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XR-12 / XF-12

On October 14, 1948 military characteristics, approved in August, were issued for the development of the XR-16, a dedicated strategic reconnaissance airplane "encompassing photographic, electronic and weather reconnaissance." The AAF began consideration of the development of a dedicated strategic reconnaissance aircraft following World War II. In fact, in late 1947 and early 1948, development of such an aircraft was considered a higher priority than that of a new medium bomber.

In August 1947, the Aircraft and Weapons Board recommended procurement of the Republic F-12 and development of a new strategic reconnaissance aircraft, but by late spring 1948, the variable discharge turbine (VDT) engines slated for the F-12 (as well as later models of the B-36) had been cancelled. In place of the F-12, the Air Force considered giving a contract to Northrop for the RB-49, a reconnaissance version of the jet-powered flying wing aircraft. This plan was also scrapped. The fate of the strategic reconnaissance aircraft remained in flux throughout 1948. By early 1949, the Air Force dropped the program, which apparently never proceeded past the requirement stage, in favor of bomber aircraft that could pull double duty as reconnaissance platforms.

In March 1949, Hq, USAF cancelled the XR-16 and instructed that a program directed toward production line modification of B-52's to RB-52's be implemented. Such a program was established by letter contract AF 22076 calling for a Phase I study and mockup of the XRB-52. Previous studies were conducted around the requirement for convertibility from bomber to reconnaissance type aircraft; therefore a pod type concept as presented by the mockup has been evolved.

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:51:48 ZULU