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This week in history: First operational B-47 delivered

1950's -- Strategic Air Command B-47 Stratojet bombers. The world's first swept-wing bomber. The B-47 normally carried a crew of three--pilot, copilot (who operated the tail turret by remote control), and an observer who also served as navigator, bombardier and radar operator.

1950's -- Strategic Air Command B-47 Stratojet bombers. The world's first swept-wing bomber. The B-47 normally carried a crew of three--pilot, copilot (who operated the tail turret by remote control), and an observer who also served as navigator, bombardier and radar operator.

B-47 line, ca 1950s

B-47 line, ca 1950s

1950's -- An overall view  of a Boeing B-47 Stratojet aircraft in flight.

1950's -- An overall view of a Boeing B-47 Stratojet aircraft in flight.

1950's -- The B-47E was an improved version of the -B model and more than 1500 were produced by Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed. Improvements incorporated into the -E model Stratojet included a more powerful version of the General Electric J47 turbojet and Rocket Assisted Take Off (RATO) packs with 18 or 33 rockets which were jettisoned after use. Other features of the B-47E included 20mm cannons in the tail instead of the .50-cal. machine guns of the -B model and upgraded avionics including the A-5 fire control system.

1950's -- The B-47E was an improved version of the -B model and more than 1500 were produced by Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed. Improvements incorporated into the -E model Stratojet included a more powerful version of the General Electric J47 turbojet and Rocket Assisted Take Off (RATO) packs with 18 or 33 rockets which were jettisoned after use. Other features of the B-47E included 20mm cannons in the tail instead of the .50-cal. machine guns of the -B model and upgraded avionics including the A-5 fire control system.

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash - Members of the 307th Bomb Wing pose in front of their B-47 Stratojet in 1961 during the 13th Annual Bombing and Navigation Competition. During this Bomb Comp, more categories were include – alert exercise, bombing, navigation, electronic counter-measures, air refueling, pilot techniques, and munitions loading – to determine the specific winner of the Fairchild Trophy. (Courtesy photo)

AF File Image

KIRTLAND AFB, N.M. -- On Oct. 23, 1951, the first operational B-47 was delivered. The B-47 arose from an informal 1943 Army Air Forces requirement for a jet-powered bomber. In April 1946, the service ordered two prototype XB-47s, with the first flight on Dec. 17, 1947. The B-47 never saw combat, but was a SAC mainstay until 1965. Col. Michael McCoy is considered the "dean" of Strategic Air Command's B-47 Stratojet commanders. McCoy commanded the first B-47 wing, the 306th Bombardment Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Within two years, he had formed, trained to combat readiness, and led the 306th on the first successful rotation of a SAC jet bomber force to Fairford, England. They broke all existing speed records on the trip over, and broke them again when they returned. On their initial rotation, McCoy solidified SAC's position as a global force using jet aircraft. McCoy was killed in a B-47 crash in 1957. Pinecastle AFB, near Orlando Fla., was renamed "McCoy AFB" in his honor.