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America's B-36D Bomber: The First Intercontinental Bomber

Updated on June 2, 2011
B-36D flying into San Diego, 1952
B-36D flying into San Diego, 1952

It was the world's first intercontinental bomber, each costing over $3,700,000 to build starting in 1947. The B-36 peacemaker had a crew of 15, carried 86,000 pounds of bombs (conventional or nuclear), had a range of 10,000 miles and a wingspan of 230 ft. For its defense, it carried 24 20mm cannons and a top speed of 435 mph.It remains the USAF largest ever aircraft and over 300 were made ending in 1958. The B-36 was slow and could not refuel in midair, but could fly missions to targets 3,400 mi (5,500 km) away and stay aloft as long as 40 hours with its six 28 piston engines flying at 40,000 ft.

The design was already obsolete in 1947 when jets were common, yet, no bomber had its range. The design actually began in 1941 and then due to the war, delayed. Even today, only the 747 and Galaxy C-5 can carry more than the Peacemaker. The B-36D also had four jet engines under each wing which thrust allowed for a much faster takeoff and lift. The piston engines created 3800 hp each! When all the engines were on, the engines created a total of 40,000 hp!!

By 1954, the aircraft was being sent to the scrapyard. But it was not until 1958, that last 22 bombers remained. By 1961, five were left. Most of the aircraft were based at Biggs AFB, Texas.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 6 years ago

      An impressive aircraft.

    • FGual profile image

      FGual 6 years ago from USA

      Great hub about this unique aircraft, the B-36 displayed at the USAF museum is impressive. Designed to fly to Germany and back without refueling if we lost the UK bases, it was never used in war. I recall a picture of one that skidded off a runway in England during the 50s.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 6 years ago


    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Interesting hub on USAF bomber. Although it's quite ironic to name a bomber peacemaker when it carries 86,000 pounds of bombs. :)