1 July 1954

The last Peacemaker, Convair B-36J-10-CF 52-2827, comes to the end of the assembly line at Fort Worth, Texas.(University of North Texas Libraries)
The last Peacemaker, Convair B-36J-10-CF 52-2827, comes to the end of the assembly line at Fort Worth, Texas, 1 July 1954. (University of North Texas Libraries)

1 July 1954: The last Convair B-36 Peacemaker, B-36J-10-CF 53-2727, a Featherweight III variant, completed assembly at Fort Worth, Texas. The last B-36 built, this was also the very last of the 10-engine very long range heavy bombers in service. It was retired 12 February 1959. It is now in the collection of the Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona.

Convair B-36J 52-2827 is one of 14 “Featherweight III” high altitude variants. It was built without the six retractable defensive gun turrets of the standard B-36, retaining only the two M24A1 20 mm autocannons in the tail. This reduced the crew requirement to 13. It is 162 feet, 1 inch (49.403 meters) long with a wingspan of 230 feet (70.104 meters) and overall height of 46 feet, 9 inches (14.249 meters). The empty weight is 166,125 pounds (75,353 kilograms) and loaded weight is 262,500 pounds (119,068 kilograms). Maximum takeoff weight is 410,000 pounds (185,973 kilograms).

The B-36J has ten engines. There are six 4,362.5 cubic-inch-displacement (71.489 liter) Pratt and Whitney R-4360-53 Wasp Major air-cooled, supercharged 28-cylinder four-row radial engines, producing 3,800 horsepower, each, were located inside the wings, turning 19 foot (5.791 meter) diameter three-bladed propellers in a pusher configuration. Four General Electric J47-GE-19 turbojet engines, producing 5,200 pounds of thrust, each, are suspended under the wings in two-engine pods.

The B-36J Featherweight III had a cruise speed of 230 miles per hour (370.2 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 418 miles per hour (672.7 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 43,600 feet (13,289.3 meters) and its combat radius was 3,985 miles (6,413 kilometers). The maximum range was 10,000 miles (16,093 kilometers).

Designed during World War II when nuclear weapons were unknown, the bomber was built to carry up to 86,000 pounds (39,009 kilograms) of conventional bombs in two bomb bays. It could carry the 43,600 pound (19,776.6 kilogram) T-12 Cloudmaker, a conventional explosive earth-penetrating bomb, or several Mk.15 thermonuclear bombs. By combining the bomb bays, one Mk.17 15-megaton thermonuclear bomb could be carried.

Between 1946 and 1954, 384 B-36 Peacemakers were built. They were never used in combat. Only five still exist.

Convair B-36J-10-CF Peacemaker, 52-2827, the last B-36 built. (U.S. Air Force)
Convair B-36J-10-CF Peacemaker, 52-2827, the last B-36 built. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 July 1937

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan with Mr. Jacobs, at Lae, Territory of New Guinea. (Wichita Eagle)

1 July 1937:  Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan are delayed another day at Lae, Territory of New Guniea.

“July 1st. ‘Denmark’s a prison,’ and Lae, attractive and unusual as it is, appears to two flyers just as confining, as the Electra is poised for our longest hop, the 2,556 miles to Howland Island in mid-Pacific. The monoplane is weighted with gasoline and oil to capacity. However, a wind blowing the wrong way and threatening clouds conspired to keep her on the ground today. In addition, Fred Noonan has been unable, because of radio difficulties, to set his chronometers. Any lack of knowledge of their fastness and slowness would defeat the accuracy of celestial navigation. Howland is such a small spot in the Pacific that every aid to locating it must be available. Fred and I have worked very hard in the last two days repacking the plane and eliminating everything unessential. We have even discarded as much personal property as we can decently get along without and henceforth propose to travel lighter than ever before. All Fred has is a small tin case which he picked up in Africa. I noted it still rattles, so it cannot be packed very full. Despite our restlessness and disappointment in not getting off this morning, we still retained enough enthusiasm to do some tame exploring of the near-by country.” —Amelia Earhart

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 July 1915

Leutnant Kurt Wintgens, Luftstreitkräfte, wearing the order of the Pour le merite (the "Blue Max")
Leutnant Kurt Wintgens, Luftstreitkräfte, wearing the Pour le Mérite (the “Blue Max”) (Postkartenvertrieb W. Sanke)

1 July 1915: German Luftstreitkräfte fighter pilot Leutnant Kurt Wintgens was flying a pre-production prototype Fokker M.5K/MG number E.5/15 (Eindecker III, when in production), which was equipped with a fixed, forward-firing machine gun. An interrupter gear driven off the engine stopped the machine gun momentarily as the propeller blades crossed the line of fire. This was known as synchronization.

Leutnant Wintgens' Fokker M.5K/MG Endecker fighter, E.5/15.
Leutnant Wintgens’ Fokker M.5K/MG Eindecker fighter, E.5/15.

At approximately 1800 hours, Leutnant Wintgens engaged a French Morane-Saulnier Type L two-place observation airplane. The French airplane’s observer fired back with a rifle. Eventually, the Morane-Saulnier was struck by bullets in its engine and forced down.

Wintgens is credited with the first aerial victory using a synchronized machine gun, though because his victim went down inside Allied lines, the victory was not officially credited.

His airplane was armed with a 7.9 mm Parabellum MG14 machine gun made by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken Aktien-Gesellschaft. This gun fired ammunition from a cloth belt which was contained inside a metal drum. It had a rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute.

The Fokker M.5K/MG was a single-place, single engine monoplane fighter constructed of a wooden framework with a doped fabric covering. It had a wingspan of 6.75 meters (22.15 feet), a wingspan of 8.95 meters (29.36 feet) and height of 2.40 meters (7.87 feet). The airplane had an empty weight of 370 kilograms (815.7 pounds) and gross weight of 580 kilograms (1,278.7 pounds). It was powered by a 12 liter (732.3 cubic inch) air-cooled Motorenfabrik Oberursel U.0 single-row 7-cylinder rotary engine which produced 80 horsepower. The M.5K/MG had a maximum speed of 130 kilometers per hour (80.8 miles per hour) and a service ceiling of 3,000 meters (9,843 feet). Its range was 200 kilometers (124.3 miles).

A captured Morane-Saulnier Type L, with German markings, circa 1915.
A captured Morane-Saulnier Type L, with German markings, circa 1915.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 July 1912

Harriet Quimby
Harriet Quimby and her Blériot XI. (Library of Congress)

1 July 1912: While flying her new Blériot XI, a two-place, single-engine monoplane, at the Third Annual Boston Aviation Meet at Squantum, Massachussetts, Harriet Quimby and her passenger, William Willard, organizer of the Meet, flew out over the water:

Harriet Quimby
Harriet Quimby

“As the pair returned from circling the Boston Light far out in the bay, the sky had turned a dazzling orange. Five thousand spectators watched as the monoplane approached over the tidal flats, strikingly silhouetted against the blazing sky. Without any warning, the plane’s tail suddenly rose sharply, and Willard was pitched from the plane. The two-passenger Blériot was known for having balance problems, and without Willard in the rear seat, the plane became gravely destabilized.

“For a moment it seemed that Quimby was regaining control of the plane. But then it canted forward sharply again, and this time Quimby herself was thrown out. The crowd watched in horror as the two plunged a thousand feet to their deaths in the harbor. Ironically, the plane righted itself and landed in the shallow water with minimal damage.

“Quimby was 37 years old.” —excerpt from PBS NOVA article, “America’s First Lady of the Air,” by By Peter Tyson

The cause of the accident is unknown and there was much speculation at the time. What is known is that neither Quimby nor Willard were wearing seatbelts. Also, the Blériot XI was known to be longitudinally unstable. With the nose pitched down the tail plane created more lift, which caused the nose to pitch down even further.

Harriet Quimby was the first American woman to become a licensed pilot. She was known as “America’s First Lady of the Air”. And was well known for her stylish purple satin flight suit and high-heeled boots. But she was a serious aviator. Only a few months earlier, on 16 April, Quimby had flown across the English Channel. She was only the second person to do so.

The wreck of Harriet Quimby’s Bleriot XI at Squantum, Massachussetts, 1 July 1912.
The wreck of Harriet Quimby’s Bleriot XI at Squantum, Massachussetts, 1 July 1912.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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30 June 1975

The last operational U.S. Air Force C-47 Skytrain, on display at NMUSAF. (U.S. Air Force)
The last operational U.S. Air Force C-47 Skytrain, on display at NMUSAF. (U.S. Air Force)

30 June 1975: The last operational Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport in the United States Air Force was retired and flown to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. A C-47D, it is on display in the World War II Gallery, painted and marked as C-47A-80-DL 43-15213 of the 91st Troop Carrier Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group, World War II.

The C-47A was 64 feet, 5 inches (19.634 meters) long, with a wingspan of 95 feet (28.956 meters). It had an overall height of 16 feet, 11 inches (5.156 meters). The standard engines were 1,829.4-cubic-inch-displacement (30.0 liter) air-cooled, supercharged Pratt and Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp two-row 14-cylinder radial engines, producing 1,200 horsepower each, and turning three bladed propellers. The C-47A weighed 16,970 pounds (7,697.5 kilograms) empty and had a maximum takeoff weight of 26,000 pounds (11,793.4 kilograms). The maximum speed was 229 miles per hour (368.5 kilometers per hour) at 8,500 feet (2,591 meters), and cruising speed was 185 miles per hour (297.7 kilometers per hour) at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). The service ceiling was 24,100 feet (7,346 meters)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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