The RB-47H was an electronic reconnaissance and countermeasures version of the B-47E. It was built in response to a mid-1951 requirement laid down for an aircraft that would be capable of countering enemy air defense systems.
The nose carried an AN/APS-54 airborne radar detection system and APD-4 radar emissions receiver. An additional pressurized compartment was carried in the area formerly occupied by the short bomb bay. The compartment carried additional electronic equipment intended to locate and analyze enemy radar emissions as well as three operators, bringing the total crew to six. Self-protection equipment such as transmitters and chaff dispensers were provided for the jamming of enemy radar signals. The tail armament was retained.
The first RB-47H entered service with the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Forbes AFB in Kansas in August of 1955. The last RB-47H was delivered in January of 1957. A total of 35 RB-47H aircraft were built, but three of these were delivered as ERB-47H electronic ferret aircraft.
The RB-47H carried out many ferret missions around the periphery of Soviet territory, and sometimes inside. On July 1, 1960, shortly after the U-2 incident, an RB-47H (53-4281) was shot down by Soviet fighters over the Barents Sea. Two of the crewmen ejected and were recovered, but the third was killed. The surviving crewmen were put on trial for espionage by the Soviets, but were eventually released on January 25, 1961.
In 1961, most RB-47Hs were upgraded to "Mod 44" or "Silverking" standards with more capable sensors. Among these was an ALD-4 receiver pod mounted inside a bulbous fairing on the lower rear fuselage, just beneath the forward edge of the rudder
The last SAC B-47, a RB-47H (53-4296) of the 58th Wing was flown to Davis Monthan AFB for storage on December 29, 1967, bringing the era of B-47 service with the USAF to an end.
53-4280/4309 Boeing RB-47H-1-BW Stratojet (30) Model 450-171-51, c/n 4501304/4501333 4296 retired to storage 12-29-67, last USAF B-47 to serve. 53-4310/4321 Cancelled Contract for Boeing RB-47H. 53-6245/6249 Boeing RB-47H-1-BW Stratojet (5) Model 450-171-51, c/n 4501386/4501390 6245, 6246, and 6249 converted to ERB-47H.