The Boeing B-50D

Boeing B-50D

Boeing B-50D

The Boeing B-50D.  The B-50D was a vastly improved version of the famous B-29, fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-4360 “corncob” engines. The flight engineer on the B-50s I flew always monitored the engines closely on a system that revealed how the spark plugs, valves, etc. were functioning. If anything looked suspicious they would suggest that the engine be feathered. The aircraft commander would decide how much further to carry on the mission, depending upon location, requirements, etc, or could elect to make a precautionary landing. It was far easier on the engines, and of course, much better than having them fail in flight, where there was always a possibility of a catastrophic failure or an engine fire. When retired from their role as a bomber by the arrival of the B-47, B-50s were converted into KB-50 tankers.

6 responses to “The Boeing B-50D

  1. Good ol’ 4360s. Yep, a good FE was an essential item on the Missing Parts List – you couldn’t leave home without one. Having lots of experience with Ignition Analyzers on the PW 2800 (which never failed 😉 I can attest that reading one is an art.

  2. You are so right, Bill. We had one tough, almost truculent, Flight Engineer, his name was something like Spilecki, who was an artist on the ignition analyzer. He would shut down an engine in a flash if he saw difficulty coming. (or recommend that it be shut down, rather.) I still remember a three-engine high speeed descent through the overcast to get back into Castle; the crew was happy because the mission scheduled was a long boring one. Of course we had to go and do it the next flight, but the cancellation was like a holiday.

    • You are so right, Bill. We had one tough, almost truculent, Flight Engineer, his name was something like Spilecki, who was an artist on the ignition analyzer. He would shut down an engine in a flash if he saw difficulty coming. (or recommend that it be shut down, rather.) I still remember a three-engine high speeed descent through the overcast to get back into Castle; the crew was happy because the mission scheduled was a long boring one. Of course we had to go and do it the next flight, but the cancellation was like a holiday.

      All best wishes, Walt

  3. John J. McKenna

    Life magazine had a photo spread back in the B-50 era; showed what looked like a fixed, non-scanning radar on the aft stbd fuselage, possibly for tail gunner or tail warning. The tail turret had THREE guns, similar to early B-29; all three looked the same size, however… Also had a radome under the rear fuselage fwd of the bottom gun turret. Ever seen this?

    • Thanks, John, I’ve not seen this photo; you are probably right about the non-scanning radar or tail-warning device. The guns might have been fifty caliber, but three is unusual. Not the run-of-the mill B-50, anyway! Best regards Walt

    • Thanks, John, I’ve not seen this photo; you are probably right about the non-scanning radar or tail-warning device. The guns might have been fifty caliber, but three is unusual. Not the run-of-the mill B-50, anyway! Best regards Walt

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