Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Transport Aircraft (2024)


Transport Aircraft


United States | 1944



"The C-97 Stratofreighter was a critical product for both Boeing and the US military throughout the 1950s and 1960s."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/18/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

A post-World War 2 design, the C-97 was developed by The Boeing Company from its Model 367 product - a military-minded transport airframe originating from the successful Boeing B-29/B-50 Superfortress heavy bomber design. As such, many of the design elements found on the B-29/B-50 are apparent in the C-97 including the wings and tail sections. The C-97 saw service during the Berlin Airlift (1949) and in the Korea War (1950-1953), for the latter primarily utilized to shuttle casualties, sometimes at tree-top altitudes to avoid enemy eyes. Others were eventually stationed as air command posts and in-flight refueling tankers for Strategic Air Command (SAC). 60 x C-97's were built over the span of a decade. First flight was on November 9th , 1944 as one of three XC-97 prototypes while the final C-97 was retired from service in 1978. The C-97 gave good service during its time aloft, totaling 888 examples when including all of its available variants beyond the standard C-97. The 377 Stratocruiser was the civilian passenger transport of the C-97. 56 of these aircraft were completed and operated by Pan Am, BOAC and Northwest. The Aero Spacelines "Pregnant Guppy", "Super Guppy" and "Mini Guppy" are all based on the Model 367/C-97.

Externally, the C-97 was designed as a mammoth aircraft with a lengthy wingspan mounting four engines, a deep-volume ("double-lobed") fuselage and a traditional empennage. The flight deck was situated in an elevated position at the extreme front of the aircraft. The deep fuselage allowed for various internal arrangements to be had. Each wing managed two engine nacelles along their leading edge. Power was served through 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360B Wasp Major radial piston engines delivering 3,500 horsepower each while powering four-bladed propellers. The aircraft could reach a top speed of 375 miles per hour and cruise at 300 miles per hour up to a ceiling of 35,000 feet and range out to 4,300 miles. Internally, the pressurized cargo hold could house 96 infantry or 69 medical patients with staff. In the air tanker role, the C-97 was instead outfitted with large fuel stores which fed awaiting aircraft via a single directional boom at the base of the tail. The cargo hold was accessed through clamshell doors along the belly of the fuselage. The undercarriage was fully retractable and consisted of a double-wheeled nose leg and twin-wheeled main legs. A radar was housed in a chin radome which immediately differentiated the design from the similar 377 Stratocruiser series. The standard operating crew (in basic C-97 transport configuration) was two pilots, a navigator and a flight engineer.

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The C-97 was undoubtedly a large aircraft. Its wingspan measured over 141 feet and the fuselage was over 110 feet long. Height was listed at over 38 feet. When empty, the C-97 displaced at 82,500lbs and this ballooned to 175,000lbs when under full load.

Cargo evaluation versions existed under the YC-97 designation and six were produced. The YV-97A was an evaluation troop transport of which three were manufactured and the YV-97B was an evaluation type featuring passenger seating for 80 though only one example was converted as such. The initial production model was the C-97A of which 50 were delivered. Three were converted to the air tanker role as the KC-97A and then returned to C-97A standard after testing. The C-97C was a MEDEVAC variant built from 14 C-97A models during the Korean War. The C-97E was a transport as was the C-97F. Both of these were born from the KC-97E and KC-97F air tankers (60 and 159 built respectively). The KC-97G was another air tanker in 592 examples then converted into 135 KC-97G transport. 81 KC-97Gs were converted as troop transports under the C-97K designation. The C-97 existed in many other specialized forms including training, search and rescue (SAR), turbojet testbed and ELINT.

Operators of the C-97 (beyond the United States) went on to include Israel and Spain. Ex-USAF airframes found their way to the Air National Guard as transports while others found their way into private hands. Some has survived as restored/protected museum pieces.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Transport Aircraft.

4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360B "Wasp Major" radial piston engines developing 3,500 horsepower each.
Propulsion

375 mph
603 kph | 326 kts
Max Speed

35,007 ft
10,670 m | 7 miles
Service Ceiling

4,350 miles
7,000 km | 3,780 nm
Operational Range

City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).

Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Transport Aircraft.

4
(MANNED)
Crew

110.6 ft
33.70 m
O/A Length

141.4 ft
(43.10 m)
O/A Width

38.4 ft
(11.70 m)
O/A Height

82,453 lb
(37,400 kg)
Empty Weight

176,370 lb
(80,000 kg)
MTOW

Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.

RANGE

ALT

SPEED

Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter family line.

Model 367 - Boeing Product Designation
XC-97 - Prototype Model based on Model 367; three examples completed.
YC-97 - Evaluation cargo transports; six examples.
YC-97A - Evaluation troop transport; three examples.
YC-97B - Evaluation passenger transport; seating for 80.
C-97A - Initial Transport Model; 50 examples
KC-97A - Aerial Tanker; three converted from C-97A stocks for testing, then returned to C-97A standard.
C-97C - MEDEVAC variant; 14 x C-97A conversions
VC-97D - VIP transport; 4 conversions - 1 x YC-97A, 2 x C-97A and 1 x YC-97B.
C-97E - Transports converted from KC-97E
KC-97E - Aerial tanker; 60 examples
C-97F - Transports converted from KC-97F
KC-97F - Aerial tanker; fitted with P&W R-4360-59B engines of 3,800 horsepower.
C-97G - Transports converted from KC-97G; 135 examples.
EC-97G - ElINT model; converted from three KC-97G
KC-97G - Hybrid aerial tanker/transport model; 592 examples.
GKC-97G - Training model; five examples from KC-97G.
JKC-97G - Turbojet engine testbed; single example; later becoming KC-97L.
HC-97G - Search and Rescue platform; 22 examples.
KC-97H - Experimental aerial tanker; converted from KC-97F; single example.
YC-97J - Proposed aerial tanker; two examples converted from KC-97G.
C-97K - Troop transport; from KC-97G
KC-97L - KC-97G models with 2 x J47 turbojet engines underwing; 81 examples.

Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 60 Units

Contractor(s): Boeing Corporation - USA

[ Israel; Spain; United States ]

Relative Max Speed

Hi: 400mph

Lo: 200mph

Aircraft Max Listed Speed (375mph).


Graph Average of 300 MPH.

Era Crossover

Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Transport Aircraft (6)

Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)

Max Alt Visualization

Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Transport Aircraft (7)

Production Comparison

60

36183

44000

Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.

MACH Regime (Sonic)

Sub

Trans

Super

Hyper

HiHyper

ReEntry

RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

Aviation Timeline

EarlyYrs

WWI

Interwar

WWII

ColdWar

Postwar

Modern

Future

1 / 1

Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Transport Aircraft (8)


Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.

AIRBORNE EARLY WARNING

ELECTRONIC WARFARE

MEDEVAC

AERIAL REFUELING

TRANSPORT

Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.

Going Further...
The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Transport Aircraft appears in the following collections:

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Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Transport Aircraft (2024)

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