Photography Magazine

North American B-45A Tornado

By Htam
North American B-45A Tornado

@ Atwater, CA

April 2021

First flown in 1947, the B-45 has the distinction of being the first operational jet bomber to enter service with the United States Air Force, as well as being the first multi-engine jet bomber in the world to be refueled in midair. The Tornado saw action during the Korean War, performing conventional bombing and aerial reconnaissance missions. One was shot down over Chinese airspace by a MiG-15 in 1950, marking the first successful interception of a jet bomber by a jet fighter. Besides the USAF, in July 1951 four aircraft were leased to the Royal Air Force and tasked with flying deep-level reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union. The “Special Duties Flight” conducted missions during the period 1952–54, coming under fire from Soviet antiaircraft. Of the 143 Tornados produced, there are only three surviving examples. This aircraft was in USAF service from 1948-1959, then transferred to the US Navy in 1963 and converted into a JQB-45 drone controller. Delivered as a B-45A, this particular aircraft has the reinforced canopy of the B-45C. The canopy was changed when the aircraft was brought from China Lake Naval Weapons Center to Castle AFB for restoration in 1980.

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