EC-135N “Stratotanker”


While the KC-135A is usually used for in-flight refueling, the EC-135N is a modified version used in various testing programs. Similar to the commercial Boeing 707, the slightly smaller KC-135 was designed to military specifications and operated at higher gross weights. The initial flight of a KC-135A took place on 31 August 1956, and the USAF accepted its first one on 31 January 1957.  By 1966, 732 KC-135As had been built and the aircraft had become the USAF’s standard tanker. It was also used for transporting cargo or personnel, and by 1970 was serving in other roles too, including reconnaissance, electronic intelligence gathering, and project testing.  Updated KC-135 Stratotankers, EC-135 command posts, and RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft continue to serve in large numbers.

The EC-135N on display was delivered to the USAF in November 1961 as a C-135A and assigned to the 1611th Air Transport (Heavy) Wing at McGuire AFB, New Jersey. In August 1966 it was transferred to the Eastern Test Range, at Patrick AFB, Florida and converted to an EC-135N for test purposes. In December 1975 it was moved to the 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. In June 1987 it was transferred to the 19th Air Refueling Wing here at Robins AFB, Georgia where it served as an airborne command post. In the 1990s it was transferred to the Headquarters Central Command (CENTCOM) at MacDill AFB FL. During Desert Storm it served as General Norman Schwarzkopf’s aircraft, ferrying him to and from the Middle East.  It remained at MacDill AFB serving other CENTCOM Commanders until February 2003 when it was retired to the Museum for display.

Span: 130 ft. 10 in.
Length: 136 ft. 3 in.
Height:  41 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 300,000 lbs. loaded
Armament: None
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojet engines of 13,750 lbs. thrust each with water injection
Crew: Four (plus 80 troops)
Cost: $3,436,000
Serial Number: 61-0327

Maximum speed: 606 mph.
Cruising speed: 512 mph.
Range: 8,673 miles
Service ceiling: 50,000 ft.