also a sole 20mm cannon for heavy-caliber firepower. The B-50's internally bombload capability reached 20,000 pounds of conventional drop ordnance.


Picture of the Boeing B-50 Superfortress Heavy Bomber / Long-Range Reconnaissance Platform
Picture of the Boeing B-50 Superfortress Heavy Bomber / Long-Range Reconnaissance Platform


With far greater warloads and operational range, the B-50 bomber provided the SAC with a proven, highly-capable bomber that could double as a nuclear deterrent in the face of the expanding Cold War. B-50's would eventually be replaced by jet-powered Boeing B-47 "Stratojets" by 1954 and many B-50s would go on to be modified as TB-50H crew and pilot trainers. Others became KB-50 aerial refueling tanker aircraft and RB-50 photographic reconnaissance platforms.

All B-50's would be retired from American service by 1965.






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.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (380mph).

    Graph average of 300 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-50D Superfortress's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
370
370


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United States
Year: 1948
Type: Heavy Bomber / Long-Range Reconnaissance Platform
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Company - USA
Production: 370
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
United States
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-50D Superfortress model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
10


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
100.00 ft


Meters
30.48 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
141.40 ft


Meters
43.1 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
34.58 ft


Meters
10.54 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
80,601 lb


Kilograms
36,560 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
173,001 lb


Kilograms
78,472 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-35 Wasp Major 28-cylinder radial engines developing 3,500 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
380 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
611 kph


Knots
330 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
4,896 mi


Kilometers
7,880 km


Nautical Miles
4,255 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
36,713 ft


Meters
11,190 m


Miles
6.95 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
1 x 20mm cannon
12 x 12.7mm machine guns

OPTIONAL:
Up to 20,000 lb of internally-held ordnance made up of conventional drop bombs.
Variants: Series Model Variants
β€’ XB-44 – B-29A Model Series fitted with Wasp Major 28-cylinder engines; prototype model for B-50A; initially designated as the B-29D model.
β€’ B-50A – Initial Production Model Designation; redesigned tail and strengthened wings over B-29 models.
β€’ B-50B – Increased Operating Weight
β€’ B-50D – Redesigned Nose Section; refueling boom; 222 examples produced.
β€’ DB-50D – Drone Controller
β€’ EB-50B – Single Conversion Example of B-50D model; redesigned undercarriage.
β€’ KB-50 – Inflight Refueling Tanker Conversion Model; 134 examples.
β€’ KB-50J – “Improved” KB-50 Tanker Series; fitted with 2 x General Electric GE J47 series turbojets underwing.
β€’ KB-50K – Inflight Refueling Tanker Conversion Model; based on the TB-50H trainer; 24 examples.
β€’ RB-50B – Photographic Reconnaissance Platform Conversion Models from B-50B series.
β€’ RB-50E – Specialized Photo-Reconnaissance Conversion Model from B-50B series; 14 examples.
β€’ RB-50F – Specialized Photo-Reconnaissance Conversion Model from RB-50B series; 14 examples; SHORAN equipped.
β€’ RB-50G – Photographic Reconnaissance Platform Conversion Models from RB-50B series; SHORAN equipped; ECM equipped; 15 examples.
β€’ TB-50A – Trainer Conversion Model of B-50A series; 11 examples.
β€’ TB-50D – Trainer Conversion Model of B-50D series; 11 examples.
β€’ WB-50 – Meteorological Research Platform Conversion of B-50 model series.
β€’ WB-50D – Meteorological Research Platform Conversion based on B-50D series; 36 examples.
β€’ YB-50C – Proposed variant featuring VDT (Variable Discharge Turbine) R-4360 series engines; never produced.
β€’ B-54A – Proposed variant of the YB-50C model; never produced.
β€’ RB-54A – Proposed variant of the YB-50C model; never produced.