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  B-47 Stratojet  In Brief Designed by Boeing  built by Boeing, Lockheed, Douglas  firstflight Dec. 17, 1947  crew of three  number built 2,049  arma-ment, two 20 mm cannon in tail turret  bomb load 20,000 lb    Specific to B-47E: six General Electric J47-GE-25 jet engines, plus30 or 33 RATO bottles  max speed 606 mph  cruise speed 557mph  max range 4,000 mi  weight (loaded) 230,000 lb  span116 ft  length 109 ft 10 in  height 27 ft 11 in. Famous Fliers Gen. Curtis E. LeMay (SAC commander, CSAF); Gen. Russell E.Dougherty (SAC commander); Gen. David C. Jones (CJCS, CSAF);Col. Donald E. Hillman (leader of 1952 overflight of Russia); 1st Lt.James Obenauf (DFC in 1958 for heroism); Gen. Thomas S. Power(SAC commander); Gen. John A. Shaud (chief of staff, SHAPE);Gen. Walter C. Sweeney Jr. (commander, Tactical Air Command);Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr. (pilot of B-29 bomber Enola Gay  );Editor’s addition: Col. Walter J. Boyne, noted USAF historian. Interesting Facts Flown in some 19 variants  wing so flexible that tip could deflectthrough 17-foot-long arc  carrier of Bell GAM-63 Rascal “super-sonic pilotless bomber”  RB-47s overflew Soviet Union in 1952  two RB-47s shot down in Cold War  launched an anti-satellitemissile against Explorer VI. This aircraft: B-47E-125-BW Stratojet— #53-2399  —as it looked in 1964 when deployed to RAF Brize Norton in Britain. The bomberwas permanently assigned to SAC’s 380th Bomb Wing, Plattsburgh AFB, N.Y. The tail numeral “0” indicates the airplane is 10 years old. B-47s sometimes made rocket-assisted takeoffs. The B-47 Stratojet made Strategic Air Commandthe most powerful war instrument in history. TheB-47’s wartime mission was nuclear attack of theSoviet Union. It was fast, powerful, and numerous.Essentially there were two sets of B-47s, withtwo sets of crews. One comprised aircraft andcrews optimized for delivering atomic weapons.The second was made up of reconnaissance,electronic jamming, and weather types. The lat-ter group would troll Soviet air defenses, SAMs,and airborne intercept radars, trying to provokea response. Two were shot down.Jet engines were new when design work beganin 1943. A turning point came in 1945; Boeingaerodynamicist George Schairer, having gainedaccess to German plans and engineers, advisedusing swept wings in Boeing’s design. The sleek,beautiful outcome was highly advanced but alsotemperamental. It did not become operationaluntil 1951. With its 35-degree-swept wings, sixjet engines, drag and brake chutes, anti-skidbrakes, and bicycle landing gear, the B-47 wasfar superior to its predecessors. In-flight refuelinggave it intercontinental range. Its high cruise speedmade Soviet fighter interception difficult. Flyingthe B-47 was a demanding task, and many werelost in landing or take-off accidents.Beginning in 1953, B-47 wings rotated throughbases in the Pacific, North Africa, and Britain.As Soviet defenses improved, USAF creatednew B-47 tactics, including the Low AltitudeBombing System (LABS)—use of an Immelmannmaneuver from low atltitude and so-called “tossbombing.” In 1957, USAF began using “Reflex,”a system in which B-47 wings pulled 21-day“alerts” overseas. By 1957, SAC had about 1,800B-47s (and RB-47s) in service, but that numberrapidly declined as the Air Force brought on thenew workhorse B-52.  —Walter J. Boyne  104AIR FORCE Magazine  / August 2007 Airpower Classics Artwork by Zaur Eylanbekov  A Boeing B-52 takes off. The huge, long-range B-52 bomber indisputablyrates as the most capable and versatile warplanein history. From the Cuban Missile Crisis and ArcLight and Linebacker II in Vietnam to the Gulf War,Iraq War, and Afghanistan today, the Boeing Strato-fortress has been the indispensable combat aircraft.The B-52 is now in its sixth decade of service. Firstemployed as a high-altitude deliverer of free-fallnuclear weapons, it has been constantly evolvingin tactics, weaponry, and missions to meet everychallenge in many different flight regimes.The all-metal, shoulder wing B-52 defined theconcept of an aerial platform, for new equipment,modifications, and changes in tactics have kept itas a first-line weapon. A Boeing team created thebasic design in October 1948. The team seized uponthe promise of the new Pratt & Whitney J57 engineand in-flight refueling as the keys to development ofa jet-powered intercontinental bomber.First deployed in 1955, the B-52 experienced someinitial technical problems but rapidly became theprimary bomber in the Strategic Air Commandfleet. Production concluded in 1962 when the finalB-52H—the last model—rolled off the line.Numerous upgrades and refittings have kept itcombat-worthy. It can perform strategic attack, closeair support, air interdiction, offensive counterair, andmaritime operations. In fact, never in history has asingle combat aircraft served so well, for so long,in so many ways. The B-52 will remain in front-lineservice until 2040.   —Walter J. Boyne  In Brief Designed, built by Boeing e first flight April 15, 1952 e num-ber built 744 e crew of five (commander, pilot, radar navigator,navigator, EW officer) e armament early models, four .50 calguns; H model, one 2 mm gun e   Specific to B-52H: eight Pratt &Whitney TF-33P-3/103 turbofan engines e armament one 20 mmgun, eventually removed e max load 70,000 lb of nuclear and/orconventional munitions (guided or gravity bombs, PGM, ALCM) e max speed 650 mph e cruise speed 525 mph e max range8,800 mi e weight (loaded) 488,000 lb e span 185 ft e length 159ft 4 in e height 40 ft 8 in. Famous Fliers Air Force Cross: James McCarthy, John Mize. Combat record:  R. J. Smith (506 missions). Notables: William Eubank, RobertHuyser, Curtis LeMay, Earl O’Loughlin, Joseph Pitts. Test Pilots:  Chuck Fisher, Tex Johnston, Guy Townsend. Others: Dale Brown(novelist), Robert Certain (President Ford’s minister), Tom Jones(astronaut). Interesting Facts Nicknamed “Buff,” for Big Ugly Fat Fellow (in polite terms) e  featured in many films e begun as a scaled-up B-29 bomber withsix turboprop engines e stripped of tandem seating at insistenceof Curtis LeMay e carried the X-15 on experimental flights in the1950s e modified for low-level tactics e became key aircraft inSAC’s “Chrome Dome” airborne alert concept in 1961 e droppedits first bombs in Vietnam War in June 1965 e flew more than126,000 combat sorties over South Vietnam e delivered 40percent of all weapons in 1991 Gulf War e flew 16,000-mileround-trip mission to launch 35 ALCMs at the opening of DesertStorm e set record for nonstop, around-the-world flight in 1957nonrefueled nonstop flight of 12,532 miles (1962) e two B-52scan monitor 140,000 sq mi of ocean surface in two hours. This aircraft: Air Force B-52H Stratofortress—# 60-048  —as it looked in September 2005 on visit to RAFFairford, UK. This bomber was from the 96th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, La.    U   S   A   F  p   h  o   t  o 88AIR FORCE Magazine  / June 2013 Artwork by Zaur Eylanbekov Airpower Classics B-52 Stratofortress
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