KC-97L Stratofreighter

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Manufacturer: Boeing
Designation: KC-97
Version: L
Nickname: Stratofreighter
Type: Tanker
Length: 117' 5" 35.79 M
Height: 38' 4" 11.68 M
Wingspan: 141' 2" 43.03 M
Gross Weight: 152998 lbs 69387.0 Kg
Max Weight: 153000lbs 69387.0 Kg
No. of Engines: 4
Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney R-4360 (& 2 J47 Jet engines)
Horsepower (each): 3500
Range: 2300 miles 3703.00 Km
Cruise Speed: 230.00 mph 370.00 Km/H 200.00 Kt
Max Speed: 400.00 Mph 644.00 Km/H 348.11 Kt
Ceiling: 30000.0 Ft 9143.60 M


The KC-97, an aerial refueling tanker, was designed from the transport
version of the B-29. The transport B-50 (itself a derivative of the B-29) was
modified to have twice the internal volume by adding extra underside fuselage
section making the aircraft resemble an inverted "8". The entire cabin was
pressurized and could carry 130 fully equipped troops or 80 stretchers. An
electrically powered cargo hoist to lift and position loads ran the entire
length of the fuselage. Refueling tanks and booms were fitted and the aircraft
acted as an air-to-air refueler. Unfortunately, the KC-97 was too slow to refuel
the new jet aircraft and had to climb to high altitudes and refuel the jets on
the dive just to build up enough speed. The twenty-eight cylinder engines were
no fun to overhaul since each engine had 112 spark plugs! The KC-97 was soon
replaced by jet powered refuelers but was very successful as a first generation
air-to-air refueler. The refueling boom configuration worked well enough to be
used in the replacement KC-135 tanker aircraft.

The museum's KC-97, serial number 53-363, was manufactured as a G model at
the Boeing Aircraft plant in Seattle, WA. It was delivered to the Air Force on
26 September 1956. March Field Museum volunteers flew the aircraft from
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, in July of 1980. This KC-97L helped form
the nucleus of our collection. This aircraft is on loan from the USAF.

According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA/RSA), Maxwell
AFB, AL, the museum's KC-97L has the following history:

Sep 1956  - To 68th Bombardment (M) Wing (SAC), Lake Charles AFB LA
(assignment to Goose AB Newfoundland)

Sep 1957 -  To 68th Aerial Refueling (M) Squadron (SAC), Bunker Hill AFB IN
(assignment to Ernest Harmon AFB Newfoundland)

Oct 1959  - To Oklahoma Air Materiel Area OK

Dec 1959  - To 305th Aerial Refueling (M) Squadron (SAC), Macdill AFB FL

Jan 1960  - Unit moved to McGuire AFB NJ

Jul 1962  - To 4050th Aerial Refueling Wing (SAC), McGuire AFB NJ

Jan 1963  - To 499th Aerial Refueling Wing (SAC), McGuire AFB NJ

Sep 1964  - To Birmingham Modification Center AL

Nov 1964  - To 136th Aerial Refueling Group (ANG), Dallas AB TX

Apr 1965  - To Birmingham Modification Center AL (converted to KC-97L)

May 1965  - Return to 136th Aerial Refueling Group

Jun 1976  - To Military Aircraft Storage Center AZ

Mar 1980 -  Dropped from USAF inventory by transfer to school or museum