(Photo source unknown. Please contact us if you
History: In 1942, the Boeing Company began
to study a design proposal which would modify their B-29 Stratofortress bomber into a
transport aircraft. A US Army Air Force contract was awarded in early 1943, and the first Boeing
Model 367 (designated the XC-97) made its first
flight on 15 November 1944.
The XC-97 had a lot in common with the B-29. The tail, wing and engine layout were
nearly identical, and the fuselage consisted of an existing B-29 structure with a larger
fuselage grafted on top, creating what became known as a "double-bubble"
Several prototypes were manufactured to evaluate various mission roles and internal
layouts. The YC-97 was a cargo transport, the YC-97A
was fitted as a troop carrier, and YC-97B had 80 airliner-style
seats installed. The first production C-97A transport appeared
in 1947, and several variants of the aircraft were used throughout the late 1940s and
early 1950s, but it was the newly-formed Strategic Air Command which benefited most from
the aircraft, in the form of its next variant, the KC-97 Stratotanker.
Boeing fitted the airframe with a flying-boom type refueling probe and added additional
fuel capacity to make the aircraft an aerial refueling platform capable of servicing most
of the days' fighters and bombers. It could also carry a large amount of cargo at the same
time. It entered service in 1951, and served well into the 1970s.
Along the way, C/KC-97s were modified for various roles, including the KC-97L,
fitted with two General Electric J47-GE-23 turbojet engines; the HC-97G,
a search-and-rescue version; and the Spanish export version, the TK-1.
The C-97 has also served in many roles in the Israeli Air Force.
Engines: Four 3,500-hp Pratt & Whitney R-4360-59B 28-cylinder radial piston engines.
Weight: Empty 82,500 lbs., Max
Takeoff 175,000 lbs.
Wing Span: 141ft., 3 in.
Length: 110ft. 4in.
Height: 38ft. 3in.
Range: 4,300 miles
Number Built: 888 (All variants)
Number Still Airworthy: Two: One C-97
operated as a privately-owned warbird, and one KC-97 operated as a firebomber in the USA.
Aviation Zone KC-97 3-view drawings
Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation
C-97 History Page
Federation of American
Scientists (FAS) KC-97 Page
Minnesota Air Guard
C-97/KC-97 Photo Page
[Back to Warbird Alley's Main
All text and photos Copyright 2006 The
Doublestar Group, unless otherwise noted.
You may use this page for your own, non-commercial reference purposes only.