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B-45

Manufacturer: North American

Engine: 45,200lbs GE J47-GE13

Speed: 579

Range: 1,910Mi

Ceiling: 43,200ft

Wingspan: 89ft

Length: 75ft 4inch

Weight: 112,952lbs(max)


The B-45 Tornado: This American Bomber Made Some Serious History

The Tornado played an important role with the U.S. Air Force in the early stages of the Cold War.

Here's What You Need to Know: The North American Aviation B-45, which made its first flight in March 1947, achieved a slew of firsts.

There is no denying that American airpower played a crucial role in bringing Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan to their proverbial knees. American bombers including the B-17 and B-24 dominated the skies over Germany and Japan – but by war's end, both were clearly aging technologies. Even the B-29, which carried the atomic bombs were used on Japan, was designed before the United States entered the war.

In 1944, the U.S. Army Air Corps faced a threat from the German jet aircraft including a jet bomber and issued a design competition for a jet-powered bomber. The U.S. War Department set forth a number of requirements for the bomber, but the war ended before much progress was made. Efforts to develop a jet bomber were further delayed by post-war cutbacks, but as tensions with the Soviet Union mounted it became apparent that a jet bomber was necessary.

The North American Aviation B-45, which made its first flight in March 1947, achieved a slew of firsts.

It was the first four-engine jet bomber to fly, the first American production jet bomber, the first jet bomber capable of carrying an atomic bomb and the first multi-jet reconnaissance aircraft to refuel in mid-air.

North American built 142 B-45 bombers including 10 long-range B-45Cs, which featured wingtip fuel tanks, and 33 RB-45Cs that were configured for high-altitude photo-reconnaissance and aerial refueling.

The aircraft was light on armament with just two .50 caliber machine guns in the tail, but it could carry 22,000 pounds of bombs – essentially making it a light bomber. It was powered by four General Electric J47 engines that each provided 6,000 pounds of thrust. The B-45 had a maximum speed of 570 mph and a range of 1,000 miles with a ceiling of 37,500feet.

The aircraft was an important part of the United States' nuclear deterrent for several years in the early 1950s until the bombers were replaced by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. The B-45 saw service in the Korean War where it proved its value as both a bomber and as a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and was able to outrun and outmaneuver the enemy's MiG fighters. Both the B-45 and RB-45C served in the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command from 1950 until 1959 while from 1952-58, B-45s of the 47th Bomb Wing (Light) and RB-45s from the USAF 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and Royal air Force (RAF) Special Duty Flight crews were based at RAF Sculthorpe, England. The RAF-crewed RB-45 aircraft flew highly classified missions deep into the Iron Curtain.


History Made: Why the B-45 Tornado Was Such a Big Deal

The plane was not only a jet bomber, but it was also a part of early American nuclear deterrence.

Key point: The end of World War II and the start of the Cold War was full of new technological advances. The B-45 certainly achieved many such milestones.

There is no denying that American airpower played a crucial role in bringing Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan to their proverbial knees. American bombers including the B-17 and B-24 dominated the skies over Germany and Japan – but by war's end, both were clearly aging technologies. Even the B-29, which carried the atomic bombs were used on Japan, was designed before the United States entered the war.

This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.

In 1944, the U.S. Army Air Corps faced a threat from the German jet aircraft including a jet bomber and issued a design competition for a jet-powered bomber. The U.S. War Department set forth a number of requirements for the bomber, but the war ended before much progress was made. Efforts to develop a jet bomber were further delayed by post-war cutbacks, but as tensions with the Soviet Union mounted it became apparent that a jet bomber was necessary.

The North American Aviation B-45, which made its first flight in March 1947, achieved a slew of firsts.

It was the first four-engine jet bomber to fly, the first American production jet bomber, the first jet bomber capable of carrying an atomic bomb and the first multi-jet reconnaissance aircraft to refuel in mid-air.

North American built 142 B-45 bombers including 10 long-range B-45Cs, which featured wingtip fuel tanks, and 33 RB-45Cs that were configured for high-altitude photo-reconnaissance and aerial refueling.

The aircraft was light on armament with just two .50 caliber machine guns in the tail, but it could carry 22,000 pounds of bombs – essentially making it a light bomber. It was powered by four General Electric J47 engines that each provided 6,000 pounds of thrust. The B-45 had a maximum speed of 570 mph and a range of 1,000 miles with a ceiling of 37,500feet.

The aircraft was an important part of the United States' nuclear deterrent for several years in the early 1950s until the bombers were replaced by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. The B-45 saw service in the Korean War where it proved its value as both a bomber and as a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and was able to outrun and outmaneuver the enemy's MiG fighters. Both the B-45 and RB-45C served in the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command from 1950 until 1959 while from 1952-58, B-45s of the 47th Bomb Wing (Light) and RB-45s from the USAF 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and Royal air Force (RAF) Special Duty Flight crews were based at RAF Sculthorpe, England. The RAF-crewed RB-45 aircraft flew highly classified missions deep into the Iron Curtain.


North American B-45 Tornado: A Bomber That Made Some Serious History

There is no denying that American airpower played a crucial role in bringing Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan to their proverbial knees. American bombers including the B-17 and B-24 dominated the skies over Germany and Japan – but by war's end, both were clearly aging technologies. Even the B-29, which carried the atomic bombs were used on Japan, was designed before the United States entered the war.

In 1944, the U.S. Army Air Corps faced a threat from the German jet aircraft including a jet bomber and issued a design competition for a jet-powered bomber. The U.S. War Department set forth a number of requirements for the bomber, but the war ended before much progress was made. Efforts to develop a jet bomber were further delayed by post-war cutbacks, but as tensions with the Soviet Union mounted it became apparent that a jet bomber was necessary.

The North American Aviation B-45, which made its first flight in March 1947, achieved a slew of firsts.

It was the first four-engine jet bomber to fly, the first American production jet bomber, the first jet bomber capable of carrying an atomic bomb and the first multi-jet reconnaissance aircraft to refuel in mid-air.

North American built 142 B-45 bombers including 10 long-range B-45Cs, which featured wingtip fuel tanks, and 33 RB-45Cs that were configured for high-altitude photo-reconnaissance and aerial refueling.

The aircraft was light on armament with just two .50 caliber machine guns in the tail, but it could carry 22,000 pounds of bombs – essentially making it a light bomber. It was powered by four General Electric J47 engines that each provided 6,000 pounds of thrust. The B-45 had a maximum speed of 570 mph and a range of 1,000 miles with a ceiling of 37,500feet.

The aircraft was an important part of the United States' nuclear deterrent for several years in the early 1950s until the bombers were replaced by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. The B-45 saw service in the Korean War where it proved its value as both a bomber and as a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and was able to outrun and outmaneuver the enemy's MiG fighters. Both the B-45 and RB-45C served in the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command from 1950 until 1959 while from 1952-58, B-45s of the 47th Bomb Wing (Light) and RB-45s from the USAF 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and Royal air Force (RAF) Special Duty Flight crews were based at RAF Sculthorpe, England. The RAF-crewed RB-45 aircraft flew highly classified missions deep into the Iron Curtain.


March 17, 1947: The B-45 Tornado, the First U.S. Jet-Powered Nuclear Bomber, Takes Flight

On March 17, 1947, the North American B-45 Tornado, a fine but often forgotten plane, made its first flight and was fielded for duty a year later, becoming the first U.S. jet-powered nuclear bomber.

Digging Deeper

Alarmed by the development and deployment of the Arado 234 jet bomber by Nazi Germany, the U.S. scrambled to produce a jet bomber of its own. The Germans had already fielded the Me 262 twin-engine jet fighter that was clearly superior to any fighter in the world, and the Arado 234 could fly above and faster than any Allied fighter in the bombing or reconnaissance role.

Britain responded with the Gloster Meteor jet fighter which saw some action against Germany’s V-1 flying bombs, and the U.S. replied with the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star which entered service before World War II ended but did not see combat until the Korean War.

Capable of achieving a speed of 570 miles an hour and of carrying a 22,000-pound load of bombs, the B-45 Tornado was almost twice as fast and could carry as many bombs as the B-29 Superfortress bombers that were the backbone of the U.S. bomber force. Although not capable of the heavy load (almost 100,000 pounds) that the Convair B-36 “Peacemaker” (6 piston engines, later supplemented by 4 additional jet engines) could carry, the B-45 was again much faster. Able to carry a nuclear bomb, the B-45, based in Europe, became an important Cold War nuclear deterrent.

The B-45 was a dated looking jet from the start, with straight wings and a double-engine pod on each wing. It was armed with twin .50 caliber machine guns in the tail and had a crew of 4 (pilot, co-pilot, navigator/bombardier and tail gunner). With a combat radius of 1,000 miles un-refueled and later adding aerial refueling capability (the first jet bomber with this option), the B-45 had decent “legs.” With a service ceiling of 46,000 feet, it could fly above piston-engine fighters as well. 143 planes were built, and only the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) flew them. The B-45 also appeared in a few motion pictures, notably War of the Worlds (1953) and Strategic Air Command (1955).

The B-45 did see combat in Korea,and, and unlike the WWII era B-29s, were not shot down by North Korean fighters. B-45s were also modified for reconnaissance missions and flew such flights in Korea and even over the Soviet Union, information not declassified until 1994. Phased out in 1959, the B-45 Tornado had a a relatively short service life and was replaced by the more capable swept wing Boeing B-47 Stratojet and the Convair B-58 Hustler which was capable of Mach 2 flight.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) near Dayton, Ohio has a B-45 on display (as do 2 other museums), and we would like to encourage any airplane enthusiast to visit this museum. The indoor displays of aircraft such as the B-1 Lancer, the B-29 Superfortress, the B-36 Peacemaker and the B-52 Stratofortress and other giant aircraft are incredible. To see aircraft as well as drones, missiles, bombs and all sorts of other memorabilia from the World War I and World War II eras in the comfort of the indoors is amazing. Seriously, the museum is worth a drive across the country it is absolutely fabulous.

The B-45 Tornado is gone and largely forgotten, but it certainly completed its mission of nuclear deterrence, a job well done.

Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever flown in a B-45? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

The featured image in this article, a North American XB-45 cutaway drawing, is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain in the United States.

About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.


B-45 Tornado

In 1943, aware of Nazi Germany's advances in the field of jet propulsion, the Army Air Forces (AAF) asked the General Electric Company to devise a more powerful engine than its prospective axial turboprop. This was a tall order, but it eventually brought about the production of the J35 and J47 turbojets. In 1944, 1 year after the jet engine requirements were established, the War Department requested the aircraft industry to submit proposals for various jet bombers, with gross weights ranging from 80,000 to more than 200,000 pounds. This was another challenge, and only 4 contractors answered the call.

Pressed for time, the AAF in 1946 decided to skip the usual contractor competition, review the designs, and choose among the proposed aircraft that could be obtained first. The multi jet engine B-45, larger and more conventional than its immediate competitor, won the round, with the understanding that if a less readily available bomber was to prove superior enough to supplant it (which the Boeing XB-47 did), that aircraft would also be purchased.

Testing of the XB-45 prompted pre-production changes. North American Aviation, Incorporated, redesigned the nose panel, increased the aircraft's stabilizer area, and lengthened the tailplane by nearly 7 feet. In August 1948, 22 of the 90 B-45s, ordered less than 2 years before, reached the newly independent Air Force. However, the B-45's increased weight, excessive takeoff distance, and numerous structural and mechanical defects generated scant enthusiasm.

With a first-flight date of March 17, 1947, the North American B-45 Tornado was the first jet-powered bomber to be put into production in the United States and the first to enter operational service with the USAF. The more capable B-45C model differed from earlier models of the B-45 in several respects the most obvious difference in the appearance of the C model was the 1200-gallon fuel tank mounted at each wingtip.

Meanwhile, the B-47's future production had become certain, and in mid 1948 the Air Staff actually began to question the B-45's intrinsic value as well as its potential use. Soon afterwards, as President Truman's budgetary axe slashed Air Force expenditures, the programmed production of B-45s was reduced to a grand total of 142, a decrease of 51 aircraft.

Although continuously plagued by engine problems, component malfunctions, lack of spare parts, and numerous minor flaws, the B-45 regained importance. Like all bombers produced after the end of World War 11, the B-45 was designed to carry both conventional and atomic bombs. In mid 1950, when US. military commitments to the Korean War reemphasized the vulnerability of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Europe to Soviet attack, the Air Force made an important decision. Since the US. planned to produce large quantities of small atomic and thermonuclear weapons in the near future, the use of such weapons, heretofore a prerogative of the strategic forces, would be expanded to the tactical forces, particularly in Europe.

The program that ensued, under the code name of Backbreaker, entailed difficult aircraft modifications because several distinct atomic bomb types were involved and large amounts of new electronics support equipment had to be fitted in place of the standard components. In addition, the 40 B-45s allocated to the Backbreaker program also had to be equipped with a new defensive system and extra fuel tanks. Despite the magnitude of the modification project, plus recurring engine problems, atomic capable B-45s began reaching the United Kingdom in May 1952, and deployment of the 40 aircraft was completed in mid June, barely 30 days behind the Air Staff deadline.

The configuration of the B-45 is reminiscent of a World War II bomber equipped with jet engines instead of propellers driven by reciprocating power plants. The unswept wing had an average airfoil thickness ratio of about 14 percent and was equipped with trailing-edge single-slotted flaps for lift augmentation in landing and takeoff. Lateral control was accomplished with the use of conventional ailerons.

All control surfaces were hydraulically boosted, and an electrically actuated tab on the elevator was used to maintain longitudinal trim. The aerodynamic power of the trim-tab-elevator combination was so great that, in the event of an inadvertent maximum tab deflection, the pilot's strength was insufficient to overcome the resulting large elevator hinge moments if the hydraulic boost system failed or was turned off. Total in-flight destruction of at least one B-45, the aircraft operated by NACA, was probably caused by this combination of circumstances that resulted in a normal load factor far greater than the design value. The technology of power-assisted controls was in its infancy at the time of development of the B-45, and much was yet to be learned about the effective and safe application of such control techniques.

In performing the landing maneuver, pilots found that speed and flight-path angle during the approach as well as touchdown point on the runway were difficult to control with precision because of the absence of speed brakes or some other means of increasing the drag of the aircraft. As a result of the low drag, only a small amount of engine thrust was required in the approach configuration. In this low thrust range, changes in thrust with throttle movement required a relatively long period of time and rendered control of flight path and speed difficult. At higher thrust levels, changes in thrust with time were more rapid. Hence, higher aircraft drag and consequently higher required thrust would have been desirable in the approach and landing configurations. Somewhat similar problems with speed control were experienced with the Messerschmitt Me 262, the first jet fighter to enter operational service. Again, experience taught important lessons applicable to the design of later jet-powered bomber aircraft.

Manned by a crew of four, the B-45 had two pilots seated in tandem under a transparent canopy, a bombardier located in the nose, and a tail gunner. Only the pilots were equipped with ejection seats. In an emergency, the bombardier, located in the nose of the aircraft, was expected to evacuate through a hatch located in the side of the fuselage. To minimize the hazards associated with the high-velocity airstream, a fuselage flap was deployed ahead of the hatch to deflect the airstream away from the exiting bombardier. An escape hatch with deflector flaps was also provided for the tail gunner. Environmental control for the crew included pressurization, heating, and cooling.

With a gross weight of 110, 050 pounds, the B-45 was in the same weight class as the wartime Boeing B-29 but had a maximum speed advantage over the B-29 of more than 200 miles per hour. A 10 000-pound weapon load could be delivered by the B-45 at a mission radius of 1008 miles. Ferry range of the aircraft was 2426 miles. The maximum lift-drag ratio of the B-45 was 16.3, about the same as that of the B-29, and its zero-lift drag coefficient was a much lower 0.0160 as compared with 0.0241 for the earlier aircraft.

The Tornado first entered service with the Strategic Air Command in November 1948, and final retirement of the type from operational service took place in 1958. The Air Force accepted a total of 142 B-45s in various configurations, 51 aircraft fewer than originally ordered. The B-45 program included 3 experimental XB-45s aircraft (one of which was completed as a preproduction example), 96 production B-45As (some of which were designated as B-45A-5s reflecting in-production improvements), 10 B-45Cs , and 33 RB-45Cs. The aircraft were produced by North American Aviation, Incorporated, of Inglewood, California, with most of the aircraft being built in a former Douglas facility at Long Beach, California.

The B-45 served well as a reconnaissance aircraft during the Korean war. The reconnaissance models were designated RB-45Cs and assigned to the Strategic Air Command. The Tornado performed classified, deep penetration photographic intelligence missions over many cold war communist countries. The reconnaissance version of the B-45 became the forerunner of the U-2 and SR-71 surveillance aircraft.

All told, and in spite of its many valuable secondary functions, the B-45 did not achieve great glory. The entire contingent, Backbreaker and reconnaissance models included, was phased out by 1959. Yet, the B-45 retained a place in aviation history as the Air Force's first jet bomber and as the first atomic carrier of the tactical forces.


Custom-Order Gibson B-45-12

The term “rare” is applied to guitars in far too many instances. Usually an appealing term, its overuse can be attributed in part to the fact it’s particularly catchy to the eye of anyone fond of a collectible vintage instrument. The subject here this month, however, is truly deserving of the label.

A custom-order Gibson B-45-12 bearing serial number 62997, this instrument was made in 1963 and is highly unusual. Its orange-oval label indicates model designation but makes no mention of it being a custom order however, its specifications deviate greatly from a standard, and especially noteworthy is an accompanying letter on Gibson stationery dated May 27, 1963, and signed by department manager M.H. McConachie. It is exceedingly rare for an instrument to be accompanied by a letter of such detail. Based on this letter, it is reasonable to assume this is a one-of-a-kind instrument.

Typically, a B-45-12 made in the ’60s did not have an interior paper label, and the model designation was stamped on the interior vertical center strip, whereas the back strip is not stamped. The truss rod cover is engraved “Custom,” which is appropriate, however, this style of truss rod cover was routinely used on numerous high-end Gibson models which were in no way custom-order, such as the L-5, Super 400, J-200, Tal Farlow, and Barney Kessel models.

The paragraph in McConachie’s letter describing the body shape of this guitar as deviating from a standard B45-12 by being based on the SJ or Hummingbird shape is interesting since we find no difference in this body shape versus a typical ’63 B-45-12. The model was introduced in 1961 as Gibson’s first cataloged acoustic 12-string with a round-shouldered body the same size and shape as a J-45 or J-50 and had a rectangular bridge and trapeze tailpiece, however, the standard B-45-12 specifications were changed in ’62 to the square-shouldered body with an upper belly bridge with bridge pins and no tailpiece, and were altered again in ’63 to the same bridge shape, but without bridge pins and still without a tailpiece. The specs for the standard B-45-12 were altered again in ’66 to give it a rectangular bridge and tailpiece.

The special rosewood back and rim with $55 custom charge referred to in the letter are beautifully figured Brazilian rosewood, which was the standard with most American manufacturers at that time. The typical B-45-12 had mahogany back and sides and an unbound dot-inlaid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, whereas this guitar has a bound ebony fingerboard with J-200-style crown inlays and a pointed end done for an additional $55. It’s interesting to note this guitar’s Brazilian rosewood bridge and ebony fingerboard – most American makers of steel-string guitars utilized matching wood for the fingerboard and bridge. And while this fingerboard has J-200-style ornamentation, the J-200 of ’63 had a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard rather than ebony, as seen on this guitar. The body is bound with J-200-style multiple bindings rather than the typical B-45-12 triple binding on the front and single binding on the back of the body. Though the letter discusses SJ-style soundhole purfling, this soundhole ornamentation is no different from a standard B-45-12 of ’63, though the pickguard mentioned in the letter is an SJ-style rather than the typical B-45-12 pickguard, which was essentially the same as a J-45 guard. The mention of a long peghead veneer with Byrdland-style inlay is interesting in that the same flowerpot inlay was used on the F-5 mandolin and L-5 guitar long before the Byrdland was introduced. On this particular example, the inlays are spaced to accommodate the long peghead, so the base of the flowerpot inlay is separated from the body of the pot, while on all other Gibson instruments featuring this peghead inlay there is no such space. Gibson charged a $50 fee for 12 Grover Rotomatic gears over and above the cost of a typical set of Kluson Deluxe gears normally used on the B-45-12. While the dollar amount of these custom surcharges may appear low, the inflation-adjusted cost of the tuners and fingerboard are quite high by today’s standards, though the inflation-adjusted surcharge for the rosewood back and sides is less than the same material would cost today due to the fact that rosewood is an endangered and highly regulated commodity.

Twelve-string guitars have a long history, but by the mid ’30s had fallen into relative obscurity. During the folk-music boom of the late ’50s through early ’60s, players such as Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, The Kingston Trio, and Don Gibson featured 12-string guitars in performances, but most American manufacturers were slow to respond to demand. Gibson’s earliest catalogued 12-string guitar was the EDS-1275 Double 12 electric doubleneck introduced on custom-order basis in 1958. The Gibson B-45-12 was one of the earliest acoustic 12-strings catalogued by a large-scale/high-end maker.

All told, this guitar could well be the most deluxe acoustic 12-string produced by Gibson up until that time.

This article originally appeared in VG December 2013 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.


North American B-45 Tornado

In 1943, aware of Nazi Germany's advances in the field of jet propulsion, the Army Air Forces (AAF) asked the General Electric Company to devise a more powerful engine than its prospective axial turboprop. This was a tall order, but it eventually brought about the production of the J35 and J47 turbojets. In 1944, 1 year after the jet engine requirements were established, the War Department requested the aircraft industry to submit proposals for various jet bombers, with gross weights ranging from 80,000 to more than 200,000 pounds. This was another challenge, and only 4 contractors answered the call.

Pressed for time, the AAF in 1946 decided to skip the usual contractor competition, review the designs, and choose among the proposed aircraft that could be obtained first. The multi-jet engine B-45, larger and more conventional than its immediate competitor, won the round, with the understanding that if a less readily available bomber was to prove superior enough to supplant it (which the Boeing XB-47 did), that aircraft would also be purchased.

Testing of the XB-45 prompted pre-production changes. North American Aviation, Incorporated, redesigned the nose panel, increased the aircraft's stabilizer area, and lengthened the tailplane by nearly 7 feet. In August 1948, 22 of the 90 B-45s, ordered less than 2 years before, reached the newly independent Air Force. However, the B-45's increased weight, excessive takeoff distance, and numerous structural and mechanical defects generated scant enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, the B-47's future production had become certain, and in mid-1948 the Air Staff actually began to question the B-45's intrinsic value as well as its potential use. Soon afterwards, as President Truman's budgetary axe slashed Air Force expenditures, the programmed production of B-45s was reduced to a grand total of 142, a decrease of 51 aircraft.

Although continuously plagued by engine problems, component malfunctions, lack of spare parts, and numerous minor flaws, the B-45 regained importance. Like all bombers produced after the end of World War II, the B-45 was designed to carry both conventional and atomic bombs. In mid-1950, when U.S. military commitments to the Korean War reempha-sized the vulnerability of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Europe to Soviet attack, the Air Force made an important decision. Since the U.S. planned to produce large quantities of small atomic and thermonuclear weapons in the near future, the use of such weapons, heretofore a prerogative of the strategic forces, would be expanded to the tactical forces, particularly in Europe.

The program that ensued, under the code name of Backbreaker, entailed difficult aircraft modifications because several distinct atomic bomb types were involved and large amounts of new electronics support equipment had to be fitted in place of the standard components. In addition, the 40 B-45s allocated to the Backbreaker program also had to be equipped with a new defensive system and extra fuel tanks. Despite the magnitude of the modification project, plus recurring engine problems, atomic-capable B-45s began reaching the United Kingdom in May 1952, and deployment of the 40 aircraft was completed in mid-June, barely 30 days behind the Air Staff deadline.

All told, and in spite of its many valuable secondary functions, the B-45 did not achieve great glory. The entire contingent, Backbreaker and reconnaissance models included, was phased out by 1959. Yet, the B-45 retained a place in aviation history as the Air Force's first jet bomber and as the first atomic carrier of the tactical forces.

I made the last flight of the B-45 when I delivered 49-017 to the SAC Museum at Offitt AFB in June, 1972. I flew it and 48-010 as test beds for PWA when I was a test pilot there.

Gary,I knew the guy,Vernon Morgan, just from seeing him around the squadron. I had met Yvonne Talbot in the pubs in Peterborough. I have a bloke newspaper article about the incident. Because of this and a couple of similar incidents in the other services the enlisted men were no longer allowed to taxi aircraft.

I was looking at the B-45 at the USAF Museum in Dayton. I'm curious as to some access panel between the two left engines, right in front. In some pictures there is "something" there, no panel. On the right engines, nothing.

What is this? Thanks! Dave P

I was walking back to camp from Kings Lynn at about 10.00pm one summer evening in (I think) 1957, when USAF personnel in a pickup towing what I think was a fire pump, stopped and asked if I knew where East Raynham was. Replying that I was stationed at RAF West Raynham, they asked if I would show them the way. They explained that a B45 from Sculthorpe had crashed and took me to a field at the edge of a wood just outside WR's perimeter. Emergency vehicles were in attendance and I stayed for some time to give what help I could. I was told that the gunner should not have been aboard but it was uncertain if he had gone along anyway. Over the years, I have occasionally searched the web for information about this accident but, until today, never found anything about it. Malcolm Dodd, RAF West Raynham 1956 - 58.

I was in the 85th Bomb Sqdn at Sculthorpe from 1954 thru 1957, I have a lot of stories from that period, interested?

I was stationed at Alconbury,arriving in 1955. It was being reopened. I left there in Sept 1958. While there an airman was upset with a girl friend and took one of the B45's up and immediately crashed into the ground scattering debris everywhere and of course killing himself. I can't find any information on this incident.

My Godfather, Chris Lembesis [design engineer], worked on the B-45 Tornado, an aircraft that was a positive, if not significant contributor in keeping the peace during the early days of the Cold War. This is mentioned in my book.
HIGH FLIGHT
Aviation as a Teaching Tool for Finance,
Strategy and American Exceptionalism
By George A. Haloulakos, MBA, CFA
ISBN: 9780-1007-2738-0
Order your copy online at: ucsandiegobookstore.com
Or by phone: 858-534-4557
"Partial proceeds support aviation heritage"

My older brother Paul Kincaid was stationed at RAF Sculthorpesomewhere around 1953-1956. He was a Jet Engine Mechanic. He told me about how he had to work on this engine that enhaled some poor airman. James(Gene)Kincaid Msgt /1st Sgt retired.

Wasn't this the aircraft that the Americans gave us Brits to do their dirty work in early reconnaisance over the USSR and take the blame for if we got caught - according to the excellent documentary series, 'Timewatch', episode 'Spies in the Sky'?

I was a SHORAN , gen. Radar tech in the 84th bomb squadron at RAF Sculthorpe from apr 56 till sept. 58.My last 6mo. Or so was with the 47th
A&E field maint. Sq. on the N-1 compass sys.The sick B45 John
Langsdale described (05.05.2009) did crash inside of the RAF West
Raynham confines. It claimed the lives of the pilot, our squadron C.O.
The co-pilot and AOB. The gunners life was spared because the gunnery
Sys. Was kaput, and he wasn't on board.
If someone would like a good history of RAF Sculthorpe, the booklet titled
RAF Sculthorpe 50 years of watching &waiting, by Jim Baldwin is a good
Read. # ISBN 0 948899069

Actually, this happened about 1958 NOT 1858. LOL

I served at RAF Sculthorpe from 1955-1958 in the Vehicle Maintenance shop. About 1858 while road testing a vehicle on the perimeter track I witnessed a B-45 landing with smoke & fire trailing from an engine. It went off the end of the runway, through the fence & beyond. The nose of the aircraft was badly crumpled, killig the navigator. The only one to arrive before me was the ground safety Officer. In 1994 he was a customer of mine at my Auto Repair shop in Albuquerque, NM. We did not recognize each other but upon talking about our experiences we made the connection. I retired as a MSGT in 1974. I am currently working for Civil Service at age 76 at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM. My work phone is 505-846-1898.

I was a Q-24 Bomb /Navigation Radar technician with the 84th Bomb Squadron (47th Bomb Wing) at RAF Sculthorpe 1955-1957. In 2000 members of the various squadrons and support organizations of the 47th Bomb Wing (RAF Sculthorpe /RAF Alconbury) formed the 47th Bomb Wing Association (BWA), Ltd. One of the missions of this organization is to publicize the vital role of the B-45 Tornado in the "Cold War" from 1952 to 1958. In 2007 the 47th BWA dedicated a plaque of the B-45 at the Memorial Gardens of the Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Paterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio. May 15, 2009 the 47th BWA dedicated a B-45 Tornado Model and display case at the American Air Museum, (part of the Imperial War Museum), Duxford, Cambridgeshire, England. One of our current endeavors is to get a B-45 Tornado model displayed at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum near Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.
The 47th BWA publishes a newsletter, Contrails, several times a year and sponsors an annual reunion. Interested in becoming a member of the 47th BWA? Contact me at [email protected] or [email protected]

I was assigned to the 47th Bomb Wing, 85TH Bomb Squadron in 1957. I flew as Tail Gunner on the B-45 and also on the B-66 after their arrival. The B-45 armed with twin 50 calibers and the Atomic Bomb in the Bombay, we were ready to deliver. Although the B-45, RB45, B-66 and RB-66 are rarely credited for their service. Each of us who served during that era know we contributed during that COLD WAR period to keeping the peace. I enjoyed the time I was privileged to be part of the 85th Bomb Squadron flying the missions that contributed to keeping the peace.

Anyone who recalls our acquaintance during the time we served at RAF Staion Sculthorpe, please contact me at the above e-mail address.

I wondered if anyone out there can help me, I am looking for information /photo's /stories concerning 1st Class Airman Roy Junior Carter on the 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squad, 47th Bombardment Wing, based in Sculthorpe in 1957. Even the smallest amount of info' would be wonderful, Blue Skies to you all out there, Jayne

I served with the 84th. Bomb Sqdn. for three years (1951-1954) at Langley and Sculthorp as a Radar technican maintaing the Q24 system. Was on flying status for a while flying Radar test flights.I always felt that the B45 was a fine airplane. Would like to hear from any former members of the 84th.

This was the U.S. Air force's first operational jet bomber. As such, it deserves to be better remembered than is has been. It also enjoyed a highly successful operational career, although much of what it did was classified. Unfortunately the B-45 has been overshadowed by the Boeing B-47, which quickly succeeded it.

The B-45 was designed for service during World War II, and was a product of WW-II aerodynamic and operational thinking. In contrast, the B-47 was designed with the benefit of post-war technology, and represented a whole new generation.

I was part of the modification team from Gentile AFB, sent to Norton AFB to modify the B-45, which included bigger engines, and 20 mm guns in a powered turret in the aft position. I watched the gun installers zero in the 20 mm guns at the calibration stations to ensure accuracy of the guns relative to the sights. The electronics suite was upgraded also to increase survivorability. This work was done Jan - Feb 1952.

I joined the 84th Bomb Squadron at Langley AFB, February 1952, transfering from SAC crewing an RB-36. I served as a radar technician maintaining the Q-24 Bombing System and Shoran set. I was on flight status both at Langley and Sculthorpe, flying test missions. I was at Sculthorpe until I rotated back to the States August 1954. Loved the plane, crews, and the experience in the 84th.


Aviation News

There is no denying that American airpower played a crucial role in bringing Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan to their proverbial knees. American bombers including the B-17 and B-24 dominated the skies over Germany and Japan – but by war’s end, both were clearly aging technologies. Even the B-29, which carried the atomic bombs were used on Japan, was designed before the United States entered the war.

In 1944, the U.S. Army Air Corps faced a threat from the German jet aircraft including a jet bomber and issued a design competition for a jet-powered bomber. The U.S. War Department set forth a number of requirements for the bomber, but the war ended before much progress was made. Efforts to develop a jet bomber were further delayed by post-war cutbacks, but as tensions with the Soviet Union mounted it became apparent that a jet bomber was necessary.

The North American Aviation B-45, which made its first flight in March 1947, achieved a slew of firsts.

The aircraft was light on armament with just two .50 caliber machine guns in the tail, but it could carry 22,000 pounds of bombs – essentially making it a light bomber. It was powered by four General Electric J47 engines that each provided 6,000 pounds of thrust. The B-45 had a maximum speed of 570 mph and a range of 1,000 miles with a ceiling of 37,500 feet.

The aircraft was an important part of the United States’ nuclear deterrent for several years in the early 1950s until the bombers were replaced by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. The B-45 saw service in the Korean War where it proved its value as both a bomber and as a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and was able to outrun and outmaneuver the enemy’s MiG fighters. Both the B-45 and RB-45C served in the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command from 1950 until 1959 while from 1952-58, B-45s of the 47th Bomb Wing (Light) and RB-45s from the USAF 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and Royal air Force (RAF) Special Duty Flight crews were based at RAF Sculthorpe, England. The RAF-crewed RB-45 aircraft flew highly classified missions deep into the Iron Curtain.

The Tornado played an important role with the U.S. Air Force in the early stages of the Cold War, with some 143 of the aircraft produced. Today only three Tornados still exist in presentation form including one at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

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History in the Air: Meet America's Famous B-45 Tornado Bomber

Key Point: This clever bomber was jet-powered. This is its story.

There is no denying that American airpower played a crucial role in bringing Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan to their proverbial knees. American bombers including the B-17 and B-24 dominated the skies over Germany and Japan – but by war's end, both were clearly aging technologies. Even the B-29, which carried the atomic bombs were used on Japan, was designed before the United States entered the war.

This first appeared earlier in 2020 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

In 1944, the U.S. Army Air Corps faced a threat from the German jet aircraft including a jet bomber and issued a design competition for a jet-powered bomber. The U.S. War Department set forth a number of requirements for the bomber, but the war ended before much progress was made. Efforts to develop a jet bomber were further delayed by post-war cutbacks, but as tensions with the Soviet Union mounted it became apparent that a jet bomber was necessary.

The North American Aviation B-45, which made its first flight in March 1947, achieved a slew of firsts.

It was the first four-engine jet bomber to fly, the first American production jet bomber, the first jet bomber capable of carrying an atomic bomb and the first multi-jet reconnaissance aircraft to refuel in mid-air.

North American built 142 B-45 bombers including 10 long-range B-45Cs, which featured wingtip fuel tanks, and 33 RB-45Cs that were configured for high-altitude photo-reconnaissance and aerial refueling.

The aircraft was light on armament with just two .50 caliber machine guns in the tail, but it could carry 22,000 pounds of bombs – essentially making it a light bomber. It was powered by four General Electric J47 engines that each provided 6,000 pounds of thrust. The B-45 had a maximum speed of 570 mph and a range of 1,000 miles with a ceiling of 37,500feet.

The aircraft was an important part of the United States' nuclear deterrent for several years in the early 1950s until the bombers were replaced by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. The B-45 saw service in the Korean War where it proved its value as both a bomber and as a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and was able to outrun and outmaneuver the enemy's MiG fighters. Both the B-45 and RB-45C served in the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command from 1950 until 1959 while from 1952-58, B-45s of the 47th Bomb Wing (Light) and RB-45s from the USAF 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and Royal air Force (RAF) Special Duty Flight crews were based at RAF Sculthorpe, England. The RAF-crewed RB-45 aircraft flew highly classified missions deep into the Iron Curtain.

The Tornado played an important role with the U.S. Air Force in the early stages of the Cold War, with some 143 of the aircraft produced. Today only three Tornados still exist in presentation form including one at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

This first appeared earlier in 2020 and is being reposted due to reader interest.



Comments:

  1. Adolphus

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  2. Leyati

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  3. Gorrie

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