high ranking B-36 crew

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Joe Broady

Airman 1st Class
May 30, 2019
The Safety Screen in the February 1958 issue of the Strategic Air Command magazine Combat Crew is a list of SAC's safest crews. The 7th Bomb Wing crew S-19 is notable for the high rank of its members: two lt. colonels, three majors, and four master sergeants. I guess the lowly A/2c got stuck with emptying the toilet after landing.

Combat Crew Feb 58

I think one pilot was omitted from the list, since a B-36 normally carried three. Apparently this unit is flying B-36s with the Featherweight modification, which deleted all guns but the tail turret. In 1958 it's twilight time for the B-36, and I think all, or almost all, were Featherweights by that time. The radical reduction in guns eliminated only two from the crew, however, since most of the sighting stations were manned by men with other duties. In the forward compartment, one of the navs manned the nose gunner station, and a relief pilot and radio operator operated the forward turrets. In the aft compartment, the two lower gunners also served as scanners who monitored engines, flaps, and landing gear. Only the pair of upper gunners was deleted in the Featherweight B-36 crews.

The scanner duties of lower gunners were so important, they were on a special interphone circuit with the pilots and flight engineers to ensure these six vital men could talk in case of electrical failure.

Speaking of B-36 flight engineers, note that in this era they were commissioned officers, a major and first lieutenant in this crew I think that was not the case in the early years. The 1955 movie Strategic Air Command has a master sergeant (played by Harry Morgan) as the senior engineer.
I worked on B-36 from late 1951 to early 1957. Don't remember 3 pilots. No place to put him. Flight Engineers were enlisted early, but were officers later on. Don't remember when the change occurred, but they were usually 1st lieutenants, promoted from enlisted FEs. I was in the 11BW, but 7th and 11th were both at Carswell, across the runway from CONVAIR, who built the B-36.

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