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The B-47 Stratojet
B-47 represented a major advance in aeronautical engineering. It was
America's first multi-engine jet aircraft and it established the basic
principal of design. It introduced swept-back wings to large aircraft and
the engines were hung below the wings on pylons. This design proved so
viable that it was used on the B-52 bomber and the KC-135 tanker that
followed. The latter became the Boeing 707, the first American jet liner.
All modern passenger planes trace their design linage directly to the
Development began in 1945 and the first prototype flew
two years later. On November 6, 1952 the first B-47 arrived at Pinecastle
Air Force Base. Four years later, B-47 deployment had reached its peak.
SAC then had 1,306 B-47 bombers and 350 RB-47 reconnaissance aircraft.
Other versions of the aircraft were assigned to special missions. The Air
Force accepted a grand total of 2,041 B-47s and RB-47s. Some were later
converted into WB-47s, weather reconnaissance; EB-47s, electronic warfare;
ETB-47s, combat crew training; QB-47 drones, and other configurations.
Wing Organization & Deployment
B-47s were assigned to wings. Each wing originally
consisted of three squadrons of fifteen aircraft. The B-47 was a medium
range aircraft that could fly 3,500 miles without refueling. During the
early and mid 1950s, entire wings were deployed to the United Kingdom,
Spain, Morocco, Guam, and Alaska to deter aggression by the Soviet Union.
Stateside units depended on aerial refueling by KC-97 tankers to reach
The Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite made
SAC aware of the vunerability of its aircraft and the readiness alert was
born. Bombardment wings were required to have one-third of their aircraft
on alert. They were required to be off the ground and flying toward their
targets within fifteen minutes. They had to do so any time, day or night,
365 days a year. Wings were also required to send aircraft to forward
bases to stand “reflex alert.” In 1961, the number of aircraft on alert
was raised to fifty percent. This resulted in the addition of a fourth
squadron. The aircraft came from wings that were being disbanded or
upgrading to the new B-52 Stratofortress.
Four squadrons were equipped with EB-47s and
provided electronic warfare support prior to and after an attack. They
were assigned to Bombardment Wings between 1962 and 1964. Shortly before
being phased out, they were redesignated Post Attack Command and Control
Squadrons: They were: 4366 SS (307th BW), 4363 SS (376th BW ), 4364 SS
(9th BW), and the 4365 SS (380th BW).