Automatic Pilot E-6 Turn and Pitch Control Panel Type A-8
This artifact resides in our Private Collection, yet we welcome inquiries from restorers, museums, or serious enthusiasts. Please email us with the name of the artifact at Curator@AeroAntique.com.
This is a very rare example of the Turn and Pitch Control Panel Type A-8 of the E-6 Automatic Pilot System as used in the US Air Force Cold-War-era Convair B-36 Peacemaker Strategic Bomber and the Boeing B-50 Superfortress Bomber (essentially an upgraded B-29). See two pages from the B-36 flight manual and one from the B-50 flight manual with images of this panel.
This panel appeared in the main center console between the aircraft commander (pilot) and the pilot (co-pilot). It was used to engage/disengage, turn left/right, dive/climb, and trim ailerons/elevator/rudder while in automatic pilot mode.
Interestingly, there is a small cover installed over a separate selector switch designed to engage a formation stick. Formation sticks, as used in WWII bomber aircraft, allowed the pilot to maintain formation with other aircraft visually and manually while in autopilot mode. We speculate that by the time B-36 aircraft came into service, conventional bombing by bomber formations was no longer the USAF doctrine in the era of strategic thermonuclear weapons, thus negating the need for this formation stick switch.
We have seen versions of this E-6 panel in flight manuals of the B-47 Stratojet as well.
This example is in superb condition. With a serial number prefix of AF50, it was likely made to a manufacturing order placed in 1950. All of the switches are mechanically operable. Measures ~ 6 x 6 x 7 inches deep. A cool find indeed.