Skip to comments.Sixty years on, the B-52 is still going strong
Posted on 04/15/2012 6:32:45 PM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer
Along with the ICBM, it was one of the defining pieces of military technology during the Cold War: the B-52 bomber.
Those who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s knew the B-52 Stratofortress as a central figure in the anxiety that flowed from the protracted staring match between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. On the one hand, it was reassuring to know that the Strategic Air Command was ready at a moment's notice to scramble its B-52s to counter any potential nuclear attack. On the other hand, if the bombers were flying that mission, well, things might well have ended badly for everyone.
But while the nuclear-tinged Cold War has come and, thankfully, gone, the B-52 is still going strong. And this after a half-century of service.
It was 60 years ago today, on April 15, 1952, that a B-52 prototype built by Boeing took off on its maiden flight. The 1950s-vintage B-52s are no longer in the U.S. Air Force inventory, but the 90 or so that remain on active duty (a total of 744 were built, counting all models) aren't that much younger. They're all the H model of the B-52, delivered between May 1961 and October 1962. That means the youngest is on the cusp of its 50th birthday.
That feat of longevity reflects both regular maintenance and timely upgrades -- in the late 1980s, for instance, GPS capabilities were incorporated into the navigation system.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.cnet.com ...
I was very, very young when they were flying and was more interested in mammary glands (as a food source) than aircraft.
I do remember they were loud, also.
Actually, my day is certainly coming. And my credentials as a 'Cold Warrior' are quite respectable. However, there is no denying that some of these older technologies are antique.
You guys remind me of the way I used to feel about the retirement of the Dew Line up in northern Canada. But, one day I realized that satellite coverage had simply rendered the Dew Line obsolete.
Maybe there still is a role for the old girl, but it's just as likely that the reason she's being kept alive is the same reason that other worthy defense systems are being scuttled ... P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S.
I do, however, miss my OTH radar on the east and west coasts of the US, which may someday prove to be a mistake with earthshaking consequences. :(
I saw that video. There is that instant when you start to yell “more thrust, more thrust” and then you see it’s hopeless, he missed his chance, gravity wins. Very sad.
Yup, on both counts.
It can run at .98 Mach number. With a big load of bombs, and monster amount of fuel.
We've changed tactics so we own the air now, not like in Viet Nam (Damn McNamara and Johnson) before they go in.
It works. Ain't broke, nothing cheaper is better in all the roles.... Keep it, in my book.
And my days of studying war are long gone. I was a frigging cook in my last enlistment because of my hearing.
So that's what a cook thinks about the B-52.
That redhead has got some big....hair.
I knew somebody would post a good pic of 8 engines a-burning!
Bears repeating. BTW, did you realize that unless "Barack Obama" means "statist Marxist putz" in Kenyan, Johnson was the most accurately named President?
I visited a childhood friend after he enlisted in the Air Force. As A kid he was always fascinated by my bedroom ceiling because it was festooned with model airplanes. I got real sick when I was young with scarlet fever and then soon after chicken pocks and then some nasty coughing sickness. My mom to keep me entertained and quiet would sit at a table near my bed and build all these wonderful model airplanes. One of favs was the gigantic B52. I like it so much I would get mom to take it down just so I could hold it (took both hands)
My air force fried remembered my love of the BUFF and when I visited took me to where I could observe a B52 starting up and then taking off. I asked why we were so far away And can't we get closer. (IIRC about 60 yards or so) He informed me weren't allowed to get closer and besides YOU DON"T WANT TO BE CLOSER. In a few minutes I understood why.
I've seen and heard some awe inspiring Loud events Rock Concerts, a Live Fire Exercise at a tank training area. Even got to see a live fire exercise of a destroyer and a ship defense system called the R2D2. And then there is the memorable Goal Line stand in Cleveland Stadium when the Browns held the Bengals on four consecutive downs. (I could have fired a 12 gauge right next to my wife's ear and she would never have heard it because of the crowd noise. It was feral in nature, the combined voices of 80,000 people in a rage.) BUT nothing comes close to that sound I FELT from the B52 when it got to full on startup of all those engines and then taxied out and hit the thrust!
Its one of those things you can't explain. You just have to experience it and when you tell another who has also went through it they nod knowingly.
A close friend of mine was a ‘52 pilot during Nam. When I came home from there, we ran into each other at a party. The first thing he asked after he learned where I’d been was what was it like to be on the ground when he and his fellow pilots were dropping all that metal? Enemy or not, I always pitied those poor suckers who caught the brunt of those massive loads. Yes, they surely could be felt and heard. Thankfully, my friend has long since made his peace with what his ordnance wrought.
Not too shabby for a cook. (:^)
Hear, hear! 100 percent agreement with you on this.
Mach number is complex, and the F-18s that were doing their fast fly over flower formation (or whatever they call it) had just broken at about angels 10 and met back up midfield going everywhichaway.
One broke off low. Over my house. And dear Lord, the vapor trail hit the ground. Broke the sound barrier (not his fault, he was trying to run right at the edge and the pressure changed). Dust drifted down from the ceiling, a glass of water on the table jumped.
But that keeps us free. I dislike those that bitch about the noise.
And I pray for the men that fly and fight.
Personally, I don't like walking around military aircraft. They are dangerous, just sitting there. ;)
He told me a story of his platoon going into a forward area that had been "Prepared" for the arrival of some bigwig (General or some politician) He said for 100's of yards in all directions all there was was churned up dirt. No vegetation at all just dirt. Which was astonishing cuz it was in the middle of Jungle/Forest He and his buddies first figured maybe SeaBees or some Armored Unit had flown in dozers and such using choppers. His Sgt. informed him it had been "Skyplowed" by BUFFs.
Back in the 70's I was the first FAA controller allowed to take a KC135/B-52 fam trip.
Day one was briefings, day two a 15 hour B-52 flight, day three a six hour flight to refuel Buffs.
The highlights were low level oil burner routes in the mountains near La Junta, CO and the landing back at Kincheloe with a 40 degree crosswind.
I got to do some pretty cool things while in FAA, and that is certainly near the top of the list.
(Couple of others were photographing flight ops from port catwalk on Forrestal, and front row seat for a B-747 crash.)
Thanks for the ping. See post 17 for a good explanation of why the H model has lasted so long.
Got that tee shirt only it was after some Arc Light runs. The smell of cordite and other “things” are unmistakable. Yes, lots of churned up dirt and trees. Urban and non-urban renewal at its quickest. Truly amazing to see.
There is a good and sane reason I do not fly in military aircraft. They scare me. I can support them or the men that fly them. But don't ask me to do a walk around or sit in one.