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Convair B-36 Peacemaker
Here is my LDD model of the Convair B-36 Peacemaker. This massive post-war bomber bomber is built to minifig scale. As always, leave a comment if you like. Check out my flickr page for larger pictures https://www.flickr.com/photos/118702264@N05/. The LDD model is available on my Etsy site: www.etsy.com/ca/shop/KurtsMOCs.
About this creation

The B-36 Peacemaker was a strategic bomber built by Convair and operated by the United States Air Force from 1949 to 1959. The Peacemaker was the primary nuclear weapons delivery vehicle of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until the jet-powered Boeing B-52 Stratofortress replaced it in 1955. It was the first bomber capable of delivering any of the nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal from inside its four bomb bays without aircraft modifications. With a range of 10,000 miles and a maximum payload of 87,200 lbs, the B-36 was capable of intercontinental flight without refuelling. In this image, the XB-36 prototype is parked next to its predecessor, the Boeing B-29. The difference in scale between the two bombers is evident in this image.


The Peacemaker was the largest mass-produced piston-engined aircraft ever built, with a wingspan of 230 feet and maximum take-off weight of 410,000 lbs. The origins of the B-36 can be traced to 1941 before the United States entered World War 2. The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) required a new class of bomber that could reach Europe and return to bases in North America. This necessitated a range of at least 5,700 miles. My model of the XB-36 prototype shows the Peacemaker’s original nose and massive 110-inch single tire main wheels, which limited the plane to three runways in the United States that had sufficiently thick concrete to support the weight of the aircraft. I normally don’t add decals or livery to my models, but I decided to give it a try with the Peacemaker. Let me know what you think!


The initial request sent by the USAAC required the new bomber to have a top speed of 450 mph and a 275 mph cruising speed, a service ceiling of 45,000 ft, and a maximum range of 12,000 miles. These requirements were too demanding for the technology of the day and were later reduced. On October 16, 1941, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation (later renamed Convair) beat Boeing and Douglas to win the contract. The aircraft was unveiled on August 20, 1945 and flew for the first time a year later. The first XB-36 was equipped with six 3,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-4360-25 Wasp Major air-cooled radial engines arranged in an unusual pusher configuration and drove a 19-foot diameter three-bladed propeller. The Peacemaker was massive, weighing 131,740 pounds empty. Here, you can see the massive wing area of the XB-36 as it struggles to gain altitude!


The XB-36 serial number 42-13570 was the first plane built and tested and did not perform as well as expected. Engine cooling was poor, which limited to altitudes under 30,000 feet, and propeller vibrations adversely affected the wing structure. Even without the planned defensive armament installed, the plane was too slow and had poor range. In 1948 and after being grounded for modifications, the XB-36 was fitted with the new 56-inch four-wheel bogie-type undercarriage reduced the runway thickness requirements limiting the B-36’s deployment issues. The new plane was re-designated YB-36A and used by the USAF and Convair for various testing including a track-type undercarriage in 1950. You can see the tracked undercarriage on the model.


The crew of the B-36 was normally fifteen, a pilot, co-pilot, radar operator/bombardier, navigator, flight engineer, two radiomen, three forward gunners, and five rear gunners. As the YB-36A was undergoing tests, the first production B-36A flew in August 1947. The need to fit nose guns required an extensive rearrangement of the forward crew compartment, which made it on to the A variants. In this image, you can see the YB-36A undergoing testing. Note that there is no armament in place.


The B-36A saw some significant changes from the XB-36 and the YB-36A. The domed canopy and four-wheel main landing gear were the significant changes. The domed canopy resolved the poor visibility of the original design reported during initial flight-testing and the new four-wheel bogie-type undercarriage. The B-36A was an unarmed variant that served as crew trainers of the 7th Bomb Group (Heavy) stationed at Carswell AFB, Texas. Notice the lack of nose and tail armament on the model. 22 A variants were produced, several of which were later converted to the RB-36E standard variant. For the model, I tried several ways to build the distinctive domed canopy. After several iterations, I decided to use the framed concept first explored on my B-29 Superfortress. It is a bit bulky, but I think it captures the intention and form of the original better than a transparent brick design.


The B-36B variant was the first full-scale production B-36. The B variants used the upgraded Pratt & Whitney R-4360-41 Wasp Major engines with water injection and full armament installed, including twelve M24A-1 20mm cannon in six remotely-operated retractable turrets and a nose and tail turret with two cannons each. The increased engine performance was offset by the increase in in the plane’s overall weight, mostly because of the installation of the defensive armament. The 20mm cannons were quite complex and prone to frequent failures. Also parts were hard come by and several B-36Bs were cannibalized to keep others flying. The B-36B did not reach full operational capacity until 1952. There were 73 B-36B models produced, most of which were later converted to B-36D or RB-36D standard.


The B variant used the AN/APQ-24 bombing/navigation radar, the Sperry-built K-1 bombing system, and APG-3 radar for the tail turret. In late 1948, the first B-36Bs were assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group at Carswell AFB, which already were training on the B-36A variants. Beginning in 1949, the Peacemaker began several long-flight tests. Often flights lasted as long as 43 hours and covering over 9,500 miles. Missions included crossing the North American continent, including Canada and the Arctic. In this image, the red tail and outer wing markings of were used for aircraft on Arctic operations. These two B-36B-1-CF aircraft, serial number 44-92027 and 44-92035, were the second and tenth B-model variants constructed. For this image, I tried to reconstruct the famous Life magazine photograph of two Peacemakers returning from an Arctic patrol.


The insufficient maximum speed and long take-off run of the B-36 was addressed by the addition of two pairs of General Electric J47-GE-19 turbojets in pods underneath the outer wings. These turbojets would be used for take-off and for short bursts of speed during the bombing run. With “four burning and six turning,” the maximum speed increased to 435 mph and the ceiling to more than 45,000 feet. The design of the wing was challenging. I chose to create as smooth a surface as I could. I used building techniques from my Caspian Sea Monster and B-29 Superfortress to get the wing profile correct. Luckily, the depth of the Peacemaker's wing at this scale allowed for some relatively straightforward internal structuring.


The B-36D had a K-3A bombing and navigation system upgrade and added the Western Electric APS-23 radar, which was equipped with anti-jamming features. An AN/APS-32 radar controlled the tail turret and the Peacemaker was fitted with snap-action bomb-bay doors that could open and close in only two seconds. On the wing, you can see the angled/tilted plates and curved bricks used to create the wing profile. The flaps extend and the ailerons, elevators, and rudder move as well.


The maximum bomb load was 86,000 pounds, consisting of a variety of configurations including two 43,000-pound bombs, three 22,000-pound bombs, four 12,000-pound bombs, 12 4,000-pound bombs, 28-2,000 pound bombs, or 132-500 pound bombs. Such loads were not equalled until the “Big Belly” B-52D modifications during the Vietnam War. For this model, I used the same mirroring technique seen in my B-29 Superfortress. This allowed me to get a smoother underside of the fuselage and use an incremental tapering for the tail.


The B-36D on take-off is from the 326th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) stationed at Fairchild AFB in Washington from 1951 to 1956, but often operated in the Far East. The model has full retractable landing gear. There is even a small deployable tail bumper. Getting the landing gear to retract was tricky, even with the size of the Peacemaker's wing. This is one structural aspect of the design that might need a revision in future, but it works for now!


The RB-36D was a specialized photographic-reconnaissance version of the Peacemaker. The cameras were placed in the bomb bays along with an extra 3,000-gallon droppable fuel tank and ECM equipment. The RB-36Ds flew with the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Group at Rapid City, South Dakota beginning in 1950. I couldn’t find information on the interior configuration of the cameras, but on the model, you can see the ECM antenna on the rear fuselage.


The FICON (Fighter CONveyor) project began in the early 1950s in an attempt to extend the range of fighter and reconnaissance jets by having them operate as parasites from B-36 bombers. Convair modified one of its RB-36F bombers to carry and recover a modified F-84E Thunderjet using a retractable H-shaped cradle in the modified bomb bay. In this image, an YRF-84F swept-wing Thunderstreak looks to hook onto the lowered trapeze. The Thunderstreak has a hook on the nose ahead of the cockpit. Docking could be difficult because of the vortices put out by the Peacemaker’s six propellers.


Redesignated the GRB-36D, the Peacemaker continued tests until in the fall of 1953 when the USAF ordered ten modified B-36D bombers to serve as mother ships for the RF-84K Thunderflash reconnaissance fighters. The GRB-36D mother ships saw limited service with the 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Fairchild AFB in Washington while the RF-84Ks of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron were based at nearby Larson AFB. The Thunderflash would either be loaded aboard the mother ship or rendezvous in flight, sometimes at night! In this image, the RF-84K Thunderflash approaches the GRB-36D mother ship.


Operations with the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron continued until the spring of 1956, when they were quietly abandoned. The withdrawal of the GRB-36D/RF-84K combination from service coincided with the introduction of the Lockheed U-2 spyplane into service. Here, the Thunderflash is retracted inside the mother ship. Once hooked up, the pilot could get out and enter the mother ship and return for a mission. One interesting note about the RF-84K is the anhedral tailplanes, which were required in order to fit into the Peacemaker's bomb bay.


The concept of a nuclear-powered airplane dates back to the late 1940s. In 1951, the Air Force began work on a propulsion unit with General Dynamics and Pratt & Whitney working on the engine and Convair and Lockheed designing the airframe, which was known as the WS-125A. The WS-125a would be a high-altitude subsonic bomber, but would have a supersonic cruise capability. Testing of the effects of nuclear reactor radiation on instruments, equipment, and airframe was begun in 1953 and a B-36H was redesigned to accommodate the reactor in the aft bomb bay. The 35,000-pound reactor did not power the aircraft. Several precautionary measures were taken to reduce exposure to radiation including a four-ton lead and rubber crew compartment and a four-ton lead disc installed in the middle of the aircraft. Designated the XB-36H, the plane flew for the first time in September 1955. In the autumn of 1956, the aircraft was re-designated again as the NB-36H and made 47 flights in total before the Air Force cancelled the WS-125A nuclear aircraft program. The plane was scrapped in late 1957, with the radioactive parts being buried.


The radial engines had always been an issue with the Peacemaker. With the F variant, the Pratt & Whitney R-4360-53 engines were upgraded to 3,800 hp. Although the engines had some torque and cooling problems, these issues were resolved quickly. 34 F variants were produced from 1950 to 1952. This F variant is part of the 69th Bombardment Squadron assigned to the 42d Bombardment Wing at Loring AFB in Maine. In this view of the model, the bomb bay doors are open and the gun turrets are deployed for servicing. There is also a crew access door just below the domed canopy—now, where’s the crew ladder?


The H variant became the major production version of the Peacemaker, with a total of 83 being built. In this image, you can see the Mark-17 hydrogen bomb in the forward and aft bomb bay. The four bomb bays of the Peacemaker were serviced by two sets of large bomb bay doors. For the larger payloads, the bomb bay interiors needed to be reconfigured. The model can accept many different bomb load configurations.


The H variant was almost the same as the B-36F that preceded it, but had a rearranged crew compartment. Deliveries of the H variant began in December 1952 and ended in September 1953. The USAF also bought 73 long-range reconnaissance versions of the B-36H under the designation RB-36H. Here you can see the elegant lines of the Peacemaker and just how thick the wing is in relation to the fuselage! There were a lot on similarities in the design and construction of my B-29 and the B-36 models. The largest difference was the obvious scale of the model and the assembly of the large wing. Getting the air intakes to fit into the profile of the wing was difficult, as was creating the right profile. I sought to keep a balance between the original design and the build-ability of the model. I like designs that use various Lego pieces in unique ways to get simple, yet elegant effects.


The B-36J was the last of the production run Peacemakers. It had additional fuel tanks in the wings and stronger landing gear, permitting a gross take-off weight as high as 410,000 pounds. The last B-36Js were manufactured as B-36J (III) Featherweight and had all armaments removed, except for the two-gun tail turret, and a reduced crew in order to achieve higher operating altitudes and speeds. Here, the J variant model soars to an altitude of 50,000 feet. The model has the two-toned grey/white paint scheme of the later Peacemakers.


Here is a section of the “Big Stick” showing the internal configuration. I tried to accommodate the 132 500-pound bomb load configuration in the bomb bays, but there are too many! I think this gives enough of a representation to get the point across. The two major design issues I had with the B-36 were the domed canopy, mentioned above, and the profile of the wing. The massive wing has a slight sweep that was difficult to capture correctly. Lego’s four-stud angled plates were close to the angle of the wing’s actual leading edge but the angle of the trailing edge had no corresponding piece. I contemplated angling the wing like I did on my Tu-95 and B-47, but the sweep was so minimal (four studs over the length of the wing) that it would have caused major issues for the engine mounting, flaps, and main landing gear storage. To simplify the building process of a complex wing, I chose to have the wing’s trailing edge run straight back to the fuselage. It’s not as authentic as I would have liked, but it is a design compromise I had to make in order to make everything else work.


This is a close-up view of the cockpit. Designing the domed canopy and massive wing were big design and building problems that kept me stumped for a while. I used several of the design and building techniques developed for my B-47 and revised B-29 to resolve most of the model’s issues. I hope to continue revising and updating this classic plane, one I’ve always wanted to build since childhood. Thanks to Joe Baugher’s excellent "History of the Convair B-36 Peacemaker" website, and the Planes of the Past website, and Wikipedia for valuable information and specifications.



Comments

 I made it 
  June 11, 2017
Quoting Marty Fields Great seeing this monster in (virtual)Lego. Very well done, indeed.
Thanks, Marty! I'm glad you like the model.
 I like it 
  March 12, 2017
Great seeing this monster in (virtual)Lego. Very well done, indeed.
 I made it 
  November 19, 2016
Quoting A QIEA QIEA excellent work mate .. and thank you for the information
Thanks for the support!
 I like it 
  November 19, 2016
excellent work mate .. and thank you for the information
 I made it 
  November 17, 2016
Quoting Ethan Reed This is absolutely amazing! What's the size of the model?
Thanks for your comments. I'm not sure of the exact size, but its a big model!
 I like it 
  November 15, 2016
This is absolutely amazing! What's the size of the model?
 I made it 
  November 12, 2016
Quoting Jeremy McCreary Excellent model and write-up, as usual, Kurt! You told this complex story well.
Thanks for your support and interest in my work! I'm glad you like the model and the narrative.
 I like it 
  November 11, 2016
Excellent model and write-up, as usual, Kurt! You told this complex story well.
 I made it 
  November 8, 2016
Quoting Henrik Jensen It really is a pleasure to view this post here on MOC-pages! To roll down this page, reading about this massive bomber, and enjoy your beautiful LDD creation without a single mouseclick, is something Flickr could learn from. I only wish picture quality here was better.
Thanks for your kind words and support of my projects. I'm glad you enjoy reading the information. I often wonder if people still do, but as long as someone in the Lego universe will read it, I'll keep writing.
 I like it 
  November 8, 2016
It really is a pleasure to view this post here on MOC-pages! To roll down this page, reading about this massive bomber, and enjoy your beautiful LDD creation without a single mouseclick, is something Flickr could learn from. I only wish picture quality here was better.
 I made it 
  November 7, 2016
Quoting D H Your thorough recreation is really incredible and is spot on. I learned a lot of very interesting facts reading through your post and viewing the beautiful model from so many angles and variations. Top notch work all around!!
Thanks for your support and interest in my work. I like doing the background research on these projects and it seems people like to read about something new as well. It's a win-win scenario!
 I like it 
  November 7, 2016
Your thorough recreation is really incredible and is spot on. I learned a lot of very interesting facts reading through your post and viewing the beautiful model from so many angles and variations. Top notch work all around!!
 I made it 
  November 5, 2016
Quoting Mariner 1000 Nice work!
Thanks !
 I like it 
  November 5, 2016
Nice work!
 I made it 
  November 5, 2016
Quoting Garrett Woelk I hadn't heard of this plane until seeing this! Impressive!
If you haven't seen this monster before, then I'm glad you stopped by Garrett! If you like bombers, it's worth looking into because of its story and development. Plus, it's an amazing design!
 I made it 
  November 5, 2016
Quoting john lamarck Excellent job.
Thanks John! I'm glad you like the model.
 I made it 
  November 5, 2016
Quoting David Roberts Excellent on capturing the shape of this leviathan of the skies. I like the various markings too and think that they were well worth the effort. A comprhensive write up but I think that you missed one thing. Didn't this aircraft have a little railway inside it for the crew to travel the length of the fuselage?
Thanks for your comments and support David. I tried to base the unit insignias on actual planes I could get images of. Some are "informed guesses" based on my research. The forward and aft pressurized sections that straddled the cavernous bomb bay did have a long tube that crew would have to pull themselves through on a wheeled cart. They often joked that if on section depressurized that they would end up like a bullet being shot out of a rifle!
 I like it 
  November 5, 2016
I hadn't heard of this plane until seeing this! Impressive!
 I like it 
  November 5, 2016
Excellent job.
 I like it 
  November 5, 2016
Excellent on capturing the shape of this leviathan of the skies. I like the various markings too and think that they were well worth the effort. A comprhensive write up but I think that you missed one thing. Didn't this aircraft have a little railway inside it for the crew to travel the length of the fuselage?
 I made it 
  November 5, 2016
Quoting jim mcdonough your planes are amazing,so well built,smooth lines,where do you start with one of these,some close ups of the engines,cockpit etc would be nice,more so to see the techniques used, again outstanding
Thanks for your comments Jim and I'm glad you like the model. I used many of my techniques described in my other posts. Perhaps I'll add a few detailed images.
 I made it 
  November 5, 2016
Quoting Gabor Pauler You did it again Kurt! Very educational post with mindblasting detailing and versioning. Instant classic! I wish we could have more of these posts on MOCPages nowadays.
Thanks for your kind comments Gabor. I like writing about the projects I'm working on, but no one comes close to your level of information and exposition! The rest of us are fighting for second place.
 I like it 
  November 5, 2016
your planes are amazing,so well built,smooth lines,where do you start with one of these,some close ups of the engines,cockpit etc would be nice,more so to see the techniques used, again outstanding
 I like it 
  November 5, 2016
You did it again Kurt! Very educational post with mindblasting detailing and versioning. Instant classic! I wish we could have more of these posts on MOCPages nowadays.
 I made it 
  November 4, 2016
Quoting Clayton Marchetti Fantastic job! I love the highly detailed cross section and the cockpit interior shot. Magnificent!
Thanks for the positive comments Clayton!
 I like it 
  November 4, 2016
Fantastic job! I love the highly detailed cross section and the cockpit interior shot. Magnificent!
 I made it 
  November 4, 2016
Quoting BATOH rossi Excellent work, as always, remember the NB36H was a touch of class ...
Thanks for the comments and I'm glad you like the model.
 I like it 
  November 4, 2016
Excellent work, as always, remember the NB36H was a touch of class ...
 I made it 
  November 4, 2016
Quoting killswitch95 [SNRK] that's one big bird...
You got that right!
 I like it 
  November 4, 2016
that's one big bird...
 I made it 
  November 4, 2016
Quoting Seaman SPb Excellent job! Glad to see your work again, Kurt!
Thanks Seaman! I took a while to polish this one off! I'm glad you like the model.
 I like it 
  November 4, 2016
Excellent job! Glad to see your work again, Kurt!
 
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