In early 1942 Boeing initiated a design study to examine the feasibility of producing a transport version of its B-29 Superfortress. In due course the company's proposal was submitted to the USAAF for consideration and, because at that time the long-range transport was a much-needed type of aircraft, a contract for three prototypes was awarded on 23 January 1943. Identified by the company as the Boeing Model 367, and designated XC-97 by the US Army Air Force, the first made its maiden flight on 15 November 1944.
The XC-97 had much in common with the B-29, including the entire wing and engine layout. At first view the fuselage, of 'double-bubble' section, appeared to be entirely new, but in fact the lower 'bubble' was basically a B-29 structure, and so was the tail unit attached to the new (and larger) upper 'bubble'. On 6 July 1945, following brief evaluation of the prototypes, 10 service-test aircraft were ordered. These comprised six YC-97 cargo transports, three YC-97A troop carriers, and a single YC-97B with 80 airline-type seats in its main cabin.
The first production contract, on 24 March 1947, for 27 C-97A aircraft with 2425kW Pratt & Whitney R-4360-27 engines, specified accommodation for 134 troops, or the ability to carry a 24,040kg payload. Two transport versions followed, under the designation C-97C and VC-97D, and following trials with three KC-97A aircraft equipped with additional tankage and a Boeing-developed flight-refuelling boom, KC-97E flight-refuelling tankers went into production in 1951. This version was powered by 2610kW R-4360-35C engines. The KC-97F variant which followed differed only in having R-4360-59B engines. Both the KC-97E and KC-97F were convertible tanker/transports, but for full transport capability the flight-refuelling equipment had to be removed. The most numerous variant, with 592 built, was the KC-97G which had full tanker or full transport capability without any on-unit equipment change.
When production ended in 1956 a total of 888 C-97s had been built, and many were converted later for other duties. The KC-97L variant had increased power by the installation of a 2359kg thrust General Electric J47-GE-23 turbojet beneath each wing to improve rendezvous compatibility with Boeing B-47s. KC-97Gs converted to all-cargo configuration were redesignated C-97G, and in all-passenger configuration became C-97K. Search and rescue conversions were HC-97G, and three KC-97Ls went to the Spanish air force, being designated TK-1 in that service. Several have served in many roles with Israel's air force.
C-97D: designation applied to the third YC-97A, the YC-97B, and two C-97As following conversion to a standard passenger configuration; the three VC-97Ds were subsequently redesignated C-97D
KC-97H: designation applied to one KC-97F, following modification for service trials as a tanker using the probe-and-drogue flight-refuelling system developed in the UK
YC-97J: final designation of two KC-97Gs converted for USAF use as flying test-beds, each with four 4250kW (5,700-shp) Pratt & Whitney YT43-P-5 turboprop engines
| ENGINE||4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-59B radial pistone engines, 2610kW|
| Take-off weight||79379 kg||175002 lb|
| Empty weight||37421 kg||82500 lb|
| Wingspan||43.05 m||141 ft 3 in|
| Length||33.63 m||110 ft 4 in|
| Height||11.66 m||38 ft 3 in|
| Wing area||164.34 m2||1768.94 sq ft|
| Max. speed||604 km/h||375 mph|
| Cruise speed||483 km/h||300 mph|
| Ceiling||9200 m||30200 ft|
| Range||6920 km||4300 miles|
|Loomas Marshall, 16.01.2011|
Chuck, Maybe you can tell me anything about Gen Old's 377 Boeing #8411. stationed at March. I was a member of the 320th OMS until the wing went some where else. Came to March from the Goose in Sept 58.
|loomas j marshall, 14.01.2011|
Can anyone inform me on the status of the Boeing 377 #8411 which LT/GEN Archie Old utilized for a number of years at March AFB.The Bird was well cared for by a ground crew of aprox ten people and was polished to a high shine to look like sterling silver.
|Wendell Ensor, 31.12.2010|
I flew the C-97 out of Travis from 1956 to 1959. We must have landed on every runway in the Pacific. Was in the 55th ATS when our ops officer (Maj Tyson) flew a C-97 from the central Pacific (Equal Time Point,California/Hawaii) with two engines out because of a runaway prop (No. 1&2}to Hilo. Hawaii.
|FRED HANNAH, 12.12.2010|
In 1951-1954, I was station at Hickam AFB and believe all our YC-97s were restricted to operated only to and from Travis AFB. Possible because of aircraft Logistical support. The rest of our fleet were C-97A that primarly flew west to Handa(?) AB Japan. Most were airevac flights back to Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii
|Tillman Everson, 03.12.2010|
I was stationed at Westover AFB from 1965 to 1969 and we had one of the VC-97's on base. I got to fly as a passenger on it on a SAC inspection of Ramey AFB, PR in 1968. Nice airplane inside.
|Louis Lichter, 03.12.2010|
I flew on KC 97's in year 1955 out of Mc Dill Florida. I was air to air refueling.
|Charles Bos, 28.11.2010|
I was a flight engineer on some version of the 97 fron 1953 to 1972. Compared to the B-29 it was a real jewel. I flew the C-97F 51-243 mentioned by Bob Archer above for 4 years at Torrejon AB, Madrid. It was the first KC-97 built, comverted from a tanker to a VC-97 for the Commander 16th AF. When SAC lost the base at Torrejon I was the FE who delevired it to Barksdale AFB. I would like to see the pictures of her destruction but it would bring tears to my eyes.
|Jim Body, 09.11.2010|
Was navigator in this gal from Nov 1956 @ Hunter (308th) until she was retired from the Ohio ANG @ Rickenbacker in 1975 Have time in the one being restored @ Wright Patterson #630 . Was in Savannah when 917 from our unit crashed in Nov 1958 with loss of 11 lives and later in Ohio ANG when 918 was lost with no injuries or loss of life. Was at Hunter when our unit burned the wing of one during alert testing when a prop hit the ground power unit in 1957. It was great to read all the previously submitted comments. Frank Hogarty whose comments are listed was a pilot also in the 308th at Hunter.
|Phil Stromowsky, 05.11.2010|
I had the privilege of flying this good airplane as co-pilot out of Savannah, Georgia in the mid to late 50's. A fine experience!
|Bob Archer, 02.11.2010|
The VC-97D referred to by Chuck Lavoie was 48-0415. I have a photo of teh aircraft at March AFB. Such a shame that a beautiful aircraft had to end her days at the hands of the fire department. The replacement was C-97F 51-0243, I believe, which I photographed being broken up inside MASDC at Davis-Monthan AFB in October 1973. Was wearing a 2nd BW badge on the "Milky Way." Best wishes
|Chuck Lavoie, 31.10.2010|
Re: The VC-97 at Barksdale. (Mr Primes question) The aircraft you are referring to was a VC-97D and the last three of the tail number was 415. It was General Wade's, 2nd Air Force Commanders aircraft. I was stationed at Barksdale as a C-97 crew chief and later as a C-97 Flight Engineer. The aircraft did not crash. It had corrosion and cracks in it wing spars. It was deemed to expensive to repair. Hence it was classed 26th and towed to the far side of the field next to a B-29 the fire dept. used for training. We stripped many components from it before the fire dept., trained with it. We then received a replacement C-97F from Torrejon, Spain. It was plushed up but not as nice as 415. I hope this helps and answers your question.
|Bob Dewhurst, 25.10.2010|
I was stationed with the 509th ARS at Walker AFB in 1952when we recieved bran new KC-97G's to replace our KB-29M's (boom) We went through training at West Palm Beach. In 1955 we were TDY to Thule and were told to fly our airplanes on a shake-down flight. we had a runaway prop on take off, did a 180 and lost the G rotor pump on a second engine. Our total flight time was seven minutes. Our aircrafts were assined to a crew. This tail number was 52-2703. After I left the unit, it was again at Thule and crashed there. All of the crew survived. I spent the last of my career at SAC Headquaters and flew the C-97's out of base flight. It was truly my pick of the planes I flew.
|John Setser, CMS USAF, RET, 16.10.2010|
I was an engine mech on the KC97 at Lockbourne 1957 to 1963. Worked in post dock and engine conditioning. I remember Walter Polk, Crew Chief and FE at Lockbourne.Also worked on the KC97 at Plattsburgh 1963 to 1964. and the C97 at Offutt 1965.. Good engine!!
|John Andrew Prime, 11.10.2010|
Does anyone know the number and history of the KC-97 that was used for fire practice at Barksdale AFB in the 1960s? Rumor was it was one that had been used as a personal transport by Curtis LeMay but had suffered fuselage/structural damage upon landing and was towed for use in the fire pit. Any info appreciated!
|David Regan, 04.10.2010|
I was working Base Opps @ Schilling in 1963 on a Sunday and was receiving an ANG KC-97 and while parking, static wire and chalks I noticed that #1 and 2 props were chewed up like saw teeth. Then I noticed part of a fence post in the left wheelwell. Then the aft. door opened and out came the crew chief kind of walking funny and said to me, Took down the farmers fence about a half mile from the runway. He looked at the props and fence post and said something about the A/C that I wont repeat. Then he said something about being lucky to be alive. Tension really mounted when the A/C and crew came out to have a look. That would have been a hard landing.
|Charles (Chuck) Vogel, 17.09.2010|
I had the privilege of being a pilot/aircraft commander on a KC-97 from 1953 to 1957 out of March AFB Riverside,CA. Still keep in touch with 320th Sq members. Spent TDY's at Newfoundland, England, North Africa, Mountain Home, Alaska, plus an unexpected trip to Tacoma Wash, after losing 3 out of 4 engines. Rapcon gave me directions to McChord AFB (was on way to Alaska)after ordering the crew to bail out(10 people including passengers, I couldn't get auto pilot to hold plane level to get out, so landed in snowing conditions on one engine #4. Every one landed safely(some bruises & scratches) This was in 1956. Enjoyed the KC 97 & it was truly the cadilac of the Air Force!
|Vern DeSplinter, 13.09.2010|
KC97G #147 crew chief at Whiteman 58-62 with a 2 yr break to go to nouasuer, no africa. Loved the experience with SAC, Azores, Spain, and the flight crews. Great bunch of guys. Great airplane
|Dick McClaine, 10.09.2010|
Fresh out on Aviation Cadets in Jul 1955, arrived at Dow AFB as a new KC-97G Navigator with the 71st ARefS. Six months later I was on a 120 day TDY to Thule AB, Greenland (also had another 120 days a year later). Great airplane and a fun experience refueling the RB-47s from 55 SRW. Also numerous other shorter TDYs during my 4 years at Dow AFB....but all to cold weather bases! Wonderful memories.
|John Hooten, 10.09.2010|
I have often wondered what happened to the two YC-97J aircraft as my uncle Lt.Col. Bill Hooten was a pilot of one of them in the late 50's. As a youngster when he would fly into Wright-Patterson AB.my grandfather who was the chief-mechanic there would take me up into the plane a couple of times. It was a neat experience.
|chet druelinger, 07.09.2010|
THE KC97G SHOWN ABOVE CAME TO THE 9THAIR REFUELING SG.IN 1954 AND WAS AT MT.HOME AFB FOR SOME TIME IN SUPPORT OF THE 9TH BOMB WING WITH MANY DEPLOYMENTS DURING THE COLD WAR
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?