When I hear the word Peacemaker the first thing that comes to my mind is Sam Colt’s .45 caliber revolver, famously worn (and used) by General George S. Patton, Jr. Thing is, his Peacemaker only held six shots; the Convair B-36 Peacemaker held so much more.

B-36: A New Gift for the Germans

The B-36 Peacemaker idea first saw the light of day in 1941, when the U.S. Army Air Corps (AAC) put out the request for a bomber capable of deploying from North America. The U.S. was then worried that Britain may fall to German bombing raids, thereby removing the U.S.’s ability to strategically bomb Axis targets from British airfields.

The requirements set by the AAC could not be met with the technology available at the time, so some parameters were scaled back. Overall range was reduced from 12,000 to 10,000 miles, and cruise speed dropped from 275 to 240 mph.

Simultaneously, the Germans were also in the process of developing their own long-range bomber: the Amerikabomber, so named because it was meant to target, you guessed it, America.

B-36 Peacemaker
An early Convair B-36B Peacemaker shown in-flight near Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, in the early 1950s. The 7th Bombardment Wing (Heavy) flew the B-36 for the entirety of the aircrafts’ operational life. (Courtesy photo/Tinker History Office)

While the Germans never got their bomber beyond the prototype stage, the U.S. began production before the B-36 prototypes had completed testing. In all, Consolidated Vultee (later Convair) produced 382 of some of the largest piston-driven aircraft ever built. Of these, none saw combat, and only four complete models remain today.

The Peacemaker and the Iron Curtain

The Peacemaker was developed not as a defensive weapon, but an offensive one, ready to take Holy fire to the Germans. 

Once WWII ended, the Iron Curtain descended, and the Cold War began setting the U.S. and Russia on different sides of the divide.

During the Cold War, the Peacemaker transformed into a peacekeeper. The Soviets knew America had a long-range, strategic bomber that could fly higher than their anti-aircraft batteries could handle. With a range of 10,000 miles and a nuclear payload, the Peacemaker was poised to “make the peace” should Russia decide to pop off.