Preserving Warbird artifact at a time.
Cart 0
Altitude and Airspeed Handset, Gunnery System, B-36 Peacemaker

General Electric

Altitude and Airspeed Handset, Gunnery System, B-36 Peacemaker


Here is an original Cold-War-era Altitude and Airspeed Handset as used in the Convair B-36D Peacemaker Bomber. This was a module of the B-36's Central Fire Control System, the remote control gun turret system.  (see image from flight manual).

This critical component was installed at the nose gunner's station in the B-36.  It was his responsibility to ensure that the dials on the handset for altitude, outside air temperature, and airspeed are set to match the actual readings on the altimeter and indicators for temperature and airspeed on the gunner's panel every ten minutes.  These settings fed into the onboard gunnery computers that determined proper lead and ballistics corrections for each of the 6 gunsights.

The left knob adjusts the indicated airspeed which is displayed in the left window. The center knob adjusts the outside air temperature which is displayed on the upper dial of the right window. The altitude is set by the left knob and is displayed in the right window. As the temperature is set, a "Y" on the bottom of the temperature scale moves left or right. The altitude is then set to align with the bottom leg of the "Y".  

For as sophisticated this gunnery system was, it is interesting to note that it relied upon a human to read these metrics from instruments and physically input them into the computer system.

Although termed a "handset", at 9 x 7 x 4 inches the unit is larger than one might regard a handset, and it was hard-mounted to the aircraft. 

Share this Product