Airborne Awesomosity

Spinning A Tale The B-45 Tornado

Of note is how Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt are not flying this aircraft

North American B-45 Tornado

During the early years of the Cold War there were many aircraft that went into and out of service quickly.  The B-45 was one of these aircraft who served her country well albeit briefly.




North American B-45 Tornado On The Flight Line


North American aviation gave the US some of its more important aircraft during the second world war with the Mustang and the Mitchell. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when the US Air Force was looking for a light jet bomber they would go back to the same company once again.

The B-45 would last a decade in service but would suffer the same fate as all the first generation of jet aircraft by being let down by its engines. Powered by the same GE J47 powerplant used with the Convair B-36, North American’s own F-86 Sabre and the B-45’s replacement the Boeing B-47. The engine would be considered reliable enough for its generations but low power and excess fuel consumption would hold it’s potential back.



Warning picture is of a NSFW nature due to lack of subjects clothes

North American B-45 Cut-Away


The B-45 Tornado’s role would change through its short term in service from conventional bomber to nuclear bomber and finally as a reconnaissance aircraft. This is a pattern that follows other early bombers as well. Given their speed and range they were very well suited to early Cold War reconnaissance flights at  high altitude into enemy airspace. As surface to air missiles improved this role would be replaced by specialized aircraft as well and the B-45’s days were numbered.


General characteristics

Crew: 4 (Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier-Navigator and Tail Gunner)
Length: 75 ft 4 in (22.9 m)
Wingspan: 89 ft 0 in (27.1 m)
Height: 25 ft 2 in (7.7 m)
Wing area: 1,125 ft² (105 m²)
Empty weight: 45,694 lb (20,726 kg)
Loaded weight: 81,418 lb (36,930 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 110,000 lb (50,000 kg)
Powerplant: 4 × General Electric J47-GE-13 [12] turbojets, 5,200 lbf (25 kN) each


Maximum speed: 570 mph (500 kn, 920 km/h)
Range: 1,000 mi (870 nmi, 1,600 km)
Service ceiling: 46,400 ft (14,100 m)


Guns: 2 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M3 machine guns
Bombs: 22,000 lb (10,000 kg)





Unlike the Cutlass covered last week the Tornado didn’t have any fatal issues that would cause it to be pulled from service. It was just a matter of being at a time in aviation when everything moved quickly.  The design of the aircraft is unique with the four engines housed in two pods which in addition to the fighter like cockpit give the aircraft its own look. In the end progress would take these one hundred and fifty examples and relegate them to the boneyard of history.


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  • Deartháir

    That's a really pretty plane… but I'm puzzled by the four tiny jet engines in only two pods. I'd think that the conjoined-twin nature of the jets in the pods would cause massive heat-sink, making the engines harder to cool properly. Or is that not a concern with these engines?

    • fodder650

      They used to conjoin air cooled radials that close together as well. Still not sure how it worked. In this case there has to be some kind of additional airflow being sent into that pod. I just don't see it.

      By the way I was thinking of doing this as its own entry but if you want a good example of a designer who was thinking like you. Here it is. Three engines per side with cooling air between each.

      <img src="; width=600 />

      • CaptianNemo2001

        For 1 the B-52 uses engines side by side in pods as does many craft like say thw CF-105 Arrow.
        2ed the engines are not always run at 110% 24/7 and cooling is taking into to consideration when designing the pod.
        3ed the 3 in a row on the XB-48 above would cause a crap load drag… at best…

        A classic example of trying everything (Because they had to due to engine's being needed for other uses/supply and demand) and then picking the best…
        <img src="; width="600">

        Original photo <a href="” target=”_blank”>

        • fodder650

          I understand your point but I think you are missing something important in the case of the Arado, the early B-45's and the XB-48 prototypes which is maintainence. The Arado's Jumo (or were they BMW) engines had to be overhauled every 10 hours. for the B-45 and B-48 until 1948 this was 15 hours before a complete overhaul. WIthin a decade this would go up to almost a thousand hours between complete overhauls. This is different then just routine maintenance. So that was part of the consideration as well.
          I'm trying to remember if part of the B-48's failure was due to excess drag and, if I remember correctly, the performance wasn't that big a jump over what was available at the time.
          The other advantage to single pods over dual pods if the ability to change out to different engine types as needed. A good example of lowering drag at all costs like this is the British V bombers. Which limited their engine options by burying their engines inside the wings. When the original engines developed issues they were left with no other options because of packaging.

          • CaptianNemo2001

            The lab engines could go up to 50+ hours and were designed for rapid thrust changes… It was a lack of critical alloys that shortened the lifespan.