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BOEING WB-50D SUPERFORTRESS

Posted 3/7/2014 Printable Fact Sheet
 
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WB-50D Superfortress
DAYTON, Ohio - The Boeing WB-50D Superfortress on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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The B-50, the last propeller-driven bomber delivered to the U.S. Air Force, made its initial flight on June 25, 1947. Basically an improved version of the B-29, this aircraft's large number of modifications caused its redesignation as the B-50. Between 1948 and 1954, B-50s served with the Strategic Air Command as medium bombers, and they were replaced by jet-propelled B-47s. Many were modified for support roles such as weather reconnaissance, crew training, photo-mapping and aerial refueling.

In 1953 the USAF decided to replace its aging WB-29 weather reconnaissance aircraft with modified B-50Ds. Stripped of their defensive armament, 36 B-50Ds were equipped for long-range weather reconnaissance missions with high-altitude atmospheric samplers, Doppler radar, weather radar and a bomb-bay fuel tank for extended range. Some WB-50 aircraft also flew missions to sample the air for radioactive particles indicating that the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear weapon. The WB-50D aircraft accomplished special weather reconnaissance missions with SAC's 97th Bomb Wing until April 1955, when all WB-50s went to the Air Weather Service.

In 1963 the USAF started phasing out the WB-50Ds, and in 1965 the aircraft on display became the last WB-50D to be retired. It was delivered to the museum in 1968.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-4360s of 3,500 hp each
Maximum speed: 395 mph
Range: 4,900 statute miles (without aerial refueling)
Ceiling: 36,700 ft.
Span: 141 ft. 2 in.
Length: 99 ft.
Height: 32 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 173,000 lbs. maximum
Serial number: 49-0310

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