Welcome to the latest edition of Warbirds here at The Clockwork Conservative. Today we’ll be showcasing (and celebrating the first flight of) America’s first strategic jet bomber – the B-45 Tornado.
Development on this sleek aircraft began when the War Department grew increasingly concerned over long-range, high-speed German bombers like the Arado Ar 234. The ability to outrun conventional fighter aircraft could give an enemy to strike with impunity within the jet’s range.
The design proposal put forward by North American Aviation won in mid-1944. In September of that year, construction began on the first 3 prototypes. To fulfill the imagined bombing, reconnaissance, and nuclear weapon delivery roles, the Tornado featured a pilot, co-pilot, bombardier/navigator, and tail gunner crew configuration. Four jet engines (sometimes augmented with rocket assisted launch equipment) allowed for a payload of 22,000 lbs. Her initial 1000 mile range was augmented by the inclusion of in-flight refueling capacity. The B-45 was the world’s first operational jet bomber to perform an inflight refueling.
The B-45’s development proceeded rapidly and the U.S. Army Air Force issued a preliminary contract with an eye towards fielding 5 light bomb groups and another 3 reconnaissance groups. With the heating up of the Cold War, pressure to aviation technology was tremendous. By the time that the initial Tornados were delivered, plans for its use were already being scaled back in favor of even more advanced jets. Only 143 B-45 variants were ever produced.
With the opening of the Korean War, the B-45 finally got the opportunity to prove her value. In both bombing and reconnaissance roles, the Tornado performed yeoman’s work. Daylight bombing runs at altitude were the rule until an RB-45 was nearly lost to MiG-15 fighter jet in 1952. After that, the remaining deployed aircraft were converted for nighttime operations.
In 1952, with Cold War tensions rising, many of the other B-45’s were forward positioned at bases in the United Kingdom. However, before the transatlantic flight to Sculthorpe, the Tornados were upgraded to be capable of deploying the new compact generation of nuclear weapon. The threat of their payloads and proximity to the Soviet bloc countries added a significant deterrent. Several of the RB-45C reconnaissance variant were seconded to the Royal Air Force so that they could perform clandestine intelligence gathering flights over communist territory when such missions by American forces were prohibited by the President. This value of this type of successful intelligence gathering mission would lead to the development of the U-2 and later the SR-71 Blackbird.
Unfortunately, with advent of bigger, faster, and more capable jet bombers, the days of the B-45 were numbered. By 1958, the last U.S.A.F. B-45’s were withdrawn from service and R.A.F. aircraft were soon to follow. The last few Tornados served as trainers and later test platforms through the early 1970’s.
What to remember about January 17th…
- 1706 American inventor, statesman, printer, and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 1790)
- 1781 Continental Army victory at Battle of Cowpens opens door for reconquest of South Carolina by Patriot forces; Tarleton and his Legion crushed
- 1865 Pausing in Savannah after city’s capture, rains General Sherman’s Union forces from beginning their assault on the Carolinas
- 1893 Civil War general and former 19th President of the United States Rutherford B. Hayes dies at home from a heart attack (b. 1822)
- 1893 American sugar planters led by Sanford Dole overthrow Hawaiian monarchy; U.S. Marines arrive to protect American civilians
- 1944 Operation Panther begins; Allies try to wrest control of Cassino region of Italy from the Germans
- 1953 Chevrolet unveils the prototype for iconic Corvette
- 1961 In his farewell address to American people, President Eisenhower warns of the rising “military-industrial complex”
- 1966 In-flight collision of a B-52 bomber and a KC-135 tanker drops 4 hydrogen bombs on Spain and surrounding ocean waters; last bomb recovered April 7th
- 1994 At 4:30am the 6.7 magnitude Northridge quake strikes San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles; 54 die and billions in damage reported
- 1994 Federal sexual harassment lawsuit is filed in Littlerock, Arkansas by Paula Jones accusing President Bill Clinton
- 1991 Iraq fires 8 Scud missiles at Israel in an unsuccessful attempt to draw them into the Persian Gulf War
- 1998 On his website The Drudge Report, Matt Drudge breaks the story of alleged affair between President Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky
Posted in History, Lost and Found
Tagged American Revolution, Atom Bomb, automotive industry, B-52 Stratofortress, Benjamin Franklin, Bill Clinton, Civil War, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Founding Fathers, Hawaii, history, Rutherford B. Hayes, WWII
What to remember about January 7th…
- 1718 Revolutionary War general and member of Rogers’ Rangers Israel Putnam is born in Salem village, Massachusetts (d. 1790)
- 1785 American John Jeffries and Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard are 1st to cross the English Channel by air; do it in a balloon
- 1789 1st presidential election under the newly ratified U.S. Constitution is held; George Washington wins as expected
- 1800 Future 13th President Millard Fillmore is born in New York (d. 1874)
- 1953 President Truman announces in State of the Union address that the U.S. has successfully developed a hydrogen bomb
- 1980 President Carter signs bill authorizing $1.5 billion in bail out loans for Chrysler Corporation
- 1999 President Clinton’s impeachment trial begins in the Senate for lying under oath and obstructing justice
- 2010 Muslim gunmen open fire on Christians leaving midnight Christmas mass in Egypt; 9 killed and 11 wounded
- 2015 Muslim terrorists storm offices of French Satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris killing 12 and wounding 11 for the “blasphemy” of making fun of Islam and Muhammad; rampage continues for 2-more days until another 5 killed an 11 wounded in associated attacks
Posted in History, Lost and Found
Tagged American Revolution, Atom Bomb, automotive industry, Aviation, Bill Clinton, Congress, Constitution, George Washington, Harry S. Truman, Heroism, history, Islam, Jimmy Carter, Millard Fillmore, Terrorism
Today’s installment of Warbirds brings us to the supersonic, swingwing marvel the B-1B Lancer. Unofficially known as the “Bone” (from B-one), the development and deployment of this strategic bomber increased pressure on the Soviets and helped shorten the Cold War. The B-1’s first flight took place on December 23, 1974.
Envisioned in the 60’s as a Mach 2 replacement for the B-52, it was hoped that the Lancer would have the range and payload capacity to meet or exceed her predecessor. Actual development of the aircraft didn’t start until the 1970’s and the design changed many times as political views of what her mission would be were revised. President Carter actually cancelled the B-1A program after 4 aircraft were built in another misguided attempt to placate the Soviet Union. But, the Reagan administration resurrected the project in 1981 to counter mounting worldwide Soviet adventurism. Subsequently, Rockwell received a contract in 1982 and B-1B became operational with the U.S. Air Force October 1st, 1986.
It was known early on that the Lancer would not be able to take the place of the Venerable B-52. What was envisioned was a strategic bomber that had the ability to elude Soviet radar and strike without warning deep within enemy territory. Many viewed this capability as destabilizing in a Nuclear world. However, the necessity of countering the perceived threat of the B-1B forced the Soviets into ever more unsustainable research, development, and defense spending. Without ever delivering a nuclear weapon, the Lancer helped shorten the war.
In the 90’s, further development proceeded on the “Advanced Technology Bomber” (which became the B-2 Spirit), leading to a role change for the B-1B. Part of the fleet was converted over to a fledgling conventional munitions capability. However, engine issues prevented the Lancer’s participation in the Gulf War. It would be 1998 before B-1Bs would take part in Operation Desert Fox and undertake conventional combat operations. That successful mission against Saddam Hussein’s regime would presage deployments in Kosovo, the invasion of Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom, and they continue to perform “armed overwatch” in support of ground forces in Afghanistan today.
Of the original 100 built, only 93 remain in the inventory and a good portion of those are in reserve storage. Without the refits and upgrades that the Obama administration has placed on hold, the aging B-1Bs are looking ahead to retirement in the 2030s. Debate continues over the true effectiveness of the Lancer as further deployment of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber continues.
Further information on “Bone” can be found on the U.S. Air Force website on the B-1B Lancer Fact Sheet or in the Air Force documentary below.
Posted in History, Military
Tagged Afghanistan, Air Force, Atom Bomb, Aviation, B-1B Lancer Strategic Bomber, Cold War, history, Jimmy Carter, Military, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Ronald Reagan, Soviet Union, warbirds
What to remember about December 2nd…
- 1777 Philadelphia nurse and housewife Lydia Darragh overhears British plans for surprise attack on General Washington’s forces; pretending to need flower, she slips out and passes a warning to Colonials
- 1823 Monroe Doctrine becomes new U.S. foreign policy when unveiled at President’s annual address to Congress
- 1845 President Polk reasserts Monroe doctrine announcing aggressive westward expansion as part of America’s “manifest destiny”
- 1942 Enrico Fermi experiment produces 1st nuclear chain reaction; “atomic pile” was built and tested in a basement at University of Chicago
- 1954 U.S. Senate votes to condemn Joseph R. McCarthy for “conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute”.
- 1970 At the direction of President Nixon and with approval of Congress, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) begins operations
- 1976 Communist dictator Fidel Castro is becomes President of Cuba
- 2001 Energy-trading corporation Enron files bankruptcy after fraud and mismanagement can no longer be concealed
- 2015 Married Islamist terrorists Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik kill 14 and wound 22 in attack on office Christmas party in San Bernadino County, California
Posted in History, Lost and Found
Tagged American Revolution, Atom Bomb, Communism, Cuba, Environmental Protection Agency, Fidel Castro, George Washington, history, Islam, James Monroe, James Polk, Richard Nixon, Senate, Terrorism, WWII
What to remember about November 6th…
- 1789 John Carroll is appointed the 1st Catholic Bishop in America; founder of Georgetown University
- 1854 American composed and conductor John Phillip Souza is born in Washington, D.C. (d. 1932)
- 1861 Jefferson Davis elected President of the Confederacy
- 1944 Plutonium is 1st produced at Hanford Atomic Facility; it will be used in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan
- 1965 U.S. begins Freedom Flights program that brings 250,000 refugees from communist Cuba
- 1986 John A. Walker, Jr. is convicted of running spy ring for the Soviets; sentenced to life in prison
- 1985 Press accounts reveal that President Reagan authorized arms sales to Iran; Iran-Contra Affair expands
- 2003 President Bush signs Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act
What to remember about November 1st…
- 1765 British Parliament enacts the Stamp Act on American colonies
- 1800 President John Adams moves in becoming 1st resident of the Executive Mansion; later named the White House
- 1897 Library of Congress moved to its own building
- 1911 Aerial bomb dropped from aircraft in battle for 1st time; used in Libya during Italo-Turkish War
- 1922 Ottoman Empire ends as Turkish National Assembly abolishes the Sultanate; Grand Sultan Mehmed VI Vahid ed-din, Emperor of the Ottomans, Commander of the Faithful and Successor of the Prophet of the Universe goes into exile
- 1943 Marines land on Bouganville in Solomon Islands while U.S. carriers strike Japanese base at Rabaul
- 1950 Attempted assassination of President Truman by 2 Puerto Rican nationalists fails outside Blair House
- 1952 U.S. detonates the worlds 1st hydrogen bomb
- 1960 John F. Kennedy announces plan to build a Peace Corps while campaigning for president
- 1993 Maastricht Treaty goes into effect creating European Union
Posted in History, Lost and Found
Tagged American Revolution, Atom Bomb, Aviation, European Union, Harry S. Truman, history, Islam, John Adams, John F. Kennedy, Library of Congress, Puerto Rico, Terrorism, WWII
What to remember about October 30th…
- 1735 Founding Father and 2nd President of the United States John Adams is born in Braintree, Massachusetts (d. 1826)
- 1831 Escaped slave Nat Turner is captured after bloody slave rebellion that killed over 60; after a trial he hangs on November 11
- 1938 Orson Welles radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” causes nationwide panic
- 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt approves $1 billion Lend Lease aid program for Soviet Union; hopes to stay out of the war
- 1944 Anne Frank and her sister are moved from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
- 1961 Soviet Union test 50 megaton hydrogen bomb; still the largest explosive device ever detonated
- 1974 Muhammad Ali wins the Rumble in the Jungle
- 1995 Vote for establishing an independent Quebec fails in Canada
Posted in History, Lost and Found
Tagged Atom Bomb, Canada, Franklin D Roosvelt, history, Holocaust, John Adams, Muhammad Ali, slavery, Soviet Union, WWII
What to remember about July 30th…
- 1619 The first elected legislative assembly in the New World is held in Jamestown, Virginia
- 1780 600 Colonials led by Colonel Isaac Shelby capture Ft. Thicketty in South Carolina
- 1864 Union forces fail to break Confederate lines at Battle of the Crater in after setting off massive bomb in tunnel
- 1866 Constitutional Convention of blacks and whites in New Orleans is attacked by armed Democrats and anti-abolitionists; 40 killed and over 150 injured
- 1945 USS Indianapolis is sunk by a Japanese submarine after having delivered the components the for atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima
- 1947 Actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger born
- 1956 President Eisenhower signs law making “In God We Trust” the official motto of the United States
- 1975 Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa disappears from suburban Detroit; never seen again
Posted in Crime, History, Lost and Found, Military
Tagged American Revolution, Atom Bomb, Civil Rights, Civil War, crime, Dwight D. Eisenhower, history, Movies, Navy, reconstruction, unions
What to remember about July 26th…
- 1775 Congress establishes department to operate a postal system; Benjamin Franklin is the 1st Postmaster General
- 1788 New York becomes 11th state with vote to ratify the Constitution
- 1797 John Quincy Adams marries Louisa Johnson; she will become the 1st and only foreign-born first-lady
- 1861 Major General George B. McClellan appointed new commander of Army of the Potomac after disastrous First Battle of Bull Run
- 1908 Office of the Chief Examiner hires a group of investigators; in 1935 this group becomes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- 1941 In response to invasion of French Indochina, President Franklin Roosevelt orders the seizure of all Japanese assets in U.S.
- 1945 Cruiser USS Indianapolis departs carrying critical pieces for Little Boy atomic bomb that will be dropped on Hiroshima
- 1947 President Truman signs National Security Act creating Department of Defense, National Security Council, and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- 1971 Apollo 15 launches carrying the Lunar Rover
- 1990 President George H. W. Bush signs into law the Americans with Disabilities Act
- 2008 Islamic militants set off 21 bombs in 70 minutes in Ahmedabad, India; 56 killed and over 200 injured
Benjamin Franklin appears on the first postage stamp issued in the United States
Posted in History, Lost and Found, Terrorism
Tagged Atom Bomb, Benjamin Franklin, CIA, Civil War, Congress, FBI, Franklin D Roosvelt, George H. W. Bush, Harry S. Truman, history, Islam, John Quincy Adams, NASA, New York, Space Exploration, Terrorism, WWII