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Here’s The Proof: The B-47’s Combat Maneuvers Were More Like A Fighter Than A Bomber

Film Of SAC Testing The Big Bomber’s Maneuverability Must Be Seen To Be Believed

Official US Air Force Photograph

When the Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber entered service with Strategic Air Command (SAC) in 1951 it was the first swept-wing jet-powered bomber in service. Originally conceived during World War II, the design morphed several times during development, including the addition of the swept wing. Early on it was discovered that the aircraft was capable of advanced maneuvers previously considered impossible for an aircraft of its size and weight. This video highlights a series of tests flown during 1954 to learn the practical limits of the aircraft’s maneuverability. Thanks to YouTuber ZenosWarbirds for uploading this great look at the B-47 and its ability to fly like a fighter or a strategic bomber.

Official US Air Force Photograph

A bomber with the B-47’s maneuverability would be able to deliver weaponry using toss bombing. Essentially the bomber would approach the target at low altitude and high speed, initiate a steep vertical climb, and release the weapon using its own momentum to “toss” the weapon toward the target.

The bomber would then pull through the vertical and fly the remaining half-loop ending up on the reciprocal heading used for the bombing run or chosen egress course. Performed at high speed the egress after a toss-bombing delivery would expose the attacking bomber to the least possible blast effects from the delivered weapon upon detonation. Thankfully no B-47 ever actually toss-bombed a real enemy target!

Official US Air Force Photograph

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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