The B-36 Peacemaker

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently ran a special section with pictures from the city’s past. Perusing these photos brought up a lot of nostalgia for me, so I decided to write blogs about several of the things or events captured in them.

You younger readers may never have heard of the B-36. It was a huge bomber built by Convair, which became General Dynamics, which is now Lockheed. Production began around the end of World War II and continued through 1954.

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The B-36 was the largest piston-engine airplane ever built. It was 162 feet long and had a wingspan of 230 feet. That huge wingspan contained six rear-facing engines. That’s right—six. Three on each wing. The props trailed the wings and pushed the plane rather than pulling it like the props on other propeller-driven planes.

The plane’s combat weight was 262,500 pounds, but it could take off weighing up to 410,000 pounds. It had a maximum speed of 418 mph, but its cruise speed was only 230 mph. Its climb rate of 1995 feet per minute at sea level and its relatively slow cruise speed are exceeded by many of today’s light twins.

When I was growing up, both my elementary school and my junior high school were more or less in the flight pattern for planes taking off to the south from the runway shared by Convair and Carswell Air Force Base. Since the prevailing winds here are from the south, almost every flight that took off from there flew over my schools.

When the air force began flying B-52’s and other jets, their noise didn’t last long as they moved swiftly away from the area, but not so the B-36. When these behemoths took off, it took them forever to lumber out of the area. The noise from those six engines rattled the windows in the two schools and lasted for five minutes or more. All teaching necessarily came to a stop while they went by.

Now the planes that fly in and out of that runway are so light and fast you hardly notice them. That’s nice for teachers and students trying to hear one another, but it’s sorta sad, too. I missed those old behemoths.

The last one built was named “The City of Fort Worth.” It sat between Carswell and General Dynamics for awhile, but when the city of Fort Worth couldn’t come up with the funds and space to maintain and display it, it was moved to Arizona, where it sits at the Pima Air & Space Museum just south of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Maybe I’ll drive out there one of these days to see it.

What things your hometown was famous for years ago do you miss? What do you do to scratch the itch of missing them?

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WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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8 Responses to The B-36 Peacemaker

  1. jim franko says:

    hi david,
    worked on those beautiful B-36’s between ’56 until they phased ouit. planes I worked on: 372, 380, and was also on the ground crew of our first B-52- didn’t care for that plane. anyone out there remember the 31st bomb sq, travis afb? try franko.sunset2@gmail.com my name is jim franko

    Like

  2. Karlene says:

    David, this is just an amazing bit of Aviation history! Great work!

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  3. Barb Estinson says:

    I surely remember the B-36, David, but strangely, I don’t remember all the noise. I must have blanked it out.

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  4. Sharon K. Walker says:

    Interesting. I don’t tend to miss much of the old because the new is usually an improvement.

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