Structurally similar to the Boeing Model 707 commercial airliner, the Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker was the standard flight-refueling tanker
of the U.S.A.. Strategic Air Command. The first KC-135A flew on 31 August 1956. Both the KC-135 and the Boeing 707 airliner were developed
from the Boeing 367-80 prototype. Boeing gave the KC-135 tanker the initial designation Model 717. The KC-135A is the predominant variant
of the C-135 Stratolifter family of transport aircraft. In addition to ist high-speed and high-altitude refeuling capabilities, the KC-135A
served in the long-range transport role, carrying eigthy passengers or a 50.000 lbs caro-load on its upper deck, situated above the refueling
system. However, the passenger seats were not really comfortable. Four turbofans, mounted under 35-degree swept wings, power the KC-135.
Original the KC-135 was fitted with four Pratt and Whitney J57-P-59W turbojets. These noisy and fuel-guzzling engines were recognizable
from a large distance at the takeoff by the plume of smoke behind the aircraft. In the 1980s the first modification program retrofitted 157
Air Force Reserve (AFRES) and Air National Guard (ANG) tankers with the Pratt & Whitney TF33-PW-102 turbofan engines from 707 airliners
retired in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The modified tanker, designated the KC-135E, was 14% more fuel-efficient than the KC-135A and
could offload 20% more fuel on long-duration flights. The KC-135E aircraft were equipped with thrust-reversers for aborted takeoffs and
shorter landing roll-outs. The second modification program retrofitted over 500 airframes of the original KC-135As with new CFM-56 engines
produced by CFM-International. The active KC-135E fleet was retrofitted as the R-model configuration. The re-engined tanker, designated either
the KC-135R or KC-135T, can offload 50% more fuel, is 25% more fuel efficient, costs 25% less to operate and the nois levels at takeoff is
reduced fron 126 to 99 decibels.
The KC-135 Stratotanker still provides the core aerial refueling capability for the United States Air
Force and has excelled in this role for over 60 years, not only for the U.S.A.F. but also for the Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation
aircraft. The primary task of the KC-135 is in-flight-air refuelling. Nearly all internal fuel can be pumped through the flying boom; the
KC-135's primary fuel transfer method. One crewmember, known as the boom operator, is stationed in the rear of the plane and controls the
boom during in-flight air refueling. The boom operator largely carries out the work lying on a large kind of gymnastics mat at the bottom
of the rear of the aircraft whereby he through the special small windows at the bottom of rear tail has a good view on the flying boom and
the approaching aircraft to be refueled. A special shuttlecock-shaped drogue attached to and trailing behind the flying boom may be used
to refuel aircraft fitted. In the tailfin, two LED lamps have been fitted to illuminate the operation behind the plane.
In the fall of 2019, Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker "59-1483" operated by the Ohio Air National Guard 121 ARW / 121st
Air Revueling Wing was one of the Stratotankers of the Ohio ANG deployed to Europe and temporarily stationed at Geilenkirchen
AFB in Germany, where it was seen during takeoff on 19 November 2019.
Boeing KC-135R "59-1483" was built as KC-135-A s/n 17971 l/n 386 and flown first on 18 May 1960 and in June 1960 taken on
Strength/Charge with the United States Air Force. Over the years, KC-135-A "59-1483"was operated by the 911th Air Refueling
Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. This squadron was equipped with first generation Boeing KC-135A Stratotankers
as part of the 4241st Strategic Wing. In February 1982, the "59-1483" was modified into a KC-135E. In June 1989, the
Boeing KC-135E Stratotanker was modified and re-engined, this time into KC-135R Stratotanker s/n 17971 / T0386. In 1992, the
new formed Ohio Air National Guard 121 ARW / 121st Air Revueling Wing was equipped with Boeing KC-135 R Stratotankers. Ohio's KC-135 R
fleet is based at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base near Columbus, Ohio.