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Boeing's military history

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By Michelle Dunlop
Herald Writer
Published:
  • The Boeing Co. took apart and shipped two Model C seaplanes to the U.S. Navy base in Florida in 1917 to show off its product. The seaplanes could not ...

    PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE BOEING CO.

    The Boeing Co. took apart and shipped two Model C seaplanes to the U.S. Navy base in Florida in 1917 to show off its product. The seaplanes could not fly all the way from Seattle. In 1918, the Navy ordered 50 Model C's for use in World War I. It was Boeing´s first production order.

  • During World War II, Boeing increased B-17 production at Plant Two in Seattle to build as many as 362 airplanes by March 1944.

    PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE BOEING CO.

    During World War II, Boeing increased B-17 production at Plant Two in Seattle to build as many as 362 airplanes by March 1944.

  • A ground view of the refueling boom of a KC-97 in 1951. The KC-97 was based on Boeing's 377 Stratocruiser.

    PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE BOEING CO.

    A ground view of the refueling boom of a KC-97 in 1951. The KC-97 was based on Boeing's 377 Stratocruiser.

The Boeing Co.'s Puget Sound sites are best known for building commercial aircraft. But the company has a rich history of military projects in the region as well.
Within a few years of incorporating, the Boeing Co. landed its first major order from the U.S. Navy for 50 Model C seaplanes to be used during World War I. After the war, Bill Boeing kept the company afloat building military aircraft for other companies and modernizing military biplanes.
By the time World War II rolled around, Boeing had planted its feet firmly in the commercial aircraft market. But orders dried up as the world focused on the war. With the help of Puget Sound-area workers, Boeing produced 6,981 B-17 bombers at its Plant 2 facility, building as many as 16 aircraft in 24 hours.
Through the years, Boeing continued to supply the military with aircraft, primarily aerial refueling tankers, that were built in the region, including KC-97s and KC-135s. Today, Boeing is vying for a new tanker contract with U.S. Air Force. If Boeing wins, Puget Sound area workers once again will build aircraft for the military.

Story tags » BoeingHistoryWar -- historySnohomish County history

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