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(R)B-47B’s over the USSR in 1952


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Does anyone know the serial numbers of the two ®B-47B’s involved in the long penetration of the USSR missions in 1952?

From http://data-freeway.com/plesetsk/overflights.htm

‘For this flight, SAC modified two B-47Bs from the 306th Bombardment Wing at MacDill AFB, Florida. Col. Donald E. Hillman, the deputy wing commander, was selected to plan the mission and pilot the primary aircraft. The mission was assigned the highest of security classifications; only the commander of SAC, Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, and his directors of operations and intelligence knew the details. In the field, initially only Maj. Gen. Frank Armstrong, commander of the 6th Air Division at MacDill (and responsible for executing the project) and Hillman knew of it. It should be emphasized that in this instance, as in all others involving overflights, LeMay took his orders from above.

On September 28, 1952, the two modified B-47Bs, accompanied by two KC-97 tankers, flew from MacDill to Eielson AFB. Hillman remained as command pilot of the primary aircraft, with Majors Lester E. Gunter, copilot, and Edward A. Timmins, navigator. Col. Patrick D. Fleming piloted the backup aircraft, with Majors Lloyd F. Fields, copilot, and William J. Reilly, navigator. With word of good weather over Siberia, General Armstrong authorized takeoff early on October 15, 1952. After meeting the KC-97 tankers in the area of Point Barrow, Alaska, the B-47s took on full loads of fuel and the mission proceeded.

Fleming and his crew photographed and mapped Wrangel Island, located about a hundred miles from the Siberian mainland, and then flew to the communications area over the Chukchi Sea and took up station, flying a racetrack pattern. Maintaining radio silence, Hillman continued on course past Wrangel Island, then turned southwest toward the Soviet coast. Making landfall close to noontime, Timmins switched on the cameras as the aircraft swung south for a short period, and then turned eastward and flew back toward Alaska, through the heart of Siberia. The weather, which had been bright and clear throughout the flight, changed after the B-47 crossed the coast. Scattered clouds appeared, and occasional haze at the ground obscured viewing of the surface for the remainder of the flight.

By now, after burning off fuel, Hill-man’s aircraft had become light enough to be able to fly above 40,000 feet and well over normal cruising speed, at approximately 480 knots (552 mph). After two of five target areas had been covered and photographs of the forbidden landscape below had been taken, warning receivers on board told the crew that the aircraft was being tracked by Soviet radar. Gunter swiveled his seat 180 degrees to the rear to control the plane’s only defensive armament, the tailguns. A few minutes later he advised Hillman that he had Soviet fighters in sight, below and to the rear, climbing desperately to intercept them. But the fighters had scrambled too late to catch up to the B-47, and it flew eastward unopposed.

The aircraft completed photographing the remaining three areas in eastern Siberia without encountering any more fighters. It passed over Egvekinot, then over Provideniya, and turned northeast, exiting Soviet territory at the coast of the Chukotskiy Peninsula. Hiliman flew his B-47 straight back to Fairbanks, landing at Eielson well after dark. A few minutes later, Fleming’s backup B-47 touched down. Altogether, the mission spanned seven and three-quarter hours in the air; the primary B-47 had made a 3,500-mile flight and overflown some 1,000 miles of Soviet territory.

Technicians immediately developed the film. The photographs would belie the presence of massed Tu-4 bombers in Siberia. Messages intercepted soon after revealed that the Soviet regional commander had been sacked and that a second MiG regiment was to be moved into the area. As for the Americans, members of both aircrews received the Distinguished Flying Cross.’

The same website has a picture of a B-47B undergoing modification at McDill AFB, Florida in 1952-53 –unfortunately, the USAF censor has blotted out the serial number! :angry::rant:

I would think this information is no longer classified as a lot the intelligence-related information from that period is available on CIA Korean War FOIA section of the CIA’s website - but I may be wrong… :unsure:

These two B-47’s are the first Stratojets to have taken part in an operational mission and, in my opinion, they would make great subjects for a conversion of the Hasegawa, B-47E kit.

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It probably wouldn't be CIA, as these were USAF overflights done at the behest of Le May. I've run into a similar problem while trying to identify an RB-26s that a friend's relative flew undertaking reconnaissance work over Russia in 1951. The best I could do was to figure out what codes aircraft in the squadron had, and build a representative aircraft from the squadron

Edited by -Neu-
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It probably wouldn't be CIA, as these were USAF overflights done at the behest of Le May. ...

I agree with you. My point was merely, if intelligence-related information which, by definition, should have a higher classification than its military counterpart, is now available, then information such as the serial numbers of the aircraft involved in these missions should be easier to get...

Well, looks like it ain't... :angry:

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Well in all honesty, unless you can get a photo, obtaining a serial number is extremely tough. Even a pilot's IFR does not usually record what the aircraft's serial number is. It seems like the B-47s from this mission might have had very few obvious modifications: its not actually an RB-47 or a YRB-47. It might have been among the first purpose built modifications for reconnaissance. I'd really look at the list of numbers and pick one.


This might give you a sense of just how unique these two aircraft were given where the B-47s were at that time in their development.


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Probably it something will help?

Magazine article^ Alexander KOTLOBOVSKY(Kiev) Igor SEIDOV(Ashkhabad) Hot sky of "cold war" Mir Aviatciit No. 2(10)'95





Movie.The interrupted flight of "Polecats".

(Sorry but this cinema only in Russian though interviev the brought-down pilot in English can be heard)

In the evening on July 1, 1960 the American military plane over Barents by sea near the Kola Peninsula broke Frontier of the USSR - and was brought down by the Soviet fighter. The Soviet party reported nothing about it because Nikita Khrushchev was in a foreign trip - waited for his return and the corresponding instructions. What did RB-47 over Barents by sea near borders of the USSR? How events at northern boundaries of the Soviet state and in Moscow developed on July 1, 1960? What was further destiny of the survived crew members of the American scout plane? What happened to pilot Vasily Polyakov who has brought down RB-47? The movie will include interview to the crew member of the scout plane, Vasily Polyakov, some materials from still not declassified "Criminal case No. 45", film materials from state archive of the USA.
The interrupted flight of "Polecats".
Director: Alexander Slavin.
Country: Russia.



Edited by Aardvark
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