|Mockup of the RB-54A|
|Primary user||United States Air Force|
|Developed from||B-50 Superfortress|
The Boeing B-54 was a medium bomber designed by Boeing for use by the United States Air Force. Derived from the YB-50C Superfortress, construction of the prototype was cancelled before completion, and the aircraft was never flown.
Design and developmentEdit
Begun in 1947, the B-54 was the planned production version of the YB-50C prototype. The standard Pratt & Whitney R-4360 engines of the normal B-50 bomber were replaced with R-4360-51 Variable Discharge Turbine (VDT) engines, the fuselage was lengthened by over 10 feet (3 m) and the wingspan was extended by 20 feet (6.1 m), which required the installation of outrigger landing gear in the numbers one and four engine nacelles. Large fuel tanks under the outboard wing section were required to carry an additional 3,000 US gallons (11,000 l; 2,500 imp gal) of fuel to reach the intended 9,300 miles (15,000 km) range; 14 .50-caliber machine guns comprised the specified defensive armament.
On May 29, 1948, contracts were placed by the Air Force for 21 B-54A bombers and 52 RB-54A reconnaissance aircraft;[N 1] However, on April 18, 1949, the B-54 project was cancelled due to the development of better-performing jet aircraft; construction of the prototype B-54A had started at Seattle but was never completed. The cancellation was lambasted by the Seattle press, who claimed that it was a political decision instead of a military one.
- Production version of the YB-50C
- Reconnaissance version
Data from General characteristics
- Crew: 10
- Length: 111 ft (34 m)
- Wingspan: 161 ft (49 m)
- Height: 32 ft 8 in (10 m)
- Gross weight: 230,000 lb (104,326 kg)
- Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney R-4360-51 radial piston engines with variable discharge turbines, 4,500 hp (3,400 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 430 mph (692 km/h; 374 kn)
- Cruise speed: 305 mph (265 kn; 491 km/h)
- Range: 9,000 mi (7,821 nmi; 14,484 km)
- Service ceiling: 40,000 ft (12,192 m) service</ul>Armament
- Guns: 14 x .50-caliber machine guns in turrets
- Bombs: 36,000 pounds (16,000 kg)
- Boeing B-29 Superfortress
- Boeing XB-39 Superfortress
- Boeing B-50 Superfortress
- Convair B-36
- Tupolev Tu-95
- List of bomber aircraft
- List of military aircraft of the United States
- ↑ While the numbers given in the article are based on the official US Air Force serial number assignments, sources vary on how many were ordered. Seven B-54As and 23 RB-54As is one number given; other sources specify 14 B-54As and 29 RB-54As. Several sources state the total order was 43 aircraft, while one claims 73.
- Jones, Lloyd S. U.S. Bombers, B-1 1928 to B-1 1980s. Fallbrook, CA: Aero Publishers, 1962, second edition 1974. ISBN 0-8168-9126-5.
- "Factsheets: Boeing B-54A". National Museum of the United States Air Force. July 7, 2009. http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2617. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
- Olson, James C. (2003). Stuart Symington: A Life. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press. ISBN 978-0826215031.
- Redding, Robert; Bill Yenne (1989). Boeing: Planemaker to the World. New York: Crescent Books. ISBN 978-0517422700.
- Swanborough, F. G. and Peter M. Bowers. United States Military Aircraft since 1909. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0874748802.
- Wagner, Ray (1968). American Combat Planes. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0385041348.
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