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URL: http://riceornot.ricecop.com/?auto=86619
Submitted by: Low-Tech Redneck
Comments: 3  (Read/Post)     Favorites: 0  (View)
Submitted on: 02-06-2012
View Stats Category: Other Vehicle
The Convair NB-36 Crusader. Converted from a conventional B-36 bomber to carry not bombs, but a small nuclear reactor as it's payload. The idea was to see if it was possible to safely operate an airborne reactor with an eye towards a new generation of nuclear-powered planes that would have theoretically unlimited flight time.


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2-06-2012 @ 11:11:22 AM
Posted By : Low-Tech Redneck Reply | Edit | Del
The NB-36 made 47 test flights during the mid-1950's without incident, proving that reactors could be operated in flight, but ultimately, there were far too many "cons" associated with the nuclear-powered plane (the need for heavy shielding to protect the crew from radiation limited payload, the consequences of a peacetime crash in a civilian area causing contamination, and the fact that there was a limit to how long an aircrew, even one operating in shifts, could fly before they'd reach the limits of their endurance would mean the incredibly long flight times would go largely unused) Ultimately, the ICBM did away with the need for long-range strategic nuclear bombing, and the need for such planes, nuclear-powered or not.

2-06-2012 @ 04:34:33 PM
Posted By : DiRF  Reply | Edit | Del
#1, Yeah, for a while, the Navy thought they were on the outs, until someone came up with the idea to use submarines as nuclear launch platforms...

...and then they effectively put everything ELSE "on the outs", in terms of nuclear weapon delivery...

2-07-2012 @ 04:01:57 AM
Posted By : Low-Tech Redneck Reply | Edit | Del
#2, The whole "atomic plane" program was started for politics just as much as for any practical reasons. The USAF felt that unless they could come up with some "Gee-Whiz" superplane, they'd soon have no mission to perform other than sit around missile silos all day as conventional wisdom in the 50's was that dogfighting and air superiority were going to be things of the past within a decade. It was twice cancelled while in progress, only to be re-started again when faulty intelligence reported that the Russians were building or had already built nuclear-powered planes. They had put a small reactor on one of their conventional bombers, for testing just like the NB-36, but panicked intellegence thought it was actually nuclear-propelled. They also misidentified the later M-50 Bounder as a nuclear-powered aircraft, an error the Russians obviously did nothing to dispel. In reality, the M-50 was such a poor-handling and breakdown-prone dud it never entered widespread service.

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