North American B-45C Tornado
Published January 25, 2016
The B-45 achieved many "firsts." It was the first American four-engine jet bomber to fly; the first American production jet bomber; the first jet bomber capable of carrying an atomic bomb; and the first multi-jet reconnaissance aircraft to refuel in mid-air.
Design of the Tornado began during World War II, and the B-45 made its first flight in March 1947. North American built 142 B-45s, including 10 long-range B-45Cs with wingtip fuel tanks and 33 RB-45Cs configured for high-altitude photo reconnaissance and aerial refueling.
Based at RAF Sculthorpe, England, from 1952-1958, B-45s of the 47th Bomb Wing (Light) were a key nuclear deterrent against a Soviet ground attack in Europe. Also flying from RAF Sculthorpe were USAF RB-45Cs from the USAF 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and Royal Air Force (RAF) Special Duty Flight crews. These RAF RB-45 crews flew highly classified reconnaissance missions deep into communist territory.
The aircraft on display was returned to the USAF by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Division, where it had been on loan for engine testing. Flown to the museum in 1971, it is painted in the markings of the 47th Bomb Wing (Light).
Armament: Two .50-cal. machine guns in the tail and 22,000 lbs. of bombs
Engines: Four General Electric J47s of 6,000 lbs. thrust each
Maximum speed: 570 mph
Range: 1,000 miles
Ceiling: 37,550 ft.
Span: 89 ft.
Length: 75 ft. 4 in.
Height: 25 ft. 2 in.
Weight: 110,000 lbs. maximum
Serial number: 48-0010
Click here to return to the Korean War Gallery.