Boeing KC-135

a KC-135R Stratotanker of US air Force refuels a F/A-22 RWS gate

Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is a Tankflugzeug developed into the 1950er years. It is this very day in several countries in use (under it the USA, France, Turkey). Beside the mechanisms for air refueling the airplane on the Hauptdeck can transport passengers or freight.

With all military conflicts of the USA since the late 1960ern this model a crucial role has easily with the support of the reconnaissance aircraft and bomber of the USAF, whose employment radius became larger thereby substantially.

Table of contents


a KC-135E refuels a F-16 Fighting Falcon

the KC-135 is a Untertyp of the variant-rich C-135 - family, which like Boeing 707 on Boeing 367-80 are based. 1954 ordered the United States air Force (USAF) first 29 of tankers. The first flight took place to 31. August 1956, in June 1957 supplied Boeing the first machine to the USAF. Last that altogether the 732 built KC-135A received the air Force 1965. Since that time the model was often reequipped and modernized. Meanwhile 410 KC-135 were equipped with the modern engine CFM internationally CFM56. Thus the KC-135R or KC-135T can load machine mentioned to 50 per cent more fuel, used up even 25 per cent less, and is 96 per cent more quietly than the KC-135A. End of 2004 still 530 machines are national at the US Air Force in the use, most with the air Mobility COMMAND as well as 220 with the air Guard and 75 with the air Force reserve COMMAND.

Since 1982 are supported the tanker fleet of the US Air Force by the more efficient McDonnell Douglas KC-10.

While the older D and E-models of the KC-135 have to fight for years ever more frequently with corrosion and structural weaknesses and therefore for safety reasons often at the soil to remain to have, renewed R and T-models receive improved avionics in next time.

When successor for the oldest KC-135 became a military version the Boeing 767 as Tankflugzeug developed (KC-767), by which 100 pieces starting from 2008 are to be procured. Since this plan lies however since at the end of of 2004 on ice, also the competition model of the European EADS ( airbus A330 FSTA/KC-330) could come to the course.

Two-side design


  • KC-135A: First model, 732 pieces with Pratt & Whitney J57-Triebwerken from 1956 to 1965 produces
  • KC-135B: 17 again built copies starting from 1962
  • KC-135D: 1979 from RC-135A tankers developed, 4 pieces
  • of KC-135E: starting from 1982 with new engines (Pratt & Whitney JT3D) provided A-models, 160 pieces, of it are still exclusive of 125 with reserve armed forces in the service. The E-models are with up to 47 years the oldest still active airplanes of the USAF.
  • KC-135F: Export model for France, 12 pieces
  • of KC-135Q: Between 1965 and 1968 56 KC-135A for the refueling of the Lockheed SR-71 with special fuel were reequipped
  • KC-135R: 370 A-models modernized starting from 1982 among other things with CFM56-Triebwerken. Eight of it can be refuelled even in air and 20 had hose arms with catching judge, in order to be able to refuel also airplanes of the US-Navy or NATO.
  • KC-135T: Q-models modernized from 1993 to 1995 with CFM56-Triebwerken, 55 pieces

some KC-135 were converted also to other C-135-Typen, in order to serve for example than flying control center or than reconnaissance plane (Boeing RC-135). In addition have the Air Forces of France, which Turkey and Singapore receive from the USAF used Tankflugzeuge.

technical data

view of a KC-135 from the cockpit of an F-15 Eagle
Boeing KC-135T
characteristic of data
length 41.5 m
wingspan 39.9 m
height of 12.7 m
wing surface 226 m ²
drive four CFM internationally F108 (=CFM56) with ever 99 kN thrust
maximum speed 980 km/h
maximum range 17,700 km
ceiling of 15,200 m
unloaded weight 54.1 t
maximum additional load 37.6 t freight or 37 passengers or 90.7 t fuel maximum
takeoff weight 146.3 t crew
4 (pilot, copilot, navigator, arm operator), which can be delivered

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