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B-50 Superfortress (1947)

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B-50 Superfortress (1947)

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B-50 Superfortress (1947)

The Boeing B-50 Superfortress is an American strategic bomber. A post–World War II revision of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, it was fitted with more powerful Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial engines, stronger structure, a taller tail fin, and other improvements. It was the last piston-engined bomber built by Boeing for the United States Air Force, and was further refined into Boeing’s final such design, the B-54. Though not as well known as its direct predecessor, the B-50 was in USAF service for nearly 20 years.

Operational History

Development of an improved B-29 started in 1944, with the desire to replace the unreliable Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone engines with the more powerful four-row, 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radial engine, America’s largest-ever displacement aircraft piston engine in large-scale production.[2] A B-29A-5-BN (serial number 42-93845) was modified by Pratt & Whitney as a testbed for the installation of the R-4360 in the B-29, with four 3,000-horsepower (2,200 kW) R-4360-33s replacing the 2,200-horsepower (1,600 kW) R-3350s. The modified aircraft, designated XB-44 Superfortress, first flew in May 1945.


Boeing B-50

Role Strategic bomber
National origin United States
Manufacturer Boeing
First flight 25 June 1947
Introduction 1948
Retired 1965
Status Retired
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 1947–1953
Number built 370
Developed from Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Developed into Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter

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Boeing B-50 Superfortress (1947)

The first B-50As were delivered in June 1948 to the Strategic Air Command’s 43d Bombardment Wing, based at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. The 2d Bombardment Wing at Chatham Air Force Base, Georgia also received B-50As; the 93d Bombardment Wing at Castle Air Force Base, California and the 509th Bombardment Wing at Walker Air Force Base, New Mexico received B-50Ds in 1949. The fifth and last SAC wing to receive B-50Ds was the 97th Bombardment Wing at Biggs Air Force Base, Texas in December 1950.


  • Crew: 8 to 10: Pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, navigator, flight engineer, radio/electronic countermeasures
  • Length: 99 ft 0 in (30.18 m)
  • Wingspan: 141 ft 3 in (43.05 m)
  • Height: 32 ft 8 in (9.96 m)
  • Empty weight: 84,714 lb (38,426 kg)
  • Gross weight: 121,850 lb (55,270 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney R-4360-35 28 Cyl.,3,500 hp (2,600 kW) each
  • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric J47-GE-23 Turbojet.
  • Maximum speed: 394 mph (634 km/h, 342 kn) at 30,000 ft (9,150 m)
  • Cruise speed: 244 mph (393 km/h, 212 kn)
  • Combat range: 2,394 mi (3,853 km, 2,080 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 7,750 mi (12,470 km, 6,730 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 36,900 ft (11,200 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,200 ft/min (11 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 70.19 lb/sq ft (342.7 kg/m2)
  • Power/mass: 0.115 hp/lb (0.189 kW/kg)
  • Guns:
  • Bombs:
    • 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) internally
    • 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) on external hardpoints

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AF Ser. No. 46-0010 Lucky Lady II – The first plane to fly around the world nonstop, between February 26 and March 2, 1949. Was refueled four times in air by KB-29 tanker planes of the 43rd Air Refuelling Squadron, over the Azores, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Hawaii. The circumnavigation took 94 hours and 1 minute, and covered 37,743 km (23,452 miles) at an average speed of 398 km/h (249 mph).

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