Airborne Awesomosity

Up In Smoke

Necessity is the mother of awesome.

A while back, skitter wrote quite a post on the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. A huge monster of a Cold War bomber. One of the more unusual things about the B-47 was the Air Force’s insistance on trying to improve its take-off performance with JATO. They also had systems on the B-47’s JATO that would inject water into the rocket exhaust to create a sort of “smokescreen” or, more technically, a steamscreen. Hit the jumps for a video of a B-47 taking off with JATO and steamscreen.

[youtube width=”640″ height=”480″][/youtube]

  • You know, when I was eight I was the biggest cold-war fan ever. My Grandfather had just given me a collection of Observers Books from '52 through '69 and the love started there. I think it peaked when; thumbing my way through the Boeing section in the '61 book I passed 707, 720 (both with four engines), then suddenly found myself looking at the B-47 (with six and a bubble canopy! Then the B-52, with eight! It was all very exciting.

    Actually, to this day I think that six is my favourite number of engines. B-47, XB-70 and AN-225 are all thus-equipped, and all awesome.

    • Number_Six

      My six-engine fetish started with Blohm & Voss
      <img src="; />

    • CaptianNemo2001

      I have always been a fan of 4's> But 6 is more then good and alright but once that is passed it just becomes crazy, and a maintenance nightmare on almost craft anything anywhere.

  • B72

    I always assumed that JATO units were used to assist takeoff. A friend who worked on a base in Amsterdam corrected me. He said that liftoff needed to be achieved on the regular engines, and only then would the JATO units be fired to assist climb out.

    He said that you wanted to be sure you could get off the ground before you fired the rockets, otherwise you might run out of runway. I'm sure the protocol was broken now and again depending on circumstances, but that's how it was on his base.

    Who knew? Probably most of the rest of you!

  • Jeb Hoge

    I'm not sure about that water injection "steamscreen" thing…it doesn't seem to make sense that you'd want to create any more visual disruption than you'd already get between the jet engine smoke and the smoke/blast from the RATO rockets. That'd be an nightmare when you're attempting a multi-airframe scramble. I know that water injection was used with the jets themselves and that created tons of smoke, so maybe that's the reference.