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KC-97 Stratofreighter Gallery


The sign which accompanied the plane circa 2008. It reads

KC-97L Stratofreighter

Early "flying gas station" refueled other aircraft in the sky

To create the huge C-97 cargo plane, Boeing stuck a larger cylinder atop its WWII B-29 bomber fuselage, creating the "double-bubble" look. After 1950, all models produced were KC-97s, equipped with the new "flying boom" for aerial refueling. In that role, the KC-97 greatly extended the range of bombers and fighters, and gave the USAF a truly global reach.

The prop-driven KC-97 had increasing difficulty flying fast enough to refuel the new jet bombers (like our B-47). To keep above the jet's stall speed, the two connected planes had to "toboggan" (fly in a shallow dive). This particular KC-97L was the first of many to have jet engines added to boost its speed and make tobogganing unnecessary.

KC-97 Points of Interest

  • Also used for medical evacuation, search and rescue, airborne command post, and the Berlin Airlift.
  • Could fly to temporary or makeshift bases to refuel airplanes, trucks, and tanks on the ground.
  • KC-97s still had room for cargo or 63 troops. C-97s: 96 troops or 68,500 lbs.

This Particular KC-97

  • Has its refueling "boom" plugged into our F-84F, simulating an aerial connection. This is the only display of its type in the country.

Manufacturer: Boeing
Crew: 5
Engine(s): Four 3,5000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-4360,
Two J47 jets of 5,970 lbs. thrust each
Armament: None
Wing Span: 141' 3"
Length: 117' 5""
Height: 38' 3"
Weight: 153,000 lbs. loaded
Top Speed: 425 mph
Ceiling: 35,000+ ft.
Range: 4,300 mi
Number Built: 888

This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force
KC-97L Stratotanker #52-2697

This sign refers to the plane as a Stratotanker, although I've only ever seen that moniker used with the KC-135 tanker.

Also, the sign states that the C-97 was based on the B-29, although I've generally read that it was derived from the B-50. Of course, the B-50 is basically a next-model version of the B-29 (the B-50 would probably have been the B-29D, if it weren't for post-war politics; it was easier to justify a "brand new bomber" instead of "just another WWII bomber"), but the C-97 used the same Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major as the B-50.

Sign by the KC-97 Stratofreighter at Grissom Air Museum
Time picture taken Sun Oct 26 14:43:04 2008
Location picture taken Museum grounds
Grissom Air Museum
Peru, Indiana
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