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RB-47H Shot Down

DAYTON, Ohio - RB-47H Shot Down exhibit on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - RB-47H Shot Down exhibit on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In the summer of 1960, the Soviet Union remained on high alert for overflights following the shoot down in May 1960 of a U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers of the CIA. On July 1, 1960, a Strategic Air Command (SAC) RB-47H crew was flying in international airspace over the Arctic, north of the USSR, when a Soviet MiG-19 fighter began to shadow their aircraft. 

Without provocation, the MiG pilot attacked. Despite returning fire, the RB-47H was shot down and four of the six crewmen were killed. The navigator, Capt. John R. McKone, and the co-pilot, Capt. Freeman B. Olmstead, ejected from the aircraft and were picked up by a Soviet trawler. Flown to Moscow, they became "guests" of the KGB (Soviet State Security Police) in the dreaded Lubyanka prison. In addition to many interrogation sessions, McKone and Olmstead faced possible execution for espionage. Fortunately, after seven months of imprisonment, the Soviets did not bring them to trial, and both were released in January 1961. 

The items were given to McKone and Olmstead by the Soviets during their imprisonment. They wore the clothing on the day they were released. 

The items were donated by Capt. John R. McKone and Capt. Freeman B. Olmstead. 

Click here to return to the Cold War Gallery.


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Strategic Air Command
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