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Home > Fact Sheets > Boeing YB-50C


Posted 7/7/2009 Printable Fact Sheet

The Boeing B-50C was designed to maximize the performance of the basic B-50 airframe. One B-50A (S/N 46-061) was set aside for conversion to the C model design. The major improvement was the proposed addition of Pratt & Whitney R-4360-51 Variable Discharge Turbine (VDT) engines. The VDT engine concept combined the propeller thrust with the turbine engine exhaust acting as a "jet assist" for additional power. The VDT engines were being still being developed when the original order for the YB-50C was issued, but problems with the new engine system were never completely worked out and the VDT project was eventually canceled. Without the new engines, the YB-50C project was canceled also. The VDT engine project failure also caused the cancellation of the YB-36C project.

The YB-50C design incorporated a stronger and wider wing to accommodate the VDT engines. The wing span was also increased about 10 feet and required the installation of outrigger landing gear on the outboard engine nacelles. The fuselage design included many changes required to support the larger wing including a substantial increase in length. The overall gross weight of the YB-50C was estimated at 207,000 pounds -- nearly 40,000 pounds more than the B-50A production aircraft.

The USAF ordered 14 production versions of the YB-50C as B-54A even though the YB-50C modifications were nowhere near complete. An order for 29 additional aircraft configured for aerial reconnaissance and designated RB-54A was also placed. The designation change from B-50C to B-54A was the result of the extensive design changes necessary for the VDT engines. The YB-50C project was never completed because of problems with the development of VDT engine. This combined with disagreements over the strategic value of the B-54 led to the cancellation of the entire YB-50C/B-54A program in April 1949. The USAF placed orders for additional B-36s and B-47s to make up for the loss of the B-54A.

Type Number built/
YB-50C 0 B-50A modified with P&W VDT engines
B-54A 0 Production version (canceled)
RB-54A 0 Reconnaissance version (canceled)

Serial numbers: YB-50C from B-50A: S/N 46-061 (canceled); B-54A: 49-200 to 49-206, 49-1757 to 49-1770 (all canceled); RB-54C: 49-207 to 49-229, 49-1771 to 49-1799 (all canceled)

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