Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter (2024)


  • 1 History of the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter
  • 2 Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Specification
    • 2.1 Basic
    • 2.2 Production
    • 2.3 Roles
    • 2.4 Dimensions
    • 2.5 Weight
    • 2.6 Performance
    • 2.7 Performance
    • 2.8 Armor
    • 2.9 Changes

History of the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter

The C-97 is a post-WWII design developed by Boeing from their Type 367 - a military-focused transport airframe derived from the Boeing B-29/B-50 Superfortress heavy bomber The origins of successful design. As such, many design cues from the B-29/B-50 can also be found in the C-97, including the wings and tail.

The C-97 was used during the Berlin Airlift (1949) and the Korean War (1950-1953), the latter mainly used to transport the wounded, sometimes at treetop heights out of sight of the enemy. Others were eventually posted as air command posts and carrier-based tankers for the Strategic Air Command (SAC).

Sixty C-97s were built over a ten-year period. The first flight took place on November 9, 1944, as one of three XC-97 prototypes, the last of which was retired in 1978. The C-97 performed well in the air, with 888 prototypes, including all available variants other than the standard C-97.

The 377 Stratocruiser is a civilian personnel carrier for the C-97. 56 of these are completed and operated by Pan Am, BOAC and Northwest Airlines. The Pregnant Guppy, Super Guppy and Mini Guppy Aero Spacelines are all based on the 367/C-97 model.

Externally, the C-97 was designed to be a behemoth with a long wingspan, four-engine design, bulky ("twin-blade") fuselage and traditional tail. The flight deck is located high at the very front of the aircraft. The deep hull allows for various interior layouts. Each wing manages two engine nacelles along its leading edge.

Propulsion is provided by 4 Pratt & Whitney R-4360B Wasp Major radial piston engines, each delivering 3,500 horsepower when driving a four-bladed propeller. The plane can reach a top speed of 375 mph and fly to an altitude of 35,000 feet at 300 mph for a range of up to 4,300 miles.

Inside, the pressurized cargo compartment can accommodate 96 infantry or 69 medics. In the aerial tanker role, the C-97 was instead equipped with a large fuel reservoir, feeding the waiting aircraft through a single directional cantilever at the bottom of the tail.

The cargo compartment is accessed through a clamshell door in the belly of the fuselage. The landing gear is fully retractable and consists of two front legs and two main legs. The radar is mounted in the chin radome, a design that immediately distinguishes it from the similar 377 Stratocruiser series.

The standard operator (in the basic C-97 transport configuration) consists of two pilots, a navigator and a flight engineer.

The C-97 is undoubtedly a large aircraft. It has a wingspan of over 141 feet and a fuselage length of over 110 feet. Height over 38 feet. When empty, the C-97 hovers at 82,500 pounds, rising to 175,000 pounds when fully loaded.

The Cargo Review version exists under the name YC-97 and six were produced. The YV-97A is an evaluation type personnel carrier, and a total of 3 units are manufactured. The YV-97B is an evaluation type, carrying 80 passengers, but only one is modified. The original production model was the C-97A, with 50 delivered. Three of these were converted to the KC-97A's aerial tanker role and reverted to C-97A standard after testing.

The C-97C was a medical evacuation variant built from 14 C-97A models during the Korean War. The C-97E, like the C-97F, is a transport aircraft. Both were born out of the KC-97E and KC-97F aerial tankers (60 and 159 built, respectively). The KC-97G was another of the 592 air tankers that were subsequently converted into 135 KC-97G transports. 81 KC-97Gs were converted into C-97K personnel carriers.

The C-97 exists in many other specialties, including training, search and rescue (SAR), turbojet test beds, and electronic intelligence.

Operators of the C-97 (outside the US) include Israel and Spain. Former USAF airframes entered the Air National Guard as a vehicle, while other airframes went into private hands. Some survive as restored/protected museum pieces.

Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Specification







[60 units]:

Boeing - USA


- Airborne Early Warning (AEW)

- Air refueling

- Traffic

- Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)



110.56 ft (33.7 m)


141.40 ft (43.1 m)




Curb Weight:

37,400 kg


80,000 kg

(Difference: +93.917lb)


4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360B Wasp Major radial piston engines, 3,500 hp each.


Maximum Speed:

375 mph (603 km/h; 326 knots)

Service Limit:

35,007 ft (10,670 m; 6.63 mi)

Maximum range:

4,350 miles (7,000 km; 3,780 nautical miles)




Type 367 - Boeing Product Name

XC-97 - Model 367-based prototype model; three examples completed.

YC-97 - Cargo Transportation Assessment; Six Examples.

YC-97A - Assessing Troop Transport; Three Examples.

YC-97B - Passenger Evaluation; 80 seats.

C-97A - initial transport model; 50 examples

KC-97A - aerial tanker; three were converted from C-97A stock for testing, then reverted to C-97A standard.

C-97C - Medical Evacuation 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 - Converted from KC-97E

KC-97E - aerial tanker; 60 examples

C-97F - KC-97F converted transport aircraft

KC-97F - Air tanker; equipped with 3,800 hp P&W R-4360-59B engine.

C-97G - Transport aircraft converted from KC-97G; 135 examples.

EC-97G - ElINT model; converted from three KC-97Gs

KC-97G - Hybrid aerial tanker/transport model; 592 examples.

GKC-97G - training model; five examples of KC-97G.

JKC-97G - Turbojet Test Bed; Singleton; later KC-97L.

HC-97G - Search and rescue platform; 22 examples.

KC-97H - Experimental aerial tanker; converted from KC-97F; only example.

YC-97J - Proposed aerial tanker; two examples converted from KC-97G.

C-97K - Troop transport; by KC-97G

KC-97L - KC-97G variant with 2 x J47 underwing turbojets; 81 examples.

Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter (2024)


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