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VALOM 72120 North-American B-45A Tornado 1:72  Scale
VALOM 72120 North-American B-45A Tornado 1:72  Scale
VALOM 72120 North-American B-45A Tornado 1:72  Scale
VALOM 72120 North-American B-45A Tornado 1:72  Scale

VALOM 72120 North-American B-45A Tornado 1:72 Scale

Regular price £34.95 £0.00

VALOM 72120 North-American B-45A Tornado 1:72  Scale

The North American B-45 Tornado was the first United States Air Force jet bomber and the first multi-jet engined aircraft to be refueled in midair. The B-45 was an important part of the U.S. nuclear deterrence program for several years in the early 1950s, but was superseded by the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. B-45s and RB-45s served in the USAF’s Strategic Air Command from 1950 until retirement in 1959.

Development of the B-45 began in 1944, when the U.S. War Department called for a new family of jet bombers similar to the new German jet bombers like the Arado Ar-234. A proposal from North American Aviation (NA-130) won, and on September 8, 1944, the company began production of three prototypes. The XB-45 broke ground for the first time on March 17, 1947.

Rising post-war tensions with the Soviet Union induced the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) to assign higher priorities to jet bomber development. To that end, the US initiated a contract with North American Aircraft on January 2, 1947 for immediate production of B-45As. It had been planned to equip five light bomb groups and three light reconnaissance groups with B-45As, but the promising results of the Boeing B-47's flight-testing made future production the B-45 increasingly uncertain. Soon afterwards, President Truman's budget restraints decreased Air Force expenditures and planned B-45 production was greatly reduced.

Although plagued by engine problems and numerous minor flaws, the B-45 regained importance as a bomber and a reconnaissance aircraft when the United States entered the Korean War in 1950. The re-deployment of U.S. forces from Europe to Korean revealed vulnerabilities of North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces to Soviet attack. In response, the USAAF made an important decision about the future of the B-45: it was modified to carry nuclear weapons.

Operation Fandango (sometimes called Operation Backbreaker) was a modification program that entailed changes to the B-45 permitting it to deliver nuclear weapons. The 40 B-45s allocated to the program were also equipped with a new defensive system and additional fuel tankage.

Despite issues with the modifications plus ongoing problems with the early jet engines, all 40 of the nuclear-capable B-45s were deployed to the United Kingdom by mid-June.

At about the same time, the reconnaissance version of the B-45, the RB-45, fitted with 12 cameras in four different positions along the fuselage, was deployed to Japan as part of the 323rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron. RB-45’s of this group flew alongside WWII-era RB-29s of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron and provided valuable intelligence throughout the remainder of the Korean War. RB-45 missions were limited to night operations in early 1952 in response to the downing of a Tornado by a Mig-15.

By the end of the 1950s all USAF B-45s were retired from active service however, a few continued to act as test aircraft into the early 1970s. The only other nation to operate the RB-45C was the United Kingdom and the limited use of the Tornado by the RAF is an interesting and little-known story.

The USAF was prohibited by the President of the United States from overflying the Soviet Union unless under a state of war. US allies close to the European theatre of war however, could.

Winston Churchill and the conservative administration at Downing Street sought a more co-operative atmosphere to joint intelligence initiatives with the US. To that end, Britain leased four RB-45 aircraft from the USAF 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing to form an RAF Special Duties Flight commanded by Squadron Leader John Crampton and operated by crews drawn from RAF squadrons No. 35 and No.115. The program, initiated in 1951, was named Operation Ju-Jitsu.

Repainted with RAF markings, the four aircraft were attached to a USAF squadron based in RAF Sculthorpe, Norfolk in eastern England and tasked with flying deep-level reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union to gather electronic and photographic intelligence during the period of 1952–54.

On April 17, 1952 a flight of three aircraft led by Crampton were headed for Kiev from Germany. While flying at ~36,000 ft, Crampton's aircraft was tracked by ground radar and came under antiaircraft fire. Applying full power, he immediately turned for Germany evading Soviet night fighters that had been dispatched to hunt his aircraft.
Subsequent flights over the Soviet Union were carried out under Project Robin using English Electric Canberra’s operating at the higher altitudes of ~54,000 ft.

It was not until 1994 under the "fifty-year rule" of the Public Records Act of 1958 that the existence of these spy missions became public knowledge. (Edited from Wikipedia)

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