KB-50J Superfortress

This aircraft is under restoration.

Originally a B-50 Superfortress bomber aircraft, the B-50 started life as an upgraded model to the B-29 Superfortress. The general appearance of the B-29 and B-50 are similar, however, the B-50 features several upgrades from the B-29 design, including more powerful engines, a taller tail, a redesigned cockpit, and many other structural changes.

In 1956, the museum’s B-50 was the first to be converted into a KB-50. Instead of carrying bombs, the KB-50 carried two large fuel tanks in the bomb bay. It had two drogue hose pods mounted to the wingtips along with a third in the former tail gunner’s position. In 1957, jet engines were added to boost the aircraft to safer speeds while refueling faster jet aircraft. Those that received jet engines were dubbed KB-50Js.

The KB-50 was used successfully for about eight years. It served as the basis for the KC-97 design and both aircraft served concurrently until replaced by the jet powered KC-135 Stratotanker. The last KB-50s flew as emergency refuelers for jet fighters over Vietnam. After finding corrosion in the crashed KB-50J #48-065 on 14 October 1964 in Thailand, all B-50 variants were forced into early retirement in March 1965.



Serial Number: 49-0389
First Flight:
25 June 1947
Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, and two refueling operators
Payload: 6,066 gal (39,430 lb) of transferable fuel
Powerplant: 4x Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radials, 2x J-47 turbojets
105 ft 1 in
141 ft 2 in
33 ft 7 in
Empty Weight:
Loaded Weight:
179,500 lbs
Maximum Speed:
444 mph
Cruise Speed:
Range: 2,500 miles
Service Ceiling: 32,100 ft
AMC Museum Restoration Crew Chief:

Assignment History

The assignment history for the Air Mobility Command Museum's KB-50J Superfortress, serial number 49-0389:

Date Location
14 Dec 1950 Delivered to the United States Air Force
Dec 1950 to 2nd Bombardment (Medium) Wing (SAC), Hunter AFB, GA (deployment to Goose Bay AB, Labrador and RAF Upper Heyford, UK)
Nov 1953 to 3040th Aircraft Storage Depot (Air Materiel Command), Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
Nov 1956 to Birmingham Modification Center, AL (to KB-50)
Jun 1957 to 431st Air Refueling Squadron (Tactical Air Command), Turner AFB, GA
Apr 1958 to Birmingham Modification center, AL (to KB-50J)
Jul 1958 to 4505th Air Refueling (Tactical) Wing (TAC), Turner AFB, GA (deployments to Lajes AB, Azores, Langley AFB, VA, and Kindley AB, Bermuda)
Jul 1959 Unit moved to Biggs AFB, TX (deployments to Hickam AFB, HI, Chateauroux AB, France, and Lajes AB, Azores)
Feb 1965 Dropped from inventory by transfer to museum status
Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I watched and photographed the crew taking this bird apart here at MacDill. It was an interesting process! I hope to visit the AMC Museum some day.

Looks like you went and got her from MacDill afterall…any idea what her history was from when she retired until you picker her up from the Dill? I know she was at the DIll for many years.

Thank you for taking care of her. I loved this acft & hated watching the salt air destroy her. I watched as you disassembled her & was relieved she was going to a good home & would be okay. I appreciate your work…

I issued that KB-50 it’s last departure clearance, cleared her for takeoff, and approved the crew’s request for a high performance takeoff, and a couple of high speed passes over the field! This was in February of 1965. Biggs AFB was closed in 1966 a few months after I finished my enlistment in March, 1966.