May 052012
 

The Forth Worth Division of Consolidated Vultee (Convair) Aircraft Corporation initiated conceptual studies of a supersonic bomber for the USAAF in October 1946 under the Generalized Supersonic Bomber (GEBO) program. This was followed by GEBO II in March 1949, under which Convair further refined the concept. This article presents excerpts from Convair Report Nos. 3 through 5 on the GEBO II dating from April through June 1951 found in USAF files in the National Archives. (Reports 1 and 2 were missing from the files and may not have been preserved). These were submitted under contract no. AF 33(038)-2664. While some of the drawings and illustrations in these reports have been published before, several are quite new and shown here for the first time. High resolution versions of the images are available at the end of the article.

Structures & Weights

Report No. 3 focused on structures and weights and was quite technical; only a few pages are of interest to the average enthusiast, such as the excellent inboard profile shown right. The cover and introduction are shown immediately below.

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Dimensional Data

Report No. 4 presented a summary of dimensional data for the aerial carrier and the supersonic bomber designs that comprised the GEBO system. The operational techniques of this system involved using a carrier airplane to augment the range of a supersonic bomber by transporting the bomber part of the distance to the target. The bombing airplane then flew the remaining distance to the target and returned to the original take-off point without additional assistance.

The carrier was a B-36 airplane modified to permit partial stowage of the bomber in the bomb bay section. This was a swept wing version of the B-36 with turboprop power plants. The bomber was a four engine partially expendable airplane of unconventional design developed from earlier CVAC studies of tactical type supersonic airplanes. The generalized portion of the study pertained to the bombing airplane only. The carrier design remained fixed, while the bomber design was varied systematically within a preselected range of wing areas, leading edge sweeps, trailing edge sweeps, and thickness ratios. The design details of the carrier, and the methods of developing the bomber on a generalized basis, are given in the remainder of the report, the main portion of which is presented below.

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Summary & Evaluation

Report No. 5, the final document covered here, was a summary and evaluation of Convair’s GEBO research up to June 13, 1951, the date the report was issued. The first study of the GEBO series conducted during May 1947 to May 1949 comprised an evaluation of typical subsonic turboprop and turbojet powered aircraft. The existing study evaluated the overall performance capabilities of the carrier-parasite principle using a carrier airplane and a partially expendable supersonic bomber as the parasite airplane. The carrier airplane launched the parasite at the combat area perimeter and returned it to base. The parasite airplane flew the remaining distance to the target at supersonic speeds, dropped its bomb load and returned to the carrier base without additional assistance.

A long range tactical striking force capable of operating at high altitudes and supersonic speeds in the combat area was believed necessary for successful penetration of future enemy defensive systems, and for aircraft survival within these systems. The operational techniques, and the bomber designs considered in this study offered a practical solution for developing a force of this nature with existing technological information on the aerodynamic, structural, and propulsion aspects of the problem.

To read the report in depth, please view the image gallery below.

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Ultimately, the Air Force rejected the parasite scheme, and Convair went on to develop a more conventional bomber configuration which became the famous B-58 Hustler. For more information on GEBO and the development of the B-58, please consult Jay Miller’s excellent Convair B-58 Hustler: The World’s First Supersonic Bomber published by Midland.

All images from NARA Archives II, College Park, MD, RG 341

Access to High Resolution Images

Click to Enlarge

Readers may purchase a high resolution PDF download of the 63 plans and illustrations previewed above for just $2.99 from our shop on Gumroad.com; an example of a high resolution image is shown to the left.

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