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Boeing B-47 Stratojet of the U.S. Air Force

Our Tribute to the B-47

Boeing B-47 Stratojets parked on the tarmac
U.S. Air Force B-47 Stratojets on the tarmac

This section of Airplanes Of The Past is meant to be a tribute to those at Boeing who designed & built the B-47, the crews who flew her, and those who have worked tirelessly to preserve this first-generation jet bomber and its history.

B-47 Concept and Design

The Boeing B-47 Stratojet was the first swept wing jet bomber and the first to be designed to carry nuclear weapons. The design of the B-47 relied on swept wing data captured from Germany after World War II.

Boeing engineers had envisioned a jet-powered plane as early as 1943. However, wind-tunnel tests of straight-wing jet aircraft indicated that the straight wing did not use the full potential of jet-engine power.

This medium bomber featured six jet engines, allowing it to fly at high subsonic speeds and at high altitudes. The B-47 needed defensive armament only in the rear because no fighter was fast enough to attack from any other angle. The first XB-47 rolled off the assembly line in September of 1947. The Stratojet entered service in 1951.

B-47 Stratojet Air Force Strategic Bomber TOPPS Card #61
B-47 Stratojet Air Force Strategic Bomber TOPPS Card #61
(from the TOPPS Wings Friend or Foe collection)

Because early jet engines could not provide enough thrust for takeoff, the XB-47, B-47A, and B-47B had 18 small rocket units in the fuselage for jet-assisted takeoff (JATO). Thrust reversers and anti-skid brakes had not yet been developed, so a ribbon-type drag parachute reduced the B-47 landing speed.

B-47 Stratojet Deployment by the U.S. Air Force

The B-47A entered service in May of 1951 with the 306th Bombardment Wing (Medium) based at MacDill AFB in Florida. The 306th was intended to act as a training outfit to prepare future B-47 crews.

At its peak use in 1958, the USAF operated 28 B-47 bomb wings and four RB-47 reconnaissance wings, totaling 1,357 B-47s and 175 RB-47s. The USAF phased out its last B-47 bombers in 1965, and the USAF retired its last Stratojet, a WB-47E, in 1969.

The B-47, along with the B-52 Stratofortress, replaced the piston powered Convair B-36 in the SAC fleet.

By 1957, 28 bomb wings were flying 1,260 B-47s and another 600 training and recon versions were in use. Several versions were high altitude reconnaissance aircraft and many were used for electronic reconnaissance.

B-47 Production Recap

A total of 2,032 B-47s were built, forming the backbone of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in the mid 1950s. Boeing built 1,373, Douglas Aircraft Co. built 274 and Lockheed Aircraft Corp. built 385.

Technical Specifications of the B-47

Wingspan 116 feet
Length 108 feet
Maximum Takeoff Weight 230,000 pounds
Top Speed 587 mph
Range 4,000 miles
Ceiling 38,000 feet
Power six General Electric J-47-GE-25 turbojet engines, with 7,200 pounds of thrust per engine; Jet-Assisted Take-Off using auxiliary rocket motors that are jettisoned after take-off
Crew Size 3
Armament two .20 mm cannons in remote tail turret; 10,000-22,000 pounds of bombs

Boeing B-47 Stratojet Surviving Aircraft

The last Air Force B-47 was retired at the end of 1969. About 30 B-47 aircraft are preserved in locations across the United States, including those shown below.

B-47 at the Pima Air and Space Museum ... Original Photographs by the Author

Boeing EB-47E Stratojet, S/N 53-2135, Tucson, Arizona
Boeing EB-47E Stratojet, S/N 53-2135
Boeing EB-47E Stratojet of the Strategic Air Command
Boeing EB-47E Stratojet, S/N 53-2135 in Tucson


B-47 at the Castle Air Museum

Boeing B-47E Stratojet, S/N 52-0166, at the Castle Air Museum
On June 16, 1986, this aircraft made the last flight ever of a B-47, flying from the China Lake facility to Castle AFB for placement in the airpark
Boeing B-47E Stratojet, S/N 52-0166
Boeing B-47E Stratojet, Atwater, California
Boeing B-47E Stratojet, S/N 52-0166
Boeing B-47 with shield markings of the 93rd Bombardment Wing
Boeing B-47 with shield markings of the 93rd Bombardment Wing
Boeing B-47 Stratojet 0166
Boeing B-47 Stratojet 0166 in Atwater


Photograph of the B-47 at the Museum of of the United States Air Force

Boeing RB-47H, S/N 34299, on display at the Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio
Boeing RB-47H, S/N 34299, on display at the Museum of the United States Air Force


Photographs of the B-47 at the Museum of Flight

Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 17066
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 17066
U.S. Air Force WB-47E Stratojet
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 17066
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 17066
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 17066
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 17066


B-47 at the Hill Aerospace Museum

Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 51-2360 at Hill AFB in Ogden, Utah
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 51-2360
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 51-2360
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 51-2360
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 51-2360
Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 51-2360 in Utah
Tail section of Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 51-2360
Tail section of Boeing WB-47E Stratojet S/N 51-2360


B-47 at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aerospace Museum

Boeing B-47 Stratojet in Pueblo, Colorado
Boeing B-47 Stratojet in Pueblo, Colorado
Boeing B-47 Stratojet
Boeing B-47 Stratojet in Pueblo, Colorado
Boeing B-47 Stratojet in Pueblo, Colorado
Boeing B-47 Stratojet in Pueblo, Colorado
Boeing B-47 Stratojet S/N 32104
Boeing B-47 Stratojet S/N 32104
Tail section of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet S/N 32104
Boeing B-47 Stratojet S/N 32104

B-47 at the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB

B-47 Stratojet 4296 at Eglin AFB, Florida
B-47 Stratojet 4296


B-47 at the Charles B. Hall Airpark

Boeing RB-47E Stratojet S/N 53-4257 at the Charles B. Hall Airpark
located at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Boeing RB-47E Stratojet S/N 53-4257 at the Charles B. Hall Airpark at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

B-47E at the Barksdale AFB Global Power Museum

Boeing B-47E Stratojet, S/N 53-2276, at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana
Boeing B-47E Stratojet, S/N 53-2276


Photograph of the B-47 at the March Field Air Museum

B-47 Stratojet, S/N 2275, on display at the March Field Air Museum in California
B-47 Stratojet, S/N 2275, on display at the March Field Air Museum in California

Photographs of the Boeing XB-47 Stratojet Prototype

Boeing XB-47 Stratojet rollout
Boeing XB-47 Stratojet rollout

Photographs of the B-47 Stratojet Assembly Line

Boeing's B-47 Stratojet assembly line as reported in LIFE Magazine
Boeing's B-47 Stratojet assembly line
Boeing's B-47 Stratojet wing assembly
Boeing's B-47 Stratojet assembly line
Boeing's B-47 Stratojet assembly line
Boeing's B-47 Stratojet assembly line
Boeing's B-47 Stratojet assembly line
Boeing's B-47 Stratojet assembly line
Completed B-47 bombers outside the Boeing assembly plant in Wichita, Kansas
Boeing B-47 assembly plant in Wichita, Kansas

USAF Photographs of the B-47 Stratojet on Assignment

Boeing WB-47 Stratojet S/N 12115 on tarmac
Boeing WB-47 Stratojet S/N 12115 on tarmac
U.S. Air Force B-47 in flight
U.S. Air Force B-47 in flight
B-47 Stratojet S/N 12225 at MacDill Air Force Base in the 1950s
B-47 Stratojet at MacDill Air Force Base in the 1950s
U.S. Air Force B-47 Stratojets on the tarmac at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa Florida
U.S. Air Force B-47 Stratojets on the tarmac at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa Florida
B-47 Stratojets on the tarmac
B-47 Stratojets on the Tarmac

Historic Images of B-47 Stratojets

Boeing B-47 assembly plant in Wichita, Kansas
Boeing B-47 assembly plant in Wichita, Kansas
Boeing B-47 shown at Pine Castle Air Force Base, Orlando, Florida
Boeing B-47 shown at Pine Castle Air Force Base, Orlando, Florida
U.S. Air Force Boeing B-47 S/N 032280 on the flightline
U.S. Air Force Boeing B-47 S/N 032280 on the flightline
Boeing RB-47E, with B-47E in the background, in flight ... world's fastest day-or-night long-range bomber
Boeing RB-47E, with B-47E in the background, in flight ... world's fastest day-or-night long-range bomber