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Boeing Dash-80, 707, C-135, KC-135, and VC-137C

Our Tribute to the First Generation of Great Boeing Jets

This section of Airplanes Of The Past is a tribute to those at Boeing who designed & built the 707 and its variants, and the Air Force and commercial airliner crews who have flown her.

Boeing 367-80 ... "Dash 80"Boeing 367-80 ... "Dash 80"
Udvar-Hazy Center

Boeing Dash-80

Boeing had emerged from World War II as the leading builder of large aircraft. It was experienced at selling planes to the military, although it had not had large sales of its civilian airliners. The company's development of a commercial jet airliner was a gamble on which the entire company was bet. But with the advent of the 707, Boeing succeeded.

The Boeing 367-80, the "Dash 80", was the prototype aircraft for the Boeing 707 jet airliner, the Air Force C-135 Stratolifter, and KC-135 Stratotanker. It was rolled out of the assembly line in May of 1954 from Boeing's Renton, Washington plant.

After 2,350 hours and 1,691 flights, the Dash 80 was withdrawn from use in 1969 and placed in storage. In May of 1972, it was donated to the Smithsonian, and stored at Davis-Monthan AMARG in Tucson, Arizona. In May 1990, Boeing returned the airplane to Seattle for full restoration.

On August 27, 2003, the Dash 80 made its final flight, to Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. It is now on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles (see photo to right).

Airline Orders for the Boeing 707 and Initial Development

The successful testing of the Dash 80 led to many orders for Boeing from multiple airlines. The first commercial orders for the 707 came on October 13, 1955, when Pan American World Airways ordered 20 aircraft.

The first flight of the first production 707-120 plane took place on December 20, 1957, and FAA certification followed on September 18, 1958.

Boeing 707 Specifications

The commercial 707 and the military C-135 shared many similarities and components. However, the airlines wanted the 707 fuselage to be 4 inches wider than the tanker version. Its width and the 100-foot length made it the largest passenger cabin in the air. Placement of more than 100 windows allowed airlines to rearrange seats. Location of passenger doors on the left side, at the front and at the rear of the cabin, became standard for subsequent Boeing jets.

Its cruising speed of 575 miles an hour was 225 miles an hour faster than its nearest propeller-powered rival.

Pan American Boeing 707Pan American Boeing 707

The 707 Enters Commercial Service

The 707 entered commercial service on October 26, 1958, when Pan Am flew 111 passengers on its 707-121 "Clipper America" (N711PA) from New York's Idlewild Airport to Paris in 8 hours and 41 minutes, twice as fast as a piston-engine airliner. The flight stopped at Gander, Newfoundland to refuel.

Boeing 720 and Other Variants

Boeing custom-designed 707 variants for different customers. It built special long-range models for Qantas Airways of Australia, and installed larger engines for Braniff's high-altitude South American routes.

A number of variants were developed for special use, including shorter-bodied airplanes and the 720 series, which was lighter and faster with better runway performance. The 707 was designated the 720 when it was modified for short-to-medium routes and for use on shorter runways. Engineers reduced the fuselage length by 9 feet, changed the leading-edge flaps and later installed turbofan engines.

Continental Airlines Boeing 707Continental Airlines Boeing 707

Boeing 707 Production Totals

The final commercial 707 was produced in 1979, with the final major derivative being the 707-320, a larger intercontinental series with a longer fuselage, bigger wing and higher-powered engines. With these improvements, the 707 had an intercontinental range of over 4,000 miles in a 141-seat configuration.

The 707 production line remained open for purpose-built military variants until 1991, with the last 707 airframes built as E-3 and E-6 aircraft. A total of 1,052 Boeing 707 aircraft were manufactured by Boeing.

The 707 had become the most popular jetliner of its time, and transformed the airline industry in a short period of time. Its popularity led to rapid developments in airport terminals, runways, airline catering, baggage handling, computerized reservation systems, and other air transport infrastructure.

The success of the 707 made Boeing the leader in commercial airliners, and led to a popular family of jetliners introduced over the years: the 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, and the 787 Dreamliner.

U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker and the C-135 Stratolifter

U.S.A.F Boeing KC-135 StratotankerU.S.A.F Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker

The KC-135, also evolved from the Dash-80 prototype, was the U.S. Air Force's first jet-powered refueling tanker, introduced in 1957. It replaced the KC-97.

The KC-135 is similar in appearance to the commercial 707, but has a narrower fuselage and is shorter than the 707.

Variants of the C-135 airplane were utilized for other purposes, including presidential aircraft, such as the VC-137, also known as the C-137 Stratoliner. To supplement its VC-137s, the Air Force converted several C-135 airframes to VC-135 VIP standard models, used for staff transport within the United States.

The next generation Air Force tanker was the KC-10 Extender, to be followed in 2017 by the Boeing KC-46A which is based on the Boeing 767.

Boeing would eventually build over 800 of the C-135 series aircraft.


Boeing VC-137C Presidential Jet - Special Air Mission (SAM) 27000 on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Simi Valley, CaliforniaBoeing VC-137C Presidential Jet - Special Air Mission (SAM) 27000 on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Simi Valley, California

VC-137 Presidential Aircraft

Towards the end of Eisenhower's term in 1958, the Air Force added three Boeing 707 aircraft into presidential fleet. In October of 1962, the Air Force purchased an additional aircraft, a VC-137 designated as Special Air Mission (SAM) 26000.

SAM 26000 served presidents from 1962 to 1998, carrying Presidents Kennedy to Clinton. It is on display at the Museum of the U. S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

In December of 1962, another VC-137C was added to the inventory, known as SAM 27000. Today, 27000 is on display at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Read more about Presidential and Military VIP aircraft

Photos from the Airplanes of the Past Archives

Boeing Model 367-80, the Dash-80, the 707 prototype, at Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport
Boeing Model 367-80, the Dash-80, the 707 prototype, at Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport
Boeing VC-137B, "Freedom One", at the PIMA Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona
One of three Boeing 707-153s converted to military use, this aircraft was completed as a VC-137A by Boeing in Seattle, Washington in April 1959.
Boeing VC-137B, "Freedom One"
Boeing VC-137B, "Freedom One", S/N 86971
Boeing VC-137B Freedom One
Boeing EC-135J S/N 63-8057 at Tucson, Arizona
Boeing EC-135J S/N 63-8057
Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker S/N 55-3139 near Atwater, California
Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker S/N 55-3139 near Atwater, California
KC-135E Stratotanker, S/N 57-1510, Hill AFB, Ogden, Utah
KC-135E Stratotanker, S/N 57-1510 at Hill AFB, Utah
Boeing C-135 S/N 91518 at AMARG, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona
Boeing C-135 S/N 91518 at AMARG
Boeing VC-137C Presidential Jet - Special Air Mission (SAM) 27000
at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Simi Valley, California
Boeing VC-137C Presidential Jet - Special Air Mission (SAM) 27000 on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Simi Valley, California
Boeing VC-137C Presidential Jet - Special Air Mission (SAM) 27000
at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Simi Valley, California
Boeing VC-137C Presidential Jet - Special Air Mission (SAM) 27000 on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Simi Valley, California

Boeing VC-137C 27000 Presidential Jet - Entered service in December, 1972
Ended service August, 2001

Boeing VC-137C Presidential Jet - Special Air Mission (SAM) 27000 on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Simi Valley, California
Boeing VC-137C Presidential Jet - Special Air Mission (SAM) Tail Number 27000
Boeing VC-137C Presidential Jet - Special Air Mission (SAM) 27000 on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Simi Valley, California

Shown Below: C-135 Stratolifter S/N 61-2671 at the entrance to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City
Construction Number C/N 18347, a Boeing C-135B-BN, was delivered to the Air Force on April 27, 1962.
It was converted to a WC-135B in June of 1965 for use by the 56th Weather Squadron.
In 1974 it was again converted, to a C-135C supporting transportation of high-level
military commanders in the Pacific realm until the early 1990s. At that time, the plane was
flown to the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB for mid-term
corrosion control. However, 61-2671 was deemed too corroded to repair, and was
ultimately placed on display at the Charles B. Hall Airpark
C-135 Stratolifter S/N 61-2671 on display at the Charles B. Hall Airpark at the entrance to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
C-135 Stratolifter S/N 61-2671 at the entrance to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City
C-135 Stratolifter S/N 61-2671, Construction Number C/N 18347, a Boeing C-135B-BN, on display at the Charles B. Hall Airpark at the entrance to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Boeing C-135C Stratolifter S/N 61-2671, former WC-135B, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City
C-135C Stratolifter S/N 61-2671, former WC-135B, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City
KC-135 Stratotanker S/N 63595 at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana
KC-135 Stratotanker S/N 63595
KC-135 Stratotanker S/N 63595
KC-135 Stratotanker S/N 63595
U.S. Air Force EC-135, S/N 10262, at the entrance to Ellsworth Air Force Base
U.S. Air Force EC-135, S/N 10262 at the entrance to Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota
USAF EC-135, S/N 10262, Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, South Dakota
U.S. Air Force EC-135, S/N 10262 at the entrance to Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota
USAF EC-135, S/N 10262, of the 28th Bombardment Wing (H), South Dakota
USAF EC-135, S/N 10262, of the 28th Bombardment Wing (H)
Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker, S/N 63-7998, N391NA, NASA aircraft, Tucson, Arizona
Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker, S/N 63-7998, N391NA, NASA aircraft
C-135 aircraft being used for parts at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AMARG, Tucson, AZ
C-135 aircraft at AMARG
KC-135 aircraft at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base AMARG in October, 2012
KC-135 aircraft at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base AMARG in October, 2012

C-135 Photographs by Our Friends and Supporters

KC-135 Stratotanker at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska
(photo by Michael Hoschouer)
KC-135 Stratotanker on display at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska
KC-135R Stratotanker of the 97th Air Mobility Wing at the 2014 Cannon AFB Air Show, Clovis, New Mexico
(photo by Andrew Hersey)
KC-135R Stratotanker at the 2014 Cannon AFB Air Show, Clovis, New Mexico


USAF Photos

The "707" prototype, the Boeing 367-80 "Dash 80" in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. It first arrived at AMARG in 1972, and remained in storage there until 1990 when it was flown to Seattle, Washington, to be restored at Boeing. Today, it is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport.
The "707" prototype, the Boeing 367-80 "Dash 80" in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. It first arrived at AMARG in 1972, and remained in storage there until 1990 when it was flown to Seattle, Washington, to be restored at Boeing.
KC-135 tankers ready for takeoff from MacDill Air Force Base KC-135 tankers ready for takeoff from MacDill Air Force Base
KC-135 tanker refueling F-15E fighters KC-135 tanker refueling F-15E fighters
KC-135 of the 22nd Air Refueling WingKC-135 of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing
KC-135 from MacDill Air Force BaseKC-135 from MacDill Air Force Base
VC-137 Air Force One in flight - Tail Number 27000
VC-137 Air Force One in flight - Tail Number 27000
Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000, former "Air Force One"
Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000, former "Air Force One"

Other C-135 Photos

U.S. Strike Command's VC-135A, S/N 61-0316, Airborne Command Post, built in 1962
Photo taken at Heathrow Airport near the PanAm hangar, 1971
(Photo by Mick West, as published by Airliners.Net ... used with permission of the photographer)
U.S. Strike Command's VC-135A, S/N 61-0316, Airborne Command Post

The Evolution of the 707: 727, 737 and 747

Boeing 727, on display in Seattle
The first Boeing 727, on display
The first Boeing 737, on display in Seattle
The first Boeing 737, on display in Seattle
The first Boeing 747 "City of Everett" at Boeing Field in Seattle
The first Boeing 747 "City of Everett" at Boeing Field in Seattle


Historic Imagess of Boeing 707 Airliners

Boeing 707 of Pan American Airways
Boeing 707 of Pan American Airways
Boeing 707 of American Airlines
Boeing 707 of American Airlines
Boeing 707 of Continental Airlines
Boeing 707 of Continental Airlines
Boeing 707 of Trans World Airlines
Boeing 707 of Trans World Airlines
Boeing 707 of Lufthansa Airlines
Boeing 707 of Lufthansa Airlines
BOAC Boeing 707
BOAC Boeing 707
Boeing 707 of British Airtours
Boeing 707 of British Airtours
British Caledonian Boeing 707
British Caledonian Boeing 707