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.
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)
100 ft (30 m)
31 ft 9 in (9.68 m)
1,400 sq ft (130 m2)
20,156 lb (9,143 kg)
33,860 lb (15,359 kg)
994 US gal (828 imp gal; 3,760 l) in three wing tanks
2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder air cooled radial engines,
1,200 hp (890 kW) each
3-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic,
11 ft 7 in (3.53 m) diameter constant speed fully feathering propellers.