Boeing WB-50D "Superfortress"
United States — USAF four-engine medium bomber

Archive Photos

Boeing WB-50D "Superfortress" (AF 49-0310) at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, WPAFB, Dayton, OH (Photos by John Shupek)

Boeing WB-50D "Superfortress - Flight of the Phoenix" (AF 49-0351) at the Castle Air Museum, Atwater, CA (Photos by John Shupek)

Boeing B-50 Superfortress Overview

The B-50 program began life as the XB-44 Superfortress. One B-29A-5-BN (s/n 42-93845) was modified by Pratt & Whitney in 1944 to accept the larger engines; the resulting engine testbed first flew in May 1945. If the engine modification had been included in the B-29 program, the resulting model was to have been known as the B-29D. However, due to other structural changes that would also be necessary to address the increased power, weight and fuel consumption, it was decided to change its military designation to a new model. Since the B-44 program was only for the engine modification, that designation was not considered, and in December 1945 the program was named B-50 Superfortress. Officially, the aircraft’s new designation was justified by the changes incorporated into the revised aircraft, but according to Peter M. Bowers, a long-time Boeing employee and aircraft designer, and a well-known authority on Boeing aircraft, "the redesignation was an outright military ruse to win appropriations for the procurement of an airplane that by its designation appeared to be merely a later version of an existing model that was being canceled wholesale, with many existing examples being put into dead storage." Revisions to the Boeing B-50 (from its predecessor Boeing B-29) would result in a top speed just short of 400 mph (644 km/h), faster than many World War II propeller-powered fighters.

Changes included

Operational History




Boeing B-50D "Superfortress" Specifications

General Characteristics




  1. Shupek, John. Photos, copyright © 2009 Skytamer Images. All Rights Reserved
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. B-50 Superfortress, 8 December 2009


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