The Boeing B-47 Stratojet was the first swept wing jet bomber and the first to be designed to carry nuclear weapons. It was also the first U.S. Air Force aircraft to use " fly by wire " flight control systems. The design of the B-47 relied on swept wing data captured from Germany after World War II. It entered service in 1951. A total of over 2,000 B-47's were built, forming the backbone of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in the mid 1950's. By 1957, 28 bomb wings were flying 1,260 B-47s and another 600 training and recon versions were in use. Several versions were high altitude reconnaissance aircraft and many were used for electronic reconnaissance. The last Air Force B-47 was retired at the end of 1969.
The Aircraft on display at Castle Air Museum is one of 264 B-47E-DTs built by Douglas Aircraft Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma for Boeing. It served with SAC's 9th, 509th, and 40th Bomb Wings in Idaho, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Kansas. In 1964, it was transferred to the Navy and used as a photographic training target at the China Lake Weapons Center in California.
Museum volunteers, headed by Mel Hedgepeth, towed the aircraft 23 miles through the desert and spent over 36,000 man-hours restoring the aircraft to flying condition. In 1986, it made the last flight ever of a B-47, flying from the China Lake facility to Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, California, to join the Museum Collection.
By kjfitz @ 2007-03-10 15:46:09