Boeing RB-47E Stratojet

Last revised January 3, 2003

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.

Serial numbers of RB-47E:

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


  1. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  2. Post World War II Bombers, Marcelle Size Knaack, Office of Air Force History, 1988.

  3. The Boeing B-47, Peter Bowers, Aircraft in Profile, Doubleday, 1968.

  4. Boeing Aircraft Since 1916, Peter M. Bowers, Naval Institute Press, 1989.

  5. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  6. Boeing B-47 Stratojet--Variant Briefing. Bill Yenne, International Air Power Review, Vol 6, 2002.