Twenty-two B-36As were built in four production blocks. The -A model featured the domed canopy first seen on the YB-36 and a redesigned four-wheel main landing gear system that replaced the single-wheel main landing gear of the two earlier aircraft (XB-36 and YB-36).
The first flight of the B-36A was on Aug. 28, 1947. The -A model actually flew six months earlier than the YB-36, but this was because the first production B-36A (S/N 44-92004) was completed with just enough equipment to make a ferry flight to Wright Field, Ohio. Once at Wright Field the aircraft was used as a test bed for structural tests. These tests were often conducted to test maximum loads until structural failure occurred. Thus, the first B-36A was destroyed.
Although the B-36A was technically a production aircraft, no defensive armament was installed. The -A model was used by the 7th Bomb Group at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, for crew training and testing only.
Initial production block
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Designed for 10 .50-cal. machine guns and five 37mm cannon plus 72,000 lbs of bombs (no defensive armament was actually installed) Engines: Six Pratt & Whitney R-4360-25 radials of 3,000 hp each (takeoff power) Maximum speed: 345 mph at 32,000 ft. Cruising speed: 202 mph Range: 3,380 miles with 10,000 lbs. bomb load. (estimated combat radius); 9,136-mile ferry range Service ceiling: 39,100 ft. Span: 230 ft. 0 in. Length: 162 ft. 1 in. Height: 46 ft. 8 in. Weight: 310,380 lbs. (maximum gross weight) Crew: 15 Serial numbers: 44-92004 to 44-92025