On alert with SAC’s KC-97 tankers

INSIGHTS BOEING C-97

KC-97F 51-0246 with B-47B Stratojet 51-2263 on the boom.
USAF

The majority of C-97 production involved the KC-97 tanker versions. Much of the aircrew duty time was spent on alert at their home base.

Nuclear-armed strategic bombers were located on hardstandings close to the end of the runway. Adjacent were an equal number of KC-97s.

Aircrew for the alert bombers and tankers, together with support personnel, were housed in purpose-built accommodation bordering the dedicated hardstandings. The seven days spent on alert were primarily periods of tedium, although higher authority frequently tested reaction times and procedures by activating the klaxon. While aircrew dashed to their aircraft, technicians scurried to their duties in a well-practised drill designed to ensure that aircraft were airborne within the prescribed 15 minutes.

Everything that could conceivably be planned as a reality assessment was factored into daily life for alert bomber and tanker crews.

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