Its a big bomber. Some prop engines and some jets. A huge plane. Kind of evolutionarily fit between the B29 and the B52. Progress was so rapid back then that the B36 didnt stay in service for very long. I dont think it was bad, more that things were moving so fast, in a similar way that Windows XP is not bad, but now the current model is Win 10.
Hear the engines rumble in the fly by in the first 20 seconds of the vid below.
The 1950’s was an evocative era – especially in Americana. Theres been a recent resurgence of 50’s nostalga, seen in such things as the video game “Fallout”. You can listen to fallout playlists on Youtube and all they are is a collection of 1950’s hits albeit with an atomic-age theme.
There are some really interesting vids on Youtube about the B36. The feature film “Strategic Air Command” in technicolor is a excellent resource for appreciating the big plane.
In the movie, Jimmy Stewart the star is not just an actor, he was also an actual bomber pilot in WW2, Korea and so on. I believe he flew the B24 and the B36 and other big planes.
The plane is huge. The wingspan is endless and viewed in flight it has a very flat appearance. Looks like the tail gun gets a rearward facing radar.
I appreciate the aesthetic power of the whole imagery. The crew uniform is dark blue with nylon bomber jackets and baseball caps and stainless steel zips. This contrasts with the just-gone era of WW2 where flight uniforms were mostly non-synthetic – up until the later war stages at least.
You can see interior design elements straight out of the B29, such as the crawl tunnel in the bombay that connects the pressurised forward and aft crew cabins.
The B29 itself was very advanced and had for example a analogue computer controlled turret gun aiming system that somehow managed to point multiple gun turrets at one target. And you see the same turret operator bubble windows on the B36, whereby a crew member could operate all the guns from any window.
A civillian derivative of the B29 was the Stratocruiser which has a enlarged upper fuselage segment that contained the pressurised passenger cabin. So the B29 was the basis for several great designs that followed.
To me the B36 looks like a cross between a B29 and a B52. Normally it would take 15 – 20 years to design and build something like the B36, but I dont think it took more than 4 years, given that WW2 had just ended and aircraft production industries were in full swing and you essentially have an incremental evolutionary step in the B36, where existing and new tech is combined to kind of build an enlarged B29 but with jet engines on the wing tips and a radical (for the time) swept leading edge wing, as well as truly gargantuan size.