1 March 1950: The first production Boeing B-47 Stratojet, B-47A 49-1900 (Boeing serial number 450001), was rolled off the assembly line at Boeing’s Wichita, Kansas, Plant II.
The Wichita Eagle reported:
First Stratojet Rolls Off B-47 Assembly Line Here
Boeing-Wichita Puts New Model Into Production
Six-Jet Speed Bomber Even More Powerful Than Its Predecessor
Boeing-Wichita’s first B-47 Stratojet bomber rolled off final assembly Wednesday at the local plant, less than 18 months after the Air Force gave the go-ahead signal to build the big, six-jet, swept-wing bomber here.
The airplane was given to an Air Force aircraft engineering inspection board. The board will examine it for a week, alterations will be made in the shops, if any are needed, and it will be ready to fly.
The first production model of the already-famous bomber has been designated the B-47A. It is almost identical in appearance to the experimental XB-47s, which were built in the Seattle, Wash., plant of the Boeing Aircraft Company, but the resemblance ends there.
More Powerful than XB-47
This is a more powerful airplane, Boeing officials say. Instead of the six jet engines of 4,000 pounds thrust each which powered the first experimental Stratojet, this first production model is powered by six jet engines of 5,200 pounds thrust each.
Additional internal improvements have been made based on experience gained in the XB-47 flight test program, which was moved from Moses Lake, Wash., with the arrival here of the first XB-47. The second “X” came here in October.
Recently one of the experimental models got a test of rocket assisted takeoff at Municipal Airport where an expansion program costing nearly $1,000,000 has been started to accommodate the B-47 flight testing program.
Holds Speed Record
The first production model climaxes more than six years of jet bomber design study and development by Boeing. The first experimental flight was made at Moses Lake Dec. 17, 1947, more than 26 months ago.
In February, 1949, an XB-47 was piloted to an unofficial, all-time, all-type transcontinental speed record. It flew 2,289 miles from Moses lake to Andrews Air Force Base, in three hours, 46 minutes. The average speed was 607.8 miles per hour. The record-breaking airplane was equipped with the smaller jet engines.
At Boeing-Wichita, closed down following World War II when 1,644 B-29 Superforts were built there, the first production model climaxes a reactivation begun in March, 1948.
Six months later came the Air Force “letter of intent” and B-47 Stratojet production got underway in Wichita.
—The Wichita Eagle, Vol. 24, Number 50, Wednesday 1 March 1950, Page 1, Column 7, and Page 4, Columns 5–8
B-47A 49-1900 made its first flight 25 June 1950.
Designed by Boeing, the Stratojet was a high-subsonic-speed strategic bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, in service from 1951 until 1977. The B-47 could fly higher and faster than jet fighters of the early 1950s, and it was also highly maneuverable. The B-47 was flown by a two pilots in a tandem cockpit. A navigator/bombardier was at a station in the nose. The crew area was pressurized.
The Boeing B-47A Stratojet was the first production model of the B-47 series. The B-47A was 106 feet, 10 inches (32.563 meters) long with a wingspan of 116 feet, 0 inches (35.357 meters), and an overall height of 27 feet, 11 inches (8.509 meters). The wings were shoulder-mounted with the leading edges swept aft to 36° 37′. Their angle of incidence was 2° 45′ and there was no dihedral. (The wings were very flexible, showing marked anhedral on the ground and flexing upward when in flight.) The B-47A had an empty weight of 73,240 pounds (33,221 kilograms), and a maximum takeoff weight of 157,000 pounds (71,214 kilograms).
The B-47A was powered by six General Electric J47-GE-11 turbojet engines in four nacelles mounted on pylons below the wings. This engine had a 12-stage axial-flow compressor, eight combustion chambers, and single-stage turbine. The J47-GE-11 had a maximum power rating of 5,610 pounds of thrust (24.95 kilonewtons) at 8,030 r.p.m. (30-minute limit), and continuous power rating of 4,860 pounds (21.62 kilonewtons) at 7,450 r.p.m. It had a maximum diameter of 3 feet, 3.0 inches (0.991 meters), length of 12 feet, 0.0 inches (3.658 meters), and weighed 2,475 pounds (1,123 kilograms).
The B-47A was also equipped with 18 Aerojet 14AS1000 solid-fuel rocket engines (ATO) located in the aft fuselage. These produced a maximum 18,000 pounds of thrust (80.07 kilonewtons) for 14 seconds. (49-1901 did not have provisions for ATO.)
The B-47A Stratojet had maximum speed of 474 knots (545 statute miles per hour/878 kilometers per hour) at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters). The bomber’s speed was limited to 0.815 Mach due to buffeting. The service ceiling was 46,200 feet (14,082 meters) and the combat ceiling, 44,300 feet (13,503 meters).
The B-47A had a maximum ferry range of 2,856 nautical miles (3,287 statute miles/5,289 kilometers) at 424 knots, and a combat radius with a 10,000 pound (4,536 kilograms) bomb load of 1,350 nautical miles (1,554 statute miles/2,500 kilometers). The maximum fuel load was 9,518 gallons (36,030 liters) carried in four fuselage tanks.
The B-47A had space and provisions to mount two Browning AN-M3 .50-caliber machine guns in a remotely-operated tail turret.
The B-47A could carry a single T-14 22,000 pound (9,979 kilogram) or T-10 12,000 pound (5,443 kilogram) general purpose bomb (both were U.S. versions of the British World War II Grand Slam and Tallboy bombs); up to 16 1,000 pound (454 kilogram) general purpose bombs; or one 10,000 pound (4,536 kilogram) nuclear bomb.
The B-47As were considered as training aircraft and most were assigned to the 306th Bomb Wing (Medium) at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
The first B-47A, 49-1900, was tested by the U.S. Air Force at Wright Field, Ohio, and then at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory at Hampton, Virginia, where it was identified as NACA 150. It was later transferred to the NACA High Speed Flight Research Station at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of southern California. It flew there from 1953 to 1957. 49-1900 was placed in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, 28 February 1958.
B-47A production ended in June 1951, as production shifted to the B-47B. Just ten B-47As were built.
A total of 2,032 B-47s were built by a consortium of three aircraft manufacturers: Boeing Airplane Company, Wichita, Kansas; Douglas Aircraft Company, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Lockheed Aircraft Company, Marietta, Georgia.
© 2023, Bryan R. Swopes