These collectible B-36 models (with spinning propellers) represent the largest combat aircraft ever operated by the United States Air Force. With a wingspan of 230 feet, 10 engines - six piston engines and four jets - this monster was the Strategic Air Command's big stick until the advent of the Boeing B-52. Painstakingly built from Philippine mahogany by our skilled craftsmen with a wealth of detail, these B-36 models make a great gift for any aviation enthusiast or history buff.
Design of the B-36 began in 1941, when the Army Air Corps sought to begin development on a bomber that could reach targets in Europe from the continental United States. At the time, Britain stood alone against the Nazi war machine, and invasion of the island nation seemed likely.
Consolidated Aircraft won the competition to design the bomber, but the company faced many delays, from being ordered to concentrate on production of the B-24 Liberator to shortages of needed materials.
The giant bomber first flew on Aug. 8, 1946. A piston-bomber in the dawning jet age, it was arguably obsolete at birth. However, its high-altitude abilities and heavy armament would have made even early jets take pause.
Powered by six Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major 28-cylinder engines turning three-bladed propellers 19 feet in diameter, the B-36 could reach speeds of more than 400 mph. Four J47 jet engines in two pods gave the Peacemaker added power for takeoff or dashes of the target. Its crew of 15 was divided between two pressurized crew compartments connected by an 80-foot tunnel. The rear compartment featured a galley, bunks and a chemical toilet, along with gunnery positions.
The Peacemaker could carry the nationâ€™s first thermonuclear weapons, monsters weighing 42,000 pounds and 25 feet long, without modifications. Its total bomb load exceeded 85,000 pounds, more than 10 times the payload of a B-17 Flying Fortress, and more than its replacement, the Boeing B-52.
Later version of the B-36 had fewer gun turrets, and this "featherweight" modification program increased its speed and range. The B-36 also served in reconnaissance roles, and a one-off cargo version, the XC-99 served worldwide. In 1959, the B-36 made its final flight, when a B-36J was flown to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, where it remains on display.