A Tribute to Boeing Aircraft

          The Strategic Air Command was the most powerful military force that ever existed.  During the Cold War, its bombers, tankers and missiles stood on alert, providing a powerful deterrent to foreign aggression.  The SAC crest depicts an armored first striking through the sky with lighting speed to protect the laurels of peace.  It is superimposed on a shield.  SACís officers and men were patriotic Americans, hardworking and dedicated to protecting our country.  But they could not have done their job without the aircraft and missiles provided by Boeing Aircraft.  They were the shield that protected us and the armored fist that could be used to crush those who attacked the American way of life. 
            Boeing began in1916.  It initially produced float planes, but soon turned its efforts to producing pursuit planes and aircraft for commercial aviation.  In 1937, it delivered the first thirteen B-17 bombers to the Army Air Corps.  It bristled with machine guns to protect it from fighters and was nicknamed, ďthe Flying Fortress.Ē  When the United States was suddenly thrust into World War II,  the aircraft went into large-scale production.  It became the primary weapon by which the war was carried to the Nazi Reich.  They usually met fierce resistance, but proved that they could take severe punishment.  They often returned to their bases in England riddled with holes, but they accomplished their mission. American B-17s destroyed German industries and rail lines.  They made possible the D-day invasion, the Liberation of Europe and the defeat of Germany.  Boeing deserves enormous credit for providing American airman with so many of these fine aircraft, especially when it had to produce them under adverse conditions.
            But Boeing went beyond that.  In 1940, it appeared that England would fall to the Nazis, so the company was asked to produce a long range bombers.  The result was the B-29 Superfortress.  Awesome by ever standard of the day, a desperate America ordered the plane in large numbers while it was still on the drawing board - itself a tribute to its confidence in Boeing.  The plane was rushed into production while it was still being tested.  Once the army and navy were able to provide bases for them, they were able to strike the Japanese heartland.  They were loaded with incendiary bombs and quickly reduced much of the island empire to ashes. Two of them dropped the atomic bombs that brought victory in the Pacific.  After the war, the B-29s were used to protect us from Soviet aggression in Europe and served admirably in Korea.
           The B-29 was SACís first bomber.  It proved so reliable and dependable, that it underwent extensive upgrades, emerging as the B-50.  But Boeing was not willing to rest on its laurels.  The jet age had emerged so it introduced the radical, all-jet B-47 Stratojet to replaced the aging Superfortresses.  The plane was a major milestone in aviation.  Itís engines were hung from new swept-back wings on pylons, thus improving airflow over the airfoil and isolating flames from the fuel tanks.  This configuration became the standard for multi-engine jet aviation and has been used on nearly every multi-engine jet plane built since then, sometimes in combination with tail mounted engines (727 and VC-10 are exceptions). 
         The B-47 was a medium range bomber, but SAC also needed a plane with much longer range and greater bomb capacity.  Boeing answered the call by providing the giant 8-engine B-52 Stratofortress.  The last one was delivered in 1962 and it was originally thought that they would have a ten to twelve year lifespan.  Now - forty years later - they are still an integral part of Americanís aviation strength.  Modern fighters can take out small targets with pinpoint accuracy, but the B-52 is the only plane that deliver a large bomb load over a great area.  Through the miracle of in-flight refueling, they are often flown from bases in the United States to targets in distance countries.  The planes air frame has been certified until the year 2040.  What greater evidence could there be to Boeingís superb engineering and production.
            Recognizing the need to extend the range of SACís bombers, Boeing engineers invented the flying boom, which was soon installed on B-29s, converting them to KB-29 tankers.  It was replaced by the Boeing KC-97, an Air Force Tanker similar to the Boeing Model 377 Airliner, itself a large fuselage version of the B-29.  On its own initiative and with its own money, Boeing went out on a very large limb to provide the Air Force with a jet tanker - the KC-135 Stratotanker.  Soon it was refueling aircraft in flight all over the world.  It was similar in design to the Boeing 707, the first successful jet passenger plane and the predecessor of all the Boeing airliners that followed.
            The end of the Cold War did not end Americanís reliance on Boeing.  Today Boeing provides our military forces with everything from aircraft to weapons systems.  It not only built Air Force One for our President, but a fleet of planes for our nationís leaders.. 
            It is very rare for one company to have had such an enormous impact on a nation. One might ask what would the United States be like today if it had not been for Boeing Aircraft?.  Would we have been able to defeat Germany and Japan?  Prevent the Soviet Unionís from achieving its goal of world domination?  Project our power in distant lands?  Americas are inventive and resourceful, so perhaps some other means would not have been found to accomplish our national goals, but its seems almost certain that doing so would have been far more difficult and cost a great many more American lives.  I for one am grateful that we didnít have to find out.  Iím grateful that Boeing was there for us every time we needed itís help. 
           Thank you, Boeing.

           Marvin Broyhill, Web Master