The Convair NB-36 was a bomber that carried a nuclear reactor. It was also known as the ‘Crusader’, or the NB-36H. It was built from a B-36 that had been destroyed in a tornado. It was created for the Nuclear Powered Aircraft programme, or NPA, to show the feasibility of a nuclear powered aircraft. It ended with the cancellation of the NPA programme.
The ‘Crusader’, or NB-36, was built for the NPA, or Nuclear Powered Aircraft programme. It was made out of parts from a B-36 destroyed in a tornado. There was a front section, which the crew lived(a pilot, copilot, flight engineer, and 2 nuclear engineers) inside, and a rear section, where the reactor was. The nose was brand-new, and was heavily lined with lead and thick yellow glass to protect against radiation. The engines and reactor were checked on by a television camera system. The engines were six Pratt & Whitney propeller engines and four GE J47 jet engines. The reactor did not power any of the plane’s systems, nor did it power the plane itself.
In all, the NB-36 made only 47 flights, all in daylight, and starting and ending in Carswell AFB, Texas. The plane was also followed by several support planes. The reactor was only operated once, when it was over a test range in New Mexico. There was a hotline connected to the president’s office, and once it was nearly used. That was when a smoke marker went off in the reactor compartment. Luckily, the plane didn’t blow up.