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|
|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!
|Edwin Townsend, 07.05.2011|
I was at Westover 1958to1962, as an Electrician. I remember the VC 97 assigned to us there
45-59596 ... 45-59596
c/n 15721. Deluxe personnel transport - Later redesignated C-97B.
In 1954 redesignated C-97D. Since 1965 used by Lt. Gen. H. Wade and
staff until retired to MASDC Dec 15, 1969.
This Aircraft was sure different, it still had Formation lites on top of the wings. QC Inspector in Phase Dock was bound and determined that they should Work, told him if he could find the Switch or at least a wiring diagram I would make them work for him. Strange with the FWD Personel entrance on the Right side. It had an Car AC unit in the cockpit area mounted above the cockpit entrance and the Compressor mounted in lower area driven by a Hyd Motor. It had all kinds of Heavy DC Generator cable over Center Wing that had been cut off as far as you could reach. Most of the Field Maint people one morning spent a few min laying on the ramp because Dispatch had given us the wrong # for the day
|Charles Neal, 26.04.2011|
I was an assistant crew chief w/4238th OMS at Barksdale from April 1960 until September 1962. We went Reflex(TDY) on 301st AFRES to Goose Bay, Clinton County, OH, Burmuda, the Azores, Madrid, and Neurseour, Morrocco. Like you Charlie Holt, I still recall Sgt Catalano(A/C #860), Sgt Duck(AC# 858) aka-"Duck's Dilemma") and Sgt Henry Young. The flight crews and fellow maintenance crews were the finest collection of human beings I have ever encountered. Now at age seventy, I still look back at those eighteen months as the best of my life. The eeiry sounds of those ole KC-97G expander tube disc brakes will echo in my memory forever.
|Norman Poberezny, 18.04.2011|
I flew with the C-97 thru the KC97L FROM 1961-1976 as a IFE I FOUND IT TO BE A GOOD AND FORGIVING A/C. There was a time when I flew out with six engines and came back with Two on one side. Yes it had it's engine problems, jug failures etc. But it was pleasure flying with her. Lot of memories.
|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.
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