The Convair B-36 was first conceived in 1941 as a transatlantic bomber to strike Europe from bases in the US. By 1943, the focus switched from the European Theater to the Pacific for use against the Japanese home islands. After more design changes and greater success of the B-29s, the prototype XB-36s first flight was delayed until Aug. 8, 1946; nearly six years after initial design contracts were signed.
The B-36 Peacemaker is the largest production bomber ever built. Pilots referred to it as the “Magnesium Monster.” A B-36J crew consisted of a pilot, copilot, two navigators, bombardier, flight engineer, radio operator, radar operator, two ECM operators and five gunners.
Although the B-36 was the largest bomber ever built and held the greatest combat unrefueled radius, it never dropped a bomb in combat.
Nevertheless, thanks to the massive B-36, Convair easily transported the XB-58 prototype by air from Ft. Worth TX to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Ohio for testing with the use of a modified Peacemaker bomber.
According to Travel for Aircraft website, the left and right inboard engines had their propellers removed, along with the bomb bay doors since they did not clear the wings of the XB-58 which was mounted underneath the bomber.
Since the airframe was the subject of testing the XB-58 did not have the engines attached and the vertical fin assembly was left off, as well. The Peacemakers’ superior wing and remaining eight engines (four reciprocating and four turbojet) made for easy work.
The following video features former Convair manufacturing manager Bill Plumlee describing the ferry flight of the B-58 Hustler airframe from Fort Worth to Dayton while attached to the underbelly of the B-36.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force and San Diego Air & Space Museum archive
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