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One B-50D (S/N 48-075) was converted to a carrier aircraft for the Bell XGAM-63 and redesignated DB-50D. Because of the increasing vulnerability of propeller-driven bombers, the USAF planned to convert many B-50s and B-36s to carry standoff weapons like the XGAM-63. With the XGAM-63 (originally designated B-63), the bomber would only have to fly within 100 miles of the target. The missile was launched and flew a preprogrammed course towards the target. When the missile began its terminal dive about 20 miles from the target, the director aircraft could send guidance correction signals to alter the missile's course.
The DB-50D conducted the first test launch of the XGAM-63 in the fall of 1952, about six months after the cancellation of the DB-50 program. The USAF still wanted the missile, but the YDB-47E conversions weren't completed, so the DB-50D was used as a temporary director aircraft.
The DB-47Es carried the XGAM-63 missile on a fuselage mounted pylon, but the DB-50D carried the missile in a specially fitted bomb bay shackle. When the missile was being prepared for firing, it was lowered from the bomb bay into the airstream. Once released, the missile engines ignited and the onboard director technicians monitored and guided the missile's flight path.
||Drone director for XGAM-63
TECHNICAL NOTES (production B-50D):
Armament: 13 .50-cal. machine guns and 28,000 lbs. of bombs; the drop tank pylons were capable of carrying one 4,000-lb. bomb each
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-4360-35 Wasp Major turbosupercharged radials of 3,500 hp each
Maximum speed: 380 mph at 25,000 ft. and combat weight of 123,000 lbs.
Cruising speed: 277 mph
Range: 4,900 miles with 10,000-lb. bomb load; 7,750 miles maximum ferry range
Service ceiling: 36,700 ft.
Span: 141 ft. 3 in.
Length: 99 ft. 0 in.
Height: 32 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 173,000 lbs. (maximum takeoff weight)
Crew: Eight or nine normally [pilot, copilot, flight engineer, bombardier, radio operator, and four gunners (top, tail, left and right)]
Serial number: 48-075 (originally B-50D-85-BN)
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