B-47 Strategic Stratojet


Flown just over two years after the end of World War Two, the B-47 Stratojet embodied many firsts, both for Boeing and for the US Air Force. Large numbers were built, but its career as a bomber was relatively short, as Lindsay Peacock explains.

Rolled out at Seattle on September 12, 1947, the XB-47 made its first flight on December 17 that year, 44 years to the day that the Wright brothers got airborne in the Flyer at Kitty Hawk.
Unsurprisingly, Strategic Air Command took the security of its bomber force extremely seriously. No-one was allowed near an armed B-47 without proper identification and authorisation.
Key Collection

With its swept wings and podded engines, the successful Boeing 707 airliner owes a debt to another product of the Seattle design team, the Model 450, the company’s first jet-powered design, which served with the US Air Force for more than a decade as the B-47 Stratojet. In excess of 2,000 Stratojets were eventually produced – most were pure bombers, but the specialist RB-47E was tasked with photographic reconnaissance, while the RB-47H carried out often-hazardous missions aimed at gathering intelligence pertaining to enemy electronic equipment and orders of battle.

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