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KB-50
Boeing KB-50J in flight SN 48-0088
Role Aerial Refueler
Manufacturer Boeing
Retired 1965
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 1947-1953
Number built 371
Unit cost US$1,144,296[1]
Developed from B-50 Superfortress

The Boeing KB-50 was a modified Boeing B-50 Superfortress for air refueling needs by the USAF. The two primary tanker versions were developed and produced; the KB-50J and the KB-50K.

Contents

Development

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KB-50

The Air Force planned all along that a total of 134 B-50s, made up of B-50As, RB-50s, and B-50Ds, would be converted into aerial refueling tankers when no longer needed by Strategic Air Command bomber forces. As tankers, KB-50s would feature extensively reinforced outer wing panels, as well as the necessary equipment to air refuel simultaneoulsy 3 fighter-type aircraft by the probe and drogue method. The modifications, assigned to the Hayes Aircraft Corporation, also included deletion of the B-50 defensive armament and replacement of the aircraft's tail section. Although the completion date of the Hayes modification was tentatively set for December 1957, the project (ordered in the mid-fifties) proceeded so well that it was ended ahead of schedule.

The first KB-50 flew in December 1955 and was accepted by the Air Force in January 1956. The tankers steadily entered the operational inventory of the Tactical Air Command (TAC). By November 1957, TAC's KB-29s, which the KB-50s had replaced, had all been phased out. By year's end, all of the command's aerial refuling squadrons had their full complement of KB-50s. TAC had nothing but praise for the new tankers; the KB-50s presented no serious problems, and their reliability was such that the command considered asking for more of them. Extra KB-50s would come "cheap," TAC calculated, if additional numbers of B-50s were added to the Hayes modification line. Nevertheless, the recommendation remained in limbo, which was just as well since the modification line had already been closed and the superior KB-50J was on the way.

Variants

KB-50
Air to air refueling tanker conversions of the bomber. (x134, converted)
KB-50J
Tanker B-50s with improved performance, via two extra General Electric J47 turbojets under the outer wings. (x112, converted)
KB-50K
Tanker conversions of the TB-50H trainer aircraft. (x24, converted)

Specifications (KB-50)

See B-50 specifications for details.

Units

See also

References

  1. ^ Knaack, Marcelle Size (1988). Post-World War II bombers, 1945-1973. Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-16-002260-6.  

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