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The Convair XC-99 and Model 37

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Proposed Oversize B-36 Cargo Conversion

 In 1964, Fairchild Stratos Corporation proposed a modification of the B-36 Peacemaker for transporting the second stage of the Saturn V, much the way Conroy modified the Boeing Stratocruiser into the Pregnant Guppy to carry the third stage of the giant rocket


The Consolidated-Vultee  (Convair) XC-99




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The XC-99

 SAN DIEGO, Calif.---The world's largest land-based aircraft, the six-engine XC-99 cargo and troop transport being built by Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation for the Army Air Forces, has been moved out into the experimental yard at the company's San Diego plant to permit installation of main landing wheels and outer wing panels.

No building at Consolidated Vultee, officials said, is high enough to house the giant plane with its main landing wheels installed, or wide enough to house it with outer wing panels in place.

For the past month 30 feet of the aft fuselage have protruded from Convair's experimental building because the tail surfaces stick into the sky 57.5 feet, several feet higher than the experimental building.

Wing leading edges and trailing edges, together with rudder, propellers, and interior fixtures, remain to be installed. Initial flights of the XC-99 must await completion of this work and an extensive ground testing program.

A transport version of the Convair's B-36 bomber, the double-decked XC-99 will be able to carry 400 troops, or 335 litter patients, or 100,000 pounds of cargo.

Like the B-36, it is powered by six 3,000-hp pusher-type engines turning 19-foot reversible-pitch propellers.

The AAF has revealed that the huge transport will have a maximum range with reduced loads of more than 8,000 miles. Flights of this distance will call for a five-man crew and an equal number of relief crew members.

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The XC-99

Design gross weight of the XC-99 is 265,000 pounds. Its wingspan is 230 feet and its length, 182.5 feet.

The XC-99, serial 43-52436, is a double deck transport variant of the B-36. It has a considerably larger fuselage, but was never fitted with jet pods. The wingspan is the same 230 feet, but the fuselage is 23 feet longer at 185 feet. The payload of the XC-99 was 101,000 pounds or 400 fully equipped troops.

The XC-99 is to be disassembled and shipped to Wright Patterson Air Force Base for restoration. The parts of the XC-99 are arriving at the Museum of the Air Force. It will all be there soon. No schedule for the re-assembly has been announced.


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Consolidated Vultee XC-99 on an early flight off the coast of Southern California. Consolidated Vultee company print A1268.



Consolidated Vultee company print A1277.



The Wright Field arrow has been applied to the vertical stabilizer of the XC-99 and United States Air Force has been painted on the side of the fuselage. The lack of a bulge over the landing gear well indicates that the XC-99 is still equipped with the single wheel main landing gear.


Convair XC-99 and Model 37

Wingspan: 230 feet

Length: 185 feet

Wing Area: 4770 square feet

Maximum Take-off Weight: 320,000 pounds

Maximum Cargo Payload: 101,000 pounds

Powerplant: 6x 3500 hp R4360 radial engines


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The XC-99 has been retrofitted with four wheel main landing gear bogies like those used on production B-36s, but it has not yet had its nose radar installed.

 The XC-99 on Edwards AFB ramp. It has acquired a radar installation under the cockpit since the photo above was taken

People have started gathering around the XC-99 at Edwards Air Force Base, and the photographer has switched to a longer lens.
The XC-99 on Edwards AFB ramp.




The crew of the XC-99 sometime between November 1951 and February 1952. Dale J. Green, the former Chief Electrician of the XC-99 has provided the identities of most of the crew: From left to right, with rank and duty assignment, if known.


The Crew

Melissa Pittard has identified the fourth man from the left as her father, Jim Pittard. Dorothea Krivenko has identified the tall man standing fourth from the right as her father, Robert Baxman.

1. Unidentified but position 1 or 4 may be Col. Albert L. Neuhauser who was often the Co-Pilot.
2. Unidentified.
3. Mr. Ken Smith, Convair Technical Representative.
4. Unidentified. See position 1.
5. M SGT Melford W. Miller, Flight Engineer.
6. T SGT Charles W. Fox, Asst. Flight Engineer.
7. Unidentified, but I believe he was the Loadmaster.
8. (Behind) Capt. James M. Pittard, Jr., Pilot.
9. SGT Dale J. Green, Chief Electrician.
10. SGT Garlen H. Brown, Mechanic.
11. ? T SGT Douglas E. Camp.
12. CPL Pete Prado.
13. SGT Alfred F. Wojcik, Electrician.
14. Unidentified.
15. SGT James F. Beam.
16. S SGT Robert J. Baxman.
17. T SGT Howard C. Gramling.
18. ?? S SGT Maurice R. Paulin.
19. SGT Joe D. Mattison, Mechanic.
(Question marks indicate the degree of identification uncertainty.)



The XC-99 Disposition

Delivered to the Air Force on November 23, 1949, the XC-99 was retired in 1957. Following its retirement, the XC-99 was on public display at Kelly Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas until 1993. Initially, because it could not be put in private hands, it was donated to the organization of Disabled American Veterans.

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A souvenir card that advertised the XC-99.


The back of the card provided instructions for finding the location of the twin-deck behemoth.

The aircraft was evaluated in the late 1960s for possible restoration and it was too deteriorated at that time, in part, because of the use of magnesium which is very prone to certain types of corrosion. At some point it was moved to a grassy field near Kelly AFB.

These pictures were taken on May 20, 1990

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XC-99 begins piece-by-piece trip to

National Museum of the US Air Force

by 1st Lt. Bruce R. Hill Jr.



Several parts of a historic XC-99 aircraft located at the Kelly Annex to Lackland were hauled to the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, recently.

A C-5 Galaxy from the 433rd Airlift Wing here hauled the initial load of the three-phase dismantling project.

Disassembling began Jan. 20 by a company with a history of disassembling and reassembling large aircraft.

“The aircraft dictates when certain parts will be dismantled, so some parts may or may not be removed at given times during the process,” said Ben Nattrass, owner and operator of Worldwide Aircraft Recovery of Bellevue, Neb. “Each part has to be removed sequentially as it had been built, so we have to discover how to take the plane apart as we go.

“We’ve had a lot of outside interest, because this is a historic aircraft,” he said.

In the beginning, Army Air Forces officials wanted to develop an aircraft in the early part of World War II that would provide global airlift support beyond the scope of the existing B-36 bomber. It was not until after the war that the XC-99 was produced for its first flight, which took place Nov. 24, 1947.

Its first cargo run was into then-Kelly AFB on July 14, 1950, where most of the XC-99 flights took place.

The awkward-looking aircraft with rear-mounted props, an exception to conventional design, 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, and currently sits in an open area of the Kelly Annex until it is completely dismantled and relocated to its new home in Ohio. It is expected to undergo a detailed restoration process before being displayed in the National Museum of the United States Air Force.


Summary Of Characteristics



Wing area........................... 4772 sq. ft. Length................................. 185.0 ft.
Span..................................... 230.0 ft. Height.................................. 57.5 ft.



Number available

Number to be delivered in fiscal years



   1. Design Initiated: Jun 42
   2. First Flight: Nov 47
   3. First Acceptance: May 49
   4. Currently being flown on domestic supply line (one airplane)

   Navy Equivalent: None
   Mfr's Model: 37




   (6) R-4360-41
Pratt & Whitney

     BHP - RPM - ALT - MIN
T.O:*3500 - 2700 - SL - 5          3250 - 2700 - SL - 5

Mil: *3500 - 2700 - Turbo - 30          3250 - 2700 - Turbo - 30

Nor: 2650 - 2550 - Turbo - Ct


Elec. Oper. Hoists: 4


Heat Anti-Icing

Cabin Heating

Max Fuel Cap: 21,116 gal

Crew: 5
Relief Crew: 5

Troops(max): 400
Litters(max): 305


Attendants: 35
Max Cargo: 100,000 lb

Courtesy Of The Air Force Museum



The Convair Model 37 Airliner


With the pleased air of one letting out a big secret, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp. last week let out one of the biggest in the aircraft business. Out of a hangar at Fort Worth, Tex., Consolidated rolled its new, unconventional, six-motored giant, the XB-36 bomber—world's largest land plane. The development cost: approxi-' mately $20,000,000.

The new plane was a strange sight. Its 230-ft. wing (v. 141 feet for the 6-29) was set halfway back in the 163-ft., cigar-shaped fuselage. In the leading edge of the wing, where conventional planes have their propellers, XB-36 had only narrow, mouthlike air intakes for the six Pratt & Whitney 3,000-h.p. engines. They drive three-bladed propellers on the wing's trailing edge.

Convair's unconventional 160-ton monster will have a range of 10,000 miles and a speed of around 300 miles an hour. Test flights will start this summer. If the tests are successful, Convair will build another prototype. Then it will tool up to fill an Army order for a fleet of planes to cost hundreds of millions.

Convair has also started to build a military transport model of the plane, the C-99, expects it to carry 400 com. pletely equipped infantrymen. On the drawing boards is an even larger commercial version which is expected to haul up to 275 passengers. But Convair has no orders for the commercial transport (Model 37) as yet. Pan American Airways has plugged Convair's Model 37 in ads for more than two years. But even Pan Am has placed no solid order for any.

Pan Am has agreed to buy such a plane, if it will meet performance specifications which. sound fantastic. To meet them, the plane would have to be powered with gas turbine engines with an equivalent of 5,000 h.p. each. Such engines are still in the drawing board stage.

Time Magazine July 1, 1946



A contemporary Magazine Article About The Convair Model 37


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The Convair model 37 was a proposed a 204-seat airliner version of the XC-99.



Craig Hansen has provided this rendering of a Convair Model 37 in the livery of Pan Am. Some of the details were derived from Nova Development Corporation clip art.
Plans for the Convair Model 37 airliner.


Pan American Airlines ordered fifteen Model 37 twin-deck airliners. They would have provided capacious restrooms and lounges for their transatlantic passengers.

No one knows when or where the legend of Pegasus first became popular. Nor does the date really matter. For as long as history records, men of the world have seen the flying beast of burden as the epitome of mortal ambition. Now Consolidated-Vultee has come forward with a single vehicle which moves through the air on the power of 30,000 winged horses-to prove conclusively that the sky alone is the limit where practical airplane size is concerned.

That the recently announced Model 37 is far and away the largest flying machine on the immediate post-war docket is obvious. Although size alone does not spell greatness in aviation, it is interesting to note that the single slender wing of the Model 37 would outreach a 21-story building if upended on a metropolitan street corner. Similarly, the single fin and rudder stands approximately five stories above the runway. Twice as large as the Consolidated-Vultee Liberator, the Model 37 has a wing span of 230 feet and measures 182 feet in length. Nearly ten Piper Cubs could be parked in the tarmac space occupied by a single Model 37.

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The Convair Model 6 A Jet version Of The Model 37

Actually this new transport is something more than a very large airplane, with external lines and internal design unlike anything previously offered to the commercial airline operators of the world. It has, first of all, six engines buried in the wing to match the largest pre-war German, French and Russian commercial types in number of engines. Unlike the latter types, however, the Model 37 carries the engines in the trailing edge of the wing and becomes the first pusher type likely to see commercial service. Because the Model 37 is derived from a new Consolidated design, all information on power plants is necessarily restricted at the present time. However, the manufacturer has announced total power output equal to that of 353 automobiles-approximately 30,000 hp if we accept 85 hp as the average for American motor cars. It would be possible to obtain this output in one of two ways. The Model 37 may have a pair of inline engines in each nacelle, with a long uni-twin head and shaft driving the three-blade propellers. Or it may be fitted with individual engines each developing 5,000 hp for take-off. The former would seem impractical in the light of Consolidated's thin wing with maximum camber inadequate for accommodation of the Allison 3420, the only announced inline, which develops more than 2,500 hp. It is possible that wartime ingenuity has brought radial engines which develop considerably more than the 3,000 hp announced some time ago. However, air-cooled engines, never too successful in pusher mountings, could hardly obtain sufficient cooling on the ground while buried in the Model 37 wing. So this sky gargantuan is probably powered by either a gas turbine or a diesel engine of 5,000 hp efficiency-a remarkable power plant if it exists.

In operation, the Model 37 follows a performance pattern which is more Or less general in projected multi-engine transports, although its load is obviously greater than that of the Boeing Stratocruiser, the Douglas DC-7, the Lockheed Constellation, and the Martin Mars. Cruising at speeds between 310-342 mph, the big ship will carry a payload of 50,000 pounds composed of 204 passengers and seven and one-half tons of mail or express. Operating above the weather at 30,000 feet, the Model 37 is designed for a range of 4,200 miles with the previously-mentioned load. A double-deck interior will embrace two-passenger staterooms, oversize berths, two lounges, and a number of rest rooms, with Henry Dreyfuss interiors assuring color and comfort for passengers on the long over-water routes.


The Model 37 Cancellation

The intended powerplant for the Model 37 was a 5,000 horsepower gas turbine engine which failed to materialize. The fuel and oil consumption of the 3,500 horsepower R-4360 radial engines made the design unprofitable. In addition, it was felt that the airplane provided too much capacity for the level of airline traffic that was forecast at the time.

Imagine what post-war airline travel would have been like if the Allison T-56 turbo-prop had been available at the time. Today, there would still be huge Model 37s carrying oversize cargo for Heavylift, dropping vast quantities of retardant on forest fires, and rotting on the backside of the Mojave Airport.




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