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The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter was a long range heavy military cargo aircraft based on the B-29 bomber. Design work began in 1942, with the prototype's first flight in 1944, and the production aircraft entering service in 1947. Between 1947 and 1958, 888 C-97s in several variants were built - 816 of them KC-97 tankers. C-97s served in the Berlin Airlift, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Some aircraft served as flying command posts for the Strategic Air Command, while others were modified for use in Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadrons (ARRS).

Development

The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter was developed towards the end of World War II by fitting an enlarged upper fuselage onto a lower fuselage and wings which were essentially the same as the B-50 Superfortress with the tail, wing, and engine layout being nearly identical. It was built before the death of Boeing president, Philip G. Johnson.

The prototype XC-97 was powered by the 2,200 hp (1,640 kW) Wright R-3350 engine, and was fitted with a built-in ramp and a hoist to help in the loading and unloading of supplies and personnel through the large clamshell-type doors in the belly. On January 9, 1945 the first prototype, piloted by Major Curtin L. Reinhardt, flew from Seattlemarker to Washington, DCmarker in 6 hours 4 minutes, an average speed of 383 mph (616 km/h) with 20,000 pounds of cargo, which was for its time rather impressive for such a large aircraft. Production models featured the 3500 hp (2,610 kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major engine, the same engine as the B-50.

The C-97 had a useful payload of 35,000 lb (16 t) and could carry two normal trucks or light tanks. The C-97 was also the first mass produced air transport to feature cabin pressurization, which made long range missions somewhat more comfortable for the crew and passengers.

C-97s evacuated casualties during the Korean War. C-97s also participated in the airlift of relief materials to Uli airstrip (Biafra) during the Nigerian Civil War. Flying under the cover of darkness and at tree-level to evade radar, at least two C-97s were lost. The USAF Strategic Air Command operated C-97 Stratofreighters from 1949 through 1978. Early in its service life, it served as an airborne alternative SAC command post. While only 60 C-97 transports were built, 812 were built as the KC-97 Stratotanker variant for inflight refueling. The civilian derivative of the C-97 was the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, a very luxurious transoceanic air liner which featured a lower deck lounge and could be fitted with sleeper cabins.

One YC-97A was used in the Berlin Airlift during April 1949 operating for the 1st Strategic Support Squadron. It suffered a landing gear accident and by the time it was repaired, the Soviet Blockade was lifted.

Two C-97s are still airworthy at the present day, one operated as a privately-owned warbird, the other operated as a fire bomber in the United States.

Variants

XC-97: prototype, 3 built.
YC-97: cargo transport, 6 built.
YC-97A: troop carrier, 3 built.
YC-97B: fitted with 80 airliner-style seats, one in 1954 redesignated VC-97D, retired to MASDC 15 December, 1969.
C-97A: transport, 50 built.
KC-97A: Three C-97As were converted into aerial refueling tankers with rear loading door removed and a flight refueling boom added. After the design was proven, they were converted back into the standard C-97A.
C-97C: medical evacuation transports, 14 C-97As converted during the Korean War (also designated MC-97).
VC-97D: staff transport conversions, 1 YC-97A, 2 C-97As converted, plus the YC-97B. Later designated C-97D.
C-97E: KC-97Es converted to transports.
KC-97E
aerial refueling tankers with rear loading doors permanently closed, 60 built.
C-97F: KC-97Fs converted to transports.
KC-97F
3800hp R-4360-59B engines and minor changes, 159 built.
C-97G: 135 KC-97Gs converted to transports.
EC-97G: ELINT conversion of three KC-97Gs. 53-106 was operated by the CIA for covert ELINT operations in the West Berlin Air Corridor.
KC-97G
dual-role aerial refueling tankers/cargo transportation aircraft. KC-97G models carried underwing fuel tanks. 592 built.
GKC-97G
Five KC-97Gs were used as ground instruction airframes.
JKC-97G
One aircraft was modified to test the underwing General Electric J47-GE-23 jet engines, and was later designated KC-97L.
HC-97G: KC-97Gs converted for search and rescue operations, 22 converted.
KC-97H
One KC-97F was experimentally converted into a hose-and-drogue refueling aircraft.
YC-97J: KC-97G conversion with four 4250 kW Pratt & Whitney YT34-P-5 turboprops, dropped in favour of the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker
C-97K: KC-97Gs converted to troop transports.
KC-97L
81 KC-97Gs modified with two J47 turbojet engines on underwing pylons.


Operators

Military Operators



USAF Units

The following USAF wing organizations flew the various KC-97 models at some time during their existence:

Air National Guard



Civil Operators



Survivors







  • C-97G 52-2718 "Angel of Deliverance" is under restoration to flight status by Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation.


  • C-97G N227AR (the former USAF serial number 52-2764) is on display at the Don Q Inn, next to the (now closed) Dodgeville Municipal Airport outside Dodgeville, Wisconsinmarker.








Specifications (C-97)

See also

References

  1. C-97G AF Serial No. 52-898
  2. C-97G AF Serial No. 52-2626
  3. C-97G AF Serial No. 52-2718 "Angel of Deliverance"
  4. C-97G AF Serial No. 52-2764 showing civil registry N227AR
  5. C-97G AF Serial No. 53-0272
  6. KC-97G showing civil registry N17KC


External links




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