36 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

    1. 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.

    1. Teri;

      Thanks for the NY Times article. I plan to use it in the stories section when I update it.

  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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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

    3. Garret of your interested there are two pages on Facebook about Forbes and Schilling AFB Kansas

  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,

    1. 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.


      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.


      1. 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?
    Jim Whartenby, a 30454 Ground Radio tech from 1967 to 1972.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. Jim, I was a Aircraft Radio Communications tech from Sep 65 to Nov 87. I worked the ARC-65 and ARC-58 HF radio systems as well as the ARC-27 and ARC-34 UHF radio systems. I worked on RB-47s at Offutt AFB in 1966/67. I’ve also worked B-52D/G/H, K/R/WC-135, HC/C-130, and, just about every other aircraft, helicopter, cargo, and fighter in the AF inventory. Email me at (rsmith0127@comcast.net)
      Ron Smith

      1. Ron, I was at McClellan from Jan 65 to Jun 70. We used the WB-47E for our sampling mission, as well as the WC-135B. We also had a pod that went B-52-E/F and Gs down at Castle; mission was called Seafish (Later became Giant Fish with the H). I think we had ARC-65s in the 47s, ARC-58s in the F model B-52 and Collins 618Ts in the 135s.

    4. The Arc-27 was absolute junk. That plane would rarely land without the radio dying..Collins made millions on spare parts for that piece of junk.

  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.

    1. 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!

      1. This is my first visit to this web site. I had considerable experience working on B-47E’s a Lincoln AFB 1962 thru 1965 maintaining the ARC-65 and the ARC-27. Altitude should have had little or no effect on either of these transceivers as they were in sealed containers. Once shop repairs were completed, we always put a slight charge on each unit, probably nitrogen. That was one of the checks we made when a unit was pulled from an aircraft and came in for examination – was there still pressure inside.

        Start up in severe cold temps could be a little rough on both of these radios but once warmed up, and that usually didn’t take very long, the cold shouldn’t have bothered them so much. With all those vacuum tubes in operation, there was a lot of heat generated inside.


    2. 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.

  10. Actually, the RT-400 or RT-128 prior to the SSB update was in the Gunner’s compartment in the B model only. It was in the 47 section in the C, D, E, and F with the PP-298 remaining in the Gunner’s compartment, albeit not on the head knocker metal shelve. Rather it was where the RT was at in the B.

  11. Iam not commentig on the above article”s. been looking over the web site and wondering what happened to all the information that Jim put on line,such as all the B-47 school pictures,and who to contact for information.

  12. Searching for information about a B-47 crash in heavy snow. The wingtip went into the snowbank and the plane crashed into a control tower. My father (Earl Murray) told a story about this and I want to find out what I can.

  13. While studying inertial nav at Keesler, a training film showed the inertial nav unit for the B-47, a 1950s film. Does anyone know the designation? Was it perhaps AN/ASN-3. I do know it soorted the AN/APN-66 doppler radar.

  14. Hello everyone. My father, Lt. Col. Robert George Graham flew a B-47 in 3 of the Plumbbob nuclear tests, Smokey, Newton & Whitney. Does anyone have any information on this? He was later the Commander of the 19th Special Operations Squadron at March A.F.B. He died when I was 9 so if anyone has a memory of him, I would love to hear from them.
    This is a great site. I just found it today.

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Preserving the legacy of the Boeing B-47 StratoJet Bomber