Crecy's Boeing B-47 Stratojet


C.Mike Habermehl & Robert S Hopkins III


Crecy Publishing


$44.95 from Specialty Press


Scott Van Aken

Notes: ISBN 978-1-91080-908-2, 8.5 x 11.4 inches, 320 pages

Before the F-35, there were few American production military aircraft that had a more troubled history than the B-47. This was one of those aircraft that had a lot expected of it, but never really produced the goods, so to speak. It was huge undertaking that Boeing was simply not ready for. The company thought it would be as easy as building B-17s or B-29, but found out that this was not the case. Of course, none of this was helped by the constant revisions foisted upon Boeing designers by the USAF. The aircraft was rife with discrepancies, so much so that many airframes sat outside Boeing plants in an incomplete state for years before being finally accepted by the USAF.

Even when it entered service, the aircraft had a fairly poor readiness record. Crews were less than thrilled with it as it was cramped and poorly laid out. This was especially true for co-pilots, who rarely got the opportunity to fly the plane and couldn't wait to move on to something else or become an aircraft commander. Quite a few decided to leave the Air Force because of their dissatisfaction with their job. Much of this was due to the design of the cockpit that did not place the pilot and co-pilot side by side. To say it was a learning experience for Boeing and the Air Force would not be too far from the truth. The errors in the B-47 were noted and not repeated in the B-52.

If there was a bright light in the B-47 story it was its usefulness as a recon platform. In the days before satellite recon or high flyers like the U-2, the B-47 was on the front line of 'air spying', operating out of bases where they could fly close to the Soviet Union and gather intel. Some of these flights even took them into Soviet air space, but such was the speed and altitude capabilities of the B-47 that interception was nigh impossible. Still, intercepts did occur, making this mission one fraught with possible disaster.

The authors have done a superlative job of researching what is a very cool looking aircraft, despite its issues. The background history is as fascinating a read as are the mission reports of the recon planes later in the book. The choice of photos and drawings only enhances what has to be the ultimate history of this aircraft. It is a story that every enthusiast needs to read. I learned a great deal and can tell you that this is an excellent reference book that I know you will find as useful as have I. A book that seriously deserves a space on your library shelf and one that I can easily recommend to you.

April 2011

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