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|
|CC Wade, 20.02.2013|
Info on Lemay's C97
|Ron Brink, 28.12.2012|
These comments have brought back some pleasant and some not-so-pleasant memories. I was a co-pilot in the '97 from Nov. 61 to Dec 63 assigned to the 310th ARS at Schilling. As a '135 sim instructor at Altus in the late '90s I reminded my students that I went back to when tankers had propellors on them. Some didn't even know it. I told tham that SAC had a philosophy that said "if someone would build a runway around the world, SAC would buy a tanker that wouldn't be able to take off on it." I also told them that there was a plan in the late 60's to use the '97 in Viet Nam but they found out that the Russians had developed a grease seeking missile so that idea was scrapped.
|Jim Webb, 15.12.2012|
Hey all. I'm a former boom operator and flight engineer. I'm currently writing a book that covers all of the air refueling squadrons from 1948 to present. I'm looking for stories, photos, and scans of patches from guys who were in the units or had family in the units. I'd love to interview you over the phone if you have a chance. My number is 1-850-803-9275. I live in North Carolina. Many old crewmembers are passing away daily and we need to make their history permanent so that generations to come can read and see what they did for our country. I can send you examples from my book if you'd like. You'll be impressed.
Hi at all,
i´m from Germany and build a model of the C97G during the Vietnam war. Does anyone have pictures of such planes, he can leave me only for private purposes? What build number and units are flown to and from Vietnam?
Many thanks for your help.
|Lt. Col. George A. Larson, USA, 17.10.2012|
I am researching a book on Dyess AFB which will include KC-97 operations. I am working with Dyess AFB Public Affairs. I am asking for inputs on those at Dyess in KC-97s. WWIIHIST@AOL.COM
|Fred Dack, 13.07.2012|
To misfits.Although I flew a couple of thousand hours in the KC 97 as a boomer and a radio operator I never flew the Pacific routes. I did make several trip across the Atlantic though and Newfoundland to England or The Azores was about 12 hours. I still have all my old flying time records (about 11,600 hrs.) and might be able to find a specific trip I remember to reference. I flew from Beale AFB, CA to Hickam many times in a KC 135 and it usually was a little over 5 hours.
|Fred Dack, 13.07.2012|
To Martin in Quebec,Sir, I have just received this network site on all the old aircraft but have only viewed a few items. I was interested in the KC 97 s as I was a Radio Operator and later a Boom Operator on 97 and then KC 135 s.
I always heard about what could be your aircraft but not sure if the dates agree. However, I attended a 135 school in 1963 with a guy who was the boomer on a KC 97 that flew out of Plattsburgh AFB, NY one winter night but not sure of the year. They had major problems and had to bail out somewhere over NY State. They left the aircraft on autopilot and they couldn’t find any wreckage for some time. Eventually they found it flew north till it ran out of gas and then made a nearly perfect landing, but even he didn’t know exactly where and never knew if they retrieved it.
In those days most of us in SAC aircraft referred to your area as “up near Goose Bay” as we all pulled some kind of duty there.
Hope this helps.
I was one of those Air Evac Medics in 56,57,58,59 and flew out of Hickman and also out of Tachikawa AFB and beside the C-97 we also flew the sick in the Navy's C-121. i remember the incident with Major Tyson flying with two engines because one of my friends had been dead heading back to hickam after delivering patients to Travis. I am trying to find out "the flying time from Travis to Hickman in the C-97 back in 1956" i can't remember..i believe it was about 12 hours and in head winds about 14...am I right? I can't remember help HELP
|Barrie Dieffenbach, 01.06.2012|
I was at Dover AFB in the 11th ARS Air Police from 1962 - 1964. Our KC-97's went TDY to Goose Bay, North Africa, The Azores, Spain & England while I was there. I spent 3/4 of those years out of the USA with those aircraft. Great time. They moved the 11th ARS out of Dover a few years later.
|Charles Landis, 10.05.2012|
Info Len Serio, KC-97G/L 52-2697, located at the Grissom Air Museum Grissom ARB, IN, was one of your old birds. She was the first G to be modified to the L version. She was also the first 97, I worked on, as an assist CC. This was in 1956, and, at that time, she was assigned to the 509th AREFS, Walker AFB NM. I got to go inside her, last summer. She has a few parts missing, but she still is a beautiful Old Lady.
|Len Serio, 05.05.2012|
I was a Flight Engineer on the KC97L with the Illinois Air Guard. We flew them until 1976 when we went to the KC135"s
After the Jets were installed the aircraft was a pretty good performer.We had an excellent safety record all the time we had the 97"s
|Bob Adam, 12.04.2012|
I was stationed at Forbes, AFR from Jan. 1957 to June 1960. Started with the 55ARS in the dock under Master Sgt. Doss as a engine mechanic. Xfer to the flight line late 57 to go TDY to Yokoda AFB as a assistaint crew chief on AC 291 under TSGT Rodriguez. We had a great crew. Capt. Doty was our AC. I spent many hours with that Aircraft, and have many fond memories.
|Keith Startup, 07.03.2012|
I was a cook stationed at Lockbourne AFB OH and worked in the inflight kitchen, I went TDY to the Azores in 1962?. I do a lot of photography and have 100s of slides of but never was able to get a shot of the inside a KC97 because of the fuel tanks. If anyone knows where I can get access to some I would love to show my sons. I have a grandson in the Marines in Avionics working on F-18s Thanks
|Roger Stigney, 30.01.2012|
I was trained as a radio operator in 1952 and first flew on B-29's. Because of the Korean war truce, I was then sent to Lockborne AFB to become a part of SAC and fly on KC-97's. I can remember the spacious Radio Opr station and the plush headset mic that we had for use. They later transferred me to Ramey AFB to fly on the RB-36 reconnaissance/bomber. A sharp contrast to the KC-97 as far as having less crew compartment space and the older style headset mics that were being used. Also, the B-36 had very long flights at high altitude with oxygen masks compared to the KC-97 being flown at lower altitude.
|Carl Koebel, 29.01.2012|
I crewed on the 8th AF Command Crew VC97 #000596 @ Westover AFB. This acft was originally built for "Dewey" to be his AF1, and never made it. It was a really unique plane and should have been place in a museum somewhere instead of the moth ball fleet
|Dan Yurkovich, 27.01.2012|
I flew on the KC-97G as Navigator from Oct 1958 till Jun 1962.
I was in the 55TH ARS, on crew with AC, R.L. Larson, Co-Pilot Lynn Wolf, Eng Chuck Hayes and BO Jim Young. All our aircraft were well maintained. But there was one I remember well, tail number 674. If you flew over eight hours, you had to have a 55 gal drum of engine oil.
|Dean L Gamibill Jr, 15.08.2011|
In response to John's question of 30-5-2011. The boom's flight control is called a ruddervator, the same name as the control surfaces found on the trailing edges of the tail of V-tail aircraft such as the old V-tailed Bonanzas.
|Jack Harper, 21.06.2011|
In 1953, I was stationed at Castle AFB, Merced, CA.
where I received my Boom Operator training. We flew to Renton,Wash. at Boeing plant to pickup our new KC-97F and return to Castle. Our Squadron was a utility unit so we made many TDY assignments stateside and overseas. We never had a major problem with the aircraft. It was great!
Quick question re something I have forgotten since my air force days: what is the name of the flight controller at the end of the boom? Thanks! Loved the kc97.
|Leroy McVay, 22.05.2011|
USN stationed at Sand Point Naval Air Station Seattle, about 1956. USAF KC-97 came in on our GCA. Duty line crew all thought it was a USAF aircraft. Flight crew started taking off their flight suits, all in civies, Boeing flight test crew!
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?