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Originally a public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
The Boeing B-47 Stratojet (company Model 450) is a retired American long-range, six-engined, turbojet-powered strategic bomber designed to fly at high subsonic speed and at high altitude to avoid enemy interceptor aircraft. The primary mission of the B-47 was as a nuclear bomber capable of striking targets within the Soviet Union.
Development of the B-47 can be traced back to a requirement expressed by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in 1943 for a reconnaissance bomber that harnessed newly developed jet propulsion. Another key innovation adopted during the development process was the swept wing, drawing upon captured German research. With its engines carried in nacelles underneath the wing, the B-47 represented a major innovation in post-World War II combat jet design, and contributed to the development of modern jet airliners. Suitably impressed, in April 1946, the USAAF ordered two prototypes, designated “XB-47”; on 17 December 1947, the first prototype performed its maiden flight. Facing off competition such as the North American XB-45, Convair XB-46 and Martin XB-48, a formal contract for 10 B-47A bombers was signed on 3 September 1948. This would be soon followed by much larger contracts.
During 1951, the B-47 entered operational service with the United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC), quickly becoming a mainstay of its bomber strength by the late 1950s. Over 2,000 were manufactured to meet the Air Force’s extensive demands, driven by the tensions of the Cold War. The B-47 was in service as a strategic bomber until 1965, at which point it had largely been supplanted by more capable aircraft, such as the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. However, the B-47 was also adapted to perform a number of other roles and functions, including photographic reconnaissance, electronic intelligence, and weather reconnaissance. While never seeing combat as a bomber, reconnaissance RB-47s would occasionally come under fire near to or within Soviet air space. The type remained in service as a reconnaissance aircraft until 1969; a handful served as flying testbeds up until 1977…
An XB-47 was flown in the 1951 Operation Greenhouse nuclear weapons test. This was followed by a B-47B being flown in the 1952 test, Operation Ivy and the 1954 test, Operation Castle. A B-47E was then flown in the 1956 test, Operation Redwing. “Reflex” missions proved the long-endurance (eighteen hours) and long range capability of the B-47 and aircrews. These were “simulated strike missions against the then Soviet enemy”.
Three B-47s flew cross country from March Air Force Base to the Philadelphia International Airport as participants in the 1955 Labor Day race. In the 1956 event, three B-47s participated in the G.E. Trophy race for Jet Bombers, flying from Kindley Field, Bermuda, to Oklahoma City. One of these set a course speed record of 601.187 MPH.
By 1956, the USAF had 28 wings of B-47 bombers and five wings of RB-47 reconnaissance aircraft. The B-47 was the first line of America’s strategic nuclear deterrent, often operating from forward bases in the UK, Morocco, Spain, Alaska, Greenland and Guam. B-47s were often set up on “one-third” alert, with a third of operational aircraft available sitting on hardstands or an alert ramp adjacent to the runway, loaded with fuel and nuclear weapons, crews on standby, ready to attack the USSR at short notice….
The B-47 was the backbone of SAC into 1959, when the B-52 began to assume nuclear alert duties and the number of B-47 bomber wings started to be reduced. B-47 production ceased in 1957, though modifications and rebuilds continued after that. Operational practice for B-47 bomber operations during this time went from high-altitude bombing to low-altitude strike, which was judged more likely to penetrate Soviet defenses. Crews were trained in “pop-up” attacks, coming in at low level at 425 knots (787 km/h) and then climbing abruptly near the target before releasing a nuclear weapon…