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Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
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Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
(Featuring some of the Ol'Kunnel's favorite airplanes!)

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered, strategic bomber operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since 1955.

Beginning with the successful contract bid on 5 June 1946, the B-52 went through several design steps; from a straight wing aircraft powered by six turboprop engines to the final prototype YB-52, with eight turbojet engines. The aircraft made its first flight on 15 April 1952 with "Tex" Johnston as pilot.[6]

Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. Although a veteran of a number of wars, the Stratofortress has dropped only conventional munitions in actual combat. With the longest unrefueled range of any contemporary bomber, the B-52 carries up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons.

The USAF has had B-52s in active service since 1955, initially with the Strategic Air Command (SAC), with all aircraft later absorbed into the Air Combat Command (ACC) following SAC's disestablishment in 1992. Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have kept the B-52 in service despite proposals to replace it with the Mach 3 XB-70 Valkyrie, supersonic B-1B Lancer and stealthy B-2 Spirit. In January 2005, the B-52 became the second aircraft, after the English Electric Canberra, to mark 50 years of continuous service with its original primary operator. There are five aircraft altogether that have made this list; the other three being the Tupolev Tu-95, the C-130 Hercules and the KC-135 Stratotanker.

1550 10/29/2015

A Gallery of Buffs - the B-52 Stratofort

1525 11/02/2015

The versatility inherent in this aging veteran of the Vietnam War was ably demonstrated during Operation Desert Storm, when conventionally equipped B-52s flew 1,624 missions, delivering 25,700 tons of weapons, including a conventionally armed version of the AGM-86 ALCM, against both tactical and strategic targets. A mission capable rate of 81 percent, better than peacetime rate, was achieved. Constituting a substantial element in the bomber inventory, the B-52 has a heavy payload capability that includes a wide range of weapons that can be used against many types of targets, including overflight weapons and standoff missiles. Apart from their nuclear mission, they are employed in important conventional roles, including show of force, maritime interdiction, precision strikes, and defense suppression. Their long range as suited them to other collateral missions in recent years, including sea surveillance flights, aerial minelaying and antisurface warfare operations in cooperation with the US Navy, and support for NATO allies.

Two versions are still in service: the B-52G, which introduced a redesigned wing containing integral fuel tanks, fixed underwing external tanks, a tailfin of reduced height and broader chord, and a remotely controlled tailgun turret that allowed the gunner to be repositioned with the rest of the crew, deliveries began in February 1959; 193 were built, of which 85 remain operational; and the _B-52H_, which switched to TF33 turbofans, providing increased unrefueled range, and which has improved defensive armament, including a 20-mm Vulcan multibarrel tail gun; 102 were built, with deliveries beginning in May 1961, 95 remain operational.

January 10, 1964, started out as a typical day for the flight test group at Boeing's Wichita plant. Pilot Chuck Fisher took off in a B-52H with a three-man Boeing crew, flying a low-level profile to obtain structural data.

Over Colorado, cruising 500 feet above the mountainous terrain, the B-52 encountered some turbulence. Fisher climbed to 14,300 feet looking for smoother air. At this point the typical day ended.The bomber flew into clear-air turbulence. It felt as if the plane had been placed in a giant high-speed elevator, shoved up and down, and hit by a heavy blow on its right side.

Fisher told the crew to prepare to abandon the plane. He slowed the aircraft and dropped to about 5,000 feet to make it easier to bail out. But then Fisher regained some control. He climbed slowly to 16,000 feet to put some safety room between the plane and the ground. He informed Wichita about what was happening. Although control was difficult, Fisher said he believed he could get the plane back in one piece.

Response to the situation at Wichita, and elsewhere, was immediate. An emergency control center was set up in the office of Wichita's director of flight test. Key Boeing engineers and other specialists were summoned to provide their expertise. Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control centers at Denver and Kansas City cleared the air around the troubled plane.

A Strategic Air Command B-52 in the area maintained radio contact with the crew of the Wichita B-52.

As Fisher got closer to Wichita, a Boeing chase plane flew up to meet him and to visually report the damage. When Dale Felix, flying an F-100 fighter, came alongside Fisher's B-52, he couldn't believe what he saw: The B-52's vertical tail was gone. [Right here is a chance to see the "Tailless Wonder" if you wish... ~Click Here~

Felix broke the news to Fisher and those gathered in the control center. There was no panic. Everyone on the plane and in the control center knew they could be called upon at any time for just such a situation. In the emergency control center, the engineers began making calculations and suggesting the best way to get the plane down safely.

The Air Force was also lending assistance. A B-52, just taking off for a routine flight, was used to test the various flight configurations suggested by the specialists before Fisher had to try them.

As high gusty winds rolled into Wichita, the decision was made to divert the B-52 to Blytheville Air Force Base in Northeastern Arkansas.

Boeing specialists from the emergency control center took off in a KC-135 and accompanied Fisher to Blytheville, serving as an airborne control center.

Six hours after the incident first occurred, Fisher and his crew brought in the damaged B-52 for a safe landing.

"I'm very proud of this crew and this airplane," Fisher said. "Also we had a lot people helping us, and we're very thankful for that."

The B-52, Fisher said, "Is the finest airplane I ever flew."

My brother Bill sent me this message after reading an e-mail I sent on the subject:

I watched the "Tailess Wonder" land at BAFB. I was the Chief, Communications Operations Branch for the Wing at BAFB at that time. We got the word long before the B52 got there. Several of us were on the roof of a building overlooking the flight line and watched it come into sight as a dot just above the horizon, and it SLOWLY decreased altitude. It seemed to be foot by foot, until it flared out and touched down.
Bill Clarke
12:42 4/18/2007

13:27 4/18/2007
During the early 1970s, all B-52Gs and Hs were modified to carry AGM-69A short-range attack missiles (SRAMs). Additionally, all Gs and Hs were equipped with an AN/ASQ-151 electro-optical viewing system (EVS), using forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and low-light-level TV sensors to improve their low-level flight capability, and were updated with Phase VI avionics. These include ALQ-122 SNOE (smart noise operation equipment) and AN/ALQ-155(V) advanced ECM; and AFSATCOM kit permitting worldwide communications via satellite; a Dalmo Victor ALR-46 digital radar warning receiver; Westinghouse ALQ-153 pulse-Doppler tail warning radar; and an improved ITT Avionics ALQ-117 Pave Mint or ALQ-172 ECM jamming system. The G/Hs have also been fitted with a digital-based solid-state offensive avionics system (OAS) that includes inertial guidance. Tercom (terrain comparison) guidance, and microprocessors to upgrade their navigation and weapons delivery systems.

Deployment of the B-1B and development of the B-2A have led to a change in the primary role of the B-52 to ALCM (AGM-86) carrier. A typical profile envisaged multiple ALCM launches at high altitude, often followed by B-52 low-level descent to attack additional targets using gravity weapons or SRAMs (currently grounded). USAF originally deployed AGM-86s on 98 on-line B-52Gs and 95 B-52Hs, each with 12 external cruise missiles, but the former are being retired by FY 1993. Full-scale production of the Common Strategic Rotary Launcher (CRSL), which will permit internal carriage of eight additional AGM-86s in the B-52H, is underway. This will allow a total ALCM offensive weapon load of 20 cruise missiles. Full operational capability for this system at all SAC bases is scheduled for late summer 1993. B-52Hs will also be equipped with the AGM-129A Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM). Captive-carry tests of twelve ACMs mounted on a B-52H's underwing pylons began early in 1989. Initial operational capability is anticipated this year at SAC's 410th Bomb Wing, K.I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan.

All B-52 crews train to drop conventional weapons, and the ALCM-modified B-52Gs have been assigned increasingly to support conventional operations by employing airpower over great distances at short notice on behalf of theater CINCs. In 1988, certain B-52Gs achieved IOC fitted with an Integrated Conventional Stores Management System (ICSMS). This enables aircraft to carry a range of conventional weapons, as required, by rearranging data stored in the weapon systems computer using a preprogrammed, removable software cassette. Other modifications being assessed to enhance the B-52's conventional capabilities, include GPS, multimode radio, and a Vinson secure voice radio system. Future upgrades under consideration include a micrwave landing system, replacement of the offensive avionics system computer, and certification of GBU-10 and GBU-12 laser-guided bomb carriage and deployment. The 39 non-ALCM-modified B-52Gs are assigned to the primary role of ·upporting the conventional requirements of theater CINCs and naval antisurface warfare operations, with 30 of the aircraft modified for Harpoon deployment, one full squadron is based at Loring AFB, Maine, for Atlantic operations. (Data for B-52G, except where noted.)

As Close As Possible Today's Theme
Contractor: Boeing Military Airplanes.
Power Plant: eight Pratt & Whitney J57-P-43WB turbojets; each 13,750 lb thrust.
Accommodation: two pilots, side by side, plus navigator, radar navigator, and electronic warfare officer.
Dimensions: span 185 ft 0 in, length 160 ft 11 in, height 40 ft 8 in.
Weight: G/H models gross more than 488,000 lb.
Performance (approx); max level speed at high altitude 595 mph, service ceiling 55,000 ft, range more than 7,500 miles.
Armament: G/H models carry eight SRAMs and nuclear free-fall bombs internally and 12 AGM-86B ALCMs instead of SRAMs externally. Provision for eight more ALCMs instead of SRAMs internally on H model. Alternatively, G and H models can carry conventional weapons including bombs up to 2,000 lb, air-dropped mines, cluster bombs, and, on some B-52G aircraft, AGM-142A Have Nap missiles or eight to 12 Harpoons in underwing clusters.

--AIR FORCE Magazine, May 1992
By Susan H.H. Young; Edited by John W.R. Taylor

January 18, 1957. Commanded by Major General Archie J. Old Jr., three B-52 Stratofortresses complete a 24,325-mile round-the-world nonstop flight in 45 hours, 19 minutes, with an average speed of 534 mph. It is the first globe-circling nonstop flight by a jet aircraft.
11:55 1/1/2004
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