|Quoting bennett123 (Reply 5):|
Given the small number of ERB47H's, could process of elimination at least identify contenders.
A good suggestion. There were three ERB-47Hs. All were relegated to MASDC (and accounted for) on the following dates:
53-6245 7 Sep 67
53-6246 12 Jan 67
53-6249 11 Jan 67
Several sources incorrectly identify the RB
-47H lost on 1 July 1960, over the Barents Sea as an "ERB
-47H." Assuming that Cooper (or his source) confused the MDS and in reality meant that it was an RB
-47H lost during 1967 we can check those too. There were 35 RB
-47Hs. Six of these were written off between 1956 and 1965, including the Barents Sea loss and one attacked by DPRK MiGs but recovered to Yokota AB
. The remaining 29 were retired to MASDC or placed on display (I have confirmed dates for each airplane).
There is always the possibility, however unlikely, that the airplane in question was a B-47 of some other type converted into a reconnaissance configuration. I have interviewed KC
-97 and KC
-135 Boom Operators who swear that during the 1960s they refueled an airplane matching the description of the RB
-47C/RB-56, a four-engine RB
-47. One specified that his crew was told to orbit at a point off the coast of the USSR
and refuel whatever showed up. In this case, it was one of these mysterious airplanes. In nearly 30 years of research I have found no evidence whatsoever to support these assertions.
One additional possibility is that the airplane was a testbed of some sort. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Several RB
-47Es were tested with tactical strike equipment to function as a sort of proto-Wild Weasel and battlefield assessment platforms under the MONTICELLO programs. Some 14 RB
-47Es were eventually modified under the PETER PAN program with the Westinghouse APQ-56 high resolution radar mounted in fairings on either side of the fuselage. The equipment was highly temperamental and the airplanes, assigned to the 4th SRS, 26th SRW at Lockbourne AFB were removed from service. Some descendent variant of this type might have been in testbed service and was operating over the Caspian Sea to test the equipment under real-life conditions. Again, airplane record cards and other sources make this an unverifiable claim.
Another explanation is that the airplane in question was not a B-47 at all. Soviet records indicate that an unidentified airplane took off from Iran on 10 Sep 57, overflew the USSR
, and returned to Iran. This was actually U-2 mission 4059. The Soviets claimed that it was not a U-2 but a high-altitude platform that launched a "cruise missile like" supersonic drone during the mission. So the 1967 loss might have been an entirely different platform.
My favorite explanation for the 1967 loss is that it never happened at all.
KC-135A, A(RT), D, E, E(RT), Q, R, EC-135A, C, G, L, RC-135S, U, V, W, X, TC-135S, W