Budd RB Conestoga

1st Flight 1943

The RB-1 Conestoga was a twin-engine, stainless steel cargo aircraft designed for the United States Navy during World War II by the Budd Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Although it did not see service in a combat theatre, it pioneered design innovations in American cargo aircraft, later incorporated in modern military cargo airlifters.

Early in World War II it was feared that there would be a shortage of aluminium for the construction of aircraft, so the government sought out designs that used what were called “non-strategic materials”  Generally, this referred to wood, but the Budd Company took a different route.

The company had been a designer and builder of railroad passenger cars for many years and they adopted the techniques and materials used at the time in them to an aircraft. 

Instead of riveted aluminium

 the Conestoga was built primarily from spot welded stainless steel.

Initial orders in 1942 from the Navy for 200 and from the Army for 600 boded well for the design. 

However, the expected aluminium

 shortage never developed and cost increases and production delays resulted in all but 25 aircraft for the Navy being cancelled.

In the end, only 17 were built and all but one went straight from the factory to storage and sale as surplus.

Specifications

Crew: 3

Capacity: 9,600 lb (4,400 kg) of payload with 390 US gal (320 imp gal; 1,500 l) of fuel

Length: 68 ft (21 m)

Wingspan: 100 ft (30 m)

Height: 31 ft 9 in (9.68 m)

Wing area: 1,400 sq ft (130 m2)

Empty weight: 20,156 lb (9,143 kg)

Gross weight: 33,860 lb (15,359 kg)

Fuel capacity: 994 US gal (828 imp gal; 3,760 l) in three wing tanks

Power plant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engines, 1,200 hp (890 kW) each

Propellers: 3-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic, 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m) diameter constant-speed fully feathering propellers.

Performance

Maximum speed: 197 mph (317 km/h, 171 kn) at 7,500 ft (2,300 m)

Cruise speed: 165 mph (266 km/h, 143 kn)

Stall speed: 78 mph (126 km/h, 68 kn) fully loaded

Range: 700 mi (1,100 km, 610 nmi) normal

Maximum economical range: 1,620 mi (1,410 nmi; 2,610 km).

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