Back in 1945, the US Army Air Forces began looking for a bomber that could strike distant targets from bases in the US. That search ended with the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, but before we got to the eight-engined monster that has been flying since 1952 (that’s 65 years, folks), Boeing had a contract in hand to build the Model 462, a straight-winged behemoth powered by six Wright T35 turboprop engines. Fate, in the form of captured German data on swept wings, changed the course of aviation history. But this is what might have been.

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Interestingly, the Russians were never able to match the range and performance of the jet-powered B-52. To this day, their long-range strategic bombing workhorse has been the Tupolev Tu-95, which bears a certain resemblance to the Model 464-35, with swept wings housing four turboprop engines turning contra-rotating propellors. Like the B-52, the Tu-95 also took its maiden flight 1952.

(Royal Air Force)

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