The RB-47E was a dedicated photographic reconnaissance version of the B-47E. It was initially known as the RB-47B, but it incorporated many of the features introduced on the E-model, and was soon redesignated as such.
A total of 240 examples were built by Boeing-Wichita. The first 52 examples were known as Model 450-216-29 by the company, with the remainder being known as Model 450-158-36.
As compared with the standard B-47E, the nose of the RB-47E was 34 inches longer so that it could house a special air-conditioned compartment for cameras and other sensitive equipment. Eleven cameras could be carried, along with ten photoflash bombs and supplementary photoflash cartridges for night photography. The bombing equipment was deleted, but the 20-mm tail armament and the A-5 fire-control system were retained. The crew was still three, but the bombardier now became the photographer/navigator. There was a return to the built-in JATO units that had been used on the B-47B. Although the RB-47E could be refuelled in flight, the fuel tankage was increased to 18,405 US gallons.
The first RB-47E flew for the first time on July 3, 1953. The last of 255 RB-47Es were delivered in August of 1955. The final 15 of the RB-47Es were completed as RB-47K weather reconnaissance aircraft.
Phaseout of the RB-47E began on October 14, 1957, when 51-5272 was retired to the boneyards at Davis Monthan AFB.
51-5258/5264 Boeing RB-47E-1-BW Stratojet (7) Model 450-158-36, c/n 450543/450549 51-5265/5270 Boeing RB-47E-5-BW Stratojet (6) Model 450-158-36, c/n 450550/450555 51-5271/5276 Boeing RB-47E-10-BW Stratojet (6) Model 450-158-36, c/n 450556/450561 51-15821/15827 Boeing RB-47E-10-BW Stratojet (7) Model 450-158-36, c/n 450627/450633 51-15828/15853 Boeing RB-47E-15-BW Stratojet (26) Model 450-158-36, c/n 450634/450659 52-685/719 Boeing RB-47E-20-BW Stratojet (35) Model 450-158-36, c/n 450906/450940 52-720/754 Boeing RB-47E-25-BW Stratojet (35) Model 450-158-36, c/n 450941/450975 52-755/789 Boeing RB-47E-30-BW Stratojet (35) Model 450-158-36, c/n 450976/4501010 52-790/825 Boeing RB-47E-35-BW Stratojet (36) Model 450-158-36, c/n 4501011/4501046 52-3374/3400 Boeing RB-47E-40-BW Stratojet (27) Model 450-158-36, c/n 4501047/4501073 53-4245/4264 Boeing RB-47E-45-BW Stratojet (20) Model 450-158-36, c/n 4501269/4501288 4245,4246 converted to DB-47E. 4256,4362 converted to JQB-47E some converted to QB-47E. 53-4265/4279 Boeing RB-47K-1-BW Stratojet (15) Model 450-158-36, c/n 4501289/4501303 Originally ordered as RB-47E