Military Wiki
C-137 Stratoliner
A VC-137B Stratoliner aircraft taking off in 1981
Role Passenger/VIP transport
Manufacturer Boeing
First flight 31 December 1958
Status Active service
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 1954-1965
Developed from Boeing 707
Variants Boeing CC-137
VC-137C SAM 26000
VC-137C SAM 27000

The Boeing C-137 Stratoliner was a VIP transport aircraft derived from the Boeing 707 jet airliner used by the United States Air Force. Other nations also bought both new and used 707s for military service, primarily as VIP or tanker transports. In addition, the 707 served as the basis for several specialized versions, such as the E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft. The designation C-18 covers several later variants based on the 707-320B/C series.


USAF procurement of the Boeing 707 was very limited, amounting to three Model 707-153s designated VC-137A. When delivered in 1959 these had four 13,500 lb (6123 kg) dry thrust Pratt & Whitney J57 (JT3C6) turbojets; when subsequently re-engined with 18,000 lbf (80.1 kN) dry thrust TF33-P-5 (JT3D) turbofans they were redesignated VC-137B. Only one other variant served with the USAF: this was the VC-137C Air Force One Presidential transport, the two examples of which were Model 707-320B Intercontinentals with specialized interior furnishings and advanced communications equipment. Two further non-presidential C-137C aircraft were later added.[1]

To supplement its VC-137s, the USAF converted several C-135 airframes to VC-135 VIP standard, and these were used for staff transport mainly within the United States.[1]



An EC-18B Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft (ARIA) takes off on its first flight at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, following its conversion from a Boeing 707-320.

The C-18 is the US military designation for the conversions of the 707-320B series.

Eight second-hand (former American Airlines) 707-323Cs bought as crew trainers for the EC-18Bs, four later converted to EC-18B, two converted to EC-18D, one to C-18B; one was not taken into service and was used for spares.
One C-18A modified with instrumentation and equipment to support the Military Strategic and Tactical Relay System (MILSTAR).[2]
Four C-18As modified alongside examples of the C-135 for Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft (ARIA) missions in support of the Apollo space program.[2] The designation E-7 was originally applied to modified Boeing 707s before being replaced by the EC-18 designation.[3]
Original designation for two prototype J-STAR aircraft, later redesignated E-8A.
Two C-18As modified as a Cruise Missile Mission Control Aircraft (CMMCA).[2]
Two second-hand (former Trans World Airlines) 707-331 aircraft modified for E-3 pilot and crew training.[2]
Two second-hand (former TAP Portugal) 707-382 aircraft modified for E-6 pilot training.[2]

C-137 Stratoliner

Spectators watch one of two C-137B Stratoliner aircraft returning freed hostages after their release from Iran in 1981

VC-137C SAM 27000 (Air Force One) parked on the tarmac at the Venice Marco Polo Airport, Italy in 1987

The USAF purchased a number of 707s under the C-137 series of designations:

Three 707-153s with a 22-passenger VIP interior and provision for use as an airborne command post, re-designated VC-137B.
The three VC-137As re-engined with four Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3 engines, operated by the 89th Military Airlift Wing, redesignated C-137B.
The three VC-137Bs redesignated when downgraded from VIP role.
Two 707-353Bs were purchased by the USAF (one in 1961 and one in 1972) for service as presidential transports with call signs SAM 26000 and SAM 27000; later redesignated C-137C.
The two VC-137Cs were redesignated when downgraded from presidential use. Two further C-137Cs were acquired by the USAF, one 707-396C (a seized aircraft formerly used for arms smuggling acquired in 1985) and one 707-382B bought second hand in 1987.
Two aircraft built as Early Warning and Control System prototypes. Later re-engined and re-designated E-3A. A further second-hand 707-355C aircraft was acquired and configured as an airborne special operations command post.

Variants of other militaries

An Italian Air Force Boeing KC-707 refuel two MB-339 in a demonstration

CC-137 Husky 
Canadian Forces designation for the 707-347C. Five were purchased in 1970.
Brazilian Air Force[4][5]


United States

Aircraft on display

58-6971 on display

The following aircraft are on public display:

  • 58-6970 Model 707-120 USAF VC-137B "SAM 970", Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA.[6]
  • 58-6971 Model 707-153 USAF VC-137B Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, AZ. This aircraft became known as "Freedom One" after serving in the return of the American hostages from Tehran, Iran in 1981.[7]
  • 62-6000 Model 707-320B (VC-137C SAM 26000) Air Force One is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.
  • 72-7000 Model 707-353B (VC-137C SAM 27000) Air Force One is on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Specifications (VC-137C)

Boeing 707 3-view.svg

General characteristics

  • Length: 152 ft 11 in (46.61 m)
  • Wingspan: 145 ft 9 in (44.42 m)
  • Height: 42 ft 5 in (12.93 m)
  • Wing area: 3010 ft² (279.63 m²)
  • Empty weight: 98,466 lb (44,663 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 297,000 lb (135,000 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 327,000 lb (148,325 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney TF-33-PW-102 turbofan engines , 18,000 lbf (80 kN) each


  • Maximum speed: 627 mph (1009 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 600 mph (966 km/h)
  • Range: 7,610 mi (12,247 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,200 m)
  • Rate of climb: 4,900 ft/min (1,490 m/min)

See also


External links

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