The Boeing B-47 Stratojet was operational with the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command beginning in May 1951 with the first operational B-47As to the 306th Bombardment Wing, Medium, based at MacDill AFB, Florida. In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed the phaseout of the B-47. However this was delayed in July by the onset of the Berlin crisis of 1961-62. In the following years, B-47s were gradually delivered to the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan AFB. Strategic Air Command B-47 Bombardment Wings were divided among the Second, Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces. This list is of the units B-47s were assigned to, and the bases at which they were stationed .
B-47 Medium Bombardment units
The first operational B-47B Medium bombers were delivered to SAC in July 1951 to the 306th Bombardment Wing, MacDill AFB, Florida. SAC's last two B-47E bombers went to storage on 11 February 1966 from the 98th Bombardment Wing, Lincoln AFB, Nebraska.
Operational medium bomber versions of the Stratojet were B-47B (1951–1953) and B-47E (1953–1957). B-47Bs were modified to B-47E specifications beginning in 1953 to 1957. By 1957, the B-47Bs had effectively ceased to exist, having been brought up to the B-47E standard. These modified B-47Bs are sometimes known as B-47B-II, although this was not an official Air Force designation. Outwardly, they could be distinguished from B-47Es only by their serial numbers.
.* Activated as a result of the SAC phaseout and consolidated of B-47 units as the Stratojet began being replaced by B-52.
.** Three modified 55th SRW B-47Es (53-2315, 53-2316 and 53-2320) from Forbes AFB were modified and redesignated as EB-47E Tell Twos. Deployed to a SAC Detachment (TUSLOG Det-50) at Incirlik AB, Turkey to monitoring the telemetry that was broadcast during Soviet space launches from the IRBM facility at Kasputin Yar and the space center at Tyuratam. In service from 1958 until about 1967. In addition, the 301st BW and 380th BW also operated EB-47Es which were electronics countermeasure conversions of the standard B-47E. Not much is known about the USAF EB-47E program.
.*** The B-47As of the 306th BW were primarily training aircraft and were not considered as being combat ready. None of the B-47As ever saw any operational duty, and were withdrawn from active service by 1953, being replaced by B-47Bs.
.+ Equipped with the YRB-47B conversion of the B-47B, specifically intended for the training of crews for RB-47Es. Later converted to B-47E Bomber Configuration by March 1955
.++ 376th BW EB-47Ls were modified B-47Es used as an electronics communications aircraft which served as relay stations between other aircraft (such as the USAF "Looking Glass" EC-135) or between aircraft and ground stations during and after a nuclear attack.
RB-47 Strategic Reconnaissance units
The RB-47 was designed to replace the RB-29 and RB-50 Superfortress aircraft which were serving in the long-range photo-reconnaissance role but which were rapidly approaching obsolescence. The RB-47 carried out many ferret missions around the periphery of Soviet territory, and sometimes inside on penetration flights to map planned routes for B-52s if combat missions over the Soviet Union ever became necessary. The reconnaissance production model was the RB-47E, with USAF deliveries beginning in 1953. The last of 255 RB-47Es were delivered in August 1955.
The YRB-47B was a prototype conversion of the B-47B specifically intended for the training of crews for RB-47Es. Delays in delivering the RB-47E, led to 90 B-47’s being converted to an interim reconnaissance fit with an 8 camera bomb-bay pod. The 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing received its first YRB-47B in April 1953, the 26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing three months later, using them until they were swapped for the new RB-47E in 1954.
The RB-47H was an electronic reconnaissance and countermeasures version, with 35 aircraft being manufactured and delivered to the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Forbes AFB, Kansas in August 1955. A specialized version, the ERB-47H was a dedicated electronic ferret modification of three aircraft.
Fifteen RB-47Ks (53-426 to 53-4279) were also operated by the 55th SRW, 338th SRS. The RB-47K differed from the RB-47E by the addition of high-resolution, side-looking radars (SLAR) and air sampling equipment. It was used as an airborne weather information gathering system which would fly near the Soviet Border and sampling the radioactive fallout from nuclear tests. These were among the last Stratojets built.
Phaseout of the RB-47E began in October 1957, but the aircraft remained in service for another decade, with the last SAC B-47, a RB-47H (53-4296) of the 55th SRW was flown to Davis Monthan AFB for storage on 29 December 1967. These models were replaced with the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 strategic reconnaissance aircraft.
.* RB-47Bs were operated during 1953-54 by the 26th SRW. Unlike the later RB-47E, the RB-47B could only provide daylight photographic coverage
WB-47E Weather Reconnaissance units
WB-47E was the designation assigned to converted SAC B-47E medium bombers used for weather reconnaissance by the Air Weather Service (AWS). They had nose-mounted cameras that recorded cloud formations, and they carried air-sampling and data recording equipment inside a sensor pod in the bomb bay.
- 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Hunter AFB, Georgia (1963–1966); Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico, (1966–1969)
- 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, McClellan AFB, California, 1963–1969
The first of 34 WB-47Es was delivered to the AWS on 20 March 1963. The last operational USAF B-47 to fly was WB-47E-75-BW (51-7066) of the 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron on 30 October 1969. It was flown from McClellan AFB, California to Boeing Field, Washington, where subsequently it was restored to its SAC configuration and put on display at the Seattle Museum of Flight where it resides today.
Provisional 4-Digit Training Units
B-47 training was originally planned to have been performed at Wichita AFB, Kansas, with Boeing manufacturing the aircraft on one side of the base as a joint tenant beginning in 1951. However a variety of problems converting the Wichita Municipal Airport to an Air Force Base kept training from being performed there until 1954. To accommodate B-47 training, Air Training Command activated Pinecastle AFB, Florida, on 10 September 1951 for B-47 training, however the training did not begin until early 1952 with the activation of the 3540th Combat Crew Training Wing.
- 3540th Combat Crew Training Wing (ATC) (10 Jan 1952-1 Jan 1954)
- TB-47B, B-47B, 1952-1954
- 3542d Combat Crew (later Flying Training) Training Squadron
- 3544th Combat Crew (later Flying Training) Training Squadron
- Replaced by : 4240th Flying Training Wing (SAC) (1 Jan-30 May 1954), Pinecastle AFB, Florida
B-47 crew training was moved from Pinecastle AFB to McConnell AFB in 1954; conducted under Air Training Command until 30 Dec 1958 when was reassigned to SAC. With the reassignment of the crew training wing, operational transition training on the B-47 began at Pinecastle with the 321st Bombardment Wing.
- 3520th Combat Crew Training Wing (ATC) (7 Jun 1951-1 Jan 1959)
- 3520th Combat Crew Training Squadron, 26 Oct 1954-1 Jul 1958
- 3521st Combat Crew Training Squadron, 26 Oct 1954-8 Sep 1955
- 3522d (later 4347th) Combat Crew Training Squadron, 26 Oct 1954-31 Dec 1958
- 3523d (later 4348th) Combat Crew Training Squadron, 26 Oct 1954-31 Dec 1958
- 3525th Combat Crew Training Squadron, 26 Oct 1954-8 Sep 1955
- 3526th Combat Crew Training Squadron, 26 Oct 1954-31 Dec 1958
- Replaced by: 4347th Combat Crew Training Wing (SAC), (1 Jan 1959-15 Jun 1963) McConnell AFB, Kansas
- TB-47B, B-47B, 1954-1963
- 4347th Combat Crew Training Squadron, 1 Jan 1959-15 Jun 1963
- 4348th Combat Crew Training Squadron, 1 Jan 1959-15 Jun 1963
- 4349th Combat Crew Training Squadron, 1 Jan 1959-15 Jun 1963
- 4350th Combat Crew Training Squadron, 1 Sep 1959-15 Jun 1962
Crew training on the B-47 ended in June 1963 as part of the planned aircraft phaseout and retirement.
- Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC (Training Units)
- Mauer, Mauer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0-89201-097-5 (Squadron Lookups)
- Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989 (McConnell AFB section)
- Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. (Wing Lookups)
- 55th WRS lineage and history
- Air Weather Reconnaissance Organization (WB-47E Weather Reconnaissance units)
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