The XB-51 was a three-engined ground attack prototype first flown in 1949. An outstanding design full -maybe too full- of innovations: high-advanced variable incidence wing, T-tail, innovative rotative bomb bay, etc. Fast and maneuverable, it was also too complex and in the end lost against the more prosaic British Canberra. The Canberra had “longer-legs” and was a more mature design -the USAF needed the attack bomber “yesterday.” Anyway, Martin’s rotative bomb bay was too good to go to waste; it was adapted to the USAF Canberras. In a Solomonic gesture, the Martin got the Canberra’s fabrication license.
The XB-51’s very German shape is evident in this stunning fast take-off (almost a lift-off) later in its test program: a seven-engined monster with its three J47s jets and four RATOs.