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  1. Convair B-36 Peacemaker Warpaint Series No.102 In 1941 the United States had to consider that Britain might lose the war with Germany; most of western Europe had already fallen to the German onslaught and the U.S. viewed the situation that they may have to take up the fight with Germany if Britain fell. The major problem was that America did not have a long-range bomber with sufficient range and load carrying capacity to fly missions to Germany all the way from the USA. Early in 1941 President Roosevelt and his senior military officers looked at the increasing likelihood of fighting on two fronts, with a war against both Germany and Japan becoming inevitable. The USAAF was tasked to investigate designs for a long-range bomber, with the capability of flying bombing missions to German and back from bases in the US. Specifications were sent in April 1941 to aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Consolidated; plus Northrop (who at that time, was an aviation research organisation, looking into the long-range Flying Wing concept) for designs that could achieve 12,000 miles range at a cruising speed of 275 mph, maximum 450mph, and an altitude of 45,000 feet; A bomb load of 10,000lb (pounds) was also specified. Boeing was working at full capacity at this time building their B-17 Flying Fortresses, plus being heavily involved in design work of the B-29 Super Fortress, whereas Consolidated already had an advanced design, based on their preliminary Model 35 specification. As such, it was the Consolidated design that was taken forward for further development. Consolidated presented their design specification for the Model 36 (later to become the XB-36) on 6th October 1941 and a contract was issued to progress on 15th November 1941. The design featured a wing span of 230 feet with an area of 4,772 square feet and powered by 6 Pratt & Whitney 28-cylinder X-Wasp engines. The first mock-up was ready in July 1942, by which time the United States had been brought into the war through Japan's actions at Pearl Harbor, and therefore this aircraft was going to be "born in war"; however, continual design change requirements meant that the prototype XB-36 did not fly until late 1946 and the first production B-36 "Peacemaker" was not accepted into operational service until June 1948, being delivered to the 7th Bombardment Group {Heavy); based at Carswell AFB, Fort Worth. The Book On opening the book you are presented on the first page with a set of four profile images of B-36 colour schemes, beautifully illustrated by Richard J. Caruana. Following this feast for the eyes is the historical and technical descriptive chapters by Kev Darling. The first chapter is both enlightening and interesting, as the narrative plays out the trials and tribulations which caused the B-36 design to take over seven years to finally come to fruition as a fully operational strategic bomber. Throughout the book there are black & white and colour photographs, showing tactical markings and colours that complement the excellent full colour illustrations of Richard's art work. A total of 21 profile drawings are included within the 52 pages, including covers, with some of the profiles showing both sides of the fuselage where details may be different; such as nose-art etc. The centre-page displays a full page plan and profile of a B-36H-1-CF Peacemaker drawn by Richard. This illustration provides virtually all the colour demarcations for a White, grey and natural metal finish and should be of immense help for painting up a model of this aircraft. Well researched and detailed tabulated tables; containing additional data such as technical specifications, production details and operational units, can be found throughout the book. There is also a table defining the kits and their scales, aftermarket parts and decals that have been produced; although I cannot confirm whether these are all still available today. There is also a section on the FICON (FIghter CONveyer) project; the carriage of a straight-winged Republic F-84E, partially fitted into the bomb bay under the fuselage, which would be deployed as a fighter escort if needed. Conclusion The Convair, as the Consolidated-Vultee merger became known, B-36 Peacemaker was a supremely large and awe inspiring aircraft for anyone who got to see it and this book helps to bring over that impression of sheer size and strength; with its six large rearward facing propeller driven engines. Kev Darling provides a fascinating insight into the politics and technical aspects of the struggles to get this behemoth from the drawing board to become on of the United States Cold War bombers. The narratives are beautifully illustrated with full colour drawings from the esteemed artist Richard Caruana and, together, they have brought the story of the B-36 Peacemaker into fully understandable and enlightening publication. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of .
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