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|
|Chuck Hayes, 15.04.2011|
I flew as a Flight Engineer on KC-97Gs in the 55ARS at Forbes AFB, KS. from 1957 to 1963. Col. Lynn Wolfe (above) was my copilot until he upgraded to Aircraft Commander. Our AC LtCol Richard L. Larson lived in Arlington,TX until two years ago when he moved to San Antonio. The '97 was a fine aircraft, very forgiving but also needed lots of TLC. Priot to the '97 I was a FE on KB-50Js and KB-29Ps.
|rob amiot - Colonel Air Cavalr, 11.04.2011|
My very first military flight was as a Cadet pending summer training at Fort Benning - Was off a week or so, living with parents in Salt Lake City, Utah, when the call from school came to get ready for the summer session - Airborne Training - at Fort Benning. My contact phone number was for the Headquarters, Utah National Guard, then located on Jacqueline Avenue, in Salt Lake - I reported to them as ordered and was the only passenger on this great plane, to be taken to Fort Benning, thus Columbus commercial airport. No one had ever seen the likes of this aircraft there, and recall a sense of tensness from the Captain and co-pilot flying this then huge bird into Columbus airport. We made it in, and felt like VIP, being only passenger dropped off and picked up by Jeep to start jump school. I recall turning around, they did not shut down, when both crew members and Engineer waved me good bye and wished me luck - Three weeks later I was picked-up by a similar bird, and taken to the academy - How royal could I have been..........
I live in Quebec Canada In the forest close to at home there is this tail of plane that sembble to be a kc-97 because there are 4 engine pw 4360hp I would like to know if you know somebody who knows things about this plane crushed about 1955
|Charles Landis, 20.03.2011|
Assigned to 97G 52-2697, as asst CC, 1956. She belonged to the 509th AREFS, 509th BW, Walker AFB NM. Later assigned as asst CC, on 52-2703 and 52-2698, same unit, at Walker AFB, and at Pease AFB, NH. Assigned as asst CC, on 97G, 53-136,1960 to 63. 376th OMS, 376th BW, Lockbourne AFB, OH, upon return from a PCS to the Goose. 52-2697 presently a static display at Grissom ARB Museum, IN, as a L model. 52-2698 was conv to firetanker and now owned by Clay Lacey, Van Nuys CA. In 95, went to Kenai AK, on 97G/L 52-2718 and spent the summer hauling salmon. She is presently owned by the Berlin Airlift Historical Society and has been repainted to look like the 97 used in the later stages of the Berlin Airlift. Go to YouTube, type, Grace Air C-97, in the search block, and watch some footage taken in 94, of a couple of her landings and a takeoff.
P&W Radial engines do not leak oil, that the very efficent external lubrication system doing it's job. On Weight engines it's called corrosion control. Happy landings everbody
|Dave Pann, 19.03.2011|
What a wonderful Aircraft. I was at Travis AFB 53 to 57. Worked in Flight line maintenance and ended up working under T/Sgt Haley as assistant night flight line chief. We had 32 C-97's and transported personnel and their families to the Orient and back. We were a regular airline and took great pride in meeting our airline schedule without fail. If you took proper care of these airplanes like we did they never failed us... Of course there are many stories that go along with that statement. I would love to hear from anyone interested enough in our outfit to want to converse. Dv~
|George Gore, 14.03.2011|
I worked as an engine mechanic on 97s at Travis (1501st FLMS), from Oct57 to Oct59, mostly on the postflight docks. I finished my hitch at Kadena AB on Okinawa, doing throughflights on C124s. I remember only one 97 that came through there. Those 4360s leaked oil constantly, but I still liked working on them.
|Dick Workman, 14.03.2011|
I worked on the KC-97G at Lincoln AFB, Nebraska in the 98th ARS from 1958-1962. I was a crew Chief on ships 728 and 729. I was on flying status the last two years. We pulled TDY and Reflex Alert at Lincoln, Harmon AFB, Newfoundland, the Azores, Upper Heyford, England and Ft. Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. I have worked on all the aircraft that Delta Airlines has flown from the C46,47 thru the 757. The KC-97G is my favorite out of all of them.
|charles holt, 04.03.2011|
i was asst c/c on the kc-97g from 1961 at barksdale until they went to carswell then i went to the kc-135 i was on ac 962 and a couple others sgt catalano sgt duck and sgt chaffee was some c/c i was under we would go to gouse bay usualy in winter and had keep engs pre heated ans the snow swept off sure enjoyed my time on that a/c
|John J. Doyle, 27.02.2011|
I was in the last class of recip engine mechanics at Sheppard AFB in 1961. I was assigned to Lockbourn AFB in
Jan 62. I worked in the periodic maintenance docks.
I remember my crew of Zambron (best mech I ever knew) and a tall black guy everyone called Bubba who played basketball for the 376 Bomb Wing. We went to Goose Bay during the Cuban Missile crisis. When the KC-97's were replaced in 1963 I went to Tachikawa Japan to work on C-124's for MATS. I loved all 4 years of my service working on the R4360-59B's and R4360-63A's.
|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
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?