B-50 Superfortress

  Overshadowed by both its B-29 predecessor as well as the jet bombers that came later, the B-50 nontheless played an important role during the early days of Strategic Air Command, giving SAC its first really numerous nuclear-capable aircraft.

   Given the B-29's engine problems, it was no surprise that alternative powerplants were looked at from early on, with this effort leading to the XB-44, which was a Superfortress reengined with Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Majors. The B-29D production version was to have an airframe of lighter 75ST alloy, as well as a taller vertical tail. Before any could be built, V-J Day resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of Superfortresses; the design was accordingly recast as the B-50 in a political move to preserve the program as a "new" type while B-29 production was being halted.

   The last B-50s were released from SAC service in 1955 as increasing numbers of B-47s were arriving; as the airframes were relatively "young" many would serve in secondary roles into the 1960s. By far the most important of these were TAC's KB-50s, rebuilt by Hayes as triple-point drogue tankers, with underwing J47 jet booster pods later fitted.

The NMUSAF's RB-50 was the last of its kind to remain in service, testing sensors for use in Southeast Asia and operating from Wright-Patterson AFB until 1968.



WB-50D Superfortress at NMUSAF

B-50 Superfortreess engine and propeller front quarter view

B-50 engine walk around -side view of nacelle

B-50 Superfortress tail


B-50 reading:

Magazine Articles and Photos:

Photo:  "Boeing KB-50J Refuels McDonnell F-101s"   Aviation Week  August 12, 1957  front cover

Aviation Week  January 27, 1958  front cover   Overhead view of a KB-50 simultaneously refueling an F-100, RF-101, and B-66


Newspaper Articles and Photos:

"Loaded B-50 Crash Kills 12 In Britain"   New York Times  October 14, 1949  p.2 c.5

"B-50 Crashes With 11; 9 Picked Up In Bay"   New York Times  January 7, 1950  p.28 c,3

"2 Killed In Crash, Explosion of B-50"   New York Times  July 14, 1950  p.42 c.2

"Lucky Lady II Forced Into A Crash Landing"   New York Times  August 14, 1950  p.19 c.1

"Big Bomber Hits Apartment, Cuts through It And Kills 11"   New York Times  August 14, 1951  p.1+  1 photo

"10 On U.S. Plane Die In Crash In Belgium"   New York Times  August 14, 1958  p.18 c.5

"Plane Down In Atlantic"   New York Times  August 5, 1959  p.9 c.2

"Nine Killed In Texas In Jet Tanker Crash"   New York Times  March 6, 1961  p.50 c.6

B-29 walkaround