GM130 GeminiJets USAF Boeing KC-135T 58-0054 1/400 Scale Pennsylvania ANG
Originally designated as a replacement for the venerable KC-97 Tanker, the first KC-135 was designed from the Boeing type 367-80. The initial Boeing 367-80 - also known as the Dash 80 - would not only lay the groundwork for the KC-135, but also for the Boeing 707 as well.
The KC-135 has seen many iterations over the years, with the first launch order coming from the USAF in 1954. The first KC-135A took to the skies in August 1956 with the first deliveries to the USAF having begun in June 1957. All initial KC-135A aircraft were delivered with Pratt & Whitney J-57 Turbo-Jet engines. Although these engines were technologically advanced for their day, they produced lots of smoke, they were very loud, and they burned excessive amounts of fuel.
During the 1980's a modernization program entailed replacing the original engines of the KC-135A with Pratt & Whitney JT3D Turbo Fan engines - military designation: TF-33 - derived from retired Boeing 707 airliners. The newly modified jet was designated the KC-135E and rendered the aircraft more reliable with enhanced performance. This update extended the life of the KC-135 well into the next century. The final engine modification arose with the replacement of the TF-33 engines with high bypass CFM-56 engines, which brought the aircraft up to modern days standards. Designated the KC-135R, this revised aircraft has nearly double the power and capability of the original KC-135A.
With the KC-135 and its variants having reached 50+ years of service, the sun has begun to set on the KC-135R, with its replacement, the Boeing KC-46 - which is a derivative of the civilian Boeing 767-200 - having first been delivered to the USAF in January 2019.
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