Boeing WC-135 Constant Phoenix

Boeing WC-135 Constant Phoenix is a special purpose aircraft creation based on the Boeing C-135. This aircraft is used by the United States Air Force whose mission is to collect samples from the atmosphere for the purpose of detecting and identifying nuclear explosions.

Boeing WC-135 Constant Phoenix
Boeing WC-135 Constant Phoenix (

Role : Atmosphere Testing Related to Nuclear Incidents
Manufacturer : Boeing Military Airplanes Division
Introduced : December 1965
Primary user : United States Air Force
Number built : 10 original WC-135B, plus 1 converted former EC-135C (2 still in service)
Developed from : C-135 Stratolifter
Variants : OC-135B Open Skies

Boeing WC-135 Constant Phoenix is also informally referred to as the “weather bird” or “the sniffer” by workers on the program. The WC-135W (tail number 61-2667) is a modified C-135B. It (tail number 62-3582) is an extensively modified former EC-135C Looking Glass aircraft.
Boeing WC-135 Specifications
General characteristics

  • Crew: varies with mission
  • Length: 139 ft 11 in (42.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 130 ft 10 in (39.9 m)
  • Height: 42 ft (12.8 m)
  • Wing area: 2,433 ft² (226 m²)
  • Max takeoff weight: 300,500 lb (136,300 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-9 turbofan with thrust reversers, 16,050 lbf (71.4 kN) each


  • Maximum speed: 350 knots (648 km/h)
  • Range: 4,000 miles (7,400 km)
  • Service ceiling: 40,000 ft (12,200 m)
  • Wing loading: 123.5 lb/ft² (603 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.21


  • None

Boeing WC-135 Constant Phoenix

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