North American B-45A-5-NA (Second Call) Tornado: From Atomic Necessity

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Introduction and History
The B-45 Tornado was a jet-powered light bomber (post-war designations made light/medium/heavy based off range rather than weight) that was conceived after a design competition in 1944 for a jet bomber for the United States. From this, four proposals were put forth: The North American XB-45, the Convair XB-46, the Boeing XB-47, and the Martin XB-48. The XB-45 and XB-46 were the first ones available for testing, while the XB-47 and XB-48 had about two years more before they were available. Convair’s XB-46, while it had great performance, was much heavier than the XB-45 and possessed some design characteristics that put into question its combat performance. The XB-47 was the finest of all the proposals, given the fact that Boeing was the only company with access to information about the Manhattan Project. Martin’s XB-48, despite being the direct competitor to the XB-47, proved to be the worst performing of the four designs due to its triple nacelle design and much heavier weight.

Despite the XB-47 being the most favorable at the time, the Air Force still needed a jet bomber urgently. Therefore, the XB-45 was accepted for production. Initial aircraft, due to the development aspects of the competition, were not without teething problems. Issues, such as stability and engine fires, were solved not too long after production commenced. Others, such as fuel leaks, plagued the type until its retirement. Initial B-45A aircraft, powered by J35 engines, would be known as B-45A-1. Later models powered by the J47 would be known as the B-45A-5.

By 1951, the XB-47 had not yet been adopted by the USAF and the US was in desperate need of a nuclear deterrent force. Therefore, the Air Force initiated Operation Backbreaker. This program, second to that of On Top (which was to upgrade B-29s, B-36s, B-47s, and B-50s), was designed to upgrade existing B-45As into a nuclear deterrent force. Backbreaker consisted of the following upgrades:

  1. Installation of an Emerson A-6 turret to replace the failed A-3 turret. The turret also featured an AN/APG-30 radar ranging unit. (Note at this point the B-45A’s tail turret had been deleted for some time)
  2. AN/APQ-24 radar bombing and navigation set.
  3. AN/APN-3 SHORAN with K-1A computer
  4. Radar Bomb Scoring training system
  5. AN/APN-11 visual radar beacon
  6. AN/ARC-27 UHF radio
  7. A-6 chaff dispenser
  8. AN/APX-6 IFF set
  9. New fuel totalizer, along with one 500-gallon external tank under each nacelle and a standard 318-gallon tank in the aft bomb bay.
  10. Modification of bomb bay for use of nuclear weapons.

Backbreaker aircraft became operational as soon as they were converted, though their numbers were small and there was still room to fill in Europe. Following Backbreaker, the USAF initiated Operation Second Call in mid-1952. While not as extensive as the previous, it greatly increased the B-45A’s range of operations. The following changes were as follows:

  1. Moving of the Mk 5 bomb rack to the forward bay.
  2. Standard 318-gallon fuel tank in the upper aft bomb bay
  3. Replacement of the old SHORAN with the AN/APN-84 SHORAN
  4. New GE A-5 FCS for the rear turret

The modifications by Second Call were of great importance of the 47th Bombardment Wing, as the increased range with the Mark 5 nuclear weapon would greatly bolster the unit’s combat range in Europe. Despite constant exercises, this time would never come. By 1957, the B-45 in its combat role would slowly be replaced by the Douglas B-66. By 1959, the B-45 would be retired completely and the unsung hero of nuclear deterrence would be unfortunately forgotten.

Specifications
The B-45 has a much better flight profile over previous propeller-driven aircraft, though is lacking when compared to other jet bombers.

Specifications (B-45A-5 Second Call)

Dimensions
Crew: 4 (Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier/Navigator, Tail Gunner)
Length: 75.3’
Wingspan: 89.0’
Height: 25.2’
Weight:

  • Empty: 47,022 lbs.
  • Combat: 67,820 lbs.
  • Max Take-off: 92,745 lbs.
  • Max Landing: 90,428 lbs.

Fuel: 4002 gal. @ 26,013 lbs. internal / 6,745 gal. @ 43,849 lbs. with two jettisonable 872-gallon tanks and two 500-gallon nacelle tanks
Powerplant: 2 x GE J47-13 in Engine 1 and 3 positions, 2 x GE J47-15 in Engine 2 and 4 positions
Thrust @ SSL:

  • 4320 lbf normal
  • 5200 lbf military
  • 6000 lbf max
    ATO: 2 x XLR13-AJ-1
  • 4000 lbf thrust for 60 seconds

Flight Performance
Speed:

  • Basic: 434 kt. @ 35,000 ft.
  • Combat: 434 kt. @ 35,000 ft.
  • Max: 492 kt. @ SL

Stall speed: 113.6 kt. @ TOW
Climb rate:

  • 2950 fpm @ SL, MTOW
  • 4300 fpm @ SL, Combat Weight

Combat Radius: 764 nmi.
Ferry Range: 1807 nmi.
Take-off run: 4950 ft. unassisted
Ceiling: 38,000 to 45,750 ft.

Stores
2 x AN/M3 .50 cal w/ 600 rnd. each

Standard aircraft had the following payloads:
27 x 500 lb
16 x 500 and 1 x 872-gallon tank
14 x 1000 lb
4 x 2000 lb
2 x 4000 lb
1 x 12, 000 lb Tall Boy
1 x 22,000 lb Grand Slam

Aircraft modified under Backbreaker and Second Call were strictly for nuclear weapons delivery but still retained the standard payload maximum. These aircraft could carry the following:
1 x Mark 5
1 x Mark 5 and 1 x 872-gallon tank (Second Call only)
1 x Mark 7 internal
1 x Mark 7 and 1 x 500-gallon nacelle tank external (Second Call only)
1 x Mark 8
1 x Mark 8 and 1 x 872-gallon tank (Second Call only)
27 x 100 lb M38A2 practice bombs

Avionics
AN/APN-84 SHORAN
AN/APQ-24 Radar Navigation and Bombing System
AN/APG-30 Tail Warning Receiver
GE A-5 FCS
A-6 Chaff Dispenser

AN/APN-11
AN/ARC-27
AN/APX-6

Aircraft Images (4)

Note that aircraft 7025 remained a standard B-45A-5, and 7038 was converted into a TB-45A



Technical Images (6)






Conclusion
The B-45A, forgotten in time, was an important stepping stone into the USAF’s global deterrence system. In War Thunder the Tornado would be an exceptional lower rank jet bomber, and also serve as a replacement for Canberra used for the early nuke jet bomber in ground forces.

Sources

AN 01-60GFA-1 - B-45A-1, -5, B-45C Flight Operating Instructions - 19491220
B-45A (Back Breaker) SAC - 19570125
B-45A (Back Breaker) CS - 19570125
B-45A SAC - 19510709
B-45A CS - 19490606
The B-45 Tornado - John C. Fredriksen (2009)
North American B-45 Tornado - Geoffrey Hays (2021)
Suggestion from the old forum

7 Likes

Definite + 1. It’s a great stepping stone to larger jet bomber aircraft.

2 Likes

I’d love to see this. I have a really big want for a lot of these more obscure 1940s and 1950s vehicles to be put in the tree just as neat little additions and this fits perfectly into that.

2 Likes

Great potential addition!

3 Likes

I don’t think it can be balanced without a significant rework of higher tier bombers. Nearly twice the payload of the B-57 but worse flight performance.

1 Like

This thing would be amazing to see.

1 Like

On one hand, the B-45 is a good transition from the slow yet heavy ordnance capabilities of the B-29A (or possibly the B-50 in the future) to the lighter and unarmed yet faster B-57A.

However, I’d have to agree with you on the subject of rework. The game is slowly turning away from bomber gameplay with every passing update. Now you see bomber trees ending short of top tier, or ending with attackers/fighter-bombers. Whether it’s giving these aircraft proper ECM and other avionics, decompression, a combination of both or something entirely different, bomber gameplay really can’t advance past what we have now.

1 Like

Yes! This looks like an awesome aircraft! Especially if they add the tall boy and grandslam!

1 Like

A definite +1 from me, I’ve been wanting the B-45 for so long and I think it would honestly be pretty neat to have an alternative to the B-57

1 Like

yes please, We need more actual American early Jet Bombers.

1 Like