The scientific tourist #240 — a well-travelled B-47E

Coming to you from the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita, Kansas, here’s a B-47E with a bit of a story behind it:


First — a bit about the museum. The Kansas Aviation Museum is in the Art Deco terminal building of what was once the Wichita Municipal Airport. Back in the 1950s, the airport was relocated to the west side of town, and this site relinquished to the Air Force. The old terminal building was used until 1984, when it was surplussed — freeing it up for reincarnation as the museum in 1990. Given the building’s design, it’s really just got room indoors for smaller exhibits — but outside on the tarmac, an eclectic collection of aircraft is available for close inspection by visitors.

The B-47 introduced jet bombers to the cold war; 2,042 of them were built and flew between 1947 and 1969 (but the last flight as a bomber took place in 1965). Beyond that, its basic configuration paved the way for most commercial airliners built ever since.

The B-47E Stratojet (serial # 51-2387) is on loan from the National Museum of the U. S. Air Force, and was originally (after retirement) displayed on pylons in the parking lot of the Oklahoma City Fair Grounds. The fair grounds needed room for expansion, so in 2007 the B-47E made a $110,000 / three and a half day trip along back roads to Wichita. Since arriving at its “forever home,” the aircraft has been in a pretty much continual process of restoration. Since its landing gear had been removed previously (no need for them while mounted on pylons), the main “bicycle” gear had to be replaced with spares from elsewhere. The hunt is still on for replacement outrigger gear, so you can see its wings are held level with hoists in the interim.

The fact that a B-47 is on display in Wichita has got to stir mixed feelings among the locals. Boeing designed the B-47, and built nearly all of them (along with a host of other craft, both commercial and military) at its Wichita plant, but that facility is scheduled to close by the end of 2013.

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