1951 ... B-36's vist UK

... in the early 1950's Gen. Curtis LeMay was working hard to whip the USAF Strategic Air Command into a credible 'deterrent force'. Groups of SAC's bombers were regularly moved to 'forward bases' in friendly countries. In time of crisis these huge lumbering bombers would have an easier and quicker time of reaching their Soviet targets from these closer locations. 

Although the first 'intercontinental' bomber in the US inventory, the B-36 was vulnerable to defending Soviet jets. It's vast size and complexity was a long reach for the technology of that day and it was prone to frequent mechanical failures.  De-classified reports now show that although it's proponents claimed a 10,000 mile range; when fully loaded with fuel and nuclear weapons, attack missions to and from the USA would leave the big bomber's ten engines running on empty.( If they made it back to home at all.) Never the less, the Convair B-36 'Peacemaker' was a successful deterrent, showing a determination that America could strike the USSR even if Europe and the Far East were over-run. 

Today, we take for granted taking a Jumbo-Jet from New York to Hong Kong non-stop. Sixty one years ago, before aerial refueling, flying to Russia and back, on one fill-up, was a considerable technological accomplishment!

All of this crazy and amazing machinery of the Cold War. It certainly is a blessing that we never had to find out if it would have really worked!


No comments: