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Bruce Dennis 3rd January 2018 21:39

B-36 origins
I hope someone can help with some questions about the B-36.

1) Convair got the contract, but was it put out to tender to other companies as well? If so, what was the name of the project and who else received the invitation to quote?
2) What were the dates of the project tender (if it was tendered) and of issuing the prototype contract?
3) What was the original spec (range and load plus anything else)?

Pretty much anything about the origin of the YB-36 would be welcome.

Thanks in advance.

edwest2 4th January 2018 23:41

Re: B-36 origins
The concept of a bomber with intercontinental range was created in 1941 in case England did not survive the Blitz and given further impetus a bit later due to the fact the Germans were developing a similar Amerika Bomber. I have found no code names, just the designation 'Model 36.' It was partly based on the earlier 'Model 35' which had six pusher engines.

1) The Boeing Aircraft Company was invited to bid but was too busy with existing aircraft production, but this was disclosed. Convair was created in 1943 through the merger of Consolidated Aircraft and Vultee Aircraft. This may have given it an edge at the time. Douglas considered the project but decided it could not meet the requirements due to the technology of the time. Northrop offered its XB-35 flying wing which went into development.

2) General "Hap" Arnold awarded a contract to Consolidated Aircraft on 15 November 1941 for two XB-36. On 23 July 1943, the USAAF sent a "Letter of Intent" to Convair for the production of 100 aircraft. A supplemental Letter Contract (W33-038 ac-7) was issued on 23 August 1943. One year later, a definitive contract was completed.

3) The desired specifications for the B-36 were: Range: 10,000 miles, Speed: 250 to 300 miles per hour, Bomb load: 10,000 pounds, with the ability to carry a 72,000 pound payload for shorter distances, Takeoff distance: 5,000 foot runway.

The first flight of the XB-36 was on 8 August 1946. The production B-36A flew on 28 August 1947. The B-36D had two jet engine pods added, each containing two engines (J47-GE-19) attached toward the far edge of each wing, which increased performance.

Bruce Dennis 5th January 2018 01:22

Re: B-36 origins
Thanks, Ed. I have been looking at some of the US reforms within the defence industries in the 1930's and it is clear that a very long range bomber (as yet un-named) was being included in some of the plans. FDR was actively involved in a lot of the air discussions and the formation of the Air Administration in 1939 allowed him to have much more hands-on control (and less control for congress).

I was told years ago by someone in the aviation industry that the B-36 project was 100% down to FDR saying 'do it, I'll fund it off the books'. Most of what I have found so far in the FDR correspondence leads me to believe the story, but nothing firm. It is now relevant to something I am working on and it is time to find out the real story. Many thanks.


edwest2 5th January 2018 04:00

Re: B-36 origins
You're welcome, Bruce. Certain things did not allow for long delays. As America prepared for World War II, certain shortcuts had to be taken to get critical equipment to where it was needed.

FDR, 30 October 1940:

Good luck in finding what you're looking for.

Best regards,

edwest2 5th January 2018 05:20

Re: B-36 origins
And one more thing:

Usual disclaimer,

Bruce Dennis 5th January 2018 13:45

Re: B-36 origins
Thanks Ed. Ping me an email if you would like me to send you a PDF of FDRs Aviation Administration bill.

email =


25Kingman49 5th January 2018 21:04

Re: B-36 origins
3 Attachment(s)
Little of this helps with your objective to connect FDR directly to the project.

The "Peacemaker" according to Joe Baugher

The attached document may be even less helpful to your goal but you may as well stash them away with your B-36 files. This is a memo/letter dated 28 Sept 1945 from Norris Bradbury (Los Alamos) to Gen. Groves (MED) related to a conference held to discuss future postwar nuclear capable bomber aircraft selection.

In attendance are representative from Los Alamos, Air Technical Service Command (Engineering, Wright Field), and "Kingman" representatives Col Heflin base commander Wendover Field, Utah (where weapons development and drop testing occurred) with Capt Semple, Lead Bombardier, Flight Test Section, 216th AAF BU (Sp) Wendover, Field.

The B-36 receives honorable mention here with aircraft statistic as the only heavy bomber under consideration, nearing implementation. I suspect on page 2, item d. may be referring to what in time would become the XB-52 but that's just a WAG by me.

As suggested earlier this does not coincide with your FDR connection but does offer a window into military aircraft planning at least as it related to delivering nuclear weapons globally at this point in time during late 1945 merely weeks after the Japanese surrender.

Sorry about the individual pages, I tried loading a small PDF at 340 KB but it failed to load as too large. Also, if you want these docs please save them soon. I seem to always be running up on my limit of allowable attachments volume. These may need to be removed to allow for others in different threads. Still becoming accustomed to the limits of this forum.

Edit: Bruce, have you attempted contact this topic via request here?

Bruce Dennis 5th January 2018 23:09

Re: B-36 origins
Hello Scott,
It is all interesting, including the events covered in your attachments which occurred after the death of FDR: the B-36 was becoming relevant again as the postwar maps were being drawn.

The FDR library is quite an under-appreciated source for aviation researchers. This page is the mother-lode:

See the 'A' section for aviation.



Tony Kambic 6th January 2018 16:58

Re: B-36 origins
One of the more interesting things for me about the B-36 was how to change the air cooled P&W R-4360 engines into pushers. Took me some time to investigate. Having participated in rebuilding two R-2800s, and learning their structure, I could not see how it was easy to turn the engine around to become a pusher and maintain the ram air cooled aspect.

P&W engineers must have had some foresight as it was relatively easy. These P&W radials had each cylinder bolted to the crankcase with approx. 35 nuts on studs. Each cylinder had appropriate baffles to direct cooling. What they did for the B-36 was turn the engine around to be a pusher, then rotate each cylinder on it's base 180 degrees so the baffles faced in the proper direction so they still directed the ram air. Then some slight re-routing of the intake and exhaust pipes, and resetting the cam timing and the engine was an air cooled pusher.


PMoz99 7th January 2018 03:05

Re: B-36 origins
Bruce, thanks for the link. However, it may just be me, but I wandered around it for a while and still have no idea of what you mean by 'see the A section for Aviation'.
Can you please be more specific?

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