Boeing B-50 Superfortress

The Boeing B-50 Superfortress was a post-World War II revision of the wartime United States B-29 Superfortress with larger Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial engines, a taller vertical stabilizer, and other improvements. 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. 

Boeing built 371 of the various B-50 models and variants between 1947 and 1953, some serving until 1965. The B-50 was the last member of the B-29 family and was one of the last piston-engined bombers built. The B-50 was retired from its main role as atomic bomber in 1955. A number were converted into KB-50 tankers and lasted long enough to be deployed to Southeast Asia in support of tactical operations. A reconnaissance variant, the RB-50B (a B-50B conversion) existed and played an important role in Cold War espionage. 

In 1949, The Lucky Lady II, commanded by Captain James Gallagher, became the first airplane to circle the world nonstop. This was achieved by refueling the plane in flight.

Boeing B-50 Superfortress
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer Boeing
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1947
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Boeing 371 View

Role Strategic bomber
Manufacturer Boeing
First flight 25 June 1947
Introduction 1948
Retired 1965
Status Retired
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 1947–1953
Number built 370
Unit cost US $1,144,296 ($11.2 million in today's dollars)
Developed from Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Variants Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter

General characteristics

  • Crew: 8: Pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, radio/electronic countermeasures operator, two side gunners, top gunner and tail gunner
  • Length: 99 ft 0 in (30.2 m)
  • Wingspan: 141 ft 3 in (43.1 m)
  • Height: 32 ft 8 in (10.0 m)
  • Wing area: 1736 ft (161.3 m)
  • Empty weight: 80,610 lb (36,560 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 121,850 lb (55,270 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 173,000 lb (78,470 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial engines, 3,500 hp (2,600 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 395 mph (343 kn, 636 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 244 mph (212 kn, 393 km/h)
  • Combat radius: 2,100 NM (2,400 mi, 3,860 km)
  • Ferry range: 5,000 NM (5,760 mi, 9,270 km)
  • Service ceiling 36,650 ft (11,170 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,225 ft/min (11.3 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 70.19 lb/ft (343 kg/m)
  • Power/mass: 0.115 hp/lb (193 W/kg)


  • Guns:
    • 12 x .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in remote controlled turrets
    • 1 x 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon in tail
  • Bombs:
    • 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) internally
    • 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) on external hardpoints

End notes