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B-47 Stratojet

America's first swept-wing multi-engine bomber


Near the end of World War II, Boeing aerodynamicist George Schairer was in Germany on a fact-finding mission when, at a hidden German aeronautics laboratory, he saw wind-tunnel data on swept-wing jet airplanes and sent the information home. Boeing engineers used that information to build a prototype with 35-degree swept-back wings, which they then tested in the newly completed Boeing High-Speed Wind Tunnel. The first B-47 flight took place on December 17, 1947.

The B-47's engine configuration was as unique as its general design. One pod containing two engines hung from each wing inboard, and a single engine hung farther out. Small outrigger wheels on the inboard engines kept the airplane from tipping over when on the ground. The aircraft had tandem bicycle-type landing gear under the front and back sections of the fuselage.

18 small rocket units in the fuselage were used for jet-assisted take-off (JATO) and then jettisoned.

The bomber needed defensive armament only in the rear because no fighter then in operation could attack from any other angle.

The B-47 became the foundation of the Strategic Air Command. Many of them were adapted for several specialized functions -- missile carrier, reconnaissance, trainers, etc.

Between 1947 and 1956, a total of 2,032 B-47's were built -- 1,373 by Boeing Aircraft Co., 274 by Douglas Aircraft Co., and 385 by Lockheed Aircraft Corp.

Classification Bomber
Wingspan 116 feet
Length 108 feet
Maximum Takeoff Weight 230,000 pounds
Top Speed 587 mph
Cruising Speed  
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

See Also

World War II

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The Robinson Library >> Air Forces and Air Warfare >> Equipment and Supplies

This page was last updated on 09/15/2018.