Cold War Era

The B-36 Peacemaker was so Huge that it transported the XB-58 Hustler prototype

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 in Ohio for testing with the use of a modified Peacemaker bomber.

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.

B-36 transporting the XB-58 airframe using eight of ten engines (note both of the inboard propellers have been removed for this flight)

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.

A concept model to demonstrate the B-36 and XB-58 airframe combination

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.

Close-in view of the B-36 and XB-58 airframe mating, note the propeller has been removed from the wing’s inboard engine as well as the strut assembly joining the two wings together.

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.

Convair B-36F-1-CF (S/N 49-2677) converted for use as a carrier for the Convair XB-58 primary fuselage and wing structure. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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