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B-36 Peacemaker Museum at Veterans Memorial Air Park

28 November 2012

B-36 Peacemaker Museum at Veterans Memorial Air Park

32º 48′ 12″ N / 97º 21′ 15″ W

Convair produced B-36 Peacemakers in their Fort Worth Plants No.4 during the 1950s. Built as the only aircraft to fly and deliver the Mark 17 nuclear weapon (24′ 8″/7.52m long and weighing 21 tons/19,090kg) the B-36’s career was a peaceful one, never having sortied on a combat mission. First flying in 1949, the Peacemaker dwarfed the largest strategic bomber of WW II — Boeing’s B-29 Stratofortress — and is the largest piston engine propelled aircraft to be built. A half-dozen pusher piston engines protected the design from opposing interceptors by flying at high altitude with great speed though four turbojet engines were soon added to keep apace with jet fighter developments. Eventually, as the Cold War technology evolved and weapons became smaller as well as lighter, the strategic bombing mission morphed into strategic reconnaissance duties where the RB-36 Peacemaker carried the K-42 Camera Model, known as the “Boston Camera” — which used 18″ x 36″/45cm x 90cm negatives, weighed 6500 pounds / 3 metric tons and a focal length of 240 inches/6096mm. This camera is famed for its capability of resolving a golf ball from 45,000 feet/~13,600m.

Four B-36s remain in museums with one in storage. The B-36 which had been part of this museum was transported to and restored by the Pima Air & Space Museum, where it is on display today. The B-36 Peacemaker Museum has much to offer nonetheless with its records and artifacts, which include material and a rare model of the cargo variant known as the XC-99 among many significant items. I was especially pleased to see the gun turret, which is surprisingly petite, as well as a gun sight mechanism, which is surprisingly large.

Only a short drive from Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) or Dallas Love Field (DAL) the B-36 Peacemaker Museum is located within the Veterans Memorial Air Park — which is nearly world class in nature. The entrance is best found by going to the intersection of West Long Avenue and Ross Avenue (at the southwest corner of Fort Worth Meacham International Airport [FTW] in Fort Worth, Texas) and driving a stone’s throw north on Ross.

Posts on the Veterans Memorial Air Park, as well as the B-36 and the other items mentioned, can be found by pasting the terms into the search window and selecting ENTER.

The defensive system of the B-36  Peacemaker consisted of remote controlled 20mm cannon turrets and three optical sights slaved to  analog computers — photo by Joseph May

B-36 propellers and wheels mounted on a novel frame  at the Veterans Memorial Air Park, home to the  B-36 Peacemaker museum — these propellers on display are, of course, immensely sized with a 19 foot/5.76m diameter and weighing 1150 pounds/523kg each. These propellers are an early design since they have rounded tips, square tipped propellers were used on the B-36 for better high altitude performance — photo by Joseph May

A rare carved mahogany model of an early B-36, one of many rare items at the museum — photo by Joseph May

Docent Ike Gallop who we spent the visit with on a bright clear day in November, note the  20mm remote controlled turret which was built by General Electric — photo by Joseph May

My thanks again to Ike Gallop and especially to Marty and Jayne Davis — who also significantly support this blog — for making this trip possible.

Posts for the VMAP are on this schedule:

Later posts on individual aircraft there will occur, as well :)

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