HomeVisitMuseum ExhibitsFact SheetsDisplay

Keeping the Bear at Bay

DAYTON, Ohio - A display of model Russian aircraft in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - A display of model Russian aircraft in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Convair B-36 Peacemaker served as the U.S. Air Force's primary strategic nuclear bomber in the 1950s. Although the aircraft never dropped a bomb in combat, its range and nuclear weapons capability made it a powerful deterrent to communist aggression.

In 1941 when Britain's survival appeared doubtful, the AAF outline a requirement for an aircraft capable of bombing European targets from the Western Hemisphere. From this evolved the giant Convair B-36. Due to the improving war situation and a lowered priority for the B-36 development program, the XB-36 did not make its first flight until August 1946. Deliveries of B-36s to Strategic Air Command (SAC) began in 1948. With a range of more than 7,000 miles, the B-36 had a normal crew of 15, although the strategic reconnaissance version carried a crew of 22, plus camera equipment and 14,000 pounds of photo flash bombs for night photography.

The B-36 became the subject of sometimes bitter inter-service controversy when anonymous documents were circulated alleging corruption in the selection of the aircraft and questioning both its value and the USAF philosophy of strategic bombing. However, a Congressional investigation in 1949 vindicated the original decision to buy the B-36 and it remained in production until 1954 with a total purchase of 385 planes. Its official nickname of "Peacemaker" was appropriate, for although the B-36 never dropped a bomb in combat, its range and nuclear weapons capability made it a powerful deterrent to a possible third world war.

Click here to return to the Cold War Gallery.

 

Find Out More
Line
Related Fact Sheets
Convair B-36J Peacemaker
Strategic Air Command
Line
Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.


Mask Policy:
In accordance with the updated guidance released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Defense (DoD) and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will require all visitors to wear face masks indoors effective July 30, 2021 until further notice.

Visitors ages three and up will be required to wear masks while indoors at the museum. This policy applies to all visitors, staff and volunteers regardless of vaccination status. Visitors may wear their own masks or a free paper mask will be provided. Cloth masks will also be available for purchase in the Museum Store.
Additional information available here.

Featured Links

Plan Your Visit button
E-newsletter Sign-up button
Explore Museum Exhibits button
Browse Photos button
Visit Press Room button
Become a Volunteer button
Air Force Museum Foundation button
Donate an item button