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Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress)


Four-Engine, High-Altitude, Long-Range Heavy Bomber Proposal


United States | 1947



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



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/09/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress) Four-Engine, High-Altitude, Long-Range Heavy Bomber Proposal.
4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-51 radial piston engines (w/ variable discharge turbines) developing 4,500 horsepower each and driving four-bladed propeller units.
Propulsion
432 mph
695 kph | 375 kts
Max Speed
40,026 ft
12,200 m | 8 miles
Service Ceiling
9,010 miles
14,500 km | 7,829 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress) Four-Engine, High-Altitude, Long-Range Heavy Bomber Proposal.
10
(MANNED)
Crew
111.5 ft
34.00 m
O/A Length
160.8 ft
(49.00 m)
O/A Width
32.6 ft
(9.95 m)
O/A Height
168,654 lb
(76,500 kg)
Empty Weight
229,997 lb
(104,325 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress) Four-Engine, High-Altitude, Long-Range Heavy Bomber Proposal .
PROPOSED, STANDARD:
14 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine guns in remote-controlled turrets (assumed dorsal, ventral, and tail turret locations).

PROPOSED, OPTIONAL:
Up to 36,000lb of internally-held stores (conventional drop bombs).
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress) family line.
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
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 0 Units

Contractor(s): Boeing Company - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (432mph).

Graph Average of 375 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
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Image of the Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress)
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
GROUND ATTACK
X-PLANE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Boeing B-54 (Ultrafortress) Four-Engine, High-Altitude, Long-Range Heavy Bomber Proposal appears in the following collections:
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