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Stratojet arrives at Edwards AFB for preservation


A historic aircraft with close ties to Edwards Air Force Base in California has returned to its roots after more than six decades. Boeing XB-47A Stratojet 46-066 arrived disassembled on several flatbed trucks on September 19. The aircraft entered the base on Rocket Site Road, then proceeded across Rogers Dry Lake to its temporary home on North Base for reassembly and restoration by Air Force Flight Test Museum volunteers.

George Welsh, AFFT Museum director, said the restoration will be done in stages. “The assembly and external restoration of the aircraft should take about one year,” he said. Once the aircraft is assembled and cleaned up, it will be painted and ready for display at the museum. Then the restoration team can go to work refurbishing the internal areas of the plane – like the cockpit and bomb bays – that will be seen by the public.

This XB-47 is the earliest survivor of the B-47 series and served as one of two experimental test airframes. The USAF accepted 46-066 in December 1948 and it logged almost 100 hours of test flights with Boeing, and more than 237 for the military. Testing included flight time at Edwards.

There were only two XB-47 prototype aircraft ever built, and both were test flown at Edwards. However the number one XB-47, 46-065, was disassembled and eventually scrapped in 1954, making the number two prototype, 46-066, the sole surviving XB-47. After completing flight testing at Edwards from 1948 to 1954, No.46-066 spent the next six decades on static display at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois.

A flatbed truck hauling engines and other aircraft components of the XB-47A Stratojet entering the northern boundary of Edwards Air Force Base on September 19. The historic aircraft returned to Edwards Air Force Base after more than six decades on display at Chanute Air Force Base. Photo credit: USAF-Christopher Ball

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