When last we blogged, we were talking about the need the United States government had for a super bomber during World War II. They made due with what they had, but didn't quite achieve their goal before fighting between the Allies and the Axis ended in 1945. But then we entered the Cold War against the Soviet Union. Inspired by the Berlin Airlift and the Soviet nuclear tests, the demand for a large bomber again put the development of the B-36 back in the forefront. Alas, it’s all about timing.
By the time the piston-engined B-36 was completed, advances in jet-fueled technology were well on the way (the Boeing B-47 Stratojet would be operational in 1953). The B-36 was almost obsolete before it was even introduced, but it was still a magnificent piece of equipment, The Peacemaker was a full two-thirds longer than the previous superbomber – the B-29 – and required a crew of fifteen. Four jet engines were added to the six propeller engines on later models to ensure speed and reliability, giving the B-36 the slogan of “six turnin’ and four burnin’,” and the tires for the landing gear were the largest ever made up to that point, at nine feet two inches tall, three feet wide, and weighing 1,320 pounds. The airplane was extremely expensive to produce, and one of the primary critics of the Air Force’s design was… the Navy. They called it a “billion-dollar blunder” and complained that it diverted attention from naval aircraft carrier production. There are only around five of them left in the world now, in museums and private collections, but they take up so much space, we're happy to show off our model - which is still quite impressive!