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C-97 Stratofreighter

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C-97 Stratofreighter
Boeing C97.jpg
Type Strategic freighter
Manufacturer Boeing
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 60
Developed from B-50 Superfortress
Variants KC-97 Stratotanker
Boeing 377 Stratocruiser
Aero Spacelines Super Guppy

The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter was a heavy-lift cargo aircraft.


The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter was developed towards the end of World War II by fitting an enlarged upper fuselage onto a lower fuselage and wings which were essentially the same as the B-29 Superfortress. The prototype XC-97 was powered by the 2,200 hp (1,640 kW) Wright R-3350 engine, and even with this the performance was impressive — on January 11. 1945 the first prototype flew from Seattle to Washington, DC in 6 hours 4 minutes, an average speed of 383 mph (616 km/h). For the remaining models the powerplants were upgraded to the 3500 hp (2,610 kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major.

The military transport had a useful payload of 35,000 lb (16 t) and could carry two normal trucks or light tanks. Loading was by a retractable ramp into doors in the bottom of the fuselage, which was pressurised in flight.

About 60 C-97 transports were built, but the design really flourished in the guise of the KC-97 Stratotanker flight-refuelling tanker.

The USAF Strategic Air Command had C-97 Stratofreighters in service from 1949 through 1978.

The civilian derivative Boeing 377 Stratocruiser was highly influential in the post-war development of long-distance civil aviation.


Military Operators

USAF Units[1]

The following USAF wing organizations flew the various KC-97 models at some time during their existence:

Air National Guard

Civil Operators

Specifications (C-97)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4:
  • Length: 110 ft 4 in (33.7 m)
  • Wingspan: 141 ft 3 in (43.1 m)
  • Height: 38 ft 3 in (11.7 m)
  • Wing area: 1,734 ft² (161.1 m²)
  • Empty weight: 82,500 lb (37,410 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 120,000 lb (54,420 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 175,000 lb (79,370 kg)
  • Powerplant:Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radial engines, 3,500 hp (2,610 kW) each


Related content

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Designation sequence

Related lists

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  1. Rarenstein, Charles. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings: Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. ISBN: 0-912799-12-9