Once The USAF Experimented With Wing Tip Coupling To Increase Combat Radius.

by Daniel Russ on August 15, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 8.42.02 PMB-29 With a  pair F-82 Thunderjets coupled by the wintip

 

The B-29 Flying Fortress had a range of almost 6000 miles, which at the time was an amazing leap in force projection. A bomber in California could fly across the US, hit a target 500 or more miles off the east coast and make it back to California. This was the capability with a full payload. The B 36 Peacemaker had a 10,000 mile range and in the Cold War, this mean that the US and its NATO allies could hit targets all around the world from a series of airbases we maintained from Australia to Europe.

 

In August 1949, Major Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson did experimented with smaller aircraft, a pair of Culver Q-14 Cadets, that were coupled to the wingtips of a C47 transport. This allowed the smaller planes to extend the overall range of the Skytrain.

 

By increasing wing surface, more lift was provided to the entire flight and it offset any additional fuel consumption. The idea also allowed the parasite fighters to break off and defend the bomber or transport from incoming aircraft. This gave our Communist competitors something to think about in a nuclear gambit.

 

B-36-wingtip-coupling-640x427B-36 Peacemaker with an F86 on its port wingtip and a P80 shooting star as chase plane.

Eventually mid air refueling solved the problems of refueling.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ralph Kuenz August 18, 2015 at 8:57 pm

This Air Force method of wing tip coupling was knick named “Tip Toe and Tom Tom”. It did not work, and the configuration became unstable and the set up in the picture with the two F-84 aircraft coupled to the B-29 crashed when one or both F-84 aircraft rolled over into the B-29 wing causing catastrophic airframe failure. Perhaps with today’s automated guidance systems it might work in rough air, but the pilot’s response alone was not good enough to maintain stability. There is also the possibility that the wing tip stresses on the B-29 exceeded the design limits of the wing. (2nd photo RF-84F not F-86)

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