Jet Bombers
KC-135 Stratotanker refueling B-52 Stratojet

1947 - Boeing flew the first XB-47 prototype On Dec. 17 with 18 small rocket JATO units to assist takeoff; in 1948 SAC began flying the B-47 jet bomber with 6 GE J47 turbojet engines, with a range of 4000 miles and speed of 587 mph; the RB-47 was a reconaissance version the flew missions in Europe and Asia 1954-64; 2035 bombers were built by 1956 when replaced by the B-52. - 1

1948 - Northrop developed the YB-49 jet version of its XB-35 Flying Wing bomber, but the plane was unstable. The crash June 5, 1948, killed Capt. Glen W. Edwards and his crew. Edwards AFB was named in his honor. The first successful flight of the YRB-49A took place May 4, 1950.- 1 - newsreel

1949 - Rockwell North American began delivery of the B-45 Tornado jet bomber in May, each equipped with four GE J47 turbojet engines.

1951 - The RAF's first jet bomber, the Canberra, began service in May at RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire. Martin Marietta made a version in the U.S. named the B-57.

1952 - Russia flew the first Tupolev TU-16, or "Badger" medium range jet bomber, and began production in 1954.

1953 - Russia made the first public flight of the Myasishev M-4, or "Bison" jet bomber in the May Day parade.

1954 - The first B-52A was manufactured Aug. 5, 1954. Boeing test pilot Tex Johnston flew the first test flight on Mar. 15, 1952, of the B-52 long-range bomber, with a range of 10,000 miles and speed of 652 mph, that became the mainstay of the U.S. strategic bomber force The production version B52B was deployed at Castle AFB in California June 29, 1955. In all, 744 B-52s models A-H were produced by Seattle, Wash., and Wichita, Kan., plants between 1952 and 1962. - 1 - newsreel

1955 - Russia flew its first Tupolev TU-95, or "Bear" jet bomber, and began production in Aug. 1956.

1956 - Boeing flew the KC-135 on Aug. 31 that became the first jet tanker and built 820 by 1966, with a range of 5000 miles and speed of 600 mph.

1957 - General Dynamics flew the prototype of the B-58 swept-wing Hustler, the first supersonic jet bomber with speed of mach 2, and range of 4400 miles; production began in 1959.

1959 - Russia began production of the Tupolev TU-22A, or "Blinder" jet bomber, similar to the B-58.

1963 - Lockheed flew the prototype C-141 Starlifter on Dec. 17, the first airlift transport jet that JFK requested to be developed in 1961; 280 C-141As were built 1964-68, and most of these were modified into the C-141B by 1982, and 63 were modified into the C-141C during the 1990s.

1964 - LBJ announced a strategic arms limitation plan to scrap 500 B-47s and 500 TU-16 bombers over the next two years, but Russia did not agree.

1967 - McNamara cancelled the B-70 mach 3 bomber sought by the Air Force, relying instead on MIRV warheads and the ABM.

1968 - Lockheed flew the first C-5A Galaxy cargo jet on June 30, delivered 81 to the Air Force by 1973 when it was used to airlift 10,800 tons of supplies to Israel after the Yom Kippur War; replaced by the C-5B in 1985.

1969 - Russia revealed the first Tupolev TU-22M, or "Backfire" swept-wing jet bomber that entered production in 1976, with an unfueled range of 5000km.

1974 - Rockwell North American flew the prototype of the first four B-1 Lancer jet bombers on Dec. 23 under a 1970 contract to develop a replacement for the aging B-52.

1977 - Delivery began of the Boeing E-3A AWACS early warning aircraft.

1984 - Rockwell North American flew the first B-1B bomber on Oct. 18, and delivered 100 planes by 1988 at a cost of $200 million each.

1989 - Boeing flew the first B-2 Spirit stealth bomber July 17 under a 1981 contract to build 137 planes but later downgraded to 20 planes, at a cost of $2.1 billion each, based at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, 60 miles southeast of Kansas City, home of the 509th Bomb Wing that had been based at Roswell NM 1945-58. The first B-2, Spirit of Missouri, was delivered Dec. 17, 1993, and the last, Spirit of Louisiana, was delivered Nov. 10, 1997.


revised 4/10/06 by Steven Schoenherr | Cold War Policies