JACK KOVACS COLLECTION
No. 10802. Boeing 450-171-51 RB-47H Stratojet (53-4299 c/n 4501320) US Air Force
Photographed at National Museum of the USAF, Dayton, Ohio, USA, 2003

Boeing 450-171-51 RB-47H Stratojet

09/30/2011. Remarks by Jack Kovacs: "The pictured aircraft, 53-4299, is the sole RB-47H example in true historic configuration. There were 32 of these aircraft manufactured at Wichita, Kansas, plus an additional three B-47s converted to similar ERB-47H models. The planes carried a crew of six officers, two pilots, one navigator and three electronic warfare officers (EWO). The three EWOs flew in a capsule inserted in the bomb-bay area of the jet and operated the collection equipment.

Top secret radio silent missions were flown off the coasts of the USSR, China, and Cuba, from the early 1950s to mid-1960s, collecting and recording information about early warning and defensive systems. Intelligence analysts used this information to determine the most vulnerable locations for the SAC bomber force to penetrate in case of war.

After service 53-4299 was located at Smoky Hill AFB in Salina, Kansas where the condition of the aircraft deteriorated. In 1999 the National Museum of the USAF (then called the USAF Museum) obtained the airplane and restored it to its historic look, although non flyable. It took three years to restore.

(During this time the Museum Director gave me unlimited access to the restoration area because I had flown 53-4299 while in the 55th SRW (Strategic Reconnaissance Wing). Over the three years of restoration, I took about 300 pictures of the different stages of work.)

The photo above shows 53-4299 on March 14, 2003, the day it was being moved from the restoration hangar to the display area (photo taken June 20, 2003), while here is a photo of the cockpit.



Created September 30, 2011