22 thoughts on “B-47 Operations

  1. Jim
    I enjoyed Col. Alexanders article on the WB-47 weather planes but disagree with several items. The RB-47K was not a B-47E conversion. The RB-47K was the last 15 RB-47E off the production line & modified to be the weather configuration & were assigned to the 338th SRS, not the 343rd SRS.

  2. Hi there, seeking a photograph or records of a B47 paying a visit to Garbutt Airfield in Townsville Australia in the 1960’s. I was just a kid then and remember crossing into the airfield and walking around one that had landed there. I remember it clearly by the blue stripe on the nose.Regards Paul

    • Hi there, I found it on Trove! in November 1963, 3 B47’s and a Globemaster transport with support crews from the 3rd Air Division USAF Guam, came to Australia to demonstrate the logistics of having these aircraft in Australia. One of these aircraft is the one I saw and walked around in Townsville at that time.

  3. Does the B-47 association sell large, framable photos of the plane? I was attached to the 40th BW from ’57 to ’61 at Shilling and Forbes fields in the A-5 fire control shop. That wasn’t very long, but it’s an unforgettable part of my life.

    • Garet; We do not have any but hopefully some one might see this post might be able to point you toward one. I got a print the last time I was at the AF Museum in Dayton. You might try them.

    • Garet I would like to find some photos also, have you had any luck yet? I was in the 376th BW ,lockbourne. I also would like to know if the 20mm tail guns on the b47 had a common name, other than the “m24-a1 20mm.” The head stamp on some of the casings was “m21-a1 20mm. Thanks, scott

  4. I’m seeking information regarding the nonstop mass flight completed by 22nd BW B-47s from RAF Upper Heyford, England to March AFB in March 1954. I am fairly certain that my grandfather, Maj. Douglas J. Howard, was a pilot for this mission but know little more than that; thanks in advance for any assistance that can be provided.

  5. Hi Brian,
    according to their records,of the 45 B-47E’s involved in this deployment to Upper Heyford, 42 departed to March AFB in early March’54 as follows;
    1 on the 3rd
    15 on the 5th
    16 on the 6th
    10 on the 7th

    Of the others, 1 crashed on approach to ‘Heyford on 8 Feb’54 and 2 were out of commission (at ‘Heyford and Nouasser) and didn’t return to March until much later.

    hope this helps,
    Graham

    • Hi Graham–

      Sorry for the long delay in getting back to this site; thank you very much for the info! I appreciate your interest and response.

      Sincerely,

      Brian H.

  6. I was a Raven 2 back in the 1950’s and have spent a long time looking for pictures of the B-47s, so you know I feel like a kid in a candy shop having found this sight. I have spent quite some time here already looking at pictures and reading the stories, and will probably spend more for some time to come. Thank you so much.

    Bob

      • I am an administrator for a Facebook page called Forbes AFB aka Forbes Field (ANGB) alumni and I have several photos of the B 47 days there that I acquired with the help of the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka Kansas

  7. Greetings
    I was in the Air Force long after the B-47 was retired but I did see a WB-47E at Mactan Air Base in the Philippines while I was stationed there sometime in 1969. My understanding was that the crew was loading up on bamboo furniture and wood carvings for transport back to California. This couldn’t be true, could it?

    I was in Ground Radio while I served but I have always had a fascination for aircraft radios. Over the years, I have cobbled together some of the radio systems used in the B-47. Not by design but by shear luck. I have a complete ARC-21 and the upgrade to SSB ARC-65 HF radio systems, most pieces for the ARN-6 radio compass and a complete ARC-27 UHF radio system. All I need to do is make up the wiring harnesses. I haven’t bothered with the ARC-3 VHF radio but over time, who knows?

    My question for those still reading this note is: How well did these radios hold up in actual use in the B-47? Scuttlebutt in the military radio crowd seem to feel that the ARC-21 didn’t hold up well but one former aircraft radio tech feels that this set was no different in that regard to any other radio system carried on the B-47.

    Any thoughts on this?
    Regards,
    Jim Whartenby, a 30454 Ground Radio tech from 1967 to 1972.

    • Bob; I was stationed at Eielson AFB, Alaska in the mid 60’s. We had WB-47s there. I was airboune radio repair until 1970. 5 years later I joined the ANG Combat Com outfit in Mass. Ground radio repair. I went to school at Kessler AFB in July of 1962. The ARC-65 was one of the HF radios that was taught. The instructors were afraid of it because of the voltage balance tunning system. When I found that out I made it a point to learn all about it. When the insrtuctor wasn’t looking I would hit the retune button located just inside the rear plate The instructor would go bannanas looking at it. Anyway in Alaska we didn’t have to much trouble with them. Went to Patrick AFB, Florida and didn’t see them accept on transient aircraft. At Takli RTAFB we had EB-66Bs, Cs, and Es. they used the ARC-65s daily and on all missions. The ARC-65 was also used on AC-47 gunships. Had to change one on a C-124. It was under a table on the flightdeck. had to lower and raise it with a long rope with two of us holding on. The only thing I can say is have another one sitting by to troubleshoot with. It takes less time. About 3/4 of the radio is relays. Worked on power supplies once in awhile The PP-298 dynamotor gave the least trouble. C-97 used it also. Never saw an ARC-21. Our WB-47s had twin 50s in the tail.

    • Hi!
      I was in the 509th BW for all of 1959 as a 30150, airborne aircraft radio technician. I worked primarily in Organizational Field Service on B-47’s and KC-97’s stationed at Pease AFB near Portsmouth, NH.
      If I recall correctly, we had mostly ARC-21 HF’s, ARC 34 UHF’s and AIC-10 Intercoms on the B47’s. The transition to SSB HF sets was just beginning. The HF Transceiver, which weighed around 50 lbs, rested on a shelf directly above the rear wheel-set, so you had to lie down on the front strut brace before pulling our the radio set onto your lap. That was really hard on the family jewels if you sat either too low or too high on the strut!

      The KC-97’s had 2-piece ARC-1 HF (the T-1 & the BC-348Q ) sets left over from WW-2 and a Korean-era UHF, the ARC-27. The radar set resided in the “hell-hole” under the floor of the rear of the cockpit. It got the monicker because the equipment heated this small compartment without mercy. The
      KC-97 had an APU directly across from the rear door that liked to catch fire, and its belly was always sloshing with water that condensed after the cold plane sat on the Tarmac after a flight.

  8. Hughes Aircraft did a test under a USAF contract using a new RTTY demodulator they had designed. They had both an ARC 58 and an ARC 65 installed in a C 131 (basically a Convair 240). They flew all over the northern hemisphere testing the gear. The ARC 65 very consistently beat the ARC 58 in getting good teletype comms.

    I spoke with an AF radio tech who had experience with ARC 58, ARC 65 and ARC 102 HF SSB radios. He mostly worked on C 97 avionics. He said the ARC 65 MTBF was a lot lower than the ARC 58, lots of repairs and adjustments needed, but that the ARC 65 had a slightly better receiver. He had nothing but praise for the Univac ERA antenna coupler used with the ARC 65. he said they rarely failed and always got a good match. He liked them better than the Collins 490T couplers.

    An old issue of the IRE (later IEEE) journal has an interesting article on rthe RCA conversion of old ARC 21 AM CW xcvrs into ARC 65 SSB rigs.

    • Hi Mark
      Thanks for the reply. I can see where the ARC-21 / 65 would be a bit harder to maintain, It was so different from any receiver-transmitter that came before it. Kind of tough to be the first of a series and to do it only with vacuum tubes, transistors were too new at the time and unproven in this application. Being mounted in the B-47 tail and exposed to the chill of high altitude sure didn’t help reliability one bit. But I guess almost all of the avionics in the B-47 was mounted outside of the pressurized compartment and suffered accordingly.

      I have worked on the ground version of the ARC-58, the KWT-6 and the Navy version, the URC-32 so I understand the issues of maintaining these early synthesized radios. Still it is fun to get them up and running again even though the newer stuff is so much smaller, more reliable, more efficient and so much lighter!
      Jim

    • Worked on an ARC-21 that had been modified to SSB at Kadina on Okinawa on a command aircraft. After we pulled the set, checked it OK in the shop, and put it back on the B-47, found an additional foot switch had been placed to be reached when the copilot’s seat faced aft. A stack of manuals was on it, keying the set all the time. This was fall 1957.

  9. Concerning ARC21/65s. In a B47E, the Receiver/Transmitter(R/T) Unit was located in the Aft Wheelwell above the rear truck. Always a treat to replace one alone on those cold winter nights. The Antenna Coupler for the system, was located in the pressurized cockpit behind the Co-Pilot below the forward longwire antenna mast.
    In the B-52D, the R/T unit was a guest of the Tail Gunner in his compartment, the Antenna Coupler, in a panel of many screws up on the tail.
    I was flightline only on the 47, shop and line on the 52. Actually got pretty good on those in the shop, but these systems, with all the subminiature tubes, were a good advertisment for the need for tranistors and their higher reliability.

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