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The C-97 was the AAF cargo/transport version of the B-29. Between 1943 and 1950, 74 Stratofreighters were ordered; the first flight occurred on Nov. 15 1944.

A tanker version (KC-97) was introduced in 1950 using the “flying boom” refueling system, and all subsequent USAF contracts for C-97s were for tankers. In all, 890 aircraft were ordered, 74 C-97s and 816 KC-97s.

After 1956, USAF KC-97s were gradually replaced by KC-135 jet tankers, but some were modified for continued use in other roles. In 1964, selected aircraft were returned to a tanker configuration (KC-97L) primarily for the Air National Guard.

Two jet engines were added to increase speed and altitude, making the tankers more compatible with high performance jet aircraft.

Although the last USAF C/KC-97 was retired in 1973, examples remained in use with the AF Reserve and ANG as tankers or air-sea search and rescue aircraft.

Based on a B-29 airframe, the lines were lost due to the large upper fuselage.

First flown in 1944, the KC-97 was introduced in 1950. When jets started coming into service, the KC-97 was too slow to be safe, so two jet engines were added to reach higher speeds. When a KC-97 would refuel a B-52, the B-52 would have to drop its landing gear, not to overshoot the tanker.

Our KC-97 was the first to have the jets added and was flown by the Illinois Air Guard from O’Hare Field in Chicago. Jet fuel was carried in tanks in the fuselage and belly, and AvGas was carried in the wings.

Span: 141 ft. 2 in.
Length: 117 ft. 5 in. (with boom retracted)
Height: 38 ft. 4 in.
Weight: 153,000 lbs. normal max.
Armament: None
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-4360s of 3,500 hp. ea. and Two General Electric J47s of 5,970 lbs. thrust each
Crew: Five (5); Pilot, Co-Pilot, Navigator, Flight Engineer, and Boom-Operator.
Cost: $ 1,205,000
Tail Number: 52-2697
Years in Service: 1950-1973
Maximum Speed: 400 mph
Cruising Speed: 230 mph
Range: 2,300 miles
Service Ceiling: 30,000 feet