Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Montage of images and link description. Race for the Superbomb Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Interview Transcripts | Bibliography | Primary Sources

Lt. General James Edmundson on: Flying B-36 and B-47 planes
James Edmundson Q: You have written with great fondness about both the B-36s and the B-47s. Tell us your impression about some of the planes that stand out in your mind, that you followed over the years.

JE: Well, the B-36 really wasn't much fun to fly. It's a gigantic thing. They used to say it was like sitting on your front porch and flying your house around...It was big on the outside and small on the inside. Very cramped for the crews. And the missions were long.

The six reciprocating engines were buried in the wing, where it was hard to get to them. We maintained them up in the snows in the winter in-- around Spokane. So it was-- It wasn't a pleasurable assignment in a lot of ways. And yet I was very proud of it, because the B-36s could hit targets within Russia that could be touched in no other way. We didn't have missiles then. We didn't have air-to-air refueling. And the B-36 was the only airplane that had legs long enough to get some of those targets...

I went from B-36s to B-47s. And then that put some fun back into the world. We went down to Tucson, Arizona, where we didn't have to fight the snowbanks any more. B-47s were easy to maintain: six jets all hung out in the open -- easy to open them up and get to them. Three-man crew, so that you didn't have the big manpower problem that you'd have with a 14-, 16-man crew. Flying a B-47, in many ways, was very much like flying a fighter. You were in a single cockpit. You were strapped into a seat. There was no walking around. The main difference was that you had six throttles in your hand instead of one.

back to Interview Transcripts

Program Description | Enhanced Transcript | Reference