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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


B-45A

The B-45A differed from the experimental B-45s in featuring improved ejection-type seats for the pilot and co-pilot and safer emergency escape hatches for the bombardier-navigator and tail gunner. Communication equipment, emergency flight controls, and instruments, installed at the co-pilot's station, also were new. Other improvements included the E-4 automatic pilot, a bombing navigation radar, and A-1 fire control system, all of which were provided as standard equipment. Some of the B-45As were equipped with the AN/APQ-24 bombing-navigation radar system (The AN/APQ-24 bombing navigation radar system made its operational debut with the Convair B-36B.) and such sophisticated electronic countermeasures components as the AN/APT 5; other B-45As only provided for the easy retrofit of this equipment. The first B-45As featured versions of the Allison-built J35 jet engines (in most cases, 4 J35-A-11s), but later aircraft were fitted from the start with the higher thrust jets developed by the General Electric Company, either 2 J47-GE-7s or 2 J47-GE-13s, and 2 J47-GE-9s or 2 J47-E-15s.

The initial production model of the XB-45 flew in February 1948, less than a year after the first flight of the experimental aircraft.

The Air Force began taking delivery of the initial batch of B-45As, 22 of them, in April 1948. These aircraft were identified as B-45A-1s to distinguish them from the subsequent 74 B-45As, known as B-45A-5s. Among other improvements, the B-45A-5s were equipped with more powerfulJ47 engines. As soon as possible, the Air Force assigned 2 B-45A-1s to an accelerated service test program, which was already progressing well by mid July. Under this program, each of the 2 planes accumulated 150 hours of rigorous testing under day and night operating conditions-test results actually accounting for some of the improvements featured by the B-45A-5s. Three additional B-45A-1s were deployed to Muroc AFB to serve as transition trainers in support of the accelerated service test program. Among the base's predecessors was the Materiel Command Flight Test Base (ca 1942), which was redesignated Muroc Flight Test Base in 1944. In 1946, the Muroc Flight Test Base on the north end of Muroc Dry Lake and the Bombing and Gunnery Crew Training Base on the south end of the dry lake were merged into a single flight test center at Muroc Army Airfield under the jurisdiction of the Air Materiel Command. Muroc Army Airfield was redesignated Muroc AFB in February 1948 and became Edwards AFB 1 year later in honor of Captain Glen W Edwards, a USAF pilot killed on 5 June 1948 while testing a prototype jet bomber of the Northrop Aviation's unconventional B 49 "flying wing." Officially dedicated on 27 January 1950, Edwards AFB remained under the Air Materiel Command until April 1951, when the Air Research and Development Command, established as a new major air command in January 1950, assumed jurisdiction. The Air Research and Development Command activated the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB on 25 June 1951. The installations, as well as the research and development functions previously assigned to Air Materiel Command, were retained by Air Research and Development Command until 1961, when the newly formed Air Force Systems Command took over.

In effect, most of the early B-45As were relegated to the training task and became known as TB-45A-1s. In later years, however, priorities were to dictate that a few TB-45s be brought up to the combat configuration.

B-45A-5s began reaching squadrons of TAC's 47th Bombardment Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, in the fall of 1948. Despite slippages, 96 B-45As were completed by March 1950. Unfortunately, during the intervening months financial problems had already begun to take their toll on the B-45 program.

The B-45A production ended in March, 1950, when the Air Force took delivery of the last aircraft.

One B-45A, designated JB-45A, served as an engine test bed for a Westinghouse development. The B-45 light bomber was also tentatively earmarked for a special duty. Believing that utilization rather than aircraft design and construction determined whether a plane was a tactical or a strategic tool, TAC thought the B-45 might be used for close air support operations. There were good reasons for the command's investigation. Sufficient close support of ground forces could not be mustered from the tactical units available in early 1950. Moreover, the bombardment classification of an aircraft in no way obviated the aircraft's potential close air support role. Still, the project was killed in infancy. Tb begin with, the B-45 was not rugged enough to accomplish the necessary ground attack maneuvers. In addition, modification costs to equip the aircraft properly would be quite high. Finally, the extra equipment would compromise the B-45's capability for level bombing.

The Air Force accepted its 96 B-45As over a period of 24 months, the first deliveries being made in April, 1948.

The $73.9 million procurement contract of 1946 provided for 96 B-45As, which would put the aircraft's unit cost below $800,000. However, the basic cost of each B-45A was finally set at $1,080,603-airframe, $682,915; engines (installed), $189,741; electronics, $81,907; ordnance, $552; armament (and others), $125,488. The same price tag was assigned to every model of the B/RB-45. The B/RB-45's identical unit price represented an average reached regardless of contractor or fiscal year procurement and did not reflect engineering change and modification



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