The Boeing B-47 Stratojet was a subsonic long range, six-engine, jet-powered strategic bomber. It was developed as per specs for a jet bomber by the US Air force in 1945. Its initial design was based on a scaled down version of the piston-engined B-29 Superfortress, but this model was equipped with four jet engines. In addition to the incorporation of jet engines for the new bomber, this plane was the was the first to incorporate the swept wing design concept.
Previous to its predecessors, the wings were perpendicular to the body of the aircraft. Swept wing brought the wings back at a specific angle which helped decrease aerodynamic drag. Typical angles ranged from 0 for a straight-wing aircraft, to 45 degrees or more for fighters and other high-speed planes. The B-47 flew at high altitude, which helped to avoid interception by air to ground missiles and fighter aircraft. It carried between 20,000 – 25,000 lbs. of bombs, as well as 2 – .20mm cannons in the remote tail turret.
The swept wing design was the result of the accelerated research and development of military aircraft during World War II and helped provide the next generation of bombers. Additional changes was to have the B-47’s engines carried in nacelles (a housing unit that holds engines, separate from the fuselage) placed under the swept wing area. This new design contributed to modern jet aircraft of today.
The B-47 entered service in 1951, but never fought in battle. Never the less, as a bomber, its primary mission was to bomb the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons, which was the defensive strategy of the Strategic Air Command. Subsequently, the B-47 had played a significant role in nuclear deterrence,. This was part of SAC’s bomber initiative between the Cold War years of the 1950s and 1960s.
The aircraft carried a crew of three, the Pilot, Copilot and Navigator and had additional missions, such as photographic reconnaissance, electronic intelligence and weather reconnaissance.
Although the B-47 was successful as an intimidating deterrent against potential Soviet aggression, it did have physical limitations, such as the amount of munitions it could carry and consequently, the development for a newer, more powerful jet bomber mineralized in the 1950s.