HistoryEditThe idea for the B-47 began with a 1943 requirement set by the the United States Army Air Force for a jet-powered bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. Designs were submitted by Boeing, Martin, Convair, and North American, and all four were awarded contracts in 1944. Boeing's final design, the Model 450, took in to consideration research done by Germany during World War II on the benefits of swept-back wings, and used six TG-180 turbojet engines mounted under the wings. The USAAF ordered two prototypes of this model in 1946, naming it the XB-47. It first flew on December 17th, 1947, and was largely successful. Production began in 1950, and the B-47 entered service in June, 1951.
The B-47 never saw active combat, at least in its bomber role. It suffered from unreliable avionics, was difficult to take off and land, and experienced a number of stress fractures in its wing mounts that led to crashes. However, the Stratojet did see service in a number of other areas, particularly in reconnaissance. During the Cold War, RB-47s flew many surveillance missions over the USSR, and were even fired upon on occasion. Several were shot down, but their superior speed usually allowed them to escape the Soviet interceptors. The B-47 was completely retired by 1977, replaced by the B-52 Stratofortress and B-58 Hustler in the bomber role and by the Boeing RC-135 in the reconnaissance role.
- XB-47: Two prototypes, the first using J35s in place of the J47s used on other examples.
- B-47A: Ten pre production aircraft used for development and training.
- B-47B: First production version, with 399 built. One example was passed to the RCAF in 1956 with designation CL-52 and serial number X-059. This aircraft was subsequently turned over to Canadair Ltd, and used as a testbed for the Orenda Iroquois turbojet, intended for the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow.
- B-47B-II: B-47Bs upgraded to B-47E standard.
- Powerplant: six General Electric J47-GE-25 turbojet engines
- Top speed: 607 mph
- Range: 4,647 miles
- Ceiling: 33,100 feet
- Crew: 3
- Empty weight: 79,074 pounds
- Length: 107 feet 1 inch
- Height: 28 feet
- Wingspan: 116 feet
- Armament: two 20 mm autocannons, 25,000 pounds of nuclear or conventional ordnance.