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Wote: would XB-51 have made a good ground-attack aircraft?

ground-attack

  • ground-attack

    Votes: 10 31.3%
  • light bomber

    Votes: 22 68.8%

  • Total voters
    32

F-14D

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Bailey said:
You might want to look at this link:-

http://home.att.net/~jbaugher2/b51.html

Regards Bailey.

...in addition to that, this may not be the optimum placement for 2/3 of your power when you're going to be down low and a slug of people are going to be shooting at you...
 

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Skyraider3D

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F-14D said:
...in addition to that, this may not be the optimum placement for 2/3 of your power when you're going to be down low and a slug of people are going to be shooting at you...
Still, the XB-51 looks bloody good! One of my favourite post-war aircraft projects.
The Air Force Legends title is a must-have if you like this plane.
 

TinWing

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It isn't hard to see why the Canberra was ultimately chosen in preference to the XB-51. Consider for a moment that the Avon was the most advanced turbojet of the period and the altogether conventional nature of the Canberra itself was far less risky than the XB-51. Given the nature of the early phases of the Korean War, it was very apparent that an aircraft with the characteristics of Canberra B.2 would have been very useful in combating the initial North Korean advance in 1950.

I'm not going to defend the changes imposed on the basic Canberra by Martin, or the inevitable delays, since the same situation was repeated with the Douglas B-66, which was also far too late due to unnecessary design changes to the A3D. In the end, there was something very wrong with the early USAF procurement process. That's not to say that the XB-51 was entirely worthy of further development and production. My guess is that if the XB-51 had been ordered into production, the type would have had a very, very high attrition rate, even during peace time.
 

Abraham Gubler

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TinWing said:
It isn't hard to see why the Canberra was ultimately chosen in preference to the XB-51.

The B-51's aerodynamics were optimised for high speed, low level strike. The Canberra's for high endurance, high level strike. USAF wanted the later not the former.
 

F-14D

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TinWing said:
It isn't hard to see why the Canberra was ultimately chosen in preference to the XB-51. Consider for a moment that the Avon was the most advanced turbojet of the period and the altogether conventional nature of the Canberra itself was far less risky than the XB-51. Given the nature of the early phases of the Korean War, it was very apparent that an aircraft with the characteristics of Canberra B.2 would have been very useful in combating the initial North Korean advance in 1950.

I'm not going to defend the changes imposed on the basic Canberra by Martin, or the inevitable delays, since the same situation was repeated with the Douglas B-66, which was also far too late due to unnecessary design changes to the A3D. In the end, there was something very wrong with the early USAF procurement process. That's not to say that the XB-51 was entirely worthy of further development and production. My guess is that if the XB-51 had been ordered into production, the type would have had a very, very high attrition rate, even during peace time.

Now from what I heard and read, unlike USAF making unnecessary changes to the Navy A-3 so that it could be the USAF B-66, the changes made to the Canberra to become the B-57B and later, were improvements, especially in the crew area. I believe even a number of British aviation writers later said as much.
 

F-14D

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XB-70 Guy said:
F-14D said:
...in addition to that, this may not be the optimum placement for 2/3 of your power when you're going to be down low and a slug of people are going to be shooting at you...
Love to get a high res of this photo.

Sorry, that's the best I've got.
 

Abraham Gubler

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F-14D said:
Now from what I heard and read, unlike USAF making unnecessary changes to the Navy A-3 so that it could be the USAF B-66, the changes made to the Canberra to become the B-57B and later, were improvements, especially in the crew area. I believe even a number of British aviation writers later said as much.

The Canberra’s crew compartment was originally designed for the mission of radar bombing with the two crew in a tandem cockpit under glass which we now consider to be a fighter style cockpit (but was pretty original at the time). But the radar wasn’t available so it was redesigned for a visual bomber position in the nose. Which meant the bombardier-navigator had to be able to move around the plane from the ejection seat behind the pilot to the prone position in the nose. All this meant there wasn’t room for the original fighter style tandem cockpit so the BN was moved down and to the rear and a smaller canopy for the pilot. The B-57 and later Canberras that didn’t have the nose bombardier position so reverted to the tandem cockpit.
 

F-14D

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Abraham Gubler said:
F-14D said:
Now from what I heard and read, unlike USAF making unnecessary changes to the Navy A-3 so that it could be the USAF B-66, the changes made to the Canberra to become the B-57B and later, were improvements, especially in the crew area. I believe even a number of British aviation writers later said as much.

The Canberra’s crew compartment was originally designed for the mission of radar bombing with the two crew in a tandem cockpit under glass which we now consider to be a fighter style cockpit (but was pretty original at the time). But the radar wasn’t available so it was redesigned for a visual bomber position in the nose. Which meant the bombardier-navigator had to be able to move around the plane from the ejection seat behind the pilot to the prone position in the nose. All this meant there wasn’t room for the original fighter style tandem cockpit so the BN was moved down and to the rear and a smaller canopy for the pilot. The B-57 and later Canberras that didn’t have the nose bombardier position so reverted to the tandem cockpit.

It is true that the Canberra eventually adopted the tamed cockpit on the Mk 8 (interestingly enough, the canopy didn't open!), but out of the total production pf the tandem cockpit Canberras only totalled 105. Actually, though, the tandem seating was only part of what I was referring to. I was also referring to the ergonomics. The Canberra was notorious for poor cockpit layout, with gauges and switches seemingly placed almost at random (sort of like the way the AH-1W cockpit has grown over the years), lack of standardization, etc. That is the part I was referring to as better in the B-57.
 

TinWing

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F-14D said:
TinWing said:
It isn't hard to see why the Canberra was ultimately chosen in preference to the XB-51. Consider for a moment that the Avon was the most advanced turbojet of the period and the altogether conventional nature of the Canberra itself was far less risky than the XB-51. Given the nature of the early phases of the Korean War, it was very apparent that an aircraft with the characteristics of Canberra B.2 would have been very useful in combating the initial North Korean advance in 1950.

I'm not going to defend the changes imposed on the basic Canberra by Martin, or the inevitable delays, since the same situation was repeated with the Douglas B-66, which was also far too late due to unnecessary design changes to the A3D. In the end, there was something very wrong with the early USAF procurement process. That's not to say that the XB-51 was entirely worthy of further development and production. My guess is that if the XB-51 had been ordered into production, the type would have had a very, very high attrition rate, even during peace time.

Now from what I heard and read, unlike USAF making unnecessary changes to the Navy A-3 so that it could be the USAF B-66, the changes made to the Canberra to become the B-57B and later, were improvements, especially in the crew area. I believe even a number of British aviation writers later said as much.

I'd argue that Martin-built Canberra made sense during the Korean War, but by the time it entered service, the design was thoroughly obsolete. Granted, the rotating bomb bay was worthy of emulation by Blackburn for the Buccaneer, an application where it actually made sense, but the B-57 had the horribly inferior license built Sapphire, the J-65, which by all accounts was only remarkable for its thirst for lubricating oil.
 

lastdingo

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The XB-51 wasn't agile enough. A Canberra was able to fly circles around it thanks to its low wing load.

High-speed low level attacks were no very good idea with conventional weapons anyway - the accuracy of bombing was simply not good enough.
Battlefield air defences of the 50's were no better than WW2 battlefield air defences, and thus terribly inadequate against the jet aircraft of the time - including the Canberra.

The Canberra was a fine choice - although it required fighter cover for daylight low to medium altitude missions in MiG-17-infested areas.
 

Mark Nankivil

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Greetings All -

Some excellent images of the XB-51 at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/my_public_domain_photos/page14/

Be sure to check out the rest of the images too - some real keepers!

Enjoy the Day! Mark
 

thewanderingmind

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Simple - but most likely correct - answer: Canberra was high and fast. The 1950's "go-fast mafia" would not have opted for a lower and slower ground support aircraft. Ground support was a dirty, dirty word...
 

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