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Convair XC-99 Transport and Model 37 Airliner

Convair XC-99 Cargo Transport from the Topps Wings Friend or Foe trading card series
Convair XC-99 Cargo Transport
(from the Wings Friend or Foes Series)

As the advent of jet aircraft began to emerge in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Convair started design on variants of its B-36 Peacemaker. It created a swept-winged version with all-jet propulsion, known as the YB-60.

The other variant of the B-36 was the giant cargo plane, the XC-99 (S/N 43-52436) , the largest piston-engined aircraft in the world. It was built at the Consolidated plant in San Diego, had its maiden flight on November 23, 1947, and was delivered to the Air Force in May 1949. The XC-99 was used for many years in active service.

The XC-99 logged more than 7,400 hours of flying time and moved more than 60 million pounds of cargo. The XC-99 made its final voyage March 19, 1957.

The US Air Force determined that it had no need for such a large, long-range transport plane at that time, and no more were ordered. The sole XC-99 served until 1957, including extensive usage during the Korean War. It made twice weekly trips from Kelly AFB to the aircraft depot at McClellan AFB, California, transporting supplies and parts for the B-36 bomber while returning by way of other bases or depots making pick-ups and deliveries along the way.

More B-36

B-36 Design, Production, Deployment & Scrapping

B-36 Survivors

B-36 - National Museum of the U.S. Force

B-36 - Castle Air Museum

B-36 - PIMA Air & Space Museum

B-36 - Strategic Air & Space Museum

Carswell AFB and Its Role in the B-36 Program

Convair YB-60

Strategic Air Command: The Movie

In 1957, due to metal fatigue, the XC-99 was taken out of service, and put on display in San Antonio. Eventually the plane deterioted, and in 1993 was transferred to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton.

Disassembly of the aircraft began at Kelly Field in April 2004. Portions of the airframe were then airlifted from Kelly, some pieces via C-5 Galaxy aircraft. By the summer of 2008, the XC-99 had been completely transferred to Dayton. There are rumors that the aircraft will be moved again, this time to Davis-Monthan. News accounts of the actual status of the XC-99 are unclear.

Convair XC-99 Specifications

  • Crew: Five duty + five reserve crew
  • Capacity: 400 troops Payload: 100,000 lb
  • Length: 182 ft 6 in
  • Wingspan: 230 ft 0 in
  • Height: 57 ft 6 in
  • Wing area: 4,772 ft²
  • Empty weight: 135,232 lb
  • Loaded weight: 265,000 lb
  • Max takeoff weight: 320,000 lb
  • Powerplant: 6 × Pratt & Whitney R-4360-41 Wasp Major 28-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 3,500 hp each
  • Performance: Maximum speed: 307 mph
  • Range: 8,100 mi
  • Service ceiling: 30,000 ft

Convair Model 37: The Commercial Variant of the XC-99 and B-36

Convair also considered developing a commercial airliner based on the B-36 and XC-99, but ultimately scrapped the idea in favor of pursuing the Convair 880 jetliner.

The Convair Model 37 was to have a wing span of 230 feet, 182 feet in length, and a double-deck fuselage.

Passenger capacity of the plane was planned at 204. Cruising speeds were projected to be between 310-342 mph, and be able to operate at altitudes up to 30,000 feet, with a range of 4,200 miles.

Fifteen (15) aircraft were ordered by Pan American World Airways for transatlantic service. However, fuel and oil consumption of the six 3,500 hp Wasp Major radials led to the decision that the Model 37 was not economically feasible. With only orders for 15 Model 37s, Convair cancelled the plane.

Photos of the XC-99

Convair XC-99 Transport landing during trials - S/N 43-52436
Convair XC-99 Transport landing during trials - S/N 43-52436
Convair XC-99 - Nose view as seen in LIFE
Convair XC-99 - Nose view
Top of the wing of the Convair XC-99
Top of the wing of the Convair XC-99
Convair XC-99 takeoff run
Convair XC-99 takeoff run

 

 

Convair XC-99 on the tarmac
Convair XC-99 on the tarmac
Convair XC-99 loading 400 passengers
Convair XC-99 loading 400 passengers
Convair XC-99 parked next to twin-egine Convair airliner
Convair XC-99 parked next to twin-egine Convair airliner
Convair XC-99 in flight
Convair XC-99 in flight
Convair XC-99 and B-36 Peacemaker in flight formation
Convair XC-99 and B-36 Peacemaker in flight formation
Convair XC-99 Transport - circa 1954
Convair XC-99 Transport - circa 1954